The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James // Book Review

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Everyday is marked by emails sent from Earth to the Infinity. The conversations span across space and time. Romy eagerly waits for human contact or any contact for that matter. It’s not as if she’s entirely alone with her plants, miniature paper farm, and favorite TV show. This is all she needs until it isn’t enough. That’s when the Eternity appears.

Jay is coming to join Romy on the journey to Earth 2. The newer ship is faster and can reduce the arrival timeframe of 20 years to only 4. Romy has been waiting all her life but the news is still more than welcomed. Soon Romy’s days are marked by emails from Jay as they grow closer in distance and friendship. However, things are starting to surface. Secrets about the Infinity and its inhabitants won’t stay quiet any longer. Romy realizes that she was never truly alone.

The book devolves into a series of manic episodes that resembles a fever dream. Is anything real? I thought the story crafted was suspenseful. The constant threats put me on the edge and I honestly thought there were many close calls. The reveal and eventual confrontation was…yeah. I was disappointed with the ending because it seemed like there weren’t any consequences. It was the ending you wanted but didn’t deserve.

I recommend this for fans of psychological horror but don’t want intense gore.

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Honestly one of the best covers this year. The strong geometric circle creates a focal point and although I typically dislike centered text, it works in this context. The figure gives the illusion of a fading perspective and gives depth to an otherwise potentially flat shape. I don’t understand the font given that the high x-height for the “E” and low for the “R” conveys a 1920s vibe. The “O” is circular but other sans-serifs would have fit better like Futura or even Gills Sans. It’s just out of place in something that’s supposed to be modern. I think that the leading of the title could increase to act as a pathway to the figure instead of sitting stagnantly.

Providence by Caroline Kepnes // Book Review

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This was certainly a change of pace for an author who usually writes crime thrillers. Well, to be fair, this may not be far off but with the introduction of science fiction elements. While not the most groundbreaking work, I think it had potential. If Kepnes had just played out John’s and Chloe’s relationship it might have been more heartbreaking than whatever convoluted mess it turned out to be.

John is a strange boy who feels too much according to the small town he lives in. This apparently makes him the target for those who feel…less. When John goes missing, a half hearted effort is made to search for a boy who was invisible in the first place. After years have past, Chloe is the one of the only people who still remembers John and believes he’s alive. So, it comes as a great surprise when John shows up relatively fine. Or is he because now things happen when he feels. And he can’t stop feeling so here’s to making off in the night again.

This leads to years of back and forth as John tries to understand his newfound powers. Chloe is now a successful artist profiting from portraits of John in her endless search for the one who got away. Somehow, it’s star-crossed lovers kept apart due to unforeseen circumstances and I’m not convinced the two have chemistry. It’s like when someone ships totally unrelated characters and you’re like, “no, I don’t see it”. It’s a far reach and there would have been more tension if this idea of soulmates was subverted from the typical “I’m single so come get it while I’m hot”.

The second aspect of this book is the strong connection to H.G. Wells. I have to admit that a lot of it was lost on me and perhaps that diminishes the quality of the story. I wish there was enough material to be its own thing without relying on my knowledge of another book. Since there were heavy references to Well’s works, I found that it didn’t add much to the existing plot. It was lackluster in terms of momentum and I couldn’t figure out the perimeters of John’s powers. Does it work when he’s in close proximity and he reacts strongly. Or does being behind a wall make a difference like in the final showdown.

Providence was for the most part incoherent. There was hardly intrigue or a rhyme to the reason. I guess I disengaged 1/4 of the way in and it’s been lost to me ever since. A lot of the characters are unlikeable as well. Even John is emotionally unhinged and he can’t seem to get help mainly because we don’t even know if talking to someone over the phone will activate his powers. I wouldn’t bother with this book if you’re already familiar with sci-fi tropes but at least it’s trying. Plus there’s a harden detective as if we needed another cliche to pad for filler.

