Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini YA Reviews

I've been on a YA kick lately, and I've been flying through books (at least, flying compared to my usual pace). And I have a huge stack at home because naturally all my library holds became available AT THE SAME TIME.

Big problems, y'all.

Actually, I've been going through books so quickly I'm kindof getting whiplash. That's never happened to me before. I usually have such a clear idea of what I'm going to read next, but lately I have this blank... And then I go through the usual routine of reading three or four first chapters before I finally fall into something.

I'm trying not to put myself under pressure to read more just for the sake of the numbers. I realize my 17 books in 2013 was pretty pathetic, but books need to remain as my escape, my way to center my life. Period.


The Lives We Lost by Megan Crewe (Fallen World #2)

A deadly virus has destroyed Kaelyn’s small island community and spread beyond the quarantine. No one is safe. But when Kaelyn finds samples of a vaccine in her father's abandoned lab, she knows there must be someone, somewhere, who can replicate it. As Kaelyn and her friends head to the mainland, they encounter a world beyond recognition. It’s not only the “friendly flu” that’s a killer—there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the vaccine. How much will Kaelyn risk for an unproven cure, when the search could either destroy those she loves or save the human race? (BN|GR)

Ok, so I loved Loved LOVED the first book (The Way We Fall) in addition to being scared shitless the whole time, but then the last two pages ruined it for me a bit. What read as a great science-based survival story (I am endlessly fascinated by viruses) suddenly turned into a teen love triangle (or, quadrangle?). I wasn't happy. I told myself I wasn't going to continue (out of spite, but still).

Then I saw the second book in the library. And I couldn't resist reading the cover copy. And I couldn't resist taking it home. And then I opened it as soon as I could, just to see how the first chapter went.

And then I finished it.

So, okay that plan didn't work. But trust me, this book is nothing like what I was worried it would be. It is still a great survival story, with logical progression and a few surprising twists (the flu spreading to the mainland, which even though is in the jacket copy I still missed that point), and I really, really enjoyed it. The story is tense and I flew through the pages, but not quite tense enough to give me nightmares (like the first book). My one gripe is that this is the middle book of a trilogy, and it reads like the middle section of a longer book. There's no real ending. That was frustrating. But, I am absolutely dying to read the third one now (The Worlds We Make, which HOLY SHIT just came out this month forget everything I just said!)

Ok, realizing the last book is out kindof derailed the rest of this review. TL;DR: I love this series, and will be reading the last book as soon as frigging possible. I love that this is a virus that could happen in our world, there are no fantasy elements or zombies or anything, and that makes it so real and awesome and scary!


In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her? (BN|GR)

A bit late to the bandwagon on this one, but wow, the atmosphere in this book is unbelievable. Between the flu masks and the onions with every meal and all the strange folk remedies and news of the war, the bleakness oozed out of the pages. Honestly, it left me a bit anxious through the whole thing, the mystery was relentless and I knew it wasn't going to have a happy ending and yet I had to know what happened. It wasn't what I thought it would be, but that's just fine. This book is different and wonderful (and a standalone!) and definitely creeptastic. And all the onions were gross, so gross. Ew. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart! But it is well worth a read.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz 

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (BN|GR)

Of the three books in this post, this one is far and away my favorite (and it isn't about a virus, surprisingly, thought it is QUILTBAG, my other current reading trend). It follows Ari and Dante over two summers, and shit gets real, man, and they are there for each other. It's about misfits finding their people, and not having to change. It's about the two coolest sets of parents ever. It's about falling in love with the right person, and fighting for what you believe in. I loved it so much. I wish I could send a copy to everyone in Arizona. And Russia.

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