Friday, 13 June 2014

BEFORE I FALL

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.
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Oliver's set herself up with something really quite tricky to pull off here. From the blurb, the reader knows that the main character, Sam, is going to die at the end of the first day. So they're waiting for that to happen. They also know that she's going to live that last day seven times over, meaning they're going to read about the same day, the same people and events, seven times. Now, I'm not a big fan of repetition. I don't like it if the same word appears a couple of times within a page or so. I'm not talking words like she, or the, or said. Or or, for that matter. I don't remember what I was reading, but recently I came across a chapter that had the word purple mentioned in it four times. The first time I didn't bat an eyelid. The next three, it was incredibly jarring. So I went into this book warily.

I think I was right to be wary. If I'd had high expectations, I'm sure I would have come away disappointed. As it was, prepared to be bored/irritated/infuriated, I got along with this book fairly well. Yes, there were parts that I got bored of reading over and over - like Sam's conversations with her friends on the way to school, which varied very little - and that first day was a bit of a slog to get through, since I knew what was going to happen, but I wasn't anywhere near as frustrated as I expected to be.

Sadly, though, I didn't really like or connect with any of the characters. I don't necessarily need to like a character to enjoy reading about them, they don't have to be good people, people I'd want to be friends with, but there was just something kind of...flat about these characters. Maybe that's because I read about their lives over and over again, but I don't think so. Sam is basically a blank page, a Bella-Swan-type, but her best friend is a stereotypical popular girl in high school, and their other friends carbon copies of her. Bleh, boring. There's no depth to them, they were difficult to keep separate in my head because they aren't even distinct from each other.

Perhaps I just don't get along with Lauren Oliver's style of writing. I mean, I read Delirium last year and basically hated it. Like, seriously, hated it. I wanted to try something else of hers and the premise of this story called to me, but maybe I just have to accept that her books just aren't for me.



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

TEASE

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong, because Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim - not Emma.

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Okay, I read this several weeks ago and just didn't have a chance to review it until now, so you'll have to forgive me for being a little vague - I really don't remember it very well. And that probably says a lot about the book itself, it didn't really stand out to me.

The topic really interested me, it's the reason I bought the book without having read a single review of it. (By the way, reading reviews probably wouldn't have helped - the ones I've read since have all been positive.) Sara and her friends are accused of bullying Emma until she commits suicide. They're being prosecuted for that. The thing is, I don't really understand how someone can be prosecuted for that. I mean, what exactly are they being charged with? As the core of the story, I expected to know the answer to that question by the end of the book. I did not.

My problem wasn't so much with the story as it was with the writing. I found it kind of slow and really not very engaging. I didn't warm to Sara - either as a person or a character - or any of the others. Not even Emma, and I always react strongly to characters being bullied. There was no life in any of them, they were like cardboard cutouts of stereotypical teenagers. And they were in an environment you wouldn't necessarily expect, courtrooms and the offices of lawyers and therapists, so there should have been something new and interesting there for me to read.

Speaking of which, I often felt that I was reading the most dull parts of the story, that there were much more interesting scenes I could be reading about. That the author was focusing on the wrong bits. I'm sure that's just a personal preference and that others won't have the same experience - because the book's not badly-written - it just wasn't right for me. The focus was off. Maybe alternating chapters with another character would have helped - hearing from Emma would have been good, I think - but honestly, I just found this read to be a long, hard slog. The courtroom scene at the end was pretty moving, though, a sign of what could have been. The potential that this book could have had. It's a shame, really.



Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (8)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created/hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. You can find out all the important stuff here.

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year


In order of reading;

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
The List by Siobhan Vivian
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr