Clockwork Angel: Worth your Time?

Hahahaha I’m so punny.

Title: ‘Clockwork Angel’ (‘The Infernal Devices book #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunnkkkkkkk

Rating: 3 forks.

Okay, so this was my first experience reading Cassandra Clare and I must say… not bad.

Not great, but not bad all the same.

The bad stuff: 
– The cheap ‘world building: Spouting off titles of famous classics like ‘Little Women’ and ‘Jane Eyre’ does not make the whole Victorian Era setting any more realistic. If anything, it gives the setting a plastic-y sheen.

– Villains who reek of cheese: Seriously. I literally snorted when ‘Mrs. Dark’ and ‘Mrs. Black’ were introduced. They were comical cartoon cut-outs and to be frank: they were boring.

– More issues with *cough cough* ‘villains’: Mortmain was neither interesting nor mysterious- two characteristics which, I believe, every brilliant villain absolutely must possess. He was straightforward and predictable and had as much character as the oh-so-villainous ‘Dark Sisters’

–  Our ‘heroine’: There was something off about Tessa which I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I like caginess in a character- it’s interesting. I don’t like inconsistencies. The sudden transformations of quiet, self-possessed Tessa into a fiery sass ball wasn’t legit.

-Love triangle. Need I say more.

– Too much prettiness. I cannot begin to recount the number of times where Clare assures us of the bluer than blueness of Will Herondale’s irises:

‘Will’s eyes glittered’

‘Will’s eyes were very blue’

‘Will’s eyes were the same dark blue as the velvet binding of the book she held’ (seriously?)

‘his eyes were intently blue’

‘… were the colour of the water of the North Atlantic, where the ice drifted on its blue-black surface like snow clinging to the dark glass pane of a window.’

PLEASE STOP YOU ARE MAKING PEOPLE WANT TO GOUGE OUT THEIR OWN EYES. IT IS CONVOLUTED. IT IS UNNECESSARY. WE GET IT: HE IS A PRETTY BOY.

And naturally, we have our innocent female protagonist completely oblivious to the fact that she is rather beautiful. This isn’t a really legitimate complaint- just a personal rant. Why must heroines always be pretty? Why are there no fantastically independent heroines with faces like a goat? Why is there almost always (in YA fiction), a degree of reliance on their pretty faces? Because, like it or not, 9 times out of 10, that same pretty face is responsible for piquing the ‘hero’ or love interest’s intrigue.

I CHALLENGE YOU AUTHORS OF THE YA SPHERE, GIVE US A HEROINE WHO IS HIDEOUS.
SOMEONE WHOSE INTELLIGENCE, STRENGTH AND WILLPOWER IS ALL THEY HAVE TO RELY ON.

Okay that got off topic.

Now for the gewwwwddddd stuff:

– <u>That ending though</u>: Not saying it wasn’t predictable, but come on. Who doesn’t love betrayalllll. Especially between brother and sister.

– Stereotypical ‘bad boy’ character did not utterly repulse me for once: Author actually made me interested in learning about Will’s shrouded past. I liked the <i>definition</i> of Will’s presence but I am far from the gooey fangirl stage.

– Genre: What can I say. I like Steampunk.

– The ideas behind it: Great idea, the whole Clockwork army thing. It’s not something I’ve seen before and (to an extent) it was refreshing to read.

So yeah. Overall, a pleasant read and more likely to be a crowd-pleaser for those of you who haven’t read the ‘Mortal Instruments’ series (judging from the comments).

‘Throne of Glass’ Aftertaste:

Title: ‘Throne of Glass’

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Romance/ Fantasy (note how Fantasy is placed as the secondary genre here)

Rating: Very. Mixed. Feelings.

“You could rattle the stars. 

You could do anything,if only you dared.” 

Pretty quote isn’t it? Don’t get too excited. That was one of the only saving graces of this book- the writing style.

To me, characters of the book- the main character especially- is the pulse of the novel, what brings it to life. Relateably flawed characters with a moral compass, a distinctive personality paired with a good dose of believable bravery and enough intelligence so you’re not face palming through the whole book is what makes a plotline come to life- characters are what connect you to the story.

And frankly, I could not stand Celaena Sardothien.

We have this Ardalan’s Assassin, right? You expect to see through the perspective of a clinical, ruthlessly analytical, ballsy assassin.