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What’s the point of the neon typeface? Does it add anything to the cover? No, it doesn’t. I feel that the imagery of the children run after one another is great. As well as the distorted reflection to signify something to their relationship. The graphic shapes help to give motion but it doesn’t do much in the way of implying a tone. I wonder why this is so lack luster and I think it’s largely due to the content of the story itself. Shots fired.

Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush // Book Review

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A diaster of sizable proportions. Eighteen-year-old Gem is written as if she’s thirteen. Added to the fact that Gem has a serious drinking problem and you get some of the most interesting dynamics in recent memory. The opening scene involves Gem and best friend Alex playing a prank on her brother’s girlfriend. To say the least, it was a sophisticated and introspective character study delving into the intricacies of the human condition. Lol, it was as sophisticated as throwing a stink bomb because that’s exactly what it was. I could not stop cringing at their immeasurable immaturity.

Then, once the partners in crime think they’ve gotten away, the two go to a bar to celebrate. Unknowingly, they were spotted and made out to be the culprits but what did you expect when the victim saw you in plain sight. When Alex is confronted by her brother, she does the only thing possible: act indignant and throw a tantrum when it doesn’t work. So they properly get punished (yes, like a magical time out if you will) and Alex is rendered a normie.

The story revolves around Gem’s sensitivity to magic and her apparent synesthesia wherein she can taste/smell/see magical essence. These sensations can be overwhelming and she has to subdue them with alcohol. However, her crush is a twenty-something man still into high school girls. He’s the edgiest and has a penchant for violence as well as emotionally abusing people because he can’t reconcile with his emotions. It’s not sexy to be emotionally inept and yet it’s presented as if my panties should be wet as we speak. Crowe assaults rival gang members, has anger management issues that threaten those closest to him, and thinks he’s protecting people by ignoring them.

To be fair, these two awful people deserve each other. Gem dates someone else to get over Crowe but we all know that she going to toss him in the trash the second Crowe gives her the slightest attention. She also throws tantrums but then again what can you do when your dad decides to exile himself to atone for his actions and in the process neglects his responsibilities at home because his presence is non-traditionally valued. What are pulling here: a Sasuke?

I did like the magic system and it had potential if only it was cleaned up and there were a few rules to establish consequences. The villain was whatever and I can’t say that I wasn’t rooting for him. Honestly, the only innocent on was Gem’s mom. The rest of the victims were pieces of shit that I couldn’t really care one way or the other is they were to be murdered. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re into the pleasure of suffering.

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You can’t go wrong when you put the title on fabric in an imitation of appliqué. It looks cool and seems like you put in effort. Although I think that the tag line and author’s name isn’t effectively integrated. It comes across as more of an afterthought which is a shame because the rest of the cover is solid.

09.2018 // Dropped YA Series

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The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2)

It’s difficult to collect my thoughts to better understand if the real problem is me or the book itself. Maybe it’s a combination of the two that honestly didn’t mesh well. To say the least, my favorite part of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue was Felicity Montague. However, the writing leaves much to be desired and I don’t want to be burned again with poor pacing and character development. I mean, what the fuck is up with the whole playing coy and getting upset that the other person didn’t pick up on it? How is that healthy in any sexual relationship? Can I get some valuable communication instead of acting out in an almost abusive and manipulative fashion (I’m looking at you, Monty). And can I say that sending your boy on a cruise is not punishment and Monty deserves worse for being a general asshole. I want to give the sequel a chance, but I don’t want to force myself to do it.

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One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2)

This series is more ambitious can it’s capable of handling. The characters are all muddled together and we hardly spend enough time on one princess’s perspective before jumping to another. Add to the fact that the author has to explain the rules of the curse and the mechanics of the throne war and everything starts to spiral. I couldn’t tell anyone apart so it was very difficult to keep track of all the moving pieces on this political chessboard. I think it would have worked better if the narratives didn’t run simultaneously but in chronological order so I’m not disoriented of the timeline which seems too fluid. I don’t think that the sequel would be any improvement.

