Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joint Review! The Selection by Kiera Cass

We both read The Selection by Kiera Cass and spoiler alert, we did not like it. Below is a quick summary followed by a late-night IM discussion of what we couldn't stand.

Genre: YA, young adult, castles, princes, dresses, pretty covers, dystopia, love triangles

Set in a dystopian future with a caste system, royalty, and something to do with a rebel force, The Selection is the story of America Singer, a whiny teenage girl in one of the lower castes in love with a boy in an even lower one. Drama! It gets even more dramatic when the kingdom holds a competition for any eligible young lady to compete to win the princes hand. America enters to spite her boyfriend who breaks up with her because he “wants a better life for her” and… *SPOILER ALERT* she becomes one of the “The Selected” to marry the prince. Now, a silly decision has her roped in to all sorts of activities that she’s just not interested in. She could care less about the prince, but changes her mind once she meets him because he’s just so darn nice and understanding. Who will she chose!? This is the first of three-part series by Kiera Cass.

Casie: So Laura. To start, what are your biggest issues with The Selection

Laura: I don't even know where to start. The writing was terrible; the plotline seemed hot glued together. Ah! My biggest problem was how much I hated the main character, America.

C: Agreed. She was a lot like Bella Swan in a lot of ways to me, an empty shell of character that somehow I was supposed to relate to, despite her being a nothing-person.

L: She had no discernible character traits, but she continuously disliked and spoke down to and about the other female characters, even the ones that were supposed to be her friends. She struck me as a really negative character.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Terrible news, readers!  Someone has released the first book in a Series of Unfortunate Events online for FREE!  This terror is available on Facebook, if you dare to test your bravery on such a woeful tale. 

Lemony Snicket's series is personally one of my favorite book series of all time.  It's filled with humor, wit, literature references, horror, and true sadness and pain.  I think it is one of the most creative literary projects, with the author and narrator becoming another character in the series and taking this character past the series.  If you're interested in one of the most fun reading experiences ever, log on to Facebook and start reading!

Click here to read THE BAD BEGINNING.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars 
By John Green
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age, Tearjerker, Sad Stuff

The first thing that you need to know about this book is that it’s a Cancer Kid Book. I know the genre fairly well- I went through this whole Lurlene McDaniel phase. I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, the Fault in Our Stars is about a young girl who meets a young boy at a cancer support group. There is a whole lot of cancer in this book. It’s initially what made me not want to read about this book, but I am such a fan of John Green’s video blogs that I decided to give it a chance. (I should point out I haven’t read any other of John Green’s novels, so I have no idea how similar/dissimilar they are.)

Sixteen-year-old Hazel suffers from thyroid cancer, despite the fact that her tumors have been “miraculously” shrunken. She goes to a cancer support group where she meets super dreamy one-legged Augustus Waters. They become close and talk about life and death and books. In particular, one book called An Imperial Affliction by a reclusive author who lives in Amsterdam. Hazel and Augustus travel to Amsterdam to ask their favorite author questions, and get closer in the process.

The best part of The Fault in Our Stars is the writing. It’s funny and witty and incredibly sad. There are wonderfully written phrases and realizations as Hazel thinks about books and life and love. One of my favorite lines in the book is written by their favorite author: “Witness also that when we talk about literature, we do so in the present tense. When we speak of the dead, we are not so kind”.

 The characters in the book are so much fun despite of all the sad going on around them. Hazel has familiar traits- watching endless hours of reality television, adoring and resenting her parents at the same time, crushing on and being confused by a cute boy, obsessing over a novel and what it means to her. Like so many kids I know, she integrates part of her favorite book into her life: quoting it, adapting its ideas, even dressing like the main character. Augustus is funny and flawed. Hazel’s parents are funny and kind but they are still frustratingly parents. Isaac, Augustus’s best friend, has his own illness, but he also has overwhelming teenaged angst that drives home the point that these are just teenagers. Sure, he has cancer, but his teenaged problems are no less painful. And this is one of Green’s strongest messages in this book: Cancer Kids are still kids. They’re still teenagers. They’re not magically wiser or deeper or “better” than other teenagers because they’re sick. They make mistakes, they say the wrong things, and sometimes they’re annoyingly angsty.

There are problems in this book. No matter how hard Green tries to avoid it, no matter how much Hazel calls out Cancer Kid Books, this remains a Cancer Kid Book. The plot is predictable and you can see the twists coming a mile away. It gets melodramatic, it gives you the same Cancer Kid Sad Moments. Despite this, despite knowing what I was getting into from the first time I read the bookflap, I still cried when those familiar punches were pulled. Green definitely faults in his attempts to reinvent the genre in his hip, ironic way, but the book still hurts.

This book makes mistakes. It has errors and flaws and it is by no means perfect. At the same time, neither are the kids in this book. Neither was the girl it was dedicated to, Esther Earl, a real-life teenaged friend of Green who had joy, angst, and cancer. This book is painful and it is hopeful and it makes a point to say that it is okay to be both things at once.

The Fault in Our Stars is a well-written and touching novel about being a teenager with cancer, but ultimately fails to surprise.

4 out of 5 stars

review by laura