Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Reviews: Forever by Judy Blume

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I was looking forward very much to reading this book after all I had heard about it: “it’s a teenage classic” “bound to be adored by even the new generation of teens” etcetera…
Unfortunately, I was completely disappointed with the actual content of the book. It tries far too hard, and takes itself too seriously, most of the time seeming more like you’re reading the inner monologue of a condescending Health teacher rather than a teenager. The characters are irritating, flat and have next to no personality. Kath’s best friend being among the most annoying with her constant, seemingly random personality shifts and complete lack of realistic attributes. For a book of less than 200 pages long it tries to cram far too much into the one book – loss of loved ones, depression and suicide, sex and relationships and more – and leaves every single plotline flimsy and undeveloped. I don’t know what things were like in the seventies, when this was written, but the actions and speech of the teenagers in this novel have no relevance to teenagers today and therefore no impact.
There are dozens of books which have taken similar plot points and turned them into wonderful, impactful stories about relationships and growing up (see Before I Fall or The Perks of Being a Wallflower as examples). This is not one of them. Recommended for ages 15-18. Contains sexual references, sex scenes, coarse language and mature themes.
Star2
View this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37743.Forever?ac=1

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Book Reviews: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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I have a number of mixed feelings about this book, which is interesting but has a great many flaws.
On one hand, the story’s premise is a good one, and Daisy makes for a good, strong narrator, but there are many things which make little sense in the circumstances of the story, or that are just downright gross. The first and most obvious thing within the story is the questionable romance between Daisy and Edmond – I like to think I have a very open mind when it comes to novels, but I do have to say that doing unspeakable things with your underage first cousin, who can, for some absurd reason, hear your thoughts, is digusting. End of story. Another issue I found was with the writing style, which had no indication of dialogue aside from capital letters in lieu of speech marks, and by the end of the novel became incredibly confusing. Not much is done to expand the plotline of the war either, aside from a few grotesque scenes, the novel focuses mostly on Daisy and Piper’s journey, which was fine but made the war an almost unnecessary afterthought in the story. By the end of the book all semblance of sense within the writing style and plot fragments, and the conclusion feels confusing and clumsy after what was, despite it’s faults, still a fairly satisfying book. The main high point of the story was Piper, who appeared to be the only character who maintained some degree of sense throughout the book.
Not terrible, but not the most enjoyable book either, this makes for some interesting casual reading but lacks substance and logic.
Recommended for ages 15-17. Contains sexual references, coarse language, violence and mature themes.
Star3

View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/161426.How_I_Live_Now?ac=1
View all current information on the movie adaptation: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1894476/?ref_=sr_2

Book Reviews: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Undoubtedly the sweetest book I have read this and possibly any year, this narrative is one of love and friendship and family, all neatly wrapped up with some sharp witticism thrown in.
At its heart this is a simple yet deliciously tingly romance, but readers will also find passion, humour, and perhaps even a few tears within its pages.
Anna’s story is a richly woven one, and is sure to please fans of romances of all kinds. The setting, the food, the characters – all is magical and adorable and perfect.
This is exactly the kind of romance teen literature needs more of. It’s dramatic but not overdone, and charming and funny and silly and healthy, which many teen novels seem to lack nowadays. There is no co-dependent, angsty girls here, clinging onto the guys they like with all their might. There is just simple, beautiful connection, which is how life and love should be, and is ultimately the greatest theme within this novel – the connections we form with other people, for better or worse.
Recommended for ages 14+. Contains sexual references, coarse language and moderate themes.
Star4.5

View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6936382-anna-and-the-french-kiss?ac=1

Book Reviews: Hold Still by Nina LaCour

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This book was good, but it could have been much, much more. What was meant to be a story of grief and loss felt underdeveloped and slightly unrealistic, relationships between characters were often confusing and it didn’t seem like the behaviour of the teenaged characters was quite right. The boys populating the story seemed more like the fantasies of what girls want them to be like – openly sensitive and vulnerable in a way that I have never heard of guys acting. I have also never heard a guy say “he’s my best friend” about someone, yet they say it frequently in this story.
Despite its flaws, this was not a bad book. It had its good parts and many of the characters were interesting, it just was not as deep or powerful or thought-provoking as it could have been. The way the characters deal with their grief, while probably in line with real-life reactions, didn’t strike any chords with me as a reader. All I could glean from it was that if I lost my friend, I would have no amazing carpentry or photography skills to fall back on.
All in all this felt more like a Looking For Alaska by way of Paper Towns attempt, with a little bit of Thirteen Reasons Why thrown in but it never reaches the emotion or poignancy of John Green or Jay Asher’s work. Somehow, though, I still found things to enjoy about this book. It’s worth checking out if only for the awesome cubby-house ideas. Recommended for ages 15-18. Contains coarse language, mature themes and sexual references.
Star3
View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6373717-hold-still?ac=1
View all current information on the movie adaptation: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2334536/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Book Reviews: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

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It is very rare for me to find a book which I find genuinely in-your-face and scary and hard to handle, but I finally found such a book in Poison Study. One of this book’s strongest points is the main voice of Yelena – As she navigates her treacherous world, you are completely pulled into the story along with her. Most interestingly, you rarely see evidence of her being a good, moral person. Instead you are transported into the mind of this incredibly flawed, broken human being, and yet you can’t help but want her to pull through, and find things to care about and learn to be whole again. The brutality was sometimes difficult for me to read through, but it added to the story as much as the book’s other elements. A powerful, dark and absorbing book. Recommended for ages 16+. Contains strong violence and themes, sexual references and coarse language.
Star4
View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60510.Poison_Study?from_search=true

Book Reviews: Wither by Lauren Destefano

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A large part of what makes Wither so compelling is the muted sense of terror and danger Destefano maintains throughout the book. As you read, you quickly begin to realise just how vulnerable these young characters are, and how dire the circumstances under which they are living have become. From the very first page this book had me under its mesmerising spell – the richly woven narrative of love, sisterhood, loss, fear, murder and the desire for freedom is one that you don’t see executed so well in some books. Here it is near perfect. A delightfully creepy sucker-punch of a book, Wither is sure to thrill, scare and move teenagers and adults alike who are looking for a dark, intriguing dystopian world to sink into.  Recommended for ages 15-18. Contains violence, strong themes and sexual references.
Star4
View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8525590-wither?ac=1
View all current information on the movie adaptation: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3111104/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

Book Reviews: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

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While Green’s attempt at a more light-hearted novel doesn’t quite hit the mark the way Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars do, this book remains a complete delight to read. Packed with all the clever humour, host of well-written characters, and pretentious use of excessively large words we have come to expect from Green, Katherines is a nice attempt to avoid the more serious issues explored in his other novels.
The little facts included on the pages are really what make this book special, not just because they are informative, but also because the wry humour of the novel reaches even into the tiny footnotes. I think a sign of a great novel is when even the smallest of passages at the bottom of the page can make you giggle while reading.
This is probably the one Green book which will not cut your heart into a million pieces, and for that it has its place, maybe not as a classic, but as a genuinely lovable novel with real heart. Check it out, you won’t regret it.
Recommended for ages 14+. Contains coarse language, sexual references and mathematical formulas which may make your head explode.
Star4.5
View this book on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49750.An_Abundance_of_Katherines