Fox on Books

Book reviews, opinions, musings and ramblings. General bookish excitement!

Archive for the tag “Young-adult fiction”

The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

maze runnerI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

“Oh my god just tell me what is happening!” – my brain the whole way through The Maze Runner.

I defy you to read this book slowly. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, although that was mainly so I could have some idea of what just happened! It’s a great YA adventure story, aimed squarely at teenage boys, and a good read for anyone who wants an unputdownable tale.

I was infuriated by the first few chapters of The Maze Runner. Without ceremony, you’re dropped straight into a confusing world full of teenage boys, living in a place called The Glade in the middle of, apparently, a giant maze. Would you have questions? Because both I and our protagonist, Thomas, had A LOT of questions. Such as:

– WHAT?
– Where is this place? WHAT is this place?
– Why am I here?
– Who am I? How can it be that I know my name and understand concepts but I know nothing about my history?
– WHY ARE WE IN A GIANT MAZE?
– Seriously, WHAT?? Let Me Feet Hit the Ground Running:

Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m (still!) averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Come along, then:

fathers eggersYour Fathers, Where Are they? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? – by Dave Eggers

My second Dave Eggers, this was so intriguing! And whew, what a title. Written entirely in dialogue, Your Fathers is an exploration of America, a comment on a generation, and also a look at one really disturbed guy, spiraling into self destructive criminal madness. Very weird. Very cool.

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daughtersmokeDaughter of Smoke and Bone – by Laini Taylor

Karou’s never been exactly normal. How could she be, raised by Chimeras? She’s always been kept at arms length by those who raised her, but there’s more to Karou’s background – and her future – than she could ever have imagined. And not all of it is good. Even though it suffered from a little bit of too-many-recommendations-itis, this book and its sequel Days of Blood and Starlight left me reeling. Also, Laini Taylor exploded her own world twice in two books! I can’t wait to see what on earth the third book brings.

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unwindUnwind – by Neal Shusterman

In this future society, abortion is illegal. But before a child turns 18 they can instead be ‘unwound’. Every part of their body is used by someone else, so they’re not truly dead. Here, life is at once sacred and cheap. What a cool, freaky concept. And this book delivers – sometimes. It’s not as gripping as I wanted it to be, given the solidity of the premise, but it’ll keep you up at night reliving the brutal unwinding process. *shudder*

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TheFeelGoodHitOfTheYear C CVR SI.inddThe Feel-Good Hit of the Year – by Liam Pieper

I’m not that interested in memoirs unless you’re Stephen Fry (sorry, everyone else). But I absolutely raced through Liam Pieper’s accounts of misspent youth, from his birth in a sort-of hippy commune in the Melbourne suburbs to becoming an accidental teenage drug dealer, to figuring out that life’s more profitable when you’re a little less criminal. (Only a little…)

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So, whatcha been reading lately?

The Break-Up Artist – by Philip Siegel

breakupOh, wow. The Break-Up Artist can best be described as ridiculous. Sometimes it was ridiculously fun, and other times downright bizarre. Let’s just say that Becca has issues.

Becca Williamson has a special skill. Not the kind of thing that can go on your college application (I guess?), but something she’s in demand for nonetheless. She’s the Break-Up Artist. A love vigilante. Defender of the jilted best friend, restorer of the single status quo, or, as she puts it:

“A relationship Robin Hood. Someone to level the playing field.” (p 53)

Riiiiiiiight. This is clearly coming from a very normal place. This way, M’Lady (or Good Sir):

Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Dear reader, dive in:

What Came Before – by Anna George

whatcamebeforeOof. This was a hard read. Following the spiral of a gradually abusive relationship, What Came Before challenges us to look at what we expect – and what we’ll accept – from those we love. Ambitious and confronting, it’s not for everyone, but is a particularly powerful novel.

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Looking for Alaska – by John Green
lookingforalaskaUK.indd
John Green’s first novel has all the hallmarks of his later work. Teens who act like teens (bright, loyal, apathetic and often a wee bit pretentious), a simple narrative that allows the beauty and poignancy of his prose to shine, and a quietly wrenching third act make this a must read for older teens and fans of this brand of honest, contemporary YA. (Also, have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? If not, what are you even doing with your life??)

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Words of Radiance – by Brandon Sanderson

wordsofradianceThe Way of Kings (Parts One and Two) and their sequel The Words of Radiance are perfect examples of high fantasy with truly epic scope and huge payoffs. If you’re a fantasy reader, you’d be foolish to go past Brandon Sanderson. He and Patrick Rothfuss are the best current fantasy writers around. I’m repeating myself and I don’t care: Brandon Sanderson is the real deal. He is astonishing, and if you haven’t read him, you’re missing out.

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Wool and Dust – both by Hugh Howey

dusthoweywoolhowey

I’m a little late on this bandwagon but Wool and its sequel Dust are something you definitely want to experience. Howey’s exploration of a possible future after the world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare is sophisticated, claustrophobic and nail-bitingly tense. It’s the kind of sci-fi you’ll rant excitedly about in turn. I listened to these as audio books, and the SECOND I finished Wool I had to find out what happened next. four fox

Have you read any of these? I’ve covered a range of genres – what’s your pick of the above?

The Dream Thieves – by Maggie Stiefvater

Hello, dear readers.

dreamthievesI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

Gansey and the Raven Boys need Blue’s help to find the resting place of a long-gone Welsh King, Glendower. Time’s running out, though, because they’re not the only ones searching. This is brilliant YA fantasy, and one of the few series that’s great for boys and girls. It’s also SFT (safe for teens) – Blue has to worry a little about boys, but the focus is on the race against time, the chase, and the bromances rather than the romance.

Want more than two cents? Read on!