Imagine you’re one of these assassins. What does an assassin do when they first meet someone? In my admittedly not-so-expert opinion, I’d hash a good guess that you’d instantly be looking for ways to disarm them, their posture, if they look aggressive- STRATEGIC things, you know??? And what’s the first thing I get whilst in Celaena’s head? “Wow his eyes are such a bright blue and he’s really good looking, not that I’m noticing or anything.” Literally. The first thing she notices about ANY member of the other gender is their prettiness.

What’s the first thing Celaena’s focus shoots to as soon as she reaches the King of Ardalan’s glass castle? Her pretty new wardrobe. The number of lengthy descriptions we get about each of Celaena’s new silk dresses is ridiculous. Yes, I have a soft spot for a slightly flowery prose- but set in the right context.

Listening to this supposedly lethal assassin go gaga over pretty dresses and even prettier guys is just cringeworthy. Not for a moment did I believe in Celaena Sardothien’s identity. She was so disappointingly shallow and vulnerable. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with vulnerability- you want to see flashes of vulnerability in a character, it’s what makes them complex. But Celaena was just too much of an open book, constantly raw with emotion.

Okay after thoroughly slashing down this disappointingly one-dimensional character, I will proceed to unabashedly praise another character; none other than the Captain of the Guard, Chaol.

What an intense, loaded character. It blows my mind how the same person who created the blandly unbelievable Celaena Sardothien unearthed Chaol Westfall. I’ve rarely come across such a masterfully constructed enigma of a character, radiating this passion and richness which was just… seriously awesome.

Wow I’ve totally stuck my chopsticks into the characters of this book and gleaned over the actual plot itself… honestly, the plot line felt like a bit of a backdrop for another one of those cliched love triangles we cannot seem to escape from in YA fiction. This one wasn’t particularly bile inducing, just… pointless, really. The premise of the story was interesting enough- our ‘Ardalan’s Assassin’ (note the quotation marks) is released from the gruesome prison of Endovier on the condition that she trains to become the King’s Champion. Blah blah blah, read the blurb, it’ll tell you enough.

So do I recommend this book? Apart from a seriously irritating main character, some severely misplaced magic (that whole Cain kefuffle was just unnecessary), the writing style itself was fast paced, engaging and admittedly, un-put-downable.

You may not think highly of ‘Throne of Glass’, but at the end of the day, once you start it, you’ve just got to finish the series because some books are annoying like that.

2 stars: one for the writing style and one for Chaol Westfall.

Julianna Baggott’s ‘Pure’ Brilliance:

Title: ‘Pure’ (so many puns I could make with this title…)

Author: Julianna Baggott (am I the only one who thought that was such a hobbit-style name?)

Genre: YA Fiction/dystopian/fantasy/sci-fi/ leetle bit of romance

Rating: Rich, dark, seriously intense and taste-bud explosive

 

“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.

We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. 

For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.”

Okay.

This book took me a while to read. 16 days, to be precise. It’s not a shove-down-your-gullet kinda sandwich. There is some serious meat in there.

20120209-schwartzs-smoked-meat-sando-med.jpg

(This is a meat sandwich. I like meat)

My first impression of this book after reading the blurb was pretty much ‘who in the world of literature names their characters Pressia and Partridge?!’ Because let’s be honest, ‘Pressia’ and ‘Partridge’ don’t exactly inspire heroism at first, do they? Oh, how ignorant I was. Ignorant of the shocking complexity and realness Julianna Baggott weaved into those characters.

Before we dive into THAT, let’s set the backdrop of the story first:

Remember that TV show ‘Under the Dome’? Picture that- a clear orb with a whole, white, clean world of its own tucked inside. Now imagine an 18 year-old boy with bright grey eyes who happens to be the son of the leader of this place. That’s Partridge. Everybody who inhabits that clean, mutation-free world are known as ‘Pures’- the ‘blessed’ ones who have escaped the hideous effects of a nuclear apocalypse known as the Detonations.

Now imagine on the outside of the Dome a scorched, bare wasteland of ash, burnt rubble, mutated beasts and people with permanent scars and hideous burns. These are the ‘wretches’- those who were caught on the outside of the Dome when the Detonations hit. Now picture a petite, almond shape-eyed girl with a doll head fused one wrist. This is Pressia Belze. Everyone on the outside of the Dome is ‘fused’ to something. Anything. Animals, furniture, glass, even other people- stuck with that person, sharing the same life force. For Pressia, it was the doll head fused to her left wrist.

