3 Days 3 Quotes: Day 1

Hey! I’ve been wanting to do this tag for a while, and I was tagged by Sam @ River Moose Reads! She’s a really sweet blogger and you should all check her out, if you haven’t already. ūüôā

The Rules

1. Thank the person that nominated you

2. Post a quote 3 consecutive days

3. Nominate 3 new bloggers every day

‚ÄúHope may be the thing that pulls you forward, may be the thing that keeps you going, but that it’s dangerous, that it’s painful and risky, that it’s making a dare in the world and when has the world ever let us win a dare?”

‚Äē The Knife of Never Letting Go by¬†Patrick Ness

cover knife of never letting go

Add it on Goodreads.

I love The Knife of Never Letting Go more than words. It is one of the most quotable books in the world, and it deals with hope and pain and loss and growth in a real and striking way. I honestly could have posted a million quotes, but I chose this one, mostly with the “throw a dart at an awesome collection of quotes” method.

I nominate:

You’re under no pressure to accept, but I hope you do!

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I’ve always been a fan of Patrick Ness’s books, but this one didn’t really work for me. I wanted more from the characters and more from the world building–but I respect the story that he was trying to ¬†tell (and succeeded at telling).

3.5/5 stars

cover the rest of us just live here

Amazon Description

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

My Review

Patrick Ness is an autobuy author of mine, so I didn’t really look at the description before I decided I needed this book in my life. Regardless, when I did get around to¬†reading the synopsis, I loved the idea. It’s a premise that I’ve always toyed with but never thought someone would be crazy enough to write an entire book about.

I loved the broad strokes¬†of TROUJLH (holy crap that’s a long abbreviation). The indie kids (the Chosen Ones) were cliquish and mysterious, exactly the way I imagine kids who were destined to save the world would be. I loved the idea that every generation has seen something absolutely crazily paranormal happen that the indie kids stopped, even if the adults won’t admit that anything supernatural happened. I empathized with Mikey and his friend’s wish that the indie kids would take a break and keep the school intact until they had graduated.

My problem with this book comes with the specifics. Were the indie kids actually gifted, or were they just a clique of kids with weird names who decided to be vigilantes? I wanted it to be the former, but it seemed like the truth was the latter, and that was disappointing. (If you have read the book, please comment–did you feel the same way?) The mysterious things that happen to Mikey and his friends were interesting and creepy, but never explained fully enough for me to feel like the book was compete.

As a protagonist, Mikey was unique and stereotypical at the same time. His struggle with OCD was palpable and heart-wrenching–I honestly felt like I was trapped in his loops with him, and it was horrifying. The various traumas that the had endured in his life were realistic and important; I appreciate that Ness used this book to discuss so many mental health issues that teens face today. However, his role in the story–the damaged guy who feels like he is less than his group of friends–felt cliche.

I liked the cast of supporting characters. His friends each had their own personalities and quirks–something I¬†loved. Even so, I felt like the characters were still filling the same molds that you would expect them to fill: gay best friend, troubled sister, unattainable love interest, guy he’s jealous of. The main plot of the book was incredibly contemporary; unfortunately, this ended up following well-worn genre paths. Yes, I empathized with each character’s struggles, and I was emotionally invested in each of their storylines–but I was never surprised.

(Honestly, this book had so many similarities to The Perks of Being a Wallflower that I imagine the MCs as the same person. Anyone else feeling this?)

This book succeeds at what it sets out to do: write a story about the non-Chosen Ones, and point out some flaws in the current YA mold. The bits of Chosen One stories in the beginning of each chapter cracked me up; they were some of my favorite moments in the book, and I definitely appreciated the satire-ization of modern YA culture. Mikey and his friends live in the shadow of dramatic plots, the unfortunate bystanders that most authors reduce to body counts at the end of battles.

But the problem is, I want to read about the Chosen One. Not necessarily the person saving the world from zombie deer and blue lights, but at least a character that is willing to take charge of their lives and¬†do¬†things. I want to read stories where discoveries are made, where risks are taken, where there is obvious growth–and technically,¬†TROUJLH¬†has all of these things. The problem is, all of those boxes are checked by the contemporary plot line, but that plot is overshadowed (purposefully) by the fantasy plot line.

I wanted discoveries and risks and growth and closure regarding whoever was trying to end the world–mainly because it was presented to me as a major focus of the book. If there were no paranormal aspects of the book, I probably wouldn’t have felt as let down by¬†TROUJLH¬†as I did. But they were there, tantalizingly mysterious and dangerous and needing to be solved.

