The Reader by Traci Chee

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In Sefia’s world, no one can read. After her parents suffer a violent death, Sefia finds what she learns is a book in the wreckage of their home. Travelling with her aunt Nin, Sefia is forbidden to even look at the book; it’s too dangerous. But, when Nin is kidnapped by the same people Sefia believes killed her family, Sefia somehow knows she must use the book to rescue her aunt. With the help of the book, a mute boy named Archer, and a ship full of pirates, Sefia sets out of a quest to save Nin and learn the truth about her past.

This one is a brilliant start to a new series! If you like The Girl from Everywhere, you’ll love this one. It’s full of adventure, secrets, plot twists, and (of course) romance. Some parts of the story can be confusing, especially when Sefia’s story mixes with the one in her book, but everything comes together toward the end. The characters are AMAZING as well — I would read a book about any one of them. I’ll definitely be reaching for the sequel, and you probably will too! Pro-tip: pay attention to the words by the page numbers and the large lettering throughout the book.

Rating: 4/5

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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In the woods surrounding Fairfold, a horned boy sleeps encased in a glass coffin. The townspeople believe he is a fake — a statue; certainly not a sleeping boy. But Hazel and Ben, siblings who have experience in the world of Fae, know differently. So they aren’t surprised when, one day, the horned boy wakes. His disappearance occurs at almost exactly the same time as when a violent, evil force descends on the town, sending its citizens into a panic. Hazel and Ben must find the horned boy, figure out what he wants, and stop the evil before it’s too late.

Amazing. This is the best book I’ve read in a while. I liked the unique incorporation of fairy tales (Snow White’s coffin housing a sleeping boy) mixed in with the Fae. The plot moves fast enough to keep things interesting, and the author does an excellent job of world-building. There’s also plenty of surprises and twists — just when you think you have things figured out, something new is revealed. The inclusion of LGBT relationships was also a huge plus. If you’re looking for a new fantasy read, this is it!

*YALSA, Teen’s Top Ten, 2016

Rating: 5/5

 

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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At just 17, Darcy Patel has written a novel and secured a book deal. Now the only problem is convincing her parents to let her move to New York and write for a year instead of going to college. In New York, Darcy is nearly lost in the city and the world of writing, desperately trying to find her inspiration and write the next of the three novels she promised. Along with Darcy’s story, readers also get to read Darcy’s book, the story of Lizzie, her brush with death, and her romance with a mysterious death god.

I was surprised that I liked this book, but I did! The organization is extremely unique, but it may be a bit confusing when you first start reading. Keep going, though, because things really start to pick up as the book progresses. This book is interesting because you get realistic fiction drama with Darcy in New York and fantasy/supernatural drama and suspense when you read Darcy’s book. Pick this book up if you’re looking for a new and different read!

Rating: 4/5 

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.

Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick

After the sudden death of her father, Nora and her mother struggle to continue their life on their own. Focused on school and her adventures with best friend, Vee, the last thing Nora expects is the entrance of a mysterious and dark boy, Patch, into her life. Though all signs point to Patch being bad news, Nora is inexplicably drawn to him, and soon finds herself looking forward to, as much as dreading, their meetings. But when unexplainable, dangerous events keep happening in Nora’s life, Patch may be the culprit, and Nora must decide who she can trust before it’s too late.

Wow. And I thought Twilight was bad. Though Fitzpatrick delivers a marginally acceptable plot, the treatment of female characters in this book is just insane. Nora knows Patch is bad — she knows it, and she frequently talks about how afraid of him she is. Yet still she finds herself pinned in corners making out with him. What’s more, Nora never once sticks up for herself or makes an independent decision. I appreciated he unique “supernatural romance” aspect of this book, but its flaws are just too much to ignore. It’s yet another young adult romance novel that normalizes and even glorifies abusive relationship behavior. Who knows, though — maybe you’ll love it.

*YALSA Top Ten Books for Teens, 2010

Rating: 2/5

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

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Although attacked by a pack as a child, Grace is fascinated with the wolves living in the woods behind her house, particularly one wolf, who appears to take a special interest in Grace. After the wolves attack a local boy, Grace discovers that they are actually werewolves, and that “her wolf” is a boy named Sam. However, Sam will soon be permanently changing into his wolf form, and the two must race against time to attempt to find a cure for his condition.

Ok, so I did NOT like this book. It was decent for a fantasy book, and it has werewolves, so if you really like that genre, this might be a pick for you. My problem with the novel wasn’t the fantasy or the werewolves, though. It was the romantic relationship between main characters Sam and Grace, and the fact that their relationship is passed off as love when it’s actually more abusive than it is romantic. I could go into a lot of detail here about exactly why I feel this way, but I’ll spare you. Plus, it’s all in the analysis, so, if you’re interested, click there. Suffice it to say that both Sam and Grace exhibit obsessive, codependent and emotionally abuse behaviors that are called “love”. They’re also very flat characters, who are more focused on each others’ physical qualities more than their character traits — also not love. Books like this one perpetuate the belief that emotional abuse is at all ok or normal, and it’s not. At all. 

However, just because I didn’t love it, doesn’t mean you won’t. You may feel very differently about the romantic relationship in the book. So, if it looks interesting, give a read. There were some decently exciting parts. And werewolves can be cool. This is first in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, so if you read it and like it, there’s more. 

Rating: 2/5

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