Okay that was a really clumsy explanation but you’ll understand as soon as you read the book 🙂

Anyway, as you would expect, the ‘wretches’ on the outside of the Dome grow pretty bitter and resentful of the fact that they were the ones living in fear and suffering from hideous burns, choking ash and ferocious, mutated beasts, while the people in the dome watch ‘benevolently.’

“Burn a Pure and breathe the ash

Take his guts and make a sash

Twist his hair and make a rope

And use his bones to make Pure soap,” 

Cheerful isn’t it? This is the stuff the 4 year-olds outside the Dome chant… sorta gives you an insight into the attitude of the people towards Pures. And can I just say that I loved the sound of that little chant. It’s kind of poetic, in a coarse way.

And of course, as is the case with any post-apocalyptic society thrown into chaos, some group takes control and deems themselves the lawmaking force of the place; this gang is called the OSR. At the age of 16, each child must turn themselves over to OSR: they are either trained as soldiers or, if they are took weak, they are used as live targets- practice. This is how our heroine Pressia Belze ends up on the run…

“When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.”

Partridge, tucked away behind the supposedly impenetrable Dome, has spent majority of his life without his greatly missed, enigmatic mother. Ever since his brother reportedly committed suicide (viewed as an honourable deed in the Dome’s perspective- saving limited resources and all that), Partridge has been alone with his cold, distant father who happens to be the ‘leader’ of the Dome. One day, after the two have a rare conversation, the great father lets a certain phrase about Partridge’s mother ‘slip off the tongue’: something which indicates that Partridge’s mother is still alive, outside of the Dome. And being the typical, instinctively impulsive ‘hero’ he is, which it seems every modern dystopian novel possesses, he barely bats his eyelids before recklessly deciding to embark on an unknown quest to find this long lost mother.

I’ll be honest: call me pedantic but this irritates me. Realistically, wouldn’t you need a tad more confirmation that your mother might actually be alive than simply “Your mother has always been problematic.” That alone doesn’t seem reassuring enough to embark on a dangerous quest, but of course, we don’t need much confirmation because dystopian heroes always seem to be strangely right about these things…

Anyway, long story short: Pressia and Partridge quite literally bump into each other outside the Dome and decide to team up… and their journeys intertwine. Oh, and how could I forget Bradwell?

I quite simply loved Bradwell. Fierce, intelligent, strategic and intensely in love with Pressia. He was flawed, hot tempered and loyal as licorice. Okay, when I first read about him, Pressia was rambling about all this bird business: “the boy with birds in his back.” I was seriously confused with all this talk about ‘rustling wings’ until the lightbulb flickered on and I had that “ohhhhh” moment: birds are fused to his back.

Am I the only one who found that incredibly terrifying? Birds are scary enough as it is, but having their beaks and claws attached to your flesh… gah.

Anyway, back to Bradwell: I definitely don’t think he’ll be everyone’s kind of character. Some might see a few of those characteristics as irritating… I don’t. He and Pressia’s relationship is so real and perfectly flawed (DOUBLE NEGATIVE OR SOMETHING RIGHT THERE). You will like him or you will get irritated by him… but you will still love him and Pressia.

BUT: I HAVE A TERRIBLE FEELING IN MY READER RADAR. THIS ISN’T A SPOILER, JUST MY GUT, BUT I THINK BRADWELL IS GOING TO DIE. HE CANNOT DIE. PLEASE DON’T DIE. PRESSIA NEEDS YOU BRADWELL.

Is it bad that I’d rather Partridge die than Bradwell? Partridge and his kind-of-not-really girlfriend Lyda seemed more backdrop-y than Pressia and Bradwell… there isn’t a strong emotional connection.

One thing I can guarantee is that you will like Pressia- you can’t NOT. I wouldn’t say she’s lovable, but she’s definitely connectable: you’ll root for her. It’s hard to explain why, but she definitely possesses a ‘deep goodness’ about her which is pretty striking considering her dark surroundings. And she’s a little sassy which is a rare beauty among YA heroines. The girl is street-smart too: you won’t be facepalming in frustration at her idiocies. She’s suspicious and strategic, not AS intelligent as Bradwell but she’s perceptive. Partridge is more instinctive than perceptive and he will probably frustrate you a little… but there’s a day-dreamy quality about him which is honestly so refreshing to see in a male character. And there’s something pure about him, not referring to his unblemished pale skin. Innocent. He’s definitely not stupid.

