Mini Reviews: Shape of Water, All the Bright Places

A hot and cold set of audiobook reviews! On the one hand, I enjoyed Shape of Water lots. On the other hand, All the Bright Places was not so very bright. A lot of this comes from bias for the former, and annoyance for the latter.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda, The Kite Runner

More minis! I went back to reading graphic novels, so you’ll probably see a few reviews regarding graphic novels and whatnot. That being said, it’s not all about the illustrations, because I’ve also been busy with audiobooks and good ole’ text.

I wasn’t such a big fan of the last coming-out book I’d read (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), and I wasn’t really interested in reading Call Me by Your Name, but I actually super-loved this book.

I also super-loved this book as a graphic novel. I haven’t read the original novel, though not for lack of trying. I’m pretty sure I have a copy of it somewhere…though after going through the grueling images in the graphic novel, I might want to avoid The Kite Runner unless I want a really good cry.

Have you read either books? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Beastkeeper, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

More TL:DRs for ya! After these mini-reviews, I’m actually pretty caught up with my reading list. Thank goodness for that!

Beastkeeper has been on my reading list for a while now, and while it didn’t make the Fableulous Retellings podcast discussion, it was still an interesting take on the Beauty and the Beast tale.

I actually watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix and found the movie interesting enough that I wanted to read the book it was based off of. I hadn’t actually known that the book would be in the form of letters. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though! I actually loved the epistolary novels I’ve read before, so this was a pleasant read.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

What Goes Up Must Come Down || The Thousandth Floor Review

Initial Thoughts: 

This world is pretty damn cool and definitely Gossip Girl of the future. But ohgod the drama I could. Not. Deal. The best POVs were from the peasants below floor 500 and I just REALLY WANTED THE ONE COUPLE TO GO RIGHT.

But let’s be honest, if this had been turned into a TV show I’d so watch the eff out of this dramatic trash. Pity I ended up listening to the book instead.


THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2016
YA science fiction
Rated: 2.5 / 5 cookies

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

Futuristic Gossip Girl

Every single description of this book that I’ve seen so far describes it as being the futuristic Gossip Girl, and I’m definitely in agreement with that. If you ask me, it’s what brought me to wanting to read the book in the first place, because I frigging loved Gossip Girl. Chair ship ftw!

But as much as I loved GG, I couldn’t honestly rate this as high as I would have liked, because much of the drama drove me nuts.

How is this drama different from GG, you ask?

There isn’t much difference, honestly. There’s a ton of underage drinking, there’s sex scandals right, left, and center, there are drugs and drug addicts, there are perfect teenage specimens littered throughout the pages, and there’s conspiracy like you wouldn’t believe.

The added bonus is that this takes place in 2118, well into the future, where cities fit into one entire building, all the way onto the thousandth floor.

So what’s not to like?

Honestly, I rolled my eyes every single time Avery’s POV showed up. The way she’s been characterized is that she’s “practically perfect in every way,” and honestly, the ONLY problem she seems to have is that she is in love with her adopted brother. This in itself is cringe-worthy in all ways (it’s just wrong, so wrong, and nothing in the world will make this OKAY–AND GOD WHY THE HELL DO THEY NOT STOP). A lot of the girls want Avery to like them, because at the end of the day, she’s Queen Bee, and I don’t know, but most queen bees are not characterized as being “nice.” Avery is NOT nice. She’s as P-E-T-T-Y as everyone else clamoring up near the thousandth floor, and she’s quite honestly my least favorite character ever because every single time her POV shows up, all she’s doing is whining and pining over Atlas–when she’s not heavily drinking and hosting pity parties for Eris, that is.

Which brings me up to the love-hate relationship I have with Leda, Avery’s best friend. Leda’s obsession is definitely creepy, and things escalate to a point where she does really unforgivable things. But ya know, I love batshit crazy when it comes to story, and Leda is as batshit crazy as you’re going to get, drugs included.

On the bright side, I do want to highlight some really good things I found about the book that will eventually lead me to reading the rest of the trilogy (please just let this be a trilogy, because I really don’t want to keep reading this if it’s a series…).

Rylin and Cord – Of all the pairings that get introduced in this story, I’m really hoping this is one that eventually pans out at the end. The ending in the first book frustrated me to no end, but let’s face it, the two still have feelings for each other, and I’m always a sucker for poor girl and rich boy stories (I’m also currently watching Meteor Garden and I absolutely loved Hana Yori Dango and Ouran High School Host Club…if that says anything about my mentality). I MEAN, HE TOOK HER TO PARIS COME ON.

Watt – I’m still not sure how I feel about Watt entirely, but his storyline does bring a bit of technology back into the book. Watt and his quant Nadia get embroiled in the story because of Leda and Avery, and while Watt lives well below floor 500, like Rylin he eventually manages to drag himself into the dramatic lives of the upper floor miscreants.

The futuristic environment is probably the most intriguing part of the book. If there’s anything more appealing about this world, it’s the fact that hierarchy quite literally means the higher you are, the more powerful your family is. In this case, the Fullers–with their massive property ownership–are the richest of the rich, even going so far as to genetically create their daughter Avery to perfection. I also liked the idea that the upper floors seem spacious enough that they look more like the outside world than what we eventually see as apartment floors.

