Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - review

I received this book before publication in exchange for an open and honest review.

Publisher: Walker Books (6th April 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. (Publishers' blurb)

I've read great things about this book online and they are very much deserved. It's not an easy book to read because Angie Thomas deals with the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement exactly as it should be - honestly and without anything held back.

A main strength of this book is the voice. I loved Starr's character so much! She came across as realistic because she didn't have all the answers straight away. The book dealt really well with her struggles over doing what she thought was right and navigating where she fit at school and in her home community.

This book really made me think about privilege and social justice in a way that no other book has done before. I think it's so important for fiction to explore these issues and make people look at their own viewpoints. These ideas came through the narrative at times in ways that were subtle and other times very explicit, but always authentic and with feeling. I thought the link to Tupac's song lyrics added a really interesting dimension, as I'd heard his songs before without realising what they actually mean.

Another strength of this is that the story is thrilling and high stakes, with rising tension, but is also balanced with lighter and sweeter moments. The relationship between Starr's mum and dad was so touching and I really appreciated how there were actually present, important adults in this unlike a lot of YA.

I thought that prejudice was dealt with really well and that it examined different points of view. The terrible event of Khalil's death was dealt with openly and sensitively and the fallout afterwards was heartbreakingly believable.

Everybody needs to read this book. it really made me think and raised the profile of many issues that need to be discussed, especially in the current political climate.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas - review

Publisher: Bloomsbury children's books (22nd February 2017)

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods--no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity--and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone. 

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: a boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can't escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they've made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them? (Publishers' blurb)

Because you'll never meet me was a book that was recommended to me at YALC and I started reading without knowing much about it. It's still one of my favourites and is a book that has really stayed with me. 

'Nowhere Near You' had just as strong an emotional impact on me. I adored Ollie and Moritz in both books, especially the way they compliment each other. It's a really interesting idea to blend real conditions with science-fiction elements and it was great to see how their characters developed over this book. 

The letter writing format continued to work really well, allowing the characters (especially Ollie) to withhold information and for their stories to unravel in pieces. Their voices are very distinct from one another and also come across as very realistic.

One of my favourite aspects was how this book maintained the emotional highs and lows that characterised the last book. Nowhere near you upped the ante by testing Ollie and Moritz with new circumstances and their continued separation. 

This is a warm, emotional book that made me think and made me love these characters even more. 

If you liked the sound of this, now try Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles - Review

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (1st February 2017)

For the perfect love, what would you be willing to lose?

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both. (Publishers' Blurb)

I didn't know much about this book when I started it and I found it electrifying from the beginning! One of the best things was that there were high stakes and a lot of conflict from the outset.

I also found the concept of the book unique. I enjoyed the opportunity to explore X's life in the Lowlands and the moral battles he faced. This book went into some very dark places and didn't shy away from difficult subjects. I wasn't keen on a couple of plot points, but overall I found the story very strong and exciting.

Zoe is one of my favourite characters that I've encountered for a long time. I loved her relationship with her friends and found her to be a very complex, well-developed character. The teen voices came across as authentic (and were often very funny!)

I really liked the balance of action and romance in this book and the climax was excruciating (in a good way.)

I loved the contemporary feel blended with original, fantastical elements and I'm already looking forward to the sequel!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom - Review

Publisher: Walker Books (9th February 2017)
When Gwendolyn Bloom realizes that her father has been kidnapped, she has to take matters into her own hands. She traces him from New York City across the dark underbelly of Europe, taking on a new identity to survive in a world of brutal criminal masterminds. As she slowly leaves behind her schoolgirl self, she realizes that she must learn the terrifying truth about herself. To overcome the cruelty she encounters, she must also embrace it.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book, except that I found the blurb super intriguing. The Cruelty is one of the most exciting books that I've read for a long time. It's fast paced, disturbing and utterly gripping.

I've never read a YA thriller that deals with a frightening underworld of criminals in such a believable, visceral way.
Gwendolyn is a brilliant character, who has to explore some very dark places in the world and inside herself to seek her father. It was fascinating to watch her develop and I loved how the book made me think about the moral dilemmas that Gwendolyn faced.

She also meets some fascinating characters on her journey, all of whom felt realistic and well-developed (even those she met for only a short time).

The settings were another real strength. Over the course of the book, there were some incredible locations and the descriptions captured them in vivid and sometimes terrible detail.
This is a dark, unique and thrilling book. At the time of writing this blog, the ebook is only 98p on Kindle - go go go!

If you liked the sound of this, now try the Blood for Blood trilogy by Catherine Doyle.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Cruel Summer by Juno Dawson - Review

Cruel summer.jpg

Publisher: Orion Children’s Books (August 2014)

One year after the suicide of their friend Janey, the rest of the group decide to spend the summer together in a holiday villa in the Mediterranean. They're hoping to get over the terrible events of the previous year, but then a new guest arrives, claiming to have evidence that Janey's suicide was actually murder. When the guest is found dead, it becomes clear that the killer must be one of the group - but who is it? And will they strike again? (Publishers’ blurb)

I read this book as part of the British Books Challenge 2017. I’ll definitely be picking up more Juno Dawson books after reading Cruel Summer!

This came highly recommended on Twitter and I was so excited to read a YA horror! It's a fast paced, funny and also very tense book that reminded me of the best Point Horrors.

I loved all of the main characters (especially Ryan). The structure of alternating between their third person viewpoints worked really well, especially as the end drew near and I was trying to work out who the killer was.

This was a very well-plotted book, with good use of clues and flashbacks that left me guessing until the end. There were a couple of plot points that I questioned (such as why they didn’t leave immediately when they realised one of them was a murderer), but overall the plotting was great.

I also liked the fact that Ryan thought of his life like a TV show, as this felt very fresh and it gave the book a cinematic quality.

It only took me a day to read this book because I found it so engrossing. If you want a fun, action-filled horror then this is the book for you!