And of course, how can I forget probably my FAVOURITE characters: EL CAPITAN AND HELMUD, the fused brothers. They. Are. Fascinating. No more said, read the book and witness their beauty.

Was anyone else super fascinated by Ingership’s wife? Out of all the characters, she fascinated me the most. Hiding behind a shiny stocking, beaten down from years of her husband’s hideously sexist, cruel treatment of her… yet she’s still fighting, still hoping.

And ohmygoodness: THE ENDING THOUGH :O

*HUGE HUGE HUGE SPOILER ALERT*

*SKIP THIS PART IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK I’M SERIOUS*

That moment with Sedge and the mother I thought I would scream. That was achingly, hideously gut wrenching.

I seriously seriously recommend ‘Pure’ to anyone who loves intensely dark, mysterious, prismatically (pretend that’s a word) complex books. ‘Pure’ describes a burnt, broken world full of damaged human beings- some of whom manage to cling to their humanity despite the cruelty and brokenness surrounding them.

A captivating prose, refreshingly unique setting and some juicily complex characters 😀

CAN’T WAIT TO READ THE REST OF THE SERIES!!!

      

Be sure to like this post or comment your opinion of this book if you’ve read it 🙂 If not- GET READING.

The (STEAK) Knife Of Never Letting Go

Title: ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’

Author: Patrick Ness (ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVOURITES HERE)

Genre: YA fiction/ sci-fi/ dystopian/ absolute brilliance

Rating: Tender, juicy, punchy, addictive and medium rare, just how I like it 🙂

Several spoilers below. Scroll slowly.

+ half a fork

“Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”

I think I ripped out my heart in the process of reading this book. It was cracking brilliant. Every misspelt word was perfection. Stupid, haunting perfection. This book wasn’t a book. It was real, heart crushingly, real story. Every word was alive and breathing on the page and every character (OH, THE CHARACTERS) were messes of hope, humanity and beautiful imperfection.

Fangirling is over, commence review:

Todd Hewitt lives in world where all men can hear- yes, hear as real, physical sound– each other’s thoughts. They call it the Noise. So when you’re in a crowded place, what you hear would pretty much sound like this-

Yes, that’s actually how it appears in the book. Chaotic, right?

Anyway, our beautifully imperfect main character, Todd Hewitt, lives in this dark world full of unveiled thoughts of men. That’s the other thing: there are no women in Prentisstown for some tragic reason which you will find out about if you read the book. So in a world full of men, the emphasis on ‘becoming a man‘ is overpowering. And Todd is the youngest male in the town- the only ‘boy’ leftTo officially become a ‘man’ in Prentisstown, each boy has to do something. A deed. Which I shall proceed to spoil, so SPOILER ALERT BELOW:

SCROLL SLOWLY

***

You have to kill somebody.

***

Anyway, because our brilliant main character physically cannot commit this deed, he runs away with his brilliant dog, Manchee. Along the way, they meet a mysterious gal named Viola who you will proceed to love because she isn’t pathetic like some of our dismal dystopian heroines today. Viola, Todd and Manchee are running away from Prentisstown on their way to a place called ‘Haven.’ (Sounds deceptively safe, huh?) Oh, and along the way there’s a psychotic preacher, always a nice thing to have in a story.

Ok, apologies for my hideous plot summary- it’s the characters I want to talk about here.

Todd.

Wow. Todd Hewitt is a brilliant character. Todd feels– and when I say feels, I mean that every emotion in his chest leaps off the pages and grips your heart. You feel the pain and fear of every decision he has to make, the sorrow and regret which follows… the need to ‘become a man’ but still cling to his humanity. Todd isn’t a wholly ‘good’ person and sometimes he finds it hard to make the ‘right’ choice… but that’s the thing that makes him human.

These days, we get so many 2-dimensional characters who already know what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and retain their innocence. But that’s not human and Todd is human. He’s a living, breathing, 16-dimensional character with complexity beyond his years. He makes stupid choices, he falls, but he gets back up.

Another thing: Todd’s Noise is intense. Really intense. That boy thinks like a hornet. But his Noise is kind of different- it’s open and honest and real. He’s a powerful thinker.

I think the Knife in the story is definitely worth mentioning. The Knife represents the push and pull of that ever-fragile string connecting to your humanity, your identity. To hold, to let go. To kill, to spare. Todd is haunted by the presence of the Knife because it confronts him with choices he doesn’t want to make. Choices which will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Now for the mysterious, Noise-less (that doesn’t count as a spoiler) Viola Eade.

