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?

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Breakfast Club Murders || One of Us is Lying Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I pretty much ripped through this story like nobody’s business, and while I had some problems along the way concerning the big reveal and how stereotypical and cliche the book was for the most part, honestly I still stayed for the characters. I would definitely recommend the audiobook because the cast was stellar in their portrayal. And that ending effing deserves a Breakfast Club fist pump.


ONE OF US IS LYING

by Karen M. McManus
Delacorte Press, May 2017
YA contemporary, mystery
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies

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.


When this book was described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, I didn’t actually think it was going to be so close to the comparisons. Normally I take books being compared to other things with a grain of salt.

But seriously, One of Us is Lying is The Breakfast Club. With murder. So I suppose that’s where Pretty Little Liars comes in as well. I haven’t seen the latter, so I’m going with a Gossip Girl feel here, too, what with Simon Kelleher’s app being so similar to the format of Gossip Girl.

If this were a television show, I’d watch the eff out of this, hands down. There’s just something about high school teen drama that looks so deliciously petty and addicting on screen. That said, this book was just as great on the page–granted I didn’t read this on the page.

I read One of Us is Lying as an audiobook, which I highly recommend as well as reading the book itself. Like the book itself, the audiobook narration is divided up into its four main characters: Bronwyn Rojas (Kim Mai Guest), Nate Maccauley (Robbie Daymond), Addy Prentiss (Shannon McManus), and Cooper Clay (Macleod Andrews). Now, I’ve listened to a good number of audiobooks at this point, and I am normally wary of multiple-cast dramatizations. Sometimes, there’s a voice in the narration that pisses me off that it ruins the entire audiobook. But in this case, I’d have to say the narration worked wonders. You could definitely get a sense of each character and his/her perspective just by listening to how the narrators read their sections. Robbie Daymond’s Nate was particularly awesome, because he also managed to get the southern twang that Cooper reverts to when he’s nervous.

Anyway, now that I’ve tooted the audiobook horn a bit, time to get into the nitty gritty of the book itself with the help of Gossip Girl and The Breakfast Club gifs, of course!

WARNING: This blog post is a little graphics heavy. #sorrynotsorry

The book pretty much opens up straight into the heart of the action itself: detention.

And a roll call of your stereotypical high school students, five of the school’s mismatched kids a representation for a clique within the student body: a homecoming queen (Addy), a popular jock with his own Facebook fanpage (Cooper), the chic geek (Bronwyn), the rebel drug dealer (Nate), and the gossipmonger (Simon).

Cough. FORESHADOWING.

Unlike TBC, though, one of the five don’t make it out, and by the end of detention, Simon chokes on it. Honestly, I’d feel a little bad about this, but he was kind of a douche-canoe with a bloated sense of self. I mean, he has an app that takes investigative journalism to a whole new level of ugly. Like, to a Gossip Girl level ugly.

And that’s the problem, you see. Because with Simon dead in extremely suspicious circumstances, police investigations start shedding light on the motives of the four students who were in the room with Simon. And check this out, all four stand to gain from Simon’s death. In some level, Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy have one thing in common: a secret that could ruin each of their reputations.

Naturally, one of them has to be involved with Simon’s death, right?

This makes many things awkward for the four detention survivors, because now their lives have been upturned, from police investigations, reporters, and buried secrets that inevitably come to light in the most heartbreaking manners ever.

That’s really where the character development comes in, because the story is told within the four perspectives of Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper. And honestly, as cookie cutter stereotypical as the characters were, there were dimensions to them that added to the flavor of each suspect.

I grew to adore Cooper especially after showing that he’s not altogether just a “jock.”

CC and “K” ftw! *coughtheotherKthat’snotKeelycough*

I absolutely loved Addy’s growth throughout the story. She went from a Princess Blondie to someone who’s gotten a more independent spine. Her makeover was not just skin-deep, though I also appreciated the fact that she went all out and went purple, hair-wise.

Yaaaas AP yaaaaas.

And Bronwyn and Nate? I definitely ship it. But then of course the geek girl falls for the bad boy. Not that I’d blame her. To be honest, Nate’s POV was my favorite to listen to.

I guess BR can be considered princess and geek girl in one. Regardless, she falls for NM all the same.

Now, it wasn’t all fun and games, of course, and unfortunately there was no dancing on tabletops or heart-to-heart camaraderie moments on a regular basis. It is a high school murder mystery, after all, and a killer must be brought to justice!

Only, I totally called the culprit, and it was kind of underwhelming. A lot of the plot and drama could have been highly prevented if SOMEONE had the right mind to report their friend’s behavior going the deep end (honestly, a sociopathic behavior like that really needed to be reported, for everyone’s general safety). With the mounting increase of school-related violence, you’d think the message of “see something, say something” would be more important. I’m kind of bummed that it was mostly glazed over. And unfortunately a lot of the stereotypes here included a large amount of bullies, control freaks, and slut-shamers. Barely anyone outside of the Murder Club had minds of their own, which was a shame.

Also, how the hell are the police so terribly incompetent? I did feel like a lot of the drama depended on the fact that the police had absolutely no regard to privacy during their investigations. Absolutely EVERYTHING was revealed to the whole school within a day of private investigation. It was kind of unnatural at how the “culprit” knew almost everything that happened in each interview.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I cannot wait to read McManus’ next standalone; it’s bound to be just as juicy!

4.5 out of 5 cookies! Other than the blips mentioned above, I would read and listen to this again given the chance.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Damn Those Book Onions || The Hate U Give Review

Initial Thoughts: 

EFF THESE BOOK ONIONS MAN. I’M NOT CRYING YOU ARE.


THE HATE U GIVE

by Angie Thomas
Balzer + Bray, February 2017
YA contemporary fiction
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.


Honestly, I debated on whether or not to make this a full-blown review, because I’d only be reiterating every other one of the 20,000+ reviews on Goodreads that laud The Hate U Give with praise. That said, this high rating–and the fact that it’s been at the top of the NYT bestseller list for weeks on end after its release–is not without merit. If nothing else, read it for how realistic it is and how important an addition it is to the conversation we are still having today about race and racism.

As a disclaimer, this is not often the type of book I would review. Mostly I read to escape reality, not to emulate it. And yes, much of fiction–especially the fantasy and scifi that I read–have great bases in the real world, but enough of “fiction” for me to know that honestly, shit like that’s not gonna happen to me anytime soon.

But then there are books like The Hate U Give, and escape at this point is furthest from my mind.

Angie Thomas hits hard and hits quickly. The book itself left me numb in certain situations, and I was definitely not immune to the onions in the pages. By the time I’d gotten to Seven’s breakdown during his birthday party, I was already done in, not to mention the fact that the bittersweet but hopeful epilogue made me bawl for several minutes before I got my shit together. (And then I ended up watching the movie trailer and I started crying again. Ugh, I’m a mess.)

I could not recommend this book more than many people already have. For a good cry, read The Hate U Give. For a good insight to the conversation about #BlackLivesMatter, read The Hate U Give. For a look at injustice and how a young adult deals with it on top of an already tumultuous period in her life, read The Hate U Give.

Hell, on a lighter note, read The Hate U Give just to see your outlook on the Hogwarts houses turn upside down. (Okay, not really, but that bit really did blow my mind…)

5 out of 5 cookies! Seriously, read the book. And have tissues ready.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Empress of a Thousand Skies || Review

Initial Thoughts: 

For something that’s set up for a duology, there is much to tie up plot-wise. Not surprising for