Showing posts with label general. Show all posts
Showing posts with label general. Show all posts

Saturday, May 2, 2015

[Review] Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

In "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen, Annabel Greene gets excluded from her group of friends. There's a secret that she desperately wants to keep from everybody, even if that means that she's going to have to shut off all her friends and family.

Excessive Use of Flashbacks: Yay or Nay?

I couldn't quite get into this one. Dessen has a way of writing that I'm not very fond of. She uses a lot of flashbacks to establish her characters and familiarize the reader with them. At times I got lost in those flashbacks and didn't even know anymore what the present tense storyline is about. When you've got so much background story information dump, it's very easy to lose motivation. I had rather have her add the character development to the present stroyline instead of rambling on and on about past events. I get that it's necessary and I think that the information is absolutely vital to the plot, but still, come on, no flashbacks!

Essentially because Dessen's writing is centered around Annabel's family in the beginning, her sisters Whitney and Kirsten, instead of around her, I kind of forgot who the main character was. It felt like the protagonist was Whitney with her eating disorder instead of Annabel. Another thing that bugged me intensly is how broken her family is. Everybody has issues, everybody has some kind of mental illness and a dramatic backstory explaining it. It's just too much. You can't do it all justice in one novel if you mash things together and hardly even deal with them. (Writing 2/5)

Teenagers Don't Act Like This

What bugged me intensely is how grown-up the main characters Owen and Annabel are acting. Teenagers that age are moody, irreponsible and don't care much about anything besides themselves. It's not a cliche, if you know people that age, you know it's true. You might want to argue: Not all of them are like this- but making the two main characters be so ridiculously compassionate, understanding and grown-up just made me shake my head. Annabel's family is falling apart and she is too, yet she's so selflessly doing everything to make everyone happy. There are no rash decisions, no teenage tantrums, nothing. The only times teenagers in the novel act up is due to some kind of mental issue or due to being the antagonists.

Especially with Owen I straight up had the feeling that Dessen was talking through him like a puppet. He sounds nothing like a teenage boy. Having obscure interests is one thing, but making him this sort of super precocious and at the same time wiser than his years kind of guy doesn't make him attractive as a love interest, it just makes me roll my eyes. The majority of people twice his age I know aren't as grown-up as him and it's just not a flattering personality trait if you want your audience to like him. In general I think the novel would have worked so, so, so, so much better with twenty-something main characters instead of pretentious sixteen year olds.

Still, I can't deny that Dessen's characters are well thought out. You can clearly see that she put thought into building them, but it's just over the top to me. I couldn't really like anyone in the novel and if you don't empathize with the characters, it's hard to have fun reading. It took me forever to finish this novel for that exact reason. (Characters 3/5)

The Story is Going Nowhere

While we do have these insanely planned.out characters with their dramatic backstories, there is no clear plot line. There's no way to tell what exactly this novel is about. First there's a bunch of flashbacks, then it flips back to the past and then we go back to flashbacks again. You feel like a ping-pong ball reading this. If you've paid attention at least a bit, you can tell from page three on that this is a novel about rape. It's absolutely clear what happened that led to Annabel and Sophie not being friends anymore and the evolving friendship between Owen and Annabel is just extremely boring and unrealistic. (Plot 2/5)




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm disappointed with Sarah Dessen's writing. It's the first novel of hers that I've read and it's certainly going to be the last. I had to force myself to continue reading and absolutely didn't enjoy it at all. The characters are well thought out and the writing is alright, I have to acknowledge that, but it's just not an interesting read. I almost fell asleep reading this.

"Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

German Cover, dtv


Additional Info:

Original Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: April 6th 2006 
Pages: 383
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Cover:  Viking Books for Young Readers, 2006
Genre: YA / General
ISBN: 9780670061051

Recommended for Fans of:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Have you read books by Sarah Dessen? 

