Skip to main content

Reviews and Recommendations: Week 16



Hello, everyone! It's time for another set of book reviews. This weeks books are ones that I wanted to read for a long time. I finally got my hands on a copy of Looking For Alaska at my local bookstore it is now tied for my favorite book of all time with All The Bright Places. Speaking of John Green, I preordered my (probably) signed copy of Turtles All The Way Down. If your looking to preorder it be sure to check out John Green's Twitter for the special ISBN number for the signed copies. As for The Thousandth Floor, the longer I think about the book, the more appreciation I have for the phenomenal world building. I'm even tempted to purchase the special paperback edition for bonus content. I'm also looking forward to the sequel which is getting released at the end of August. Finally, as I'm always looking for a good book deal because they're so expensive, I noticed Amazon is having special pre-Prime Day sales on books July 9. And as always, please share this with your friends and follow us on Twitter (@readwriteandme), Instagram (@readingwritingandme), and Facebook for updates and extra content!


Looking For Alaska by John Green (221 pages)
Overview: Miles has never had many friends at his local Florida public school. He is okay with that preferring instead to focus on his other hobbies (like reading biographies to discover famous people's last words). But, of course, this stagnant life isn't getting him any closer to finding the elusive "Great Perhaps", so he decides to follow in his fathers footsteps and enroll at Culver Creek, a boarding school in Alabama. His new roommate, Chip, otherwise known as the Colonel, bringing him into the center of his friend circle. With a new nickname, Pudge, and a group of outcast, rule breaking friends, Miles starts to feel like he's found a place where he can belong until their world is shaken by one tragic, and unexpected, death that leaves everyone to wonder why. Overall: 5 (Is there a number on the 1-5 scale higher than 5? Cause I need it for this book)

Characters: 5 Wow. I absolutely adore this cast. There's Pudge who has always been invested in school and aloof to anything outside the general, tunnel-vision approach to life. Meeting the Colonel and Alaska really push the boundaries of the world he knows, and he has to figure out if he can alter his views and definitions of the world. And in finding these people who take him on these adventures and challenge his thoughts, Pudge's life is really taken from zero to sonic speed; which is something that thrills him. He is allowed to grow and break the mold, thusly inching him closer to the great perhaps.
The other character I want to discuss is Alaska. She's always had this element of mystery that really matches her spontaneity. She drinks. She smokes. She's fine with breaking the rules even if she's fearful of the consequences of getting caught. And everything works out fine for her until she reaches the ultimate consequence. Alaska is one of those people who simply burns to bright. She feels everything extremely passionately, and that's exactly what she wants. In living her life on a precarious tightrope, she stands the risk of falling off; and sometimes the reader is left to wonder if she fully understands this. Yes, there have been characters like this before, even some written by Green, but Alaska has her own unique mark.

Plot: 5 The plot, much like the book, is fractured in two. There is a before and an after. Before is focused on watching Pudge's growth, seeing his become himself, and seeing him gather experiences and traits he will need to confront the after. In the After, we see the remaining group trying to reconcile with the catalyst, the tragedy. We see them work through their feelings, their disbelief, and their need to understand. And through this, the undeniable impact of the before is revealed.

Writing: 5 I love John Green's writing. It is intelligent and thought provoking. As I've now read my way through all of his books, I've noticed a few interesting common threads. Teen smoking is prevalent in all of his books and seems to be one of his favorite symbols. Though each of his characters see it in a different way, it is all ultimately viewed as a form of control.
There are also character tropes that Green has repeatedly explored. Much like in Paper Towns, this is the story of a boy who has lived neatly within the confines of school, family, and society. They want more, sure, but they never go after it until a girl who dances precariously on the edge with little care and plenty of mystery comes along to drag them into a whole new world before leaving them to figure out this new life by themselves. This isn't to say these books or characters and are the same, as they each have their own, unique mark, but the similarity is interesting. Luckily, this is one concept I enjoy reading about and exploring, the person who live at an unsustainable pace.
So, to make a long story short, I absolutely loved Looking For Alaska as well as the titular character, and it is now in my top five favorite books of all time.