“She’s her own girl,” I say. “She don’t belong to me.”

And that’s Viola in a nutshell; her own girl. She’s loyal, she’s smart and she’s full of steadfast hope. She’s Todd’s string, what keeps him holding onto his identity- what keeps him grounded. She reminds him that he doesn’t have to conform to the cold, callous world around him in order to ‘become’ a man.

And what she does at the end…

… no words for it.

No spoilers here because that would be a crime- in case any of you ‘accidentally’ peeked.

What she did was selfless, beautiful and courageous. She did it for Todd; she did it so that they wouldn’t win… and they didn’t. They didn’t win Todd.

To find out what I’m talking about, go to the nearest library/bookstore and eat the book.

Now, best for last:

This character is the best- no exaggeration here- the BEST, the most complex character ever created. Who is this masterpiece?

Mayor Prentiss.

Where does one begin with such a character?

Simple. One does not. So one rambles and hopes something intelligible comes out.

What. A. Brilliant. Character.

Now you will only agree with me if you have read the entire series. Mayor Prentiss is a work of art- he is THE most complex character you will ever read of, a labyrinth of depth and dark corners. He will mess up your mind like a dog’s breakfast. He will make you wonder whether right really is right and whether wrong might just be right after all. Absolutely NO spoilers here- that’s one part of the series which you’ll have to unearth yourself 🙂 Is he a villain or is he deeper than that? I’d love to see what ya’ll think 🙂 One thing’s for sure- the Mayor isn’t your faraway, stereotypical ‘bad guy.’ He goes way deeper than that- layers deeper. The guy’s an onion.

Oh, and another character worth mentioning is Aaron. Mmm.

One thing’s for sure, you can’t fault the guy for persistence. Brilliantly brutal, wild-eyed, psychotic Aaron.

Ok, mild spoiler here:

SPOILER WARNING

***

The stupid man never dies. Gets mauled by a crocodile, you think “thank goodness he’s dead.” Nope. Turns up a few days later, flesh dripping down his face and still brimming with motivation to finish the task he’s set out to do: corrupt Todd. Waterfalls, crocodiles- you name it. The guy is invincible.

***

SPOILER OVER

So Aaron’s a character worth reading about. He will make you want to rip out your heart. The whole BOOK makes you want to rip out your chest. The emotions, the themes… you will be haunted for days after you read it, guaranteed.

And can I just say, this book is absolutely BRIMMING with quotable quotes, so if you’re one of those people (like myself) who adore poetic sounding stuff, this is for you. Even if you’re not so into that, rest assured- it’s packed twisty, juicy, fleshy action.

So, overall, Patrick Ness is a cracking genius and ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ series is truly, truly magnificent. If I could recommend this a thousand times over, I would. I’d blog a million blogs about this series. This book (which is the first in the series) was a brilliant start to an exploding trilogy, save for a mildly slow start (persist through the first 15 pages, it’s worth it).

Each word leaps of the page in its profound simplicity, the themes embedded in the magnificent plot will worm its way into your mind and the characters… oh, the characters. You will feel their emotions stronger than you do your own.

One thing I wish I explored a little deeper were the symbolism the Noise and the Knife held… so pay special attention to those whilst reading 🙂

Oh, and remember…

Wanna know what that means?

Find the book now. Prepared to be amazed.

Patrick Ness, I take my hat off to you.

*APPLAUSE*

Warning: After I read this series, I spent 3 hours lying on the floor in a daze. Prepare to be haunted- in a good way 🙂

Anybody else adore this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Remember to like/subscribe 😀

‘The Young Elites’ taste test…

Title: ‘The Young Elites’

Author: Marie Lu (LOVE THIS WOMAN)

Genre: YA fiction/fantasy (I do not read much fantasy, but trust me- this book is different)

Rating: Delish snack 🙂

ONE OR TWO SPOILERS AHEAD. SCROLL DOWN VERY SLOWLY.

“Something blackens you heart, something deep and bitter. It has festered inside you for years, nurtured and encouraged. I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Wow.
Marie Lu has done it again.
First off, I’ve got to say I LOVED our main character, Adelina Amouteru. I chose not to use the word ‘heroine’ because she isn’t one. Adelina isn’t a heroine. And the best heroines, the ones we connect to the most, are the ones who are imperfect.
We meet Adelina counting down the hours until her execution tomorrow morning. Why is she imprisoned? She’s a murderer. Who did she murder? Her father.