I guess I want to defend the rating by saying that had this been a TV show, I would have watched the crap out of it. It’s just the right amount of YA angst that would entertain me. It’s definitely the right amount of teen drama that could get super addicting really quickly (hell, I binged GG at some point…), and heck, the first few pages hooked me because the book started with the death of a girl (which, of course, made everyone ask “Which girl died?!”). It has every formula for being fantastic. And yet I found myself cringing a lot and skipping a few chapters just to get to ones I wanted to read about.

2.5 out of 5 cookies! As much as I would love to rant about this book, I’d probably continue reading it if only to see how many of these hooligans die off and whether or not my ship actually makes it through.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Love in the Multiverse || A Thousand Pieces of You Review

Initial Thoughts: 

Well this was cute.


A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU

by Claudia Gray
Harper Teen, November 2014
Science fiction, young adult, romance
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

That cover though

Okay, so can we talk about the cover just a wee bit? Because how could anyone not talk about the gorgeousness of it? Seriously, I would have picked it up out of a bookstore just because of the colors alone. That said, yes, this is definitely me judging the book by its cover, and normally I let the premise and the title take me along the ride. But this? Claudia Gray was blessed with the cover gods.

Now that that’s over with…

Dammit, romance

Again, this is probably another case where I didn’t read the book jacket summary in its entirety, and most of what I’d known about this book was that it dealt with the multiverse. And, honestly, I already said “hell yes” to the fact that this book has a multiverse.

So…kind of like Dark Matter right? Except for young adults and a less complicated explanation of how the multiverse works?

Well…ah, who was I kidding. It’s a young adult book, so it reads like a young adult book, with young adult problems.

Let’s backtrack a bit before I start raving about things first. Marguerite Caine is the daughter of two famous and brilliant scientists. In her world, she is sort of the black sheep of the family–while her brain isn’t completely out of left field, Marguerite chose to follow the artistic route rather than her family’s scientific calling. Hard to imagine, considering her parents are the inventors of the Firebird, a multi-dimensional traveling device that becomes the focal point–and the plot-mover–of the book.

The book itself opens up rather well, to be honest. It starts out with enough action and contemplation to get me interested. Heck, when Marguerite spends most of the first chapter filled with hate and planning to kill some guy named Paul, I was like, “DO TELL, MARGUERITE. WHY YOU MURDEROUS?”

Honestly, Marguerite’s resolve to kill Paul made me wish she’d gone through it like Uma did. Just saying.

So Marguerite–with the help of Theo, her-other-love-interest-but-that-is-honestly-mostly-arbitrary-because-seriously-nothing-comes-out-of-it-at-all–travels several parallel dimensions in search of Paul in order to exact vengeance for a murder he supposedly committed. Let’s all just blatantly trust our narrator, because of course she’s got all the facts and information, the logically, scientifically-minded girl that she is. Oh, wait, she doesn’t have all the facts. But nevermind because this being a YA, the guy she’s chasing will probably managed to be the same guy she’s going to fall in love with. I mean, the title is A Thousand Pieces of You. If that’s not romantic, I don’t know what is.

Which brings me to the brass tacks. This book is predominantly a romance. Yes, it has a wonderful backdrop and several worlds that I could see expanded rather well in future installments. Yes, it has an awesome plot-driven premise that boils down into some crazy conspiracy that is much bigger than I’d imagined. But also yes, it’s a romance with a love triangle. A frelling. Love. Triangle. Not only is it a love triangle, but both guys were pretty much the same archetype of a typical romantic interest: geeky, hot, intense, and overprotective. The only difference between Theo and Paul are that one’s more sociable than the other and one’s just a wee bit smarter.

Sigh.

It didn’t help that Marguerite was probably the least interesting character to me. Sophia would have been a great POV. Katya would have been a great POV. Josie would have been a great POV. Instead, the perspective fell on a girl who just happened to become a special snowflake due to circumstance (BECAUSE SHE DOES BECOME A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE). Instead, we get someone–whose sole reason for multi-dimensional travel is vengeance–who gets sidetracked because she fell in love with the guy she’s been chasing. I mean, Marguerite, seriously, remember the time when you adamantly believed Paul was a murderer? Yeah…

That being said, I will say I enjoyed the book. I had listened to the audiobook version of this book, which was fantastic because of the different accents performed by the narrator. I also particularly loved that the multiverses were varied and rather interesting in their changes. Claudia Gray gave not just one world, but several, and that in itself is worth a lot of kudos. My favorite dimension has got to be the Russian world, which took up a chunk of the book. A lot of the characters in this dimension got fleshed out, and I would definitely read a sequel that returns to this world later on. The love affair between Marguerite and Paul was certainly more palatable with Russian accents in tow, and I’m kind of glad for this (also, sue me, I have a weakness for my “the princess and the guardsman fall in love” trope).

All in all, A Thousand Pieces of You is not a book without its fair share of faults. The love story was predictable, and it gets cheesy from time to time. Marguerite as a character could have been better written. There were still a lot of questions I would have loved to have answers for, and the multidimensional travel explanations were definitely lackluster in comparison to another multiverse book I’d loved (Dark Matter).

But while the book had elements I didn’t like, I thought the story picked up quite a bit once the truth about the conspiracy was fully revealed. I ended up listening to the audiobook really quickly, I was never really bored, and I adored every single time Henry and Sophia were iterated in each dimension. I’d totally read the rest of the trilogy because I’d love to see more of these characters show up again.

3 out of 5 cookies! I’d recommend this book because cover, Russia, and multiverse. Yeah.


Have you read this book? What did you think?