How did you like this one?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[Review] Princess in the Spotlight (The Princess Diaries #2) - Meg Cabot

In PRINCESS IN THE SPOTLIGHT, Mia Thermapolis doesn't only have to deal with the public attention that's linked to being the sole heir to the Genovian throne; her mother is pregnant - by Mia's math teacher! Above all, she also has a secret admirer and is dying to find out who's in love with her.
What intrigued me: I love the first one!

Super short read

The first time I've read this I finished it in about a day. The novel is on the shorter side and very easy and quick to read without even rushing through the whole thing. However, I wasn't as thrilled with the second as I was with the first. 

The story picks up right where it left off in THE PRINCESS DIARIES. Just like in the first novel, Mia tells about her day in chapters of varying lengths. The main focus is on the upcoming wedding of her mother and her math teacher Frank Gianini. That's about all that happens in the book. Everyone's busy making plans for the wedding.

Mia seems very lost in this one, hurrying from left to right to please everyone and being constantly looked over. The charm of the first novel doesn't really translate to the second and I don't think I will be rereading this as many times as I reread the first. The character voice is on spot and it just amazes me how Cabot is able to look into the head of a 14-year-old so well that it's actually scaring me.

Unique and Hilarious Writing

Cabot keeps the story extremely witty. There are times when I just laughed out loud or rolled my eyes at the thing her characters say. The humor is just something that's unique to this series and that I haven't encountered in any of Cabot's other novels. The characters are absolutely captivating and interesting and as a fan of the first novel you just need to know what happens next. I've grown to love every single character in the series and even the new characters (Mia's maternal grandparents and her cousin) are absolutely hilarious. 

There's a lot of wasted potential though, because Mia doesn't get a real storyline on her own and is just awkwardly hovering around the action. I'm guessing that she'll get her own story in the next novel again and fall in love and the like, but I'm seriously missing the teenage drama! 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

It's insane how Cabot is able to see right into the head of a fourteen year old teenager. Back when I was Mia's age and even younger I remember being very impressed and wondering how it's possible to write so relatably. I just adore her writing and would recommend this series!

Additional Info

Published: February 1st, 2002.
Pages: 249
Genre: YA / General
ISBN: 9783570125793

"No one ever said being a princess was easy.

Just when Mia thought she had the whole princess thing under control, things get out of hand, fast. First there's an unexpected announcement from her mother. Then Grandmère arranges a national primetime interview for the brand-new crown princess of Genovia. On top of that, intriguing, exasperating letters from a secret admirer begin to arrive.

Before she even has the chance to wonder who those letters are from, Mia is swept up in a whirlwind of royal intrigue the likes of which hasn't been seen since volume I of The Princess Diaries.

Have You Read Any of the Princess Diaries Novels?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

[Review] Numbers (#1) - Rachel Ward

In "Numbers" by Rachel Ward, we meet Jem Marsh, who has a very special gift: She can see the date her opposite will die whenever she looks at them. When she notices that a bunch of people have the same date written in their eys, she realizes that she's in the middle of a mass murder situation. Jem walks straight into a terrorist attack. Obviously, the terrorists aren't so happy about someone predicting their plans.

I could not get into this novel, even though I really, really tried. The main characters are absolutely unidentifyable and unrealistic to me and I did not have fun reading this at all. The novel is marketed as a YA dystopia romance basically, I was expecting Jem's ability to play a much more interesting role. In the novel it's conmstantly played down and just regarded as normal. Nobody knows about it, but Jem isn't really affected it, besides her avoiding to look at people's eyes she doesn't act different to any other teenager.

I didn't understand why she's friends with Spider either because she constantly says how much he smells and how much she doesn't like him and I just ...? I wanted to slap her for not just turning her back on him, it's just not fair to him how she thinks about him and pretends to be his friend when she really doesn't like him. This makes Jem very unlikeable and paired with her childlike naivity/"I don't care, I'm too cool for school"-attitude, her habit of hurting people subconsciously just annoyed the heck out of me. had she at least been written intentionally like this, I might have said, well, okay. But like this I just got the notion that Ward didn't even notice what a shit character she creates and how problematic Jem's bahvior is in general.
Exactly for this reason I quit the novel about 80 pages in, because I haven't encountered such a terrible main character in literature before and I just felt like my brain cells were decaying the longer I read this. There's not a single character in this novel on whom there isn't put emphasis as to how much Jem thinks they're disgusting/unlikeable/stupid/crazy. Her perspective is really tiring and I didn't even get to the inevitable romance part between Spider and Jem. Just no.

