Welcome to Mini Book Reviews! Since I read faster than I can write reviews, I have decided to do mini-reviews for some of the books I’ve read over the summer.
Want to jump to a specific review? Click one of the titles below!
The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas // We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Delirium by Lauren Oliver // Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
I liked the story, but not the characters.
Celaena seemed… really wrapped up in HERSELF. She claims she’s the best assassin in Adarlan and blah blah, but she never really shows us any of this other than a one-to-two page scene in The Assassin and the Desert. I understand that the author wants to show that Celaena is imperfect and has her flaws… but really?? Adarlan’s assassins have to be quite bad. (Not that I’m telling them how to do their jobs or anything, but… y’know. Fiction can be fabricated a bit more.) Sam was also a problem for me. He seemed like a really sweet person, but… he was a bit bland.
The Assassin and the Empire was definitely my favorite novella, and there were good bits in all of them!
The narration style kind of irked me after a bit, but I really loved the plot twists (totally didn’t see that one coming in The Assassin and the Desert!), and even though I didn’t like the characters much, well… suffice it to say The Assassin and the Empire made me very, very sad, even though I already knew what was going to happen.
So, this book didn’t EXACTLY live up to all the hype. But I think that’s okay!
I liked the music album better than the actual book.
There’s a bit of singing/songwriting in the book (although we don’t have to read pages and pages of lyrics, thankfully!), and the author actually wrote all the songs and has them available online as We All Looked Up: The Album.
It was a cool idea, but the character’s goals didn’t really work out too well for me.
Like, they were only interested in romance. The world is going to end in a couple weeks and they’re all like, “WELL, I need to find True Love before this thing comes! It’s not like I should make up with my family or whatever first!” And that got kind of annoying. I didn’t like the underlying message (or what seemed to be the underlying message), which was basically: if there aren’t going to be consequences, it’s okay to run away from your problems and do things you really shouldn’t be doing.
The characters were all stressed to extremes of stereotypes.
They learn that they can be friends, too, but PETER is still the athlete, ANITA is still the one who gets good grades, ELIZA is still the outcast, and ANDY is still the slacker. They change, but the stereotypes were still what defined them, to me. And the ending was really weird and I wasn’t a fan, generally speaking (that’s all I’ll say on that). I liked the writing. I liked the sense of what’s-going-to-happen-next? I didn’t like the characters so much. Or the plot. But I DID like the music. Ish.
I liked this one better than I thought I would, which is a surprise to me, since I normally don’t like to read romance.
I liked how the plot didn’t only center on romantic love.
The storyline addressed romantic, familial, and best-friend love, which is incredibly important in YA books! Lena, the protagonist, lives in a world where love is banned, and she falls in love (DUH). But when she stops wanting the procedure which will take away her capability to love, she thinks not only of her boyfriend but of her mother, who committed suicide years before, her cousin, Gracie, who doesn’t speak, and her best friend, Hana, who she won’t even recognize after the procedure.
The book really got me thinking about how much love influences us in day-to-day life.
When someone undergoes the procedure, they change a LOT. It’s not just that they don’t romantically/familially/best-friendly love anymore, but that their other emotions are dulled, too. They are no longer curious, no longer especially interested in anything. Like, did you ever realize that your love of a hobby can stem from the same kind of love you feel for your family and your friends? I LOVED THAT.
It definitely wasn’t perfect. At all.
It fell into a lot of the stereotypical bad-boy-meets-good-girl-they-fall-in-love-and-run-away kind of tropes, which is what I expected. The characters… were a bit flat. But I guess what I liked most about the book was not the plot or the characters but the heartfelt, provocative underlying messages.
I’ve read all of Morgan Matson’s books… and loved the other two.
The novel ended up focusing more on the romance aspect than on the real-life problems Taylor and her family faced and… I didn’t like that.
Taylor’s father has terminal cancer, and so they spend their last summer together at their beach house with the rest of their family. But instead of focusing on emotionally preparing herself for what’s to come, Taylor runs off and confronts her first boyfriend and then they get back together and blah blah blah. The story continues. And it was very flat. I think it just didn’t work for me.
I appreciated the family moments the most, though.
I loved how we define the characters: Warren, Taylor’s older, nerdy brother, Gelsey, Taylor’s lonely, ballet-loving sister, Taylor’s mother, a former ballet dancer, Taylor’s father, the lawyer, and Taylor, the nobody who tends to run away. The family moments were really really amazing but the friendship moments… didn’t click for me. Oh! We also get to hear the backstory behind Psychic Vet Tech, which cameos in Since You’ve Been Gone!
I think this was definitely my favorite out of the five books I’ve reviewed!
Laureth was really relatable for me, and Benjamin was an appropriate English seven-year-old.
Sure, maybe it’s a bit overly simplistic, but when Laureth’s father disappears into New York City and her mother refuses to pay attention, she freaks out and goes to find him, taking her seven-year-old brother with her because she’s blind.
She somehow sneaks out of the country and experiences the appropriate amount of freaking-out-anxiety. I really liked the freaking-out-anxiety, though. It was totally normal! Laureth is blind and is often glossed over and she actually never mentions any friends, so it makes sense that she overreacts when her father, who she loves very much, vanishes. I liked the hidden meanings and messages and the plausible explanation at the end.
Also Stannous. And the story behind Laureth’s name.
Stan is Benjamin’s raven. NOT blackbird. He’s a raven. He’s named after some sort of chemical, just like Laureth. I loved the little stories about Laureth and her father and the fact that she found her own strength by running away from home, yet experienced terror. And I LOVED the fact that strength was not just defined as kicking butt but also as growing up and acting under pressure.