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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #1
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 457
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

fter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
     Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.
     Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I had heard spectacular things about Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave. so I took to the library, pulled a copy off the shelf, and borrowed it to see what all the hype was about. Contrary to what I had heard, I wasn't head over heels for this novel. And let me tell you why.

Aliens have come to Earth and begun a complete extermination of the human race. Four different waves have come and gone over the course of five months. No electricity. All coastal cities, states, and countries were wiped out by the oceans. A killer virus. And last but not least: the enemy lurking around every corner. Who's human? Who's alien? Cassie doesn't know, but she trust no one until she is left for dead on a highway and fanciful and the handsome Evan Walker nurses her back to health. Meanwhile the government is pulling together an army of children to fight the alien horde. The 5th Wave is underway, and it's nothing like Cassie has ever seen or could even imagine.

Like every novel I have read, when a character is alone, companionship is not far off. No matter how strongly or how frequent the words trust no one come along. Trust is human, and trust is what Cassie falls for after being saved by this handsome stranger. And handsome is another attribute that is thrust upon in many main male characters. And The 5th Wave left me rolling my eyes by how gorgeous Evan Walker was, how instantly attracted Cassie was to this boy. The trope of gorgeous boy saves unattractive girl protagonist and vice versa is taxing to read over and over again, and doesn't do this book justice. The story could have done without the romantic sub-plot if Cassie and Evan, in my honest opinion. Another factor that dulled my appeal for this book was the predictability of it all. I could foresee the little twists and turns that were going to happen, and that dulled a little of what The 5th Wave had to offer.

Other than those bumps in the road, The 5th Wave does have a delightfully captivating narrator or two, and Cassie is a strong, independent character who is goal oriented. She really is one tough cookie surviving four alien purges in five months time. She about make the entire book, and her and Evan's relationship did eventually grow on me. Especially since it got her to shut up about Ben Parish. And Even's character is one of the most complex and intricate that I have read in a long time, and I honestly wished he had more of a point-of-view than one little chapter. The pace is quick at the beginning and end, though the middle did have some quagmire-ish parts about it in my opinion. A lot of the characters, mostly the army base centered ones--Ringer, Poundcake, Teacup, Dumbo, and even Zombie most of the time--I didn't really find much to connect with, nothing really brought much joy in reading about them. It's hard to read a book when most of the characters are essentially there to move you from one page to the next rather than establish a connection with. I guess that is where sequels come in...

Final Summation: The 5th Wave is a compelling read for those who are looking for a sci-fi apocolyptic adventure with some romance thrown in. Especially readers who want a War of the Worlds mixed with A Children's Story type of novel. With an engaging narration and a compelling story, the novel is great for some light reading about a world in which cohabitation with extraterrestrial life does not go so well for the human species. A science fiction work that makes you think about "well what if this actually happened...?" I recommend this book to anyone who likes a gritty novel, some aliens in the mix, and kissing every now and again. Also, fans of NOT A DROP TO DRINK I think would enjoy this book.

Three targets slayed for Cassie's journal

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 448
Genre: Mental Health, Romance, Mystery
   buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
R eality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

I was really nervous about this book.  I had high hopes that I expected to be ruined (which I guess are not high hopes at that point, but I digress).  While it is important to have characters with mental illness in book, it's far more important to have characters with mental illness portrayed correctly. 

I’m happy to say, this book really rose to the occasion and created not only interesting characters, but a wonderful look into the mind of someone struggling with mental illness.  

Depicting the life of the sassy and strong Alex, who has been fighting her schizophrenia for most of her life.  The book goes through the trials she must face when the line between reality and her delusions begins to blur in Alex’s new high school.  The book shows wonderful portrayals of strong characters with a variety of struggles including abusive parents, autism, bullying, and sexual abuse.  Made You Up shows the importance of having a strong support group and also empowers anyone who is battling mental illness on their own. So, character-wise, this book hit the nail of the head.  The romance was satisfying and depicts a healthy relationship between two people. While the romance isn’t overpowering, it’s definitely very strong and used to move the plot along. So, if you are into love, pick this book up.  There is also focus into family relations which is heartbreaking and utterly beautiful. This is a both about Alex's interactions with the world, and the relationships really are what make the book.

The plot can get a little confusing because readers are experiencing and the same delusions as Alex.  It adds to the experience, but because the reader doesn’t know what’s real and what isn’t, it’s hard to keep up with fast-paced scenes.  Also, this book is pretty heavy at times, so not a beach time read. However, the book contains love, fear, a dangerous conspiracy and just some straight up fun, so if you’ve got sometime this summer I highly recommend picking up Made You Up.

Five Targets! And each one rightly earned!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 336
Genre: Romance

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…
What's better than cosplay and romance?

  This book prevented me from getting sleep. How, you ask? I read the whole thing in one night, and I regret nothing.  This book's writing is straight up fun and pretty cute. On top of some nice writing, with ComicCon ranking in thousands of dollars a year, a book like this is important because it portrays a part of the Young Adult demographic that is usually mocked or shoved into the nerdy best friend character. While this book most plays off the clashing romance of Ana and Zak, it really explores the dynamics of a convention and the feeling of friendship and belonging that can be found there.  So, that aspect of the story is good.

 The characters are...okay.  While both Ana and Zak have some depth they are both horrible people at times, especially Ana. I understand that some of this is to move the plot along and keep the both interesting, but come on, readers want human character that can be liked.  It never reached the point where the characters were detestable, but I didn't fall in love with either Zak or Ana.  Together, they make a nice romance, but otherwise, they're alright.

  Final call, this is book is good, it's fun, but beyond it's depiction of convention dynamics, not particularly remarkable. This book is by no means forgettable and it's still straight up fun for any romance reader.  I recommend this book if you like a nice romance in a different kind of setting and are a fan of ComicCon.
Three targets that you will always remember!