On Reading: A Review #1

3 Books I Love And One I wouldn’t recommend

Can you guess which?


“I’m not picky, I swear!”

Well, hello everyone. I wanted the first post to be special, therefore it is.

Truth is, I am picky. Years of wanting to read, not being able to read, and searching for gold through the muck of Wattpad has somewhat refined my taste (I’m joking, and at the same time I’m not).

Do I hate any of these books? No, I don’t. Did I leave any of them halfway through? No, I did not. “So, what makes one different from the others?” You ask.

Well, before I get to that, let me point out their similarities.

SIMILARITIES

  • They all have young protagonists
  • They’re all tragic in their own way—granted some have more deaths than others
  • They all have “depressing” themes (I’ll tell you why it’s in quotes later)
  • They all delivered the endings their titles promised
  • They all have romance and are diverse
  • They are all good books

DIFFERENCES

  • Some MCs were more relatable than others
  • Some didn’t live up to the premise the authors set out to deliver

You must be thinking, “That’s all?” And unfortunately, yes. That’s all that can stand between a good book and one that falls flat on its face. And that mystery 4th book didn’t even fall flat on its face, it just made me go “Meh” when I reached the end. I was disappointed, and it had been long since a book I’ve decided to pick up disappointed me, so I was EXTRA disappointed.

All four books are open about the general idea of the plot.

We are told that the four friends in “We Were Liars” are The Liars early on. Simon himself tells us that this is your classic “Chosen One” story in Carry On. Granted, the word starfish doesn’t appear until we’re more than halfway through the book, it only gains significance there, otherwise “Starfish” is just your everyday coming of age story. And finally, “They Both Die At The End”, I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.

I read books to be touched, to be inspired, to feel like I should get off my arse and do something. This doesn’t mean that the books need to be inspiring, no, they can be depressing as hell, but the author moves something in you through their writing, whether it’s tears, a scream or throwing the book at the nearest wall in anger and frustration, you can hear it all around you, the whispers.

“You’re changed now, you’ll never be the same,” they say. We Were Liars did that to me. The Underground Railroad did that to me. Call Me By Your Name, The Godfather, Black Sun, The Song Of Achilles, The Handmaid’s Tale, Noughts and Crosses… They—and many more—all did that, and the impression they left on me is buried deep in my soul. And even if one day, I forget I ever read them. Forget the titles and the plot, those whispers would always remain with me.

Everyone else is moving, why are you staying still?

Though Carry On and the others didn’t leave me with these same whispers, I still got the message the authors wanted to deliver through their stories and I enjoyed the way they wove the characters into their plots.

Let’s get on to the reviews (in no particular order). First off is Carry On.


Carry On:

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Plot: 2.5/3

Ending: 2/3

Characters: 2/3

It’s a delightful book. It doesn’t take itself more seriously than it is. It has its deep moments, of course, but straight up your can tell that it was designed to make you laugh.

Simon is the Chosen One, the apprentice of the greatest Mage alive but there’s a catch. Using his magic is like playing the lottery, and everytime he doesn’t win things go boom—he’s awfully dope with his sword though…

Baz is his nemesis, the “rich, aristocratic magician” and a dreaded vampire. Gasp.

“I live with a vampire!” I argue.

“Unconfirmed.”

“Are you saying you don’t think Baz is a vampire?”

Chapter 5; Carry On.

As you can see, most of the book reads like how Scooby Doo plays out. Simon and his best friend trying to uncover Baz’s secret, while Baz is off being a “Draco Malfoy”. I use this reference loosely, for I have never managed to read past chapter four of Harry Potter.

There’s sprinkles of politics over here. A dash of a sinister overtones over there. Some human vs mage racism way over there. A little bit of chaos. And finally, a big secret that everyone only knows half of by the end!

Ha! I figured out another similarity! Two our of four of the books have/are Harry Potter alternatives included in them. (If you’ve figured out which, tell me in the comments.)

Simon has a girlfriend—Agatha. A best friend—Penny—and a thing that is trying to kill him before he kills it—The Humdrum. He’s terrible at magic, is always in danger because everyone knows he’s the stuff from the prophecy and is also trying to kill him… He doesn’t know who his parents are so he’s been in the normal world from age 1 to 11—when the Mage found him. The Humdrum sends monsters to attack him once in a while since the prophecy says he’s the savior of the magical universe, and that about wraps it up—or does it?

While attending his magical school and normal teenage life, he experiences relationship troubles and meets an important ghost—both of these things lead to him to help his dreaded nemesis, Baz, find a killer. This of course puts them on a path to finding out the truth about much bigger mysteries: The Real Beef Between the Magical Families and the Mage; The Truth About The Humdrum.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, there’s a delicate tension between the magical aristocrats and the Mage. There’s even been talks of a war and the Mage had few friends to begin with.

Sword fights, magic fights, bad guys, good guys, awkward teenage plotting and a school of wizardry, this book has it all.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

The Author’s Website

If you loved/love Harry Potter, you’d definitely love this. And if you didn’t love Harry Potter, you’d still like this because it’s its own story. Simon and Harry may both be “Chosen One” wizards, but their attitudes towards it and the world they live in are completely different.


Starfish:

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Plot: 2/3

Ending: 1.5/3

Characters: 2.5/3

Summary: Kiko Himura yearns to escape the toxic relationship with her mother by getting into her dream art school, but when things do not work out as she hoped Kiko jumps at the opportunity to tour art schools with her childhood friend, learning life-changing truths about herself and her past along the way.

Kiko is an a artist. It is her dream. Her passion. Her everything. The cumulation of all her hard work and expectations lies in the prestigious art school of her choice, Prism. It’s the big fix, the solution to everything.

