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Reading Reviews and Recommendations: Week 2

Some people call it a purse. I think it's a book carrier.
Hello everyone! This week has been a little crazy with flying back from Spring Break and then jumping into the swing of books, but I did get my reading in for this week. The three books I'm reviewing are If I Fix You, It's Not Me It's You, and Dreamology. I did read a fourth book this week, but I'd call it more of a Middle Grade historical fiction piece, so I decided to leave it off the review list. This week I'm looking forward to squeezing in a couple of books I'm really excited about reading between school and volunteering at the library, but I'm most excited to go to Teen Book Con on Saturday (Look out for an article about my experience with that!). So without further ado:

1) Dreamology by Lucy Keating (322 pages) https://www.amazon.com/Dreamology-Lucy-Keating/dp/0062380001
Alice has always dreamed about a boy named Max. The boy of her dreams. She always thought that he was just a character her mind made up, a boy she had seen on the street once, until she walks into her first day of classes after moving to Boston. After finding out that Max has shared the same dreams with her, the two must go back to their only connection, the CDD to find out why this happened, and, eventually, to stop any adverse side effects of meeting each other. The Sci-Fi touch brought in by the neurological phenomenon is well explained and made to seem entirely plausible. Much more realistic fiction than anything else. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 I thought that Keating did a nice job making a well rounded, well developed cast. While we never got too deep inside any of their minds or issues, none seemed underdeveloped or in any way off putting or unbelievable. Sophie and Oliver and Max and Alice all work together to draw nice comparisons and highlight traits of the others. The supporting cast is also well executed.

Plot: 4 While the idea of meeting the boy from your dreams in real life is a little strange, the way that the plot is constructed makes it completely plausible. The development of the CDD and their past connection with it gives a solid base on which to build the story. While the overall message of living life and learning to live in the present are craftily hidden in the storyline of two teenagers who have only known each other in their dreams. The subplots are also well executed and tie in nicely to support the overall theme.

Writing: 4.5 This is where Keating truly excels. Her words seem meticulously chosen to garner the maximum effect in the most simplistic way. While it wasn't really a tug on your heart strings story, it left me happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. Also, it takes skill to take an out there concept, especially with dreams and neuroscience and craft it into something that seems plausible and accessible.

Jill’s life hasn't been the same since her mom walked out the door. Not that it was great, but when she left, her mother took much more than her stuff. The night before Jill caught her flirting with her best friend/ longtime crush, Jill feels awkward around her friends because she can never be completely honest about her feelings, and she’s left with plenty of unresolved feelings. One day, while sitting on the roof, she sees her new neighbors, mother and son, get into a violent fight. She slowly comes to know this boy, Daniel, who she feels she can share her past with freely. The brief solace they find in their mutual understanding is eroded away when stronger feelings start to develop but cant be acted on because of their four year age gap. Elsewhere, Jill’s life is constantly made up of avoiding disasters caused by her mother’s sudden reappearance and coping with how to deal with her friend she once thought she loved. A book filled with twists and turns set to the backdrop of Arizona and an auto shop.  Overall: 4.5

Characters: 4 Most of the characters were top notch quality and well rounded. This includes Jill, Daniel, her father, her mother, and Claire. None of them have quite the luster of spectacular characters but none are bad. Though I take an issue with Sean. He is given the slap on label of handsome with perfect dimples, Valedictorian smart, and kind. These cookie cutter labels are a far departure from what Johnson does with the other characters which makes him hard to root for even though you know you should. He does get one quality scene at the very end that makes you wonder what he could have been.

Plot: 4 The plot was solid with a course of action that makes sense. The subplots enhanced the story and were carried out well. All of the storylines were given satisfactory tie ups. It was good, it just didn't shine or pull at your emotions like a five star plot.

Writing 4 I hardly noticed it here. It definitely didn't hold the story back, but there was nothing really remarkable about it. The author did her job, which was to shape words into a movie in my head. Though there was no experimental ideas, unique figurative language, or anything in particular, sometimes it’s nice to just read a book to enjoy a story and not notice attributes like it was an English assignment.

Essentially, Avery Dennis, senior popular girl, is dumped by her dream boy right before the prom that she is head of planning. Coincidentally, she also has a report due for history where she is supposed to interview people about a historical event they lived through. Much in keeping with her self centered nature, she decides to interview every past boyfriend to realize where it all went wrong and submit it as her report. The summary bills much more growth and change on her part than was ever present. I was on the fence about it from the beginning and wish I had just passed. Overall: 2

Characters: 2 Avery is the popular girl stereotype all the way. She is beautiful and has a huge following and dates every guy in the school. Her self centered nature is glaringly apparent, and she comes off like a spoiled rich kids. The other characters are all stereotypes as well. Each boyfriend is a new one, and they each stay firmly within their categories. [Side Note: I found the Texas cowboy boyfriend particularly offensive. Texans are not all cowboys. I’m sure the Italians feel the same way at this point (there is an Italian boyfriend to who is only featured telling Avery how much he loves her. He is a true moron.)] Her friends are okay. Coco is actually realistic, but a stereotype in her own right because there are actually people who fawn over popular girls that much. Sad, but true. And her other friend and lab partner Hutch who is apparently there for “scientific research”. I liked him for a bit when he was making funny comments (even though he was a total nerd stereotype), but then he started to fall for Avery and make all these comments professing just how wonderful she is. At the end, Avery seemed to feign remorse, but it felt completely fake and forced. 
Plot: 2 So she really went through and called all of her ex- boyfriends, originally starting with her Kindergarten boyfriend before deciding to skip to sixth. Apparently she had a boyfriend (if you can call it that) every year in between. Even in sixth grade she had multiple boyfriends! I’m sorry, but I don't buy it. Every one of these stories seem off and a bit unpalatable. Also, her whole reason for doing this, to discover why she was dumped, was pointless because she had apparently dumped every one of her boyfriends before Luke. 

Writing: 2 I could tell that the author wanted you to like and have sympathy for Avery at points during the story, and the try at character evolution was so forced and far from plausible. It was like one day Avery was like, I used to be a crummy person, but I guess I’ve fixed that now, and she goes on like normal. Also, this was supposed to be her oral history report recorded in interviews and edited later by Avery’s biasing “Editors Notes”. The way that these were written and put together it seemed like they were all asked questions separately with some random throw ins from parents or principles who weren't even a part of a plausible interview at that moment. Also, most of the comments seem like asides that were added in later. It was odd and confusing. And if it really was a class report, there were so many unnecessary parts left in there. It is not important to oral history to have three paragraphs about her love of cheddar bunnies. 
It was written in almost a scrip format and divided up usually by boyfriend sometimes by another event. And somehow, her history teacher gave it and A+.


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