The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (441 pages)
Overview: The world close to eighty years in the future looks just as different and technologically advanced as you would imagine. New York City seems to have changed most of all with the edition of The Tower, a complex rising one thousand floors consisting of restaurants, apartments, shops, and parks. Really, no one leaves the tower unless they're taking the train on a three hour trip to Paris or a helicopter to the Hamptons. The residents of the upper floors and their children all live perfect bubble lives with access to everything they ever want and a life where they never have to lift a finger. Until, of course, things start to get complicated leading some to start mixing with the poorer people on living in the slums of downtower. One thing's for sure, in the months leading up to one girl falling from the roof of the tower to her death, nothing is normal. There are many plots and storylines that weave in and out in a way that makes the plot impossible to summarize here but makes for an intriguing story in a fascinating world.
I also want to say that I generally read contemporary books, so I was a bit weary of this futuristic book, but, as Katherine McGee said at Book Con, it really is a contemporary novel in a futuristic setting. So, if, like me, you aren't a science fiction lover, don't write this story off. Overall: 4.3

Characters: 4 There is quite the slew of characters that all mix and mingle with each other. Many of these characters are given point of view slots, or at least the illusion of it. Despite labeling each chapter with one of the six point of view characters, each chapter is narrated in third person with the same detached, cardboard, omniscient feel for each. As the story progressed, through their actions and reactions, I got to know the characters better, but some of them lacked necessary growth or humanization that left the majority of the characters flat.

Plot: 5 I'm giving the plot a five, with one caveat. The ending was rushed, flat, and disappointing. But ignoring the last twenty pages, the plot was what fueled the story, and, in part, made it difficult to put down. There are many twists and turns, some the reader discovers slightly before the characters and some total surprises. The main portion of the book, the majority of four hundred pages, I found captivating. Bravo on an excellent plot that is only dimmed by a lackluster beginning and end.

Writing: 4 I'll start with the positives. The world building in this book is amazing. The images were vivid and even though this was far flung technology in a Jetson-like world I could never construct alone in my mind, I could see and comprehend it all. McGee did a phenomenal job with this.
I also have to applaud her ability to twist and turn plots into and out of one another creating individually captivating storylines along with an epic story as a whole. For the remarkable execution here, I could not dock this score any lower than a four.
Now for the negatives which can pretty much be summed up by the beginning and the ending. Choosing to write in third person, and on top of that, not honing the voice to give any sense of the characters voices, by nature, made them flat as cardboard. If only she had chosen to give each POV a true point of view narration and used their first person voices instead of this alternate, weak, third person voice. The voice nearly turned me off of of the book from the first chapter, rightfully weary of investing close to ten hours on a book that only seemed subpar. Past this initial start, when the plot picks up the story is amazing. Until the ending when it all falls apart in a rushed, unsatisfying ending that seemed to be there simply because McGee had obligated herself to throw someone off the roof. There were loose ends left, obviously to be tackled the the second installment that comes out in August, but they were not set in a way that made me eager to get my hands on the next book (though I will most likely still read it).


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

All Our Worst Ideas YA Book Review

All Our Worst Ideas by Vicky SkinnerOverview: Amy has her life all laid out. She's going to be valedictorian, get the Keller Scholarship, and go to Stanford. Easy. Oliver doesn't quite know where he's headed yet. Taking his gap year has just confirmed that he doesn't want to go to college. No one in his life knows that yet. Amy and Oliver are thrust together when Amy gets a job at Spirits, the record store where Oliver works. They both live and breathe music, and that connects them even though their lives couldn't be more different. Amy and Oliver are a true example of the power of music to unite people. Overall: 4.5Characters: 5 I loved Amy and Oliver. I related to Amy so much. She loves music and uses it to get her through her intense academics and the heavy expectations from her family. She feels pressure to do well that mostly comes from herself, and her drive keeps her pushing to win valedictorian. While everyone knows how smart Amy is, her mom always talks ab…

