Thursday, July 24, 2014

I am the Messenger: Review


Author: Markus Zusak
Age range: 13-17
Content: Moderate romance, no sexual content, high language, moderate violence
Genre: Teen Fiction / Tough Stuff
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Pages: 368
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

Synopsis:
Ed Kennedy, an underage cab driver, pathetic card player, and useless romantic, lives in a shabby shack and is hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence. Until, one day, he accidentally stops a bank robbery. That's when the first Ace arrives, that's when he becomes the messenger. Chosen to care, Ed follows the instructions he's given, making his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains. Who is Ed working for?

Opinions:
The skeleton of this post has been in my drafts for a good six months. Not sure why I procrastinated this long to actually finish it, but better late than never, right?

The author of this book is same guy who wrote The Book Thief which I also read and reviewed. It was very, very good. So going into this book, I expected nothing short of greatness. Now, although the story was no where near as epic and emotionally tearful as The Book Thief, it was still a decent read.

It was more of a mystery than anything else. None of the questions that ran through my mind whilst reading were easily answered ones. Nothing was predictable but came together really well in the end. But it also wasn't just a book full of tricky questions and confusion. There was action and romance and stuff that kept the story moving. I also liked that stuff wasn't answered all at one time. Piece by piece, the puzzle was put together and the truth cleverly unfolded over the course of the plot.

The characters were good in a real, wry sort of way. They were all unique from each other and other literary characters. The dialog between them was funny, charming, and each line said something about the character. I believe it's narrated in first person by Ed. I liked Ed. I thought he was funny and smart and dorky and likable in that quirky, literary nerd way. I thought the underage cab thing was funny. Also how he went through his life with a sort of detached, placid disposition.

This has nothing to do with this book, but I just feel a rant coming on. I've noticed that all main characters of novels are all the same, give or take the interests, gender, and home situation. Nine times out of ten, if you open a book (with the exception of autobiographies and whatever), the main character will be an outcast in one or every aspect of his or her life. They will be disinterested when it comes to the worthiness of things superficial or shallow. They will like something to do with fine arts like books, painting, film, or photography. They will also have a quiet, sensitive yet stubborn, and occasionally feisty personality with endless sarcasm, wit, and smarts which help them carry out all their noble deeds.

The reason behind these similar character traits is simple. Think about the people who read and write these things. It's not a bad thing. Authors and readers are all resting within the same personality group. It's just human nature for them to write about characters that are like them and will be well-received by their audience.

I recommend this to fans of books like Paper Towns by John Green. These books aren't exactly alike. The styles are different, the characters are different, and the overall feel of the books are different. Paper Towns is definitely a lot lighter and funnier when it comes to content. But they both have that mind-bending mystery investigation thing to them. Which I found to be the most attractive thing about both books. Or there was this other book I read called The Vanishing Game. That had the same amount of mystery to it as this book.

Overall, I like this book. I like Markus Zusak. I actually would read this again because I liked it so much. I think it would be a good travel or beach book. A nice, funny, entertaining read. Okay. That's it for this long expanse of rantish text. July has gone by hella fast. Yeah, alright. I'm done. BYE. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Eye of Minds: Review


Author: James Dashner
Age range: 13-17
Content: No romance, no sexual content, mild language, moderate violence
Genre: Teen Science Fiction / Teen Fantasy
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Pages: 320
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

Synopsis:
Michael is a gamer. And, like most gamers, he spends more time in the VirtNet than the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, a horrifying yet addicting experience. Thanks to technology, anyone with money can enter fantasy worlds, risk their lives without fear of death, or just hang out with VirtNet friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun it is. But some rules were made for a reason. Some codes are too dangerous to Reports claim that one gamer has gone where no gamer has gone before. He's holding players inside the VirtNet with results as terrible as brain-death. Yet, this rule-breaker's motives are a mystery. 
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. They've been watching Michael and his friends and recruit them. They go off the VirtNet grid and into alleyways and back corners the human eyes have never seen before and predators Michael can't even fathom. There's possibility that the line between game and real life will be blurred forevermore.