The premise is great, but it's not anything new. I think Ward did everything wrong there is to do wrong about this. Seeing people's times of death can be such an interesting start for a dystopian novel- had the setting been different, had there been less car-chasing-running-away-pseudo-bad-action-movie-cliche-stuff, this would have so much potential. It's such a pity because the writing is actually extraordinarily good.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆  

Overall: Do I recommend?

No. I couldn't finish it, like I said. Prime example why good writing doesn't necessarily makes a good novel.

Official Synopsis:
"Ever since she was child, Jem has kept a secret: Whenever she meets someone new, no matter who, as soon as she looks into their eyes, a number pops into her head. That number is a date: the date they will die. Burdened with such awful awareness, Jem avoids relationships. Until she meets Spider, another outsider, and takes a chance. The two plan a trip to the city. But while waiting to ride the Eye ferris wheel, Jem is terrified to see that all the other tourists in line flash the same number. Today's number. Today's date. Terrorists are going to attack London. Jem's world is about to explode!"
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Recommendation: The Princess Diaries (#1) by Meg Cabot

In THE PRINCESS DIARIES, Mia Thermopolis finds out that her father is the prince of Genovia, a small European country that nobody has ever heard of. And because her father can't have kids anymore, this in turn makes her the only heir to the throne of Genovia.  

Essentially teen

No matter what age you are, I guarantee you, you will suffer with Mia. Mia is your typical teenager with typical teenage problems - unrequited crushes, terrible self-image and a weird family. The way Cabot portrays her had me back when I was the same age as Mia and I could identify with her character a lot. Cabot is just great at writing teenagers and the character voice is insanely unique. 

While we do have a lot of cliché characters, Cabot somehow gives the whole thing a twist: the mean cheerleader Lana and her hot boyfriend that Mia is crushing on could be such shallow characters, but they are not cardboard cutouts. Every character in the novel just feels real and you can tell that a lot of character building went into this. I especially loved Mia's best friend Lily with her nerdiness and her therapist parents. Their relationship is the base of this novel to be honest and Cabot cleverly uses Lily as a possibility to give Mia (and the reader) advice without pushing it.

Character growth and entertainment de luxe

Another gem in this novel is Mia's grandmother. Mia goes through so much character development by trying to defy her grandmother and learning to do whatever she wants instead of trying to please everyone. I think that's the main reason why I have and still love this novel so much - because throughout the course of the novel she grows so much in character. When I was her age, I worried about the same things, I identified with basically all of her problems and the way she deals with them helped me a lot and I can imagine that it's the same for other teenagers out there.

I rooted for Mia to get with Josh and the resolution made my heart ache while still being happy that she made the right choice. 

Of course it's a cliché storyline, 
Of course it's your typical high school novel and yeah I'm being subjective and a little big nostalgic when I wholeheartedly recommend this to you guys. 

It's easy to get lost in this novel, even when you're not fourteen anymore, because the writing is just on point. This book has everything: great characters, superb writing and an easy plot that isn't too complicated. Did I mention massive character growth? If you haven't read it yet or simply seen the movie, you should try it. You're not going to regret it, trust me.



Additional Info

Published: June 26th 2001
Pages: 283
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780613371650

"She's just a New York City girl living with her artist mom…

NEWS FLASH: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that's why a limo meets her at the airport!)

DOWNER: Dad can't have any more kids. (So there's no heir to the throne.)

SHOCK OF THE CENTURY: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material.

THE WORST PART: Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmère, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne.

Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal–blue in the face about her princessly duty—no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind.

 "(Source: Goodreads)


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