There were even times when it seemed like Mikey would step into the role of savior/investigator, but he was always held back, and I was disappointed. That’s the Catch 22 of this book’s premise: I wanted him to see the problems in the world and try to figure out solutions, but if Mikey had done that, he would have been acting as an indie kid, and that would have undermined the entire purpose of the book.

Can you tell that this book was frustrating for me?

I would recommend this book for fans of realistic contemporary with powerful and well-crafted social commentary. Fantasy fans should beware that this book contains fantasy elements but purposefully avoids being a member of the genre. All in all, TROUJLH is worth reading, but I expected more from Patrick Ness.

Top Ten Books I Can’t Stop Rereading

top ten tuesday

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week, they post a new Top Ten topic and other bloggers respond with their own lists. I take part in this meme when I have something to say for the topic and I remember what day it is.

This week’s topic is a FREEBIE, so I decided to list some of the books that I have read over and over and plan to keep rereading, no matter what age I am.

1. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

cover queens thief covers

This series wins the title of my favorite set of books ever. The intricacy of their plots, the aliveness of the characters, the subtle fantasy elements–everything is amazing.

2. The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

These books are perfectly ridiculous. I love the romance, the incredible friendships, the crazy plots. They still make me laugh, even the fifth time I read them.

3. The Heist Society series by Ally Carter

These are in the same vein as The Gallagher Girls, but these have a bit more class. I am absolutely in love with Hale, and the rest of the characters never fail to make me laugh.

4. The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

These books are so freaking powerful. They combine gothic elements with paranormal with fantasy with Victorian finishing schools with romance (ahhhh!!!!!) with friendship battles–oh my god. I love these, and I really should not have read them in fourth grade (whoops).

5. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

cover scorpio races

This book has so much emotional power over me. Puck and Sean are perfect together and their romance just develops so perfectly. The world-building and the fantasy elements work really well and even the minor characters are complex.

6. Going Underground by Susan Vaught

cover going underground

This book is the reason I get really angry during a lot of school assemblies. The romance is great, but the societal message is so powerful. If you haven’t read it, you should, and if you haven’t read anything by Susan Vaught–fix that immediately.

7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

cover code name verity

I don’t think I knew what the phrase “burst into tears” meant until I got halfway through this book. Holy crap. If you like historical fiction, if you like friendship stories, if you like crying your heart out–read this book right now. If you don’t like any of those things–still read it. It’s that good.

8. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

cover beauty queens

This is my feminism bible. This is my humor comfort book. Societal messages alongside satire alongside fake boybands and reality TV. I love this book so much.

9. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I don’t read as much paranormal romance as I used to, but this series is one of my favorites in the genre. I love the world-building (so unique) and the romance (ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!). The end of the series gets really dark and intense, so I haven’t reread them (emotional trauma, you feel me?), but I know I will at some point.

10. The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

How do you come up with a premise like this? It is incredible. And then the writing and the characters and the plot–oh my god. Patrick Ness, you are amazing.

Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Oh my god–I never imagined that a picture book could have so much power over my emotions. This simple story is one of the most thought-provoking ones I have read this year.

5/5 stars

cover a monster calls

Amazon description of A Monster Calls:

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

I loved basically everything about this book. It is very plainspoken book. It is not overly dramatic. It does not demand that you pay attention–but I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t once you read the first few pages. It starts as a quiet story and builds to a climactic, heart-wrenching ending.

The characters were simple but powerful. Conor is a deeply troubled boy in the beginning of the book, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Still, his character made sense and connected to me on a fundamentally personal level. His mother is the classic maternal¬†figure, though she has a distinctly haunting aftertaste (awkward wording…sorry). Conor’s grandmother’s character was portrayed beautifully–she felt real–and her grief, though subtle, was insanely powerful. The bullies’ characters should have come off stereotypical and overdone, but they didn’t. They added depth to the story and helped to expose the complexity of Conor’s character.

Then there is the story itself. The monster visits Conor every night at 12:07 and tells him a series of three stories. Each story is simple in its construction but presents a unique philosophical conflict. Combined, I felt like the three stories created a sort of dark YA Aesop’s fable. The ending of the novel drew all three together and created a clear, lasting message. I won’t be forgetting this book for quite a while.

The illustrations definitely added to the story. Jim Kay is an amazing illustrator. The pictures perfectly captured the tone of the story.

This book doesn’t fit into a category. Conor is thirteen, so by that standard the story isn’t really YA. Then the structure of the plot makes it almost feel like a grim fairy tale. However, as the illustrations show, this is not a cheery book. It is intensely sad and discusses complex issues of morality and death. I guess I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading in books with a YA tone and intensity but who is also okay with reading a book with a younger protagonist.