*GASP*

(I don’t think that counts as a spoiler because you basically learn that in the first chapter).

Ok I’m awful at plot summaries, so I’m just gonna delve into the deep stuff now.

Adelina has spent her whole life crushed under the cruelty of her father and felt the cold isolation of being a malfetto- an abomination, a mutation of the blood fever which swept the nation years ago. No person could survive that kind of treatment and not come out on the other side with a few scars… and Adelina has carried those scars with her for a long time.

Adelina was a greatly refreshing female character from the weak, nicey-nicey, male-dependent heroines which dominate so many of our dystopians today. She was dark, complex and dangerous

“I have every right to torture him. He deserves to die at my hands and I will make sure he feels every last moment of it. All the rage and bitterness I’ve held in my heart… my smile turns dark and I twist harder, harder, harder.
I will destroy you.

But don’t get the impression that our character is a sadistic maniac. Oh no. She’s deeper than that. Throughout the entire book, we feel Adelina’s pain as she desperately tries to cling to those threads which make up her compassion, kindness, her humanity. We see the person behind the ‘malfetto’ shell, vulnerable and desperate to be loved and cared for with no strings attached. After being recruited by the Young Elites (malfettos who possess strange elemental powers, also known as the Daggers), Adelina thinks that she’s finally free. Free from an overpoweringly cruel father and ‘perfect’ little sister and among people who share her strange powers and hunger for a new ruler. But among the Daggers, she quickly learns that her powers are stronger than they should be and that loyalty comes with a price.

Now for the other characters. I really, really liked Enzo (leader of the Dagger society) and all his dark, burning intensity cloaked in mystery. He had an interesting streak of cruelty mixed in with his puzzling personality which made him all the more interesting.

He pushed Adelina to her limits and I think he was the only character who really understood her and…

(SPOILER ALERT)

***

… loved her anyway. At least I think it was love…? What do you think?

Raffaele was an interesting character as well. He had an incredibly deep insight about everything and everyone around him, and not just because he was The Messenger.

Now for Adelina’s younger sister, Violetta. She disgusted me. Yes, she was a necessary character and all, but she just struck me as cowardly, selfish and weak. The way she would never ever try to defend Adelina from their father’s abuse, that time she locked her sister in her room for 2 days because he commanded her to, how she would simper and play the perfect doll

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT

***

When all the while she was a malfetto just like Adelina. And despite this, she allowed Adelina to endure her pain and isolation alone.

Nothing can justify her actions.

‘The Young Elites’ gets 4 stars for a reasonably unique plot, pretty profound themes and some delicious character development.

Don’t forget to follow or like this review if you enjoyed it 🙂

SHANKS GUYS 😀

‘Paper Towns’ by John Green Review…

Title: ‘Paper Towns’

Author: John Green

Genre: YA fiction/mystery/romance

Rating: Too salty

‘Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. 

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.’

Before I begin ripping into this book, I would like to say that I hope I never ever hear the name Margo Roth Spiegelman again. I’m all for quirky, unique names… but that’s a step too far. What kind of middle name is ‘Roth’?!

Ok that was my little pedantic rant, now for the real stuff…

I love John Green’s writing style. It’s quirky, it’s elegant and it’s literature. Books like ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ and ‘Looking For Alaska’ totally highlight that unique style he’s got. But for me, Paper Towns just didn’t cut it…

Firstly, this book was just like a plastic imitation of Looking For Alaska. You know the deal- prodigiously smart, wide-eyed guy on the outside looking in, shockingly beautiful, enigmatic girl webbed with mystery and allure. In this case, the wide-eyed guy was Quentin (Q) Jacobsen and the beautiful enigma was (ugh) Margo Roth Spiegelman. Of course, not all the characters were a loss. I loved Radar and Ben, Q’s two best mates. Their quirky dialogue gave us a taster of what John Green can really do. I think it’s a real shame that Radar, Ben, Lacey and Q were wasted on a story which centred around a conceited, self-exalted character, namely Margo Roth Spiegelman. The girl was just too much to swallow. Why on earth would Quentin continue to worship someone who treated him like dirt for 9 years?! And then there was the whole ‘enigma’ thing going on-

“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

Really?

