Tag Archives: young adult

Review of “You’ll Be the Death of Me” by Karen M McManus

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the ARC of this book.

I’ve really enjoyed Karen McManus’s other books, but this one didn’t quite live up to the others. The action basically takes place in a single day, which should give it pace and action, but it felt meandering and inconsequential.

It’s hard to care about characters who make such terrible decisions. For example they discover a dead body and rather than calling an ambulance/the police, they run away leading themselves into all sorts of unnecessary trouble.

The ending is also very strange, it ends very abruptly, so I imagine it is setting up a sequel, but there didn’t seem to be enough meat on the bones of the original story to warrant drawing it out any further.

Review of “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell

Thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for the ARC of this book.

I have been trying to read this book for 6 years. I found it really hard to get into. The beginning reads like it’s picking up in the middle of a series and you haven’t started with the first book. You have to read about 40% of the book before the lead character even has a conversation with his love interest.

It was easier to read once Baz, the love interest, turned up. His point of view is more interesting than the lead, Simon. He is more self-aware and there is more action once he arrives.

It’s a shame because I thought ‘Eleanor and Park’ by the same author was perfection, so I know Rowell can write a beautiful, well contained, sublime love story but this book felt self-indulgent and rambling by comparison. I don’t think fantasy is her forte.

Review of ‘Crossfire’ by Malorie Blackman

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the ARC of this book.

I loved the first few books in the Noughts and Crosses series, especially the first. However, after reading this, I wish that Malorie Blackman had stopped after the initial trilogy. I was really disappointed.

I did not realise when I started reading this book that it was part of a new series rather than a standalone book, if I had known, I may have paused before reading this. It does the most frustrating thing that books in a series can do; it builds up the background, the plot and the characters slowly and just as you are beginning to get interested in the characters and the plot feels like it has actually got started, it just stops with a ‘to be concluded’. It’s like reading half a book and then just stopping. There is no conclusion, no satisfaction.

I don’t mind reading a book in a series if at the end of a book there are a few loose ends for future books to deal with but this book simply stops, there is no resolution to any of the plot strands. It feels like one book has been divided in two just to sell more books and make more money.

In addition to the ending, I didn’t feel like the rest of the book lived up to Blackman’s previous books in this series. I found it hard to care about characters I had previously liked such as Sephy and Callie and I really didn’t care for the new young characters like Troy and Libby. I’ve seen lots of reviews describing this book as a searing indictment of today’s society and the current political situation in Britain and America, but I just didn’t see that. It felt muddled, all the characters are really flawed and I couldn’t really tell what point the book was trying to make. Maybe if I’d got to read the second half of the story, it would have been clearer, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I think the swapping of the races so that black people are the dominant race, which worked so effectively in the earlier books adds nothing to this book, and actually serves to confuse who we should be rooting for.

If you are planning to read this, I’d probably wait until the next book comes out to avoid the frustration of the ending.

Review of ‘The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily’ by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


Thanks to NetGalley and Egmont Publishing for the ARC of this book.

I read the first book in this series, ‘Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares’ a few years ago. I didn’t remember much about it, other than I thought it was OK.  It had a pleasant, if unlikely, book-themed Christmassy romance and I absolutely loved the cover, which is beautiful, perfect for the book and so much better than the sequel’s cover (see above for the contrast). I’m pretty partial to a Christmas-themed romance so I thought I’d give the sequel a whirl.

Unfortunately, this book is not great. It falls into the trap of so many unnecessary romance sequels in that it has to create some drama/conflict between the protagonists but doesn’t want to destroy their relationship or make either fall out of love or do anything bad, so the drama comes from miscommunication. If the two leads just sat down and had an honest, candid conversation, they would realise they are both completely on the same page. That’s one of the most frustrating premises to read and is too thin to sustain a whole book.

The one thing this book does do well is to highlight how as you get older Christmas begins to lose its magic and starts to remind you of the passage of time and the people who are missing from the celebrations. This is obviously true but not really the feeling you are hoping to get from a cosy YA Christmas romance book. You want the magic and escapism. These are missing from most of the book as for the majority of the time Lily, one of the main protagonists, is thoroughly depressed about her life. She mopes and mopes and mopes; moping white, rich, privileged teenagers with loving families has to be one of the most boring thing to read about. Your life is not that bad! You have enough money and influence to organise a private skating rink party with a hot chocolate caterer and ice dancers at a day’s notice a couple of days before Christmas, for goodness sake! Ridiculous.

This book is sadly lacking in sparkle and won’t do much to put you in the Christmas mood.

Review of the ‘Lorien Legacies’ series

I’ve recently read the first three books in the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore, here are a few brief thoughts on these books.

