Monthly Archives

December 2013

Book Reviews, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Looking For Alaska – John Green | Review

December 26, 2013
John Green Looking For AlaskaWarning: This review does contain spoilers. 

Here’s the description from GoodReads:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

I’ve wanted to read something by John Green for a while and chose an option that sounded a little less like it was going to make me cry at 2am than some of his other books.

Unfortunately this review does contain spoilers, it’s impossible for me to talk about this book and not spoil it, so if you don’t want to be spoiled I suggest you stop reading now. 

I happened across this book by accident to be completely honest. I went into WH Smiths with every intention of picking up Paper Towns and it was only when I got home that I realised I’d picked up this book.  I don’t know how I did it either. 

I was really drawn into the book by the way chapters were marked in this book. Instead of it being ‘Chapter 1’ or ‘Chapter 2’ it was marked as ‘x days before’ and counted down to the main event in the book, which pulled me in and made me want to know what we were counting down to.

Warning: Spoilers ahead so run away quickly if you don’t want to ruin it. Seriously, don’t read the next line. 

Unfortunately what he was counting down to was the death of Alaska, a girl that our main character Pudge seems to have fallen in love with despite all of her flaws.

After that point chapters begin being marked by counting days after her death as Pudge and his friends try to work out what happened to Alaska: was it a tragic accident or did she commit suicide and why was she in such a distressed state?

I don’t know how John Green did it but he made me feel for the characters without me even realising it. Before Alaska’s death I didn’t feel particularly attached to her but after she died, I felt sad that she’d died and found myself desperate to know what had happened also. It’s like he made the characters disarm me and slowly sneak their way into my feelings.

The characters were extremely well developed and were exactly the way I remember teenage boys and girls being. Though I have never been a teenage boy, I have been a teenage girl and I can definitely relate to this book.

It did contain swearing and some kinda sex scenes but if anything it would probably be unrealistic for a book about teenagers to not contain swearing or something sexual, so I didn’t feel that detracted from the book or was unnecessary.

At points the characters were a little pretentious, but weren’t we all at that age? I went to a Private School, though I wasn’t a boarding student, so this book really bought back some memories for me and made me think about my own time at school.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how much it made me think. It tackled the topic of death and what happens after we die, which kept me pondering Looking For Alaska in the days after I’d finished the book.

After finishing the book I did a bit of research on Looking For Alaska and discovered that it is partly based on true facts. John Green did go to a boarding school in Alabama and there was a student there who died under similar circumstances as Alaska did, which I think is why this book is so well written.

All in all, I loved Looking For Alaska. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read, not just this year but ever.

If you enjoy contemporary young adult novels and / or want to try something by John Green, I really think this is a good place to start.

5 out of 5

Have you read Looking For Alaska or anything else by John Green?

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Book Reviews, Books, Dystopian, Young Adult

Legend – Marie Lu | book review

December 20, 2013

Legend Marie Lu Title: Legend (Book #1 of the Legend series)

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Young adult / dystopian / romance

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Here’s the description from GoodReads:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. 

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Legend has been on my to be read list for about a year now, so when I rejoined the library last week it was the first thing I took out.

Based in post apocalyptic Los Angeles, Legend is told from alternating points of view; June, a girl from a wealthy background with perfect trial scores who has been brought up to join the military and Day, a boy who failed his trial and was forced to grow up on the streets.

I always enjoy alternating points of view and in Legend it was clearly marked at the beginning of chapters and at the top of the page. The issue I had is that sometimes you had to check the top of the page because both characters were indistinguishable from each other at points. Towards the end you learn something which explains why they may be so similar, but I still expected their characters inner-monologue to be different as they had such contrasting upbringings.

Both characters were likeable and I really felt for Day whereas June came across a little cold at the beginning of the book. This was made up for when we witnessed her development throughout the book which was realistic and interesting.

From relatively early on in the book the ‘whodunnit’ seemed a little obvious to me so it wasn’t surprising, but I was still gripped wondering how the ‘issue’ would be resolved.

The world building in Legend was fantastically done and gave a clear picture of what everything looked like, I felt like I was actually there.

One sticking point for me was the age of the main characters. June was 15 years old and earned herself a brilliant position in the military which was supposed to demonstrate how intelligent and skilled she was but it just seemed too unrealistic. The story would have worked just as well if they were 18 or 19 and it would have been more reasonable for her to have earned herself that kind of position by that age taking into account her intelligence.

It’s key that a book that’s part of a series stands up on its own and Legend does without a shadow of a doubt. I’m excited to find out what happens in Prodigy, where I hope we find out what happened to result in the country being in the state it is.

If you’re looking for a new young adult / dystopian novel you can’t put down, I recommend you give Legend a go. Plus, all three books are out so you won’t need to wait another year or so to see how the series is resolved!

4 out of 5 

Have you read Legend? 

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Life

Do you think we have a sixth sense?

December 12, 2013

That’s right guys and gals, I’m going deep and thoughtful on you today. 

I wanted to talk about something I’ve been pondering for a while; do we have a sixth sense?

I’m sure we’ve all had an experience where we’ve had this feeling of dread and something bad has happened.

Two years ago my dog, Roxy, suddenly died. The day before, for no reasonable explanation I was hit with this wave of emotion about how I’d feel if she died. That night when I went to bed I decided to spend some extra time with her because my brain was just telling me ‘what if you never see her again’. The next day I was woken to the news that she’d died.

There are plenty of similar stories where people have just had a gut feeling like this. You hear stories about people on their deathbed who say things to their friends and family about when they think they will die and they turn out to be right.

Now that’s a little different as these people are already very ill but what I’m trying to say is stories where people feel a ‘sixth sense’ or a foreboding about what might happen aren’t in short supply. Though there are times we have a bad feeling about something but everything turns out fine.

Yesterday I read a really interesting (if you like this kinda thing) article on Psychology Today about the sixth sense and studies that psychologists have carried out.

A study carried out by the writer of that piece found that people do react to something bad before it has happened. The article mentions similar studies with similar results, though some of the methods used are flawed.

What do you think though? Do you think we have a sixth sense or is it just pure coincidence or people altering their recollection of an event?

Personally I believe from my own experiences that we do have some kind of sixth sense. The emotions I felt that day before my dog died are nothing like any feeling I have ever experienced.

I’m looking forward to seeing what you all think in the comments.

What do you think? Do you think we have a sixth sense? 

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