Opinions:
The one thing I can't stand is when characters, especially main characters, don't have any depth. I felt like I was reading a comic book without the pictures. 

As a reader, I knew nothing of Michael beside his name and home situation that was both shallow and shallow. His two friends, Sarah and... (I literally can't remember the other one's name for the life of me) lacked depth and development too. None of them were changed by the course of events. I mean, Michael goes through some sort of revelation at the end, I think, that was supposed to change his whole mental image of himself. But it lacked extremity, drama, vulnerability, and transformation. It was hard to tell if he was different from the Michael who started the book because I never really got to know that Michael or any Michael, for that matter. He had no layers. He was just one person, just the VirtNet gamer. Literally didn't even know his hair color.

The writing was simple almost the point of being elementary. The plot, for me, was way too short and way too brief. It was too easy for Michael and his friends to defeat the enemy and the "big twist" to the story was hardly even understandable, lessening the shock value by thousands. I can only excuse such a simple one track plot like this when the characters are so deeply written that it seems like they have souls and that just wasn't the case with this book.

The only thing about this book that didn't completely suck was all the thought put behind the VirtNet. All the aspects of the game were well-thought out and very creative. It's not a concept like any other, very unique and fresh. I just wish Dashner had deepened the story more, pushed the limits. It's like he spent all his time on the concept and rushed through the actual plot writing, hoping the VirtNet would be enough to carry the story. 

That being said, I do like James Dashner. He wrote a really great series called The Maze Runner. So great that it's actually being turned into a movie starring Dylan O'Brian. It's getting a lot of hype so I hope it's good. Anyway, I read The Maze Runner back in 2012 and I loved it. I'm rereading it right now and, well, I'm still loving it.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this to older readers. It seems to me like more of a kid's book than a teen book. If you don't really like thinking while you're reading, you might like this. I don't know. It's hard to recommend a book you didn't enjoy.

Okay. That's all for today. I'll be back soon. Bye. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

BZRK: Revisited Review


Author: Michael Grant
Age range: 13 & up
Content: Moderate romance, mild sexual content, high language, moderate violence
Genre: Teen Science Fiction / Teen Action Adventure
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: 416
Where to get it: Barnes & NobleAmazonTargetHalf-Price Books

Synopsis:
A war over the control of the human mind breaks out. Charles and Benjamin Armstrong are grotesquely conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation. They have a goal to turn their world into their vision of a utopia; no war, no conflicts, no hunger, and no free will. Opposing them is a group of young people, code name BZRK, who are protecting the right to be screwed up, the right to be hungry, the right to be human. This is no ordinary war. Weapons break out on the nano-level. The battleground is the human brain and body. There are no stalemates here, no ties. It's victory and sanity for the winners. Death, or even worse, madness for the losers.

Opinions:
I read and reviewed this over two years ago. Inserting link HERE. Once again, the first time I read this, I didn't understand it or appreciate it. I understood the storytelling part of it, but the science bits were completely lost on thirteen-year-old me which resulted in me skipping chapters of this book. This time, I read the entire thing, front to back, every single page. As predicted, a book is a lot better when you actually understand it.

I love this book. I've read two other books by Michael Grant (not counting the second sequel to BZRK). Gone and Eve & Adam. Those were okay. The BZRK books are definitely my favorite from Grant, by far. I love the style it's written in. Simple, but not vague. Detailed, but not droney. I like how nothing is sugar-coated. Everything is raw and real without being crude or too gory. To me, it's like a milder, more modern SK book.

The book's amazingly detailed, wonderfully gruesome, and pretty funny, too. There's a good few handfuls of characters. Not so many where it's hard to keep track of who's who, but just enough. All the characters are unique from each other and other literary characters from other books. I liked the romance between Keats and Plath (Noah and Sadie). It was desperate, fleeting, unsure, ultimately fueled by loneliness, but sweet in an odd way. Exactly how a relationship between two orphaned teenagers in a high stress situation should be.