Badlands Book Tag (from Antari Reads)

School has been so stressful that I just wanted to have fun for today's post. I stumbled upon the Badlands Book Tag on Twitter made by Alison from Antari Reads and knew I had to do it. I get so excited every time I meet another Halsey fan/YA book lover. Halsey has been at the top of my mind lately, so this tag felt like bringing this Badlands era revival full circle. If you really want to get into the music with me, I made a reaction to Badlands for the 5th anniversary of the album. You can click the link here or watch it embedded down below. I'll also leave links to all my recent Halsey related posts so you can read about my Manic book pairings, Halsey's new role in a YA book adaption TV series, and her life Badlands album. I've also included links to Bookshop in this post. Just click Get a Copy to visit the book's affiliate page and grab one. Shopping these links means I might get a small commission, and part of the sale goes to benefit indie bookstores. It's…

Spotify Book Tag

Today, I'm doing a book tag. I haven't done a ton of these yet, but I came across this one on Twitter when Santana shared their version of it, and I got inspired to do the tag! Santana found the tag from the original creator, Sarah @ Book Hooked Nook. Here's the original tag and here's Santana's take on it. I borrowed Sanata's twist and added music choices along with books that fit the prompt, and at the bottom, I complied all the songs into a Spotify playlist so you can listen to that while you read! I also made a special list on my Bookshop featuring all the books if you want to get any of them! Find that here. I hope you discover more books and music to love! If you want more music content, check out my music blog, Music, Musings, and Me. Also, make sure you don't miss Friday's YouTube video that perfectly fits with this tag: Spotlighting Books With Musical Main Characters.

1. Hit Rewind: a book you go back to again and again? 
I don't tend to rere…

Larger Than Life: A History of Boy Bands From NKOTB to BTS Book Review

Larger Than Life by Maria Sherman
Get a Copy!
Overall:  5
I don't think I've ever anticipated a book longer than Larger Than Life. I'd heard Maria on a couple music criticism podcasts whenever they'd launched into the confusing world of the boy band, and she always mentioned the book would be coming soon. Well, it's finally out, and it makes me incredibly happy.
As I already knew, Maria is a boy band expert as well as a true fan. Her joy and enthusiasm really does make the book. I also love that boy bands are finally getting their full and comprehensive due. I wouldn't say that I'm particularly a boy band fan (outside of the Jonas Brothers and One Direction (though I guess those are just the boy bands of my generation so many I am)), but I find how they're looked at culturally to be fascinating. Boy bands tie back to feminism and how society constructs their views around things liked by teens/girls/women/LGBTQIA people. Maria doesn't shy away from tha…

Spotlight New Releases: Sunshine Is Forever

Hello, everyone! Today's is a very special post for me as I am reviewing my first ARC (more on that at the bottom). I was intrigued by the summary of Sunshine Is Forever from the second I read it, and I am now so excited to get to share my review of this amazing view into depression and the motives behind self harm and suicide. The impactful story is one I place up with many of my favorite books that tackle mental illness. It also features a male protagonist with a great voice, which we honestly don't see enough of in YA. Anyway, without further ado, to celebrate Sunshine Is Forever's publication, I am bringing you my full review of this new YA mental health fiction novel from a new author to the world of YA.



Sunshine Is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan
*Trigger warning specifically for self harm and suicide*
Overview: Hunter suffers from depression. While he's dealt with it his whole life through ineffective therapy and medication, his condition is worsened by the Incident which…

Into YA with Laura Silverman: Part 2

Today, I'm chatting with Laura Silverman again to celebrate the upcoming release of her book, RecommendedFor You as part of the blog tour! If you haven't heard about this swoony, holiday set romance in a bookstore, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to read the book's official description and Laura's bio. Otherwise, you can check out my review here. I'm so happy to support Laura's new book, and if you want to hear about her past books, I'll link to my review below. If you're excited about Recommended For You, you're in luck because it is out in the world today! If you want to order a copy while supporting indie bookstores and the blog, you can purchase the book here with my link*. Thank you to Laura for taking the time to talk with me!

