The Archived by Victoria Schwab | Review

The Archived by Victoria SchwabThe Archived by Victoria Schwab

Hyperion

January 22, 2013

Series: Book one in The Archived series

I remember reading Victoria Schwab’s debut, The Near Witch, and there are two very specific things that I recall about Victoria: 1) her writing is amazing, and 2) she has the strangest ideas. The Archived is no exception. However, The Near Witch’s concept and idea was so weird that it was a bit uncomfortable in some ways, and just not a pleasant read for me. Going into The Archived, I was a bit worried about that. Gladly enough, Victoria’s second novel was surprisingly breathtaking and just fascinating.

I’m not going to give you too much information on what The Archived is about, because I think the synopsis that is given on the book flap is quite enough. The fact that I went into this story kind of knowing what this book was about and kind of not was… a better way to go about reading this book, I think. Having too much knowledge would kind of ruin it, I suppose. So rather than give you a brief summary, I’m only going to tell you my positive thoughts for this book!

Like I mentioned before, Victoria Schwab has gorgeous writing. Her writing is among the richest (creamy?) of writers in the young adult atmosphere. Seriously, it’s quite amazing. She was able to deliver the most vivid of descriptions, which definitely helped with the world of the Archived. Her writing was great in The Near Witch, but oh, it has improved, I must say! *slow claps all around for Victoria* While her writing was just so easy to get immersed in– and I’m not sure her writing necessarily was the problem– but I found myself having to frequently take breaks every 20-30 pages. I THINK it was the fact that her writing was so dense that I had to take a breather often, but I’m not sure. Her lyrical writing is a positive thing in my eyes, and most definitely not a negative thing (though, having to take breaks while reading a good book is not so fabulous). Who knows, maybe I was just having an ADD kind of day.

That was the only drawback in the novel though, fortunately! One of my favorite things about The Archived was the fact that the world-building was just out of this world. I have never read anything so unique as this one! It’s so captivating and different, I just bow down to Schwab’s creativity. I fell in love with the world and Mac’s involvement in it. And although the plot is slow-paced at times, I enjoyed every plot twist.

The characters were not the strongest point in the novel, but they were endearing nevertheless. Mac, our main protagonist, is very admirable because of her hardworking and curious persona. Characters who contain these two traits never fail to disappoint me! I love characters who are willing to learn and work hard to achieve their goals. On a different note, while there is somewhat a romance–eh, not really, ish– I could have totally enjoyed the book just the same without the vaguely-there romance. The romance may be further enhanced in book two, but I’m not sure.

With an expressively melodic writing style, an unsurpassed story idea, and a lovable main character, The Archived is a story that readers of mystery and paranormal will enjoy immensely. Even if you’re out for an adventurous read, this would be perfect as well because it’s set in a freaking hotel. What can be better than that? Wait– a hotel with gargoyles. Yep, I think you need to pick this book up PRONTO.

rating system 4.5 out of 5

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Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | Review

Unravel Me by Tahereh MafiUnravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

HarperCollins

February 5, 2013

Series: Book two in the Shatter Me trilogy

*This review will spoil anyone who hasn’t read Shatter Me*

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi is the second installment in the Shatter Me trilogy, and I have to say that it didn’t fully live up to my expectations. It was, however, still captivating and intensely heart-pounding with new characters, action-packed battle scenes, and a steaming hot love triangle.

To be quite honest, there isn’t anything that I really hated about this book, except for Juliette’s indecision. Yes, she is trapped in the middle of a love triangle. Yes, I understood her conflict at times, but I didn’t like how easily she succumbed to it. I’m sure all of you have heard of the famous Chapter 62, and I have to say, I think that chapter was supposed to act as a choice-maker for Juliette. I’m extremely glad she was still undecided afterwards, because I think I might have pulled out my hair if she decided who she was going to be with. But, evil Ms. Mafi, playing with the reader’s emotions. She has a way with words that kind of makes your heart scoot closer to the opposing side of the love triangle.

Speaking of Tahereh’s way with words, her writing in Unravel Me has changed– that is, it’s gotten better than it was in Shatter Me. I didn’t think it was possible, or perhaps it’s been too long (ehem, 3 months) since I last read book one, but each and every page is drenched in beautiful prose that maked me sigh every time (though not in a creep way. I think).

Being over 450 pages, it’s difficult for any author to keep a reader captivated the whole time. However, Tahereh was able to pull it off, without a doubt. I was hooked into the world underground at Omega Point, and the waging war above ground against the Reestablishment. There’s plenty of things happening in the storyline; people to protect, people to fight, people to save. I found myself gripping the book for stretching periods of time and I simply couldn’t let go until I figured out what happened next.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the second installment in the Shatter Me trilogy. It wasn’t quite as good as its prequel, but still highly enjoyable. The reader is still able to indulge on Tahereh’s gorgeous writing, and is taken on a wild rollercoaster ride of a story. The only letdown for me was that the love triangle became a little more problematic and a bigger part of the story. Fans of Shatter Me are in for another breathtaking installment and will be itching for book three by the end of Unravel Me.

rating system 4.5 out of 5

Just One Day by Gayle Forman | Review

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Dutton Juvenile

January 8, 2013

Series: Book one in the Just One Day duology

Just One Day by Gayle Forman follows the story of an 18 year-old girl Allyson, on tour with her best friend Melanie, in Europe. There, Allyson meets a charming Dutch boy, Willem, and he decides to take her on a one-day trip to Paris– just the two of them. After a series of events that causes her to end up alone, she returns home in the US, wondering where Willem went. As she starts school at her new college, she learns to find herself in the most unexpected way.