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The Fates Divide (Carve the Mark #2)

There’s a similar problem of too much at once in Carve the Mark, but on a grander scale of intergalactic importance. The magic system seemed insignificant and there aren’t strict guidelines to add weight to consequences. If anything goes then nothing matters and I don’t feel invested. This aspect annoyed me as well as the whole destiny cliche and this concept of star-crossed lovers to rectify years of imperialism and the justification of it. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up with the cluttered plot which is understandable to an extent since the fantasy revolves around war. It just couldn’t engage me and seemed neither serious enough or fantastic.

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From Twinkle, with Love

Dimple and Rashi are the worst. The former hosts internalized misogyny and the latter holds sexist prejudice. Maybe it isn’t my place to throw around my ethnocentric beliefs, but what was the point of the book other than to reaffirm problematic traditions. It’s fine if your parents want to set you up because they know who you are and would pair someone who compliments your energy. It’s another thing to disrespect your child’s autonomy and force them into a life that restrains their potential. However, it is not okay to throw tantrums and instead have a meaningful conversation with the people who care deeply for you and if there’s no way to see ends meet than you can only bid your time. This novel is irresponsible in it’s message and superficial in its feminist ideas.

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The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)

I’m all for retellings with a twist and in this case Sherlock is a teenage girl. Well actually, in this universe, Sherlock Holmes was a real person and Charlotte is the descendent of the great detective. Yet, I fail to be intrigued by the mysteries and I think it’s such as bore to sequester the crimes to a high school level environment. That means we’re generally exploring the usual suspects with the usual tropes of cliques. Such as drugs and jocks in no other capacity then their archetypes. It’s uninspired and despite Charlotte doing coke, she manages to make it the most boring thing to do. Okay, not to glamorize drug use, but I think it’s equally bad to trivialize it too until you need it for some dramatic tension.

 

In the end, it’s more of a me not you situation. Let me know in the comments if I should reconsider picking up a series or which series I should start instead!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman // Book Review

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C O N T E N T  W A R N I N G :  A B U S E , R A P E

Eleanor is honest to a fault. She is literal and applies rationale to aspects of life that are inherently irrational. Such as, why people want to purposefully arrive late to parties or why smokey eyes do not mean that your eyelids have caught on fire. She bull heads her biases and attempts to stronghold people into her worldview. When Eleanor sees someone who is overweight, she concludes that they are lazy individuals who don’t merit sympathy because they lack restraint for self-indulging. It’s quite appalling how apathetic she is to humanity and the misanthropic qualities she exhibits unabashedly to banal individuals.

Initially, it was difficult to even tolerate Eleanor. I failed to see where the character would go and was cautious that the story would only reaffirm her actions as acceptable. I  debated about dropping the book entirely in an effort to recoup my time I may have wasted. Instead, small aspects about Eleanor needled at me. I felt something was amiss as she lead us through her daily routine and her interactions with others. How she craves attention from strangers but avoided more intimate relationships. No, there were slippages where Eleanor would allow herself to acknowledge her moments of weakness. Eventually, she transformed from pathetic to sympathetic. I could relate to her social awkwardness and understood the anxiety to perform correctly in public.

Perhaps, that’s why this book is an instance of resistance. It’s sophisticated in presenting itself as not only a romance but self-awareness. In addition, it rejects that care should only be administered by the self and alerts us to all the times others have failed a person like Eleanor. This novel asks how do we value our worth especially in context to the people we surround ourselves.

Eleanor is fine until she is made aware that she isn’t. She begins to redefine being fine once she realizes the ways in which she is unraveling. In the hopes to get better, she has to let the hurt out. What’s left is the possibility to let healing in where the hurt used to live. Maybe it will work and maybe it’s futile, but that’s the decision Eleanor makes for herself.