The only thing Margo seemed to really love was herself. And destroying everyone around her. Did she ever love Quentin? I hoped so, but as the story progressed I realised that our enigma couldn’t see past her own desire to cut the strings.

Though I couldn’t stand Margo herself, I have to admit that the way Green allowed Q to realise how he’d placed her on a pedestal was genius-

”Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made — and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make — was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

That was gorgeous. It seriously was. It was a light bulb moment for Q, where he realised that Margo wasn’t the magnificent picture he painted in his mind, the intriguing mystery he wanted so much for himself… she was just another human being (an unusually conceited one, but we’ve been through that). Q was an interesting character himself. Yes, he obsessed over Margo and mysteries, but he had a realness about him. You didn’t really have a choice, you automatically rooted for him.

And that’s the thing with John Green books. You can find a hundred things wrong with them and complain about how unrealistic they are, but the truth is when you open the first page, you’re stuck for the next few hours until you finish. And Paper Towns was no exception.

Despite that, I’ve gotta say I hated the ending. It was a risky ending and some people will probably love it and others (such as moi) will hate it.

SPOILER ALERT>>>

***

As cruel as this sounds, I think that Margo’s death would’ve been a better way to end the story… I don’t know, but the idea of her hiding out in an abandoned barn just doesn’t strike me as very Margo-ish. And that moment where they finally found her… wow I have never disliked her so much until that moment. “Finally, she says, ‘Give me like two minutes,’ and then sits back down and resumes her writing.” That’s real classy. But the last page… that was sad. And in spite of myself, I hope that Margo and Quentin have a future of some kind together.

So would I recommend Paper Towns to you? In short, yes. But be prepared to get your head a little messed up.

‘Shatter Me’ Review

Title: ‘Shatter Me’

Author: Tahera Mafi

Genre: YA fiction/romance

Rating: Bad aftertaste.

This book is living proof that the second half of a novel can massacre the entire thing. At first I was captured by Tahera Mafi’s beautifully descriptive prose. At first I liked Juliette, our strange heroine- weary and watchful as she was. I thought ‘Wow, maybe this heroine will be different to others. Maybe she’ll actually be able to stand on her own two feet. Then, it happens. Along comes a ridiculously hot soldier boy named Adam Kent and our potential heroine turns into an attractive doormat. What is happening to our heroines?! Is it possible to find a female character who does not happen to be unnaturally beautiful and completely dependent on a male? We need another Katniss Everdeen now, please. Anyway, back to the book: We meet Juliette on her 264th day of isolation, imprisoned for a crime she didn’t intentionally commit. We learn pretty much immediately that her skin leeches the life out of anyone who touches her. A day later, Juliette gets a new cellmate who first appears to be a jerk and then turns all nice-guy when he realises how attractive his roommate is. Of course, nothing is coincidence and it turns out that the Reestablishment plans to use Jules as their torture toy. It’s basically another one of those ‘big bad government’ stories with no plot twists whatsoever and an underlying warning about greenhouse gas emissions. One of the things that annoyed me most was that the whole setting of the story- the Reestablishment, the world in ruins… it was just a backdrop for a soppy romance. Even the beautiful prose became overwhelming- it exceeded the limit to the point where I forgot exactly what was being described.

(spoiler alert: I hated the ending. It just wasn’t convincing. They run away from the Reestablishment and get to a warm, cozy, safe hideout, all happily ever after. Just no.)

Overall, this book just didn’t cut it. One star for some gorgeous descriptions, but the plot and character development was lacking.

Fellow Book Eaters,

For years I have suffered (as many of you do) from hideous book hangovers. I finish a brilliant book and I am an overweight sponge because there is too much to absorb. Thus, I have created a drainage system in the form of a blog.

I believe that a story without good characters is like frosting without cake. I want intelligent, complex, realistic characters who aren’t stupid or shallow. Don’t get me started on heroines these days…

Do not give me unnaturally beautiful Cinderellas dependent on an alpha-male Prince Charming.

Give me another Katniss Everdeen, a modern day Jane Eyre.

My weak spot is a killer dystopia, but I adore classics, crime, sci-fi, a bit of fantasy and (when I can find them) decent romances.

I genuinely believe that our words are our windows into the deeper chasms of our imagination. Limiting our words limits the expanse of our minds. I hope you can help discuss and analyse these books with me- happy eating 🙂

Be prepared for some essay-sized character analysis’ and outrageously long rants.

– Gabby 😀