The plot was unpredictable and very well-written. The ending was concluded, yet compellingly open-ended, leading to sequels. Currently, there is only one sequel to BZRK. It's called BZRK: Reloaded. The third book comes out this October. That one's called BZRK: Apocalypse. I'm pretty excited about that one.

Alright. That's a wrap. I hope you found this helpful in one way or another and I will be back sometime soon. Have a fabulous day. Later, gators.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Trin the YouTuber

I have an announcement.

And it has nothing to do with books.

As you may or may not know, I have a little sister. She's twelve years old (as of yesterday, happy late birthday, rascal) and she's honestly the cutest little button ever. This announcement regards her.

Trinity, being the bubbly, determined, little dream-chaser that she is, has launched her very own YouTube channel where she plans on doing makeup, tips and tricks, chit-chatty, and lifestyle videos. She's done two videos so far and I think she's done a very good job. I am extremely, extremely proud of her. It takes guts to put yourself out there like that. I'm so excited to see where this takes her.

I want you to do me a favor and, if you like cute beauty videos, pay her a visit over there on YT. Watch her videos, like, subscribe, comment, etc. I'll put a link at the end of this post. 

Okay. That's all for today. I hope you enjoy visiting Trin's channel and have an awesome day. Bye.

Trinity: PuddingKat77

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TFiOS

As you probably know already, The Fault in Our Stars by the one and only, John Green has been made into a major motion picture and premiered at the beginning of this month. Am I reviewing a movie? I honestly don't know. But here we go...


The director is Josh Boone. The screenplay was written by Scott Nestaudter and Micheal H. Weber. The release date (in America) was June 6, 2014. Although, where I live, there were some special night before showings on the 5th. 

So, even though there were earlier showings, I went to the first midnight showing with my best friend who had to introduced me to the book and John Green a few years ago. First off, I don't think I've ever seen so many teenage girls in leggings, sweats, and Okay? Okay. shirts as I did that night. There were so many. I honestly and shamelessly felt totally comfortable. The only thing that annoyed me was the hordes of twelve-year-olds who didn't understand half the metaphors and probably didn't even read the book, just carried their copy around for a week. That annoyed me. 

Anyway. The movie was... amazing

It was funny, touching, and heartbreaking just as the book was. I loved Shailene Woodley as Hazel. I thought she was perfectly sharp-witted and soft-spoken without being vanilla or a pushover. Ansel Elgort was a great Augustus Waters, too. That was a really big worry for me because Augustus has been one of my favorite characters in all of fictional history since 2012. Ansel as Gus was chivalrous, charming, and confident without ever being cocky or cheesy. He delivered all the romantic and iconic lines without ruining them or making me cringe. I loved him as Augustus that I honestly didn't even care what he looked like physically. Same with Nat Wolff as Isaac. Book Isaac, features-wise, looks different from Movie Isaac. But it really didn't matter at all because he was a fantastic Isaac. The characters in the movie were very much the characters that John Green wrote and the characters all the fans fell in love with. The people who made this movie clearly knew the book well and conveyed the characters and story flawlessly. 

John Green, Ansel Elgort, and Shailene Woodley on the set of TFiOS.
Most of the time, I don't really care about soundtracks and music. But I bought The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack on iTunes and I adore it. I listen to it all the time.

Then there's the ultimate TFiOS question: did you cry? Yes, I did cry. I cried a lot. But not as much as some of the other girls in the theater. They were SOBBING. They were sobbing like they didn't know how it ended, like they didn't read the book. Word of advice? Read the book first. Always. Read. The. Book.

I'm happy with the success they achieved through this movie because I think it sends a great message of life, love, death, and respect. It's a beautiful book and a just as beautiful movie. 

Augustus and Hazel bein' cute and stuff in Amsterdam.
I recommend going to see it if you're a John Green fan. I mean, he said it himself that he loved it. It was all over his Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube channel. And he's not getting a portion of ticket sales or anything so his opinion of the film is 100% honest. If he didn't like it, you'd know. Don't be scared of being disappointed because I don't think you will be.

So I hope you enjoyed that sort of review of the film-slash-rant about how much I love TFiOS. Be back next month. BYE BYE.