The only problem is that no one understands her art, she knows that no one thinks she’s good enough but that doesn’t stop her from doing her best, even when she faces rejection.

She’s a recluse, left out of cliques because she’s half asian and struggling to find herself in a household as disjointed as a mosaic where her voice is silenced to mere whispers each time she attempts to speak out. This all changes when someone (her childhood friend) from her past shows up and gives her the courage to push past her limits and stand up for herself—often indirectly.

I draw a girl without a face, drawing somebody else’s face onto her own reflection.

Chapter Three; Starfish

On her journey—to tour art schools she never once considered—she meets people who teach her to stop seeing her life as something to be fixed, people who help her embrace everything about herself, both the good and the bad.

Kiko has anxiety, she thinks too much, she doesn’t fit in because of something she can’t change—her race. But this only makes her one of us, relatable, and so are the people around her, even the goddamn awful ones.

Akemi Dawn Bowman effortlessly portrays the subtle differences and similarities we all share as humans, through our genetics, oppression and successes, and through Kiko’s eyes, we learn what it truly means to live for ourselves.


We Were Liars:

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Plot: 3/3

Ending: 3/3

Characters: 2/3

The sort of book that has you wondering if you’re smart enough to piece together the puzzle before all the clues are laid down and the author has no choice but to spoon-feed you the big picture.

I admit, I didn’t see it coming, and I thought I was so smart. It’s usually hard for a plot twist to get me. When books are too boring, I engineer my own but E. Lockhart has a way with words, a lingual sleight of hand if you will.

Summary: Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.

I was on the prowl for something sinister. I contemplated murders—heists—but the story progressed like your average teen fic/slice of life, speckled with hints of morbid conversation. But that wasn’t too strange, teenagers are weird creatures after all.

The summers are fun and great, a wealthy family getting together once every year to bond. The chapters are fun. The romance is sweet. You even get a few laughs here and there but you never manage to shake the feeling that something is off.

“Do you guys ever plan out your funeral?” I ask.

“What do you mean?” Johnny crinkles his nose.

“You know, in Tom Sawyer, when everyone thinks Tom and Huck and what’s-his-name?”

Chapter 45; We Were Liars

Candace has headaches and drugs don’t help. She has amnesia and an inheritance worth fighting for. She spends the summer with her cousins and her boyfriend trying to figure out what memories she’s missing because it seems as though she’s the only who has forgotten—and no one is eager to fill in the gaps for her.

We Were Liars is a poignant mystery, layering sadness beneath heavy doses of contentment. It’s the sort of book you know can’t afford to spoil even when you want to gush to the whole world about it. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

It’s a tale that can’t be missed.


They Both Die At The End:

Rating: 6 out of 10.

Plot: 2.5/3

Ending: 1.5/3

Characters: 2/3

They Both Die At The End, and the book delivers. Death Cast is the new in-thing. It tells you you’re going to die a day before you’re going to die. The concept is brilliant and there’s a lot that could have been done with it but wasn’t.

Matheo and Rufus are going to die on the same day, it’s no big secret. You keep thinking if the title is there to mislead you, but no, it’s not.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Blurb; They Both Die At The End

This book is about living life to the fullest when you have no time left to live.

Did I shed tears over this? Of course not. This is the first Silvera book I’m reading and at first I thought it was the next We Were Liars for me. I picked it up the moment I dried my tears on Candace’s fragmented memories.

The story plays out like a teen adventure.

A dude with anxiety struggling to break out of his wallflower mold gets together with a dude who’s not afraid of anything. It’s a brilliant combination, except for me, that was all it was. I didn’t feel the tension of their approaching deaths. Reading it was just like reading another contemporary YA. They were having fun, sort of at peace with death even if they weren’t, and changed themselves in the space of day.

Uh? It could have been called A Day’s Adventure and cut off before they died and maybe I would have liked it better.

The characters are real, fleshed out individuals dealing with their own brokenness and guilt, and when they’re together healing happens, subtle as it is. We also get a real in-depth look at the people around them, which brings me to my last point: the multiple sub plots.

You’re following Mateo and Rufus around, wondering if this is where they’re going to die, then you’re suddenly in the head of a Zoe, Patrick or Delilah. And that’s not even half of them. It took my concentration off the main story so much that by the end of it I preferred reading about Delilah’s day over the boys’. (She didn’t believe Death Cast despite almost dying a handful of times—which I thought was awesome).

Mateo and Rufus didn’t try to fight death but they fought for every moment they could even knowing it was inevitable, and made use of what they had left to become the people they’ve always wanted to be.

I can’t be stupid. I can’t be a hero.

I don’t wanna make peace with this—maybe if I had a gun pointed at me before I met Mateo and got my Plutos back, yeah, whatever, pull the trigger. But my life is stepping its game up.

Rufus; They Both Die At The End

My Final Thoughts?

All four books are great reads but after reading They Both Die At The End, I was at a loss. All I could think was, “This is it?” For all the hype, it was nothing more than a novel about friendship. Death stopped being heart wrenching, Life became much scarier in comparison, and I think the way Mateo died was stupid. I even laughed. It was like a scene in those horror movies where someone is told not to go into the basement and they still go to the basement. The Death Cast was just a device to explain two dudes dying on the same day; all the mystery about it was shoved to the background of the plot to be forgotten, and without the tension of trying to escape death, it didn’t really work for me.

But as always, these are my opinions. You can choose to agree or disagree, and that’s fine. Books are made for people, but not all people are made for certain books 😉

Today’s Recommendation

This book gave me everything I was looking for in They Both Die At The End, though the premises are completely different. The title tells the whole story and more. As for whether it’s a misdirect, I guess you have to find out yourself *wink wink*.

Summary: Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

7½ Blood Star Rating

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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