Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins


In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister's place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature. 

This book is definitely the best I have read in a long time. I have always had a thing for dystopia/science fiction, but the Hunger Games blew all the others out of the water! It was so refreshing to read a book where the beautiful girl (who doesn't think she is) falls for the "dark and mysterious" bad boy but there's this whole dystopian plot twist and so she joins the rebellion, but nothing is as bad as it seems blah blah blah.
BUT I was saying, the Hunger Games was amazing; I read it in about 4 days, which is a record for me! The whole thing was electrifying and intense: the characters (loved them all), the setting (brilliant) and the plot. Especially the plot! It had me guessing all the time about was going to happen next, and I was practically always wrong. 
Katniss was a great main character; she was focused on what she wanted and her need to survive was very real and believable. She was the kind of girl I'd be friends with! It was refreshing (as I said earlier) to see her not focused on boys, but on more important things (I'm not saying that romance isn't important!). Her relationships with Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, Prim, Effie, Madge, Cinna and her mother were all wonderful, (especially with Peeta, my new favourite male character!) and I especially liked her relationship with Rue, despite Rue's tragic end that left me emotional! 
The Capitol's cruelty was horrifying to read about, but it was extremely well written (as was the whole novel) and Suzanne Collins's idea was original and thought-provoking. I'm currently reading Catching Fire and I'm officially a Hunger Games convert! I can't wait for the film!
Look out for reviews of Catching Fire and Mockingjay in the immediate future!

Rating: A* (exceptional!)

Monday, 13 February 2012

"What I Saw and How I Lied" by Judy Blundell

Betray your family or your first love... what would you choose?
Evie can't believe her luck when she meets Peter - a handsome, mysterious ex-GI who served with her stepfather in the war. But when she falls for Peter, she finds he has dark secrets, and a strange control over her parents. When a shocking death occurs, Evie's world is shattered. Torn between her family and the man she loves, Evie must betray someone. The question is... who?

This book took me AGES to read. I think it was because I was trying to take in every word and every phrase and every sentence, to try and make it add up in the end, because I found that the littlest things were essential to the plot, and appearances were very deceptive.

This book intrigued me right from the start. The first chapter opens to Evie in a hotel room with her mother. Why are they there? What has happened? What is going on? And then the story bursts right in on Evie's family: Joe, her stepfather, Beverly, her very attractive, glamorous mother, and Grandma Glad, her battleaxe grandmother. They all live in Gladys's house in Queens, New York, and what follows is a startling, yet thrilling story.
Evie was a great character. She is possibly one of my favourite book main characters in a long time. Yes, at first, she was naive, but aren't all fifteen year olds? I fell for Peter just as Evie did; he was charming and wonderful and just so incredibly handsome. Evie kept me at a distance, but purposefully, as Judy Blundell clearly didn't want to give the plot away. The plot twisted and turned and there were many surprises along the way, and the massive plot shock in the middle made me reel. The final pages were emotional, but I loved reading Evie's character development, the way she had to grow up, the realizations that she made about the adults around her, and the way she discovered the truth that had been there all along, but that maybe she'd purposefully overlooked.
I understand why she lied. I understood her motivations and her realizations and her loyalty not only to her family, but to Peter also, and the ending blew me away. 

Rating: A+

"Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen

I'm Annabel. I'm the girl who has it all. Model looks, confidence, a great social life. I'm one of the lucky ones. Aren't I?

My 'best friend' is spreading rumors about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It's turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence.

But I've met this guy who won't let me hide away. He's one of those intense types, obsessed with music. He's determined to make me listen. And he's determined to make me smile. But can he help me forget what happened the night everything changed?

When I read Just Listen, I was going through my 'I won't read anything' phase, where I didn't read books, or magazines, or really anything. But one day I was out shopping and in a bookstore, and so I decided to buy this one, because I liked the sound of it from the blurb. Actually, it sounded amazing. So I went home, and read it, and this book basically got me reading again, and I haven't stopped since.

From the outset, Annabel looks like she has the perfect life. Now, Annabel was a great character who I really found to be relatable and extremely likable, even though at first I thought I wouldn't like her, because she wouldn't be the kind of girl who I would be friends with. So, something terrible happened at the end of year party, and Annabel can't forget it, and it seems that her 'best friend' Sophie can't either. Let me tell you something: that Sophie is a bitch. Oh, the times I wanted to shake her and slap her and tell her to get a grip. But that's writing for you. The twist of what happened at the party didn't come together until practically the end, and I was like "OMG!" and it really took me by surprise!
On the first day back at school, Annabel finds herself alone, having alienated her ex-best friend Clarke, and Sophie is calling her names on sight. Then, she meets Owen, a loner and outsider who is obsessed with music. All types of music, even random stuff like Gregorian chants and classical stuff and techno and rock and screeching violins. Owen was fantastic!
Basically, this novel blew me away, and Sarah Dessen's writing is astounding. She really makes you feel like you're in the book, feeling everything that her main character is feeling, and she describes everything and it's just WOW. More Sarah Dessen reviews/love-ins are coming soon!

Rating: A+

"When It Happens" by Susane Colasanti

A boy, a girl, and the possibility of something real...

Seniors in high school, Sara and Tobey couldn't be more different. She wants to get into her first-choice college; he wants to win Battle of the Bands. Sara's other goal is to find true love, so when popular Dave asks her out, she's thrilled. But Tobey always creeps into her thoughts. Lucky for Sara, one of Tobey's goals is also to make her fall in love with him. Told in alternating points of view, Sara and Tobey's real connection will have everyone rooting for them from the minute they meet!

The blurb of When It Happens also features a Kirkus review, which says "Chick lit for girls who think". I think this summarizes this novel perfectly, as it was a quick, yet well thought-out read that I really enjoyed. It is different from normal chick-lit because, again, Susane Colasanti's books feature deep topics, and have, dare I say it, intelligent protagonists, like Sara, who I really identified with, because not only was she smart, but she wasn't distracted from what was important in her life and knew what she wanted. 
I bought this in San Francisco, and it was a fast-paced read (I read it in a day or two). Susane's writing really captured me and I like how her novels revolve around fate and true love, without making them sappy or annoying or predictable. 
Overall, a fantastic read from an author who's other books I am looking out for!

Rating: A