FourI Am Number Four
I saw the film of this book a couple of years ago and thought it was pretty rubbish, but I got this book free on iTunes so I thought I’d give it a go. As usual the book is better than the film. It’s a fairly enjoyable jaunt about an alien living on Earth in a small town in Ohio dealing with the perils of high school and first love while being hunted by an evil race of aliens who want to destroy the planet. He is number four of nine aliens who are being hunted and killed in order (don’t ask me why; it’s a thoroughly contrived premise which is abandoned in later books because the hero can’t die).

My favourite part of this book is the road trip that the lead character John and his best friend Sam take to Athens, Ohio, because I spent a year of university in that town so I was able to picture it exactly and it’s always exciting reading about places you know, especially ones as obscure as Athens, Ohio!

The first two thirds of the book are pretty slow, developing the relationships between John and his girlfriend Sarah, friend Sam and mentor Henri. The last third is action packed with a dramatic climax when the Mogadorian baddy aliens attack.

Mostly it’s a fun read. I gave it three stars out of five and it might have got four stars if not for the inexplicable change of heart by the human nemesis at the end of the book. His character completely changes without any explanation in the narrative for this transformation, it’s unnecessary and spoils the end of the book a bit. Also, as with the majority of YA fiction it’s written in the present tense, which I detest!

sixThe Power of Six
This book picks up where the last left of following John, Sam and alien number six on the run from the government and the Mogadorian. It also has a second narrative from the perspective of Marina, alien number seven who lives in a convent in Spain and also comes under attack by the Mogadorian.

This book isn’t as fun as the first, it feels a bit like series filler, introducing new characters of aliens numbers 7, 9 and 10 and not really progressing the story too much. However, it is still light and easy to read and if you like a bit of teen angst mixed with sci-fi battles then you’ll probably enjoy it.

I listened to the audiobook and found that the voices didn’t really match the characters. John is read by a middle aged man rather than a teenager and the actress playing Marina has a really annoying voice when doing the people with Spanish accents.

NineThe Rise of Nine
I begun to get bored with this series during the third installment. It has the feel of a series which is going to be dragged out to get the most money from book purchases rather than one which is designed to create the best narrative possible.

This book introduces alien number eight, but it takes the full book for all the aliens to finally come together in a battle against the Mogadorian Voldemort, Setrakus Ra. This really feels like filler and it’s quite frustrating waiting for all the aliens to meet up. Plus the human hero Sam doesn’t even feature in this book, so you have to read the next one to find out what’s happened to him.

I also felt that the sci-fi element began to outweigh the teen angst element in this book and it spoiled the equilibrium between reality and fantasy. I don’t mind aliens with special powers but teleportation and secret caves in Everest began to take this too far, I prefer it to be routed a bit more in reality. Otherwise the author can just keep coming up with more and more fantastical elements to get himself out of corners he’s written himself into.

Again I listened to the audiobook version and had the same reservations about the age of the narrator reading John.

I’m not sure I’ll bother with the rest of the series.

Review of ‘Love Hurts’

Love Hurts coverThanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the ARC of this book.

‘Love Hurts’ is an anthology of mostly extracts from young adult novels with a few original short stories by YA authors all based loosely on the theme of love. Authors include Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and David Levithan.

I’m quite surprised that this book is being sold as a full price book. I would expect it to be given away as a free sampler or sold for a token price as it is basically just a shopfront for promoting existing YA novels. It’s aim is to get you to buy more books by these authors.

I’m not really into anthologies. I find I either love the story and I am frustrated that I can’t read the full book or I’m unengaged and want to skip to the next extract. There were also quite a few extracts from good books which I have already read such as ‘Noughts and Crosses’, ‘Trouble’ and ‘The Northern Lights’, which I skipped over.

There were two extracts that I genuinely enjoyed and which had the desired effect of making me intrigued enough to consider buying the full novel: ‘You Against Me’ by Jenny Downham about a love affair between the sister of an alleged rapist and the brother of his victim; and ‘Forbidden’ by Tabitha Suzuma about an incestuous relationship between a brother and sister. I thought these were unusual premises for books and the extracts seemed well written and piqued my interest.

I think if you are going to buy a YA book, you’d be better off picking one of the featured books and buying and reading that rather than spending money on this book, as I didn’t really get much out of it. However, the cover is beautiful.

Review of ‘The Last Wild’ by Piers Torday

WrenI’ve been a bit quiet recently because 6 weeks ago I gave birth to a lovely baby girl called Wren. Throughout my pregnancy and early weeks of being a new mum I was very distracted and found it much harder to find the time to read. This is a particular shame as obviously I adore reading.

I am determined to get back to reading much more frequently and have just finished the first book since I gave birth. I managed to do this by reading out loud to Wren when I am feeding her. It’s supposed to be really important to read to children and I’ve decided that since she’s so long it doesn’t really matter what I read it’s just the reading that counts.