1. Recommended For You is mostly set in an indie bookstore during the holiday rush. What made you decide on that setting? I spent a year working at a bookstore and fielded many of the same strange requests Shosh…

August Wrap Up 2020- Reflecting and Getting Excited For What's To Come

I didn't think I would ever say this, but August does not seem like it's been nearly long enough! I feel like the end of summer came in the blink of an eye, and now I'm writing this on my second day as a college student. Considering I started this blog as the 8th grader, I've come a really long way. This school year is extra weird. I wasn't prepared to start school online like I had been in years past. I was anticipating moving to New York. I had an entire New York City themed visuals flip for the blog to honor the new era of my life. Alas, I'm still in the mountains and those plans are on hold. At least August is the last of the losing. I didn't have many plans beyond this month, so all the new days should get less painful. They just are instead of being a "should have been". If you're starting a major milestone this year (especially if you're starting college like I am), my heart goes out to you. We're in this together, and I think …

The Summer of Everything YA Book Review

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters Want a Copy Right Now? Use my Bookshop link to support the blog! Here.Overview: Wes doesn't know what he wants to do with his life. He has an acceptance letter to UCLA, but he's not sure what he wants to do with that. He loves working at Once Upon a Page, the indie bookstore he's worked at for a number of years. It's the perfect chill job where he's surrounded by comic books and all his friends. When it seems like Once Upon is going to close and his best friend/crush Nico is getting ready to move all the way to Stanford, Wes feels like his entire life is falling apart. He doesn't know what the next step is, but he's going to fight to keep the bookstore (and a bit of his childhood) alive for as long as possible. Overall: 4Characters: 4 Wes isn't totally lost. He loves what he's doing right now, but he's realizing that can't be forever. He's scared of making the wrong move for his future, so he fi…

War and Speech YA Book Review

War and Speech by Don Zolidis 
Overview: Sydney's life is a bit like a tornado. After her dad heading to prison wrecked her first semester of Junior year, she transfers schools with her walls up high and her tongue extra sharp. Sydney is deeply sarcastic, speaks her mind maybe too often, and is happy to join conspiracies to take down the school. She finds them in a group of outcasts tormented by the speech and debate team. She ends up joining down with an eye towards taking them all down and getting the coach fired. While she goes in with one mission, she finds a lot more than she bargained for on the team. Overall: 4.5 

Characters: 5 I love, love, love Sydney. She's so cynical and sarcastic and completely hilarious. She says a lot of the things that I think, so it was a joy to see the world through her eyes. It's nice to see a YA character in high school who plays into it as a complete outsider in the sense that she doesn't even want to play the game or be a part of tho…

Not Your #Lovestory YA Book Review

Not Your #Lovestory by Sonia Hartl
Overview: Macy never wanted to go viral. Sure, she wanted one of her videos to hit a million views on her YouTube channel where she shares movie reviews. Her plan is to use her ad money to get out of her tiny town and make it to Chicago. Instead, when she has a sort of meet cute with a boy at a baseball game that gets turned into a viral Twitter thread, all the trolls find her channel, and everyone is looking for updates on her nonexistent relationship with #baseballbabe. What looks like a chance to finally reach her channel goals quickly turns into an invasion of privacy that threatens everything she's built offline. Overall: 3

Characters: 3 I liked all of the characters involved. Macy is bright and fun. She's a great main character to follow. Paxton, her co-worker she has a crush on, is sweet and reserved. She has a couple friends and co-workers that help to build out the world. Eric, the boy from the baseball game, and Jessica, the middle ag…