Saturday, September 14, 2013

{Review} The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce

Title: The Weight of Souls
Author: Bryony Pearce
Format: Netgalley, eARc
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Date Read: June 23rd to July 7th, 2013
Rating: ✭✭
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…

 She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.

But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.

Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?

And what happens if she starts to fall for him?

There isn't really much going for this book other than the premise. Dude, how awesome is the idea of a girl cursed by ghosts to hunt murderers? For some reason though, Pearce thought it a better idea to make Taylor's social life the main point of the book instead of I don't know, her curse. 

Brilliant, just brilliant. Yes, that's a perfect idea. Focus on high school, because obviously that's going to attract more YA readers who can't read books without a huge focus on high school.

While, sure we do get some time focusing on the curse, most of the book doesn't pay much attention to it. I really only read the book because of the awesome sounding plot and Pearce does a very poor job of keeping it the center of attention. Instead it gets piled under loads of unnecessary bits and pieces that detract from the overall book. I don't get it. Why would you bog down your murder mystery with an boring drama and angst? 

It honestly seemed like, that even though there was a lot resting on this, Taylor really didn't care too much about finding Justin's murderer. She seemed more interested in his pretty body to be honest. It was more of something she had to do at some point but it didn't really matter when. If it took a while, she would basically shrug her shoulders and say "c'est la vie". 

Taylor, gurl, you do realise you, the main character, don't even care about your own plot? At all? I don't think that's how it usually works but okaaay...

Like I said, Pearce focuses so much of her efforts into building drama and angst that the curse is largely underdeveloped. We are given the bare bones to work with and are basically left to speculate about the rest. There is some backstory but it's presented in such a way that it makes it a chore to read through and I, like many others, really just skimmed or skipped these parts. 

The Weight of Souls isn't an entirely bad book. The main character, Taylor, is actually pretty cool. She's one of those fun narrators that aren't really amazing but just keep the book going and you reading. Taylor is pretty level headed and actually, fairly intelligent.

Before I end this review, I have to mention two things: Justin the asshole and the 'illusive super secret organisation' that is part of the mystery for a long time. 

Justin the asshole is this guy who's died and now he's a ghost who refuses to acknowledge this. He's also, *gasp*, the love interest. You're so surprised, I know. Who would have guessed right? Well, he's also the guy who bullied Taylor for years. You know, the guy who sent his goons after her. The goons harassed her and called her horrible things all under the blessing of this Justin guy.

Yeah, really romantic backstory.

Somehow, when someone bullies you, it means that they have a crush on you. Yes, friends, every bully that will ever bully you is actually someone who has a huuuge crush on you and you'll end up living happily ever after.

What? No. That's not how it works. Bullying ≠ Crush nor will it ever. Romanticizing bullying is absolutely horrible and should not be accepted. 

The second thing is much less atrocious, and more humourous. 

I'm going to try and not spoil anything but basically this extremely powerful club is a bunch of kids doing dares and having sleep overs. But not just any d
ares, *whispers* bad boy dares. Oh yeah, they're doing big kid dares. So. Scary.

There is a lot of unexplored potential in this book that really just went to waste. The Weight of Souls could have been so much more if certain aspects were fleshed out a bit more and others given a more minor role. Overall, The Weight of Souls was a huge disappointment. While it wasn't completely unenjoyable, it wasn't very good either. I don't really recommend this book to anyone.

Lisbeth is an American teenager who enjoys blowing shit up in videogames and discussing decapitation in great detail. She's also obsessed with Oceana, but you're not supposed to know that.

Friday, September 6, 2013

{Review} Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Title: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Format: Library, paperback
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Date Read: August 27th, 2013
Rating: ✭✭✭
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Maybe I read Boy Meets Boy with the wrong perspective, I dunno, but I definitely did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would have. I think I expected more realism, something that is definitely lacking in this book. While it's not a bad book per-say, but it's not a very unrealistic one. 

Boy Meets Boy takes place in a sort of LGBT paradise, where there is no hate and gay boys can be extremely popular and trans girls are on the football team and almost no one hates on them. I can tell you for a fact that that's not how the real world works, or at least the large majority of it. 

karen's review explains what I'm going to try and say in the next few paragraphs very well so I suggest you go check it out before attempting to slog through my much less eloquent take on it.

As a gay teen, I definitely appreciated the break from reading about LGBT teens go through horrible, horrible acts of physical violence and verbal abuse. Boy Meets Boy was a happy, fluffy, cute read that made me really happy. The world of Boy Meets Boy was everything I could ever hope for, you know. A world where I can have a girlfriend in high school without risk of being hurt and socially outed. I dream of a world where I can be me without being bullied about it. 

Yet, I couldn't help but see how much of an unachievable utopia it was and it was kind of depressing. I read about how the home-coming queen can be the quarterback on the football team. But I can't help think about all the trans teens that are killed because of who they are and it almost makes it worse.
I'm not saying that BmB doesn't talk about serious topics such as familial intolerance but these are concealed by the overwhelming happiness in the book. It was almost overpowering at times like people get a grip, this is not High School Musical. 