I have rather conflicting feelings about Just One Day. Mostly it was the beginning and middle where things were shaky, but by the end, I was completely and utterly satisfied. Nevertheless, I still had problems with this book, and I have to admit that I was a tad disappointed with Just One Day.

One of my first issues with entering Allyson’s story was the fact that I couldn’t connect with her. It’s always hard to explain why a reader doesn’t or isn’t able to connect with a character since it’s based solely on personal experiences, but in this case, Allyson was not relatable for me. She wasn’t a bad character, but she wasn’t exactly outstanding, either. Allyson does grow and there is some self-discovery going on (which I love), so my liking for her does get better, but the connection between me and her was a significant problem in the start. Additionally, the romance between Allyson and Willem wasn’t the strongest. It is technically a case of insta-love, since they do fall in love within a day in Paris. After Willem mysteriously disappeared, I didn’t understand why Allyson was so hung up on Willem, even after a year. I saw a bond between them, but not the strongest one.

I was also bothered by the way the Paris setting was executed. Don’t get me wrong, the Paris atmosphere that Forman told was gorgeous and extremely realistic, but the time that the characters  (Allyson and Willem) spent in Paris felt too much like a copy-cat of Anna and the French Kiss. I found myself constantly comparing the two stories, and I hated how similar it was. So, the general comment about the Paris setting: loved all of the imagery, but I disliked the intense similarity to Anna.

As the reader delves deeper into the novel, there comes a point where Allyson returns to the States, and this is where the story slows down. A lot. Even though tons of new characters are introduced in this section of the novel, I wasn’t particularly interested in any of them. It was quite boring to read about Allyson’s college life, also because she was sulky and dark the entire time.

It wasn’t until the last part of Just One Day that it started to pick up again. By this point, Allyson is set on doing what she wants to do: find Willem. The obstacles that she went through were highly entertaining and definite page-turners. Allyson meets even more characters; these characters I easily fell in love with, which probably added to my enjoyment factor. The ending wrapped up beautifully and it wasn’t until then that I realized what the entire middle section was for: the buildup for the conclusion. It was done quite masterfully, so this ended up being a redeeming factor.

In all, Just One Day was a let-down for me. There were so many factors that bothered me the entire time, and it wasn’t until the ending that really bumped it up a star for me. However, it is Gayle Forman, for which her writing definitely made this book a whole lot more enjoyable. From the main character and romance to the Paris setting, these were factors that left me disappointed. Luckily, the way the story wraps up is breathtakingly so, leaving the story on a good note. I’m not sure if I’m willing to pick up Just One Year, but since it’s Gayle Forman, I think just might.

RATING: 3.5 / 5 

Stacking the Shelves (#2)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It gives us book nerds to share what awesome books we got this week, may it be from the book store, library, mailbox, or from friends!

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I hope everyone’s Sunday is going well! I actually got sick earlier this week, and yet I’m still at the beach. My family and I drove down so roadtrips = audiobooks! Here’s what I got this week.

The Edge of Falling Revolution The Friday Society Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)

Trinkets BZRK Reloaded (BZRK, #2) Monsters (Ashes Trilogy, #3) Unbreak My Heart

(Click image to link to Goodreads):

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle | Edelweiss – Simon Pulse

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly | Audiobook Library

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress | Library

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | Library

Trinkets by Kirsten Smith | Library

BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant | Edelweiss – Egmont USA

Monsters by Ilsa J. Bick | Edelweiss – Egmont USA

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker | Online Library

 

Thanks to the amazing publishers and my awesome library! What pretties did you get this week? 

The Program by Suzanne Young | Review

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The Program by Suzanne Young

Simon Pulse

April 30, 2013

Series: Book one in The Program series

In The Program by Suzanne Young, readers follow the lives of Sloane, a high school girl who lives in a world that is plagued with depressed teens. The government has created The Program, a rehab facility that “heals” teens of their suicidal thoughts. It removes their harsh memories, creating new, squeaky-clean people, ready for their shiny new lives. As Sloane struggles with the loss of people close to her, she must figure out if she herself can resist The Program.

The Program was a breathtaking, highly unique dystopian that reads like a contemporary. Blended with romance, a strict “program”, and heart-wrenching relationships, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story. To be honest, there is nothing that I can complain about– it’s that good.

To start off, I was really wary about the dystopian world in The Program. It sounded like this book was going to be utterly depressing and dark (but sharply contrasted with the bright yellow scrubs on the cover). I wasn’t wrong, this book is depressing, but it’s also extremely uplifting and powerful. I loved the concept that Young created. The world-building was phenomenal and it was really easy for me to believe that this world could possibly happen someday. I was fully immersed in the world of The Program.

Next, the characters were absolutely in-depth and well developed. Quite a few characters in The Program come and go, but Young doesn’t hesitate in making them well-rounded and real. But to the real point: our main character Sloane was a very strong and adamant girl, and the phase change that she experienced is extraordinary. It was so fascinating to watch her change, and rediscover herself. Her determination was very admirable. The boys in this novel (yum) were also extremely endearing. There isn’t technically a love triangle, but– it’s hard to explain (just take my word for it). They were swoon-worthy, protective, and promising. Sigh.

While I was also hesitant about picking this book up because of Young’s previous book that I didn’t really enjoy (A Need So Beautiful), I can happily say that I don’t regret picking this book up at all. Fortunately for me, The Program is a definite favorite of mine for 2013. Despite mentioning the fantastic world and characters in this book, there’s also just something about it that made me flip the pages continually. There were so many moments where my heart felt like it was being squeezed/torn out/shattered. This story was thrilling; it’s a “feel all the feels” type of book. Coming highly recommended from me, I cannot sit an entire year for the sequel. Suzanne Young, I beg you to write faster.

RATING: 5 / 5

Immense thanks to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy to review!