Do you know what one of my favourite things in YA fantasy is? Originality. It’s not a prerequisite – I enjoy many YA fantasies that are variations on themes, such as a really well done dystopian novel. They’re hardly rare, but a well-executed story will often override the sense of deja vu.
Read more…

The Fault in Our Stars – Movie React/Review

Guys. Guys! YOU GUYS! I’VE SEEN THE FAULT IN OUR STARS!

In the coolest job perk EVER, about two weeks ago I got to go to an advance screening of the Movie Most Likely to Make Grown Humans Ugly Cry in Public.

Edit: BE PREPARED. I’m not kidding. I brought these with me:TFiOSTiss

There is next to zero chance you haven’t already noticed me obsessing about this book, and about the upcoming movie. And I’m SO GLAD I DID, because I freaking well adored it!

It’s pretty rare for a movie adaptation of a book you adored beyond all reason, I mean that you enjoyed, to not suck, and I am so thrilled to be able to opine that the TFiOS movie absolutely did NOT suck. It was everything I wanted it to be. And that’s saying A LOT.

I mean, this guy:

 

And this lady:

 

And, just, YOU GUYS. THEY WERE WONDERFUL. EVERYTHING WAS WONDERFUL AND NOTHING EVERYTHING HURT.

I’m not going to lie, there were feels and they were intense.

From about halfway through – you can surely guess where – I cried pretty steadily ’til the end. And I didn’t cry nearly as hard as others.

(Quick aside: Supernatural really has a gif for everything.)

I will say, however, that it was that necessary, cathartic, releasing kind of crying, when you’re going through something you wouldn’t miss out on for the world and your tear ducts just have to bear the brunt of it.

Seeing this with a cinema full of my colleagues was… a unique experience, making it both better and worse. I’ll let you know if it’s any different when I see it for a second time.

What? You didn’t think I’d be content with one screening, did you?!

Read the book. Watch the trailer. See the movie – out in Australia on June 5th!

Okay? Okay.

Sensational Quote Sunday

Some books change your life. They change the way you see the world. They do this not only with the story as a whole, but sometimes with an idea, a beautiful phrase, or even a word, that resonates with you the way nothing has before.

Sensational Quote Sunday is my way of paying homage to those books that remind me every day why I love reading.

Today, I have two words for you.

“Okay?” “Okay.”

Yep, that’s it. And you know what they are, right? Great!

As a bonus, have a trailer that I’ve seen more often than is healthy this week. I am going to ugly cry in public this June. There’s just no way around it.

Still okay? (I’m not sure if I am!!)

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell

ArthurRainbow Rowell’s in the midst of a surge to fame, taking the YA genre by storm. The effects ripple out further than YA, too, with John Green publicly commenting on how much he loved Eleanor & Park. Needless to say, I’ve been meaning to read her work for a while now. I started with Fangirl because even the name is something I identify with!

Cath’s always been the quiet one, overshadowed by her twin sister, Wren. Online, though, it’s a completely different story. Cath’s in love with the world of Simon Snow, a wildly successful series of books and movies about a teen wizard (yes, the echoes of Harry Potter are there for a reason). Like a lot of fans, Cath’s not satisfied with the limited look into Simon’s world she gets in the canon. Writing fanfiction about Simon Snow is a way to stay connected, and Cath and Wren are widely reputed as the best writing duo around.

When the twins go to college, Wren’s looking to break out of the virtual world and experience the ‘real world’; something Cath just can’t understand. Their writing is just as real and just as important as anything happening out there. She keeps posting updates to her fic, feeling more and more involved with her online fans (who number in the thousands), and less connected with Wren than ever. This whole college thing is certainly life changing. But no one mentioned that it can be a change for the worse. Engorgio! (Or, embiggen, more this way):

The Impossible Knife of Memory – by Laurie Halse Anderson

ImpossibleHayley and Andy have never had what you’d call a normal father-daughter relationship. Andy’s been away at war most of Hayley’s life, and now he’s back, but in many ways still as far away as ever. They’re managing, for the most part. After a few years being home schooled by her father on the road, Hayley’s going to school for the first time. Andy’s working, sometimes. The nightmares make that hard. The only thing that helps is the booze – but that has consequences too, for him and his daughter both.

Hayley’s dealing, looking after herself and her dad, as far as she can. After all, she’s only ever been able to rely on herself. Letting people in, letting people help, means letting yourself get let down. Now, though, it seems she might need that help more than she needs to protect herself. Let it Go, Let it Go, Can’t Hold it Back Any More:

The Cinderella Moment – by Jennifer Kloester

cinderellaAngel’s dream has always been to become a fashion designer. But as the daughter of a housekeeper, it feels like that dream may never come true. When Angel’s best friend, Lily, begs Angel to pretend to be Lily in Paris for two weeks while Lily attends drama school in London, it seems like Angel’s chance may finally have arrived. Lily’s grandmother, the Comtesse de Tourney, is one of Paris’ most influential figures, with an invitation to one of the world’s most prestigious fashion events. What if Angel can use this chance to meet the right people, and start living her dream?

It’s a madcap setup that leads to all sorts of mayhem, as Angel quickly discovers that being Lily isn’t just a little white lie. People are going to get hurt – including Angel. But if she doesn’t take this opportunity while she can, will Angel miss her moment forever?

Okay. No summary is going to do justice to the several complicated concurrent story lines fighting for attention in this novel. There’s the Parent-Trap-esque swap. There’s a Teen Couture competition. There’s theft of fashion intellectual property and a bogus entry into said competition. An absent father (Lily’s). A sick mother (Angel’s). An evil almost-stepmother and  almost-stepsister. Two or three extremely convoluted back stories. And a boy (of course). Phew. You Don’t Even Know My Last Name:

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