Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Diagnosed with the rare SKID disease at a young age, Maddy, allergic to the world, must stay inside her sterile, air-locked house or risk a deadly reaction. Maddy is happy in her little, if isolated, world, but dreams of what life is like on the Outside. When a mysterious, tortured boy, Ollie, moves in next door, Maddy’s life changes forever. She is no longer content to spend her life breathing pristine air and playing it safe — she wants to be part of something bigger. Hopefully Ollie can help her get there.

Wow! Usually I don’t like books that have received a lot of hype — they tend to be overrated. But Yoon’s novel is excellent. Though there’s little action, the plot moves at a fast pace, and the illustrations breaking up the text are great. Maddy has a strong voice, is independent even though she spends her life in a “bubble”, and her relationship with Ollie is exactly what you’d want — super cute. My favorite part of the book is the twist at the end that I never saw coming — so good!! If you liked John Green or Rainbow Rowell, this one is for you! The movie just came out, so read the book first!

*Rating: 5/5

 

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Finch and Violet have a common goal when the meet on the edge of the bell tower at their school. Though everyone believes Violet saves Finch from a suicide attempt, she’s not so sure that’s the truth. At first an incongruous pair, the two are slung together for a class project in which they must explore their home state. During the course of their adventures, Violet and Finch draw closer together, but their relationship may not be enough to save them from the dark pull of tragedy.

A brilliant new addition to the realm of realistic fiction. Niven gives readers a little bit of romance, hilarious adventure antics and, of course, Kleenex-worthy sadness. This is also a poignant, unflinching look at mental illness in teens — a subject that is often danced carefully around. I think it’s important to read novels like this, where truths are discussed without shame. I can’t say too much without giving away spoilers, but pick this one up if you’re looking for your next heavy read.

Rating: 4/5

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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In the second book of the Peregrine series, Jacob has eschewed his once-normal life in favor of helping the peculiar children attempt to save both Miss Peregrine (who is trapped in bird form) and their world. As Hollows abound, the children find out that the Ymbrynes in other loops have been taken captive, and peculiar children are similarly being kidnapped or murdered. As Miss Peregrine is trapped in her bird form, Jacob and the other children must find the last free Ymbryne in hopes that she can help Ms. P turn back into her true form. Along their journey, the children find new loops and peculiars, all while narrowly avoiding Hollows and Wights. They must find the last safe loop and bring Ms. P back to herself, or risk losing the peculiar world forever.

This book had a crazy awesome beginning and an even better ending — the middle, not so much. But, as meh as the middle was, the end was totally worth it. There’s a serious cliff-hanger that’s making me reach for the next book … now. As with the first book, I just can’t get on board the Emma/Jacob ship. Just can’t. Too weird. But, if that doesn’t bother you, you’ll enjoy getting to read their story. If you liked the first book at all, give this one a try. The ending makes everything worth it!

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

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With Valentine finally defeated and a new peace established with the Downworlders, it seems that the Shadowhunters (namely Clary, Jace, and the gang) can finally start having a normal life. But Jace, though he should feel relief and happiness, is haunted by the events of the war and plagued by nightmares. His dreams isolate him from Clary and the other Shadowhunters, pushing him further into helplessness. Meanwhile, Clary and Jocelyn make shocking discoveries about demonic experiments, Simon juggles new romantic interests, and Alec grapples with Magnus’ immortality. Soon, each character’s struggle with interest in unexpected ways, and the Shadowhunters and Downworlders will face a greater threat than ever before.

So, this one was the slowest book so far (for me), but the ending is totally worth it. There’s also some really great parts with Simon’s romantic life, so get ready for that. If you love the series, definitely don’t skip this one! At least read the end — it’s important!

Rating: 3.5/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

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The third book of the Mortal Instruments series finds Clary, Jace, and the Shadowhunters reeling from Valentine’s massive attack in the mortal world. Though he’s hiding in Irdis, Valentine remains no less deadly, and the Shadowhunters know that it’s only a matter of time before he attacks again — especially since he has two of the mortal instruments. Jace leaves Clary to the safety of the mortal world to find and fight Valentine in Irdis, but Clary uses her newly developed power to follow him anyway. In Irdis, Jace and Clary learn startling truths, and the lives of both nephilim and downworlders are changed forever.

This was definitely my favorite book in the series! So much happens! As with some of the other books, I predicted the “big” twist early on, but there were a lot of other unexpected turns I wasn’t expecting which made up for that. Without spoiling things too much, this book had probably the MOST satisfying “burn” scene in it. You’ll know it when you get there. If you loved the first two books, keep reading! If you were meh about the first two, this one certainly picks things up.

*YALSA Teen’s Top Ten, 2010

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

City of Bones Full Analysis

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Clary has a pretty average life – friends, school, and an overprotective mom. But all that changes when she stumbles across what she believes is a boy getting mugged in a nightclub. It turns out that the boy, Jace, is a Shadowhunter — an otherworldly being charged with saving humans from demons. Suddenly, Clary is swept up in the Shadowhunter world. Her mother is kidnapped by a demonic force, and Clary must battle demons, solve ancient mysteries, and learn truths about her past that she never expected.

Though there’s not much depth to this novel, it is super entertaining. The characters are all well-written, and Clare does a good job of making you care about them. I also totally didn’t see the big twist coming in this novel, so get ready for that. If you love it, there’s a ton of books in the series and this first book provides excellent set up for what comes next!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

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Earth has been invaded by aliens. No one knows why they’ve come, but it’s obvious that they want to wipe out the human race completely. First, they cut off all electronics. Next, they send devastating explosions. Then, they sweep the world with an incurable virus. The ones who survive may seem lucky, but Cassie doesn’t feel that way. Having lost her mother to the virus, her father to an attack, and now separated from her brother, Cassie is alone. Alone, but determined to find the last person she loves. She must do everything she can to get to him, or die trying.

This book has a lot of hype (the movie will be coming out soon), but I didn’t love it. Alien invasions aren’t my thing, so I’m not surprised this wasn’t my favorite — but still. It just wasn’t super exciting, though the way the ending came together was pretty cool. If you love aliens/zombies/dystopian fiction, give it a shot — you might love it!

Rating: 3/5 

*YALSA Teen’s Top Ten, 2014

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.