While I really love how Levithan tried to change the norm of LGBT books but it made me almost sadder than a normal LGBT would make me because I know, this could never be real. The sheer unbelievable-ness of the scenario made the book as a whole less enjoyable than it would have been if it wasn't so... perfect.

But don't get me wrong, Boy Meets Boy has plenty of redeeming qualities to it. It's a cute and funny love story that explores the ups and downs of high school and of romance. The characters were really sweet and lovable as a whole. 

The love interest Noah is just a huge cutie and I love him. Paul was also very likable but as the story progressed, he really got on my nerves. Mostly because he messed up a lot because he was an absolute idiot when it comes to relationships. *sigh* Paul, you stupid ass.

Boy Meets Boy is an endearing, charming story that is worth the read even if it's bit too happy. It's a good fluff read and I would recommend it to be read directly after a tear-jearker because, damn if this doesn't make you happy nothing will.

Lisbeth is an American teenager who enjoys blowing shit up in videogames and discussing decapitation in great detail. She's also obsessed with Oceana, but you're not supposed to know that.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

{Review} Slated by Terri Terry

Title: Slated
Author: Terri Terry
Format: Library, hardcover
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date Read: July 12th through July 16th
Rating: ✭
DNF Review
Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?

Slated is one of those books that sound great in theory but in actuality, it didn't end up that great. Reading the blurb made me extremely excited but the book however is the exact opposite. While there were many flaws to the novel, the major one was the fact that the book was written in the first person

To understand why this was a monumental fail on the author's part, you need to know something about the main character. Thankfully, this won't be a very long interruption because there isn't much to say about her.

Kayla is the main character who's traumatic backstory includes brain wash and stuff. Yeah, poor baby, .ect. Someone however forgot to tell Kayla that brainwash does not mean you become akin to say a robot or a door.

Actually no, there are robots and doors with more energy and vigour than her. She's worse. 

Kayla is seriously the most colorless, commonplace, dead, drab, drudging, dull, flat, ho hum, humdrum, insipid, interminable, irksome, lifeless, monotonous, moth-eaten, mundane, nothing, nowhere, platitudinous, plebeian, prosaic, repetitious, routine, spiritless, stale, stereotyped, stodgy, stuffy, stupid, tame, tedious, threadbare, tiresome, tiring, trite, unexciting, uninteresting, unvaried, vapid, wearisome (no I did not just copy the thesaurus entry for boring... heh) character out there. 

Consequently, the writing is the driest monotone out there and there is pretty much absolutely nothing to keep you going. Like, how am I supposed to stay awake interested when much of the book sounds like this:

‘Interesting choice for breakfast,’ Amy says, then sits up and yawns. ‘Are you an early bird?’
I look at her blankly.
‘Do you always wake up early?’
I consider. ‘I think so,’ I say, finally. ‘Though that could be because at the hospital you have no choice.’
‘Oh, I remember that. Horrible morning buzzer. Breakfast by six.’ She shudders.
‘Want one?’ I hold out the box.
‘Oooh, tempting. Maybe later, when I’m more awake. What is that?’ She points at the folder in my other hand.
‘My drawings.’
‘Can I see?’
I hesitate. I rarely show them to anyone, though Dr Lysander insisted on checking through them now and then.
‘You don’t have to show me if you don’t want to.’
I sit next to her and open the folder, pull out the sheets of paper. Amy exclaims at the one on top. A self-portrait. Me, but different: half as I am in the mirror, the other half skin missing, eyeball hanging from an empty socket.
‘May I?’ she holds out a hand, and I pass the drawing to her.
But that wasn’t on top before. I start flipping through the sheets.
‘You’re so good, this is amazing.’

This is an actual conversation from the book, by the way. This is actually how she sounds throughout the book.

Not even the plot could keep me going because honestly, it's extremely flat and boring. There isn't enough to really keep the story moving because all and any plot twists were easily guessed.

The author gives away all the clues in such a way that it becomes incredibly obvious. While sometimes hiding things in plain sight is great, it doesn't always work. Especially when you have little to no skill. World building is what readers look for and they remember it. If you put a crucial bit of information right in front of their eyes, they'll see it.

The whole cast of characters were bland, to put it lightly. They had little to no personality or distinguishing characteristics. Everyone talked in the same monotone as Kayla, except for one of the characters who had the bubbly manic pixie personality which is less of a personality and more of a stereotype, if you get what I mean.

So, the boring plot/characters and terrible writing joined forces to create one of the most dull stories I have ever read. I would not recommend this book to anyone and would advise you all to stay approximately 50 feet away at all times.

Lisbeth is an American teenager who enjoys blowing shit up in videogames and discussing decapitation in great detail. She's also obsessed with Oceana, but you're not supposed to know that.