The Last WildI picked The Last Wild because I thought it would be a short easy read to get started with, but I’m really glad I did. It is a funny, engaging young adult book which I genuinely enjoyed and which actually lent itself quite well to being read out loud.

I didn’t know anything about this book, from the cover I thought it would be about a boy running around on Scottish moors and befriending a deer, so I was quite surprised when it opened with a boy who can’t speak living in a boarding school in a future dystopia where all the animals have died. One day the boy Kester Jaynes discovers that he is able to speak to vermin, seemingly the only non-human creatures left. He is rescued from the boarding school by some cockroaches and pigeons and taken to the last place on earth where animals live. Here he joins with a stag and a wolf cub to take on a quest to cure the illness which has killed the animals.

In some ways this book is your standard children’s quest book, with a journey and various challenges and dangerous situations along the route. However, I think it is a cut above many of these books because it is genuinely funny in places. I loved the character of the wolf-cub, who is constantly declaring that he is the best at everything and the harvest mouse who has a special dance for all situations. It’s a really fun read which I think most early children aged about 10 onwards would enjoy.

Review of ‘Found’ by Harlan Coben

FoundI love Coben’s crime thrillers for adults, but I haven’t been a very big fan of his young adult series focussing on Myron Bolitar’s nephew Mickey. However, this third instalment of the series is definitely the best so far. The premise is slightly less far fetched in this book and we get some answers to unsolved mysteries from the previous two books.

This book is a bit less action packed than the preceding books and does a better job of focussing on the school and basketball life of Mickey and his friends. The series revolves around Mickey saving missing or endangered teenagers, and the case in this book is much more believable. However, it is still a really daft premise especially the way they are directed towards teenagers they must save by pictures of butterflies appearing somewhere.

The book has a very satisfyingly conclusion, finally resolving the plot line introduced in the first book which placed a question mark over the death of Mickey’s father. I feel like now this has been resolved future books in the series will probably be better; this book definitely feels like Coben is beginning to get the hang of the young adult genre which I think he struggled with in the first couple of books.

Review of ‘City of Heavenly Fire’ by Cassandra Clare

City of Heavenly FireI find it almost impossible to believe that the author of this series is also the author of The Infernal Devices series the gap in quality between the two series is astonishing. The Infernal Devices books are exciting, well-paced, with engaging characters; whereas The Mortal Instruments series is 80% filler. Sadly City of Heavenly Fire also falls into this trap. It is repetitive, predictable and simply far far too long. I wish Clare had given up on this series after the third installment.

The sixth, and thankfully final, installment follows Clary, Jace et al as they travel into the demons’ dimension in order to defeat Sebastian. It takes them 725 pages. I have no idea why it takes so long, there is so much filler, aimless wandering about and unnecessary scenes with Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn in an attempt to sell the next series of Shadowhunter books. Even after Sebastian’s inevitable defeat there is still a good 70 odd pages dedicated to giving everyone a happy ending and tying up everything into a nice bow.

There is only one exciting and unexpected moment and this comes fairly early on in the book when SPOILER ALERT Jordan is killed. The rest of the book is so, so dull and monotonous.

I absolutely must stop wasting my time by reading these books, I swear here and now that I will not pick up any books in the next series The Dark Artifices.

Review of ‘Day 21’ by Kass Morgan

Day 21Thanks to Bookbridgr and Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC of this book.

WARNING: This review contains spoilers.

I finished The 100 at the weekend, it ended with a huge cliffhanger so I wanted to move on the next book straight away. This book also ends with a bit of a cliffhanger but it has a feeling of greater resolution which I thought was missing at the end of the first book. However, I’m not sure that the resolution was a good thing because, in contrast, this book felt a little too much like the relationship loose ends had been tied up a little too conveniently and it ends with everyone holding hands with the person they love. It’s a little twee.

Overall, I found this book as quick, easy and readable as the first in the series. However, it was not quite as compelling. The story on Earth did not move along as much as I had hoped and again the book felt a little too much like set-up for the next in the series. The middle section was a little repetitive and felt a little like filler.

I’m enjoying the Clarke/Bellamy relationship; although their conflicts are resolved a little too easily in general. I hope that the characters of the Earthborns are fleshed out a bit in the next book as they felt a little cardboard in this book.

I was glad that the book ends with the rest of the colony coming down to Earth as I felt the split narrative did not work completely. I didn’t really care about what was happening in Space, I just wanted to read about the characters on Earth. I can see why the TV series has eschewed the character of Glass, as she is definitely the least likeable of the main characters.

This series is perfectly fine, it’s fluffy, easy to read teen girl junk food, but it doesn’t have much depth and while it’s enjoyable enough while you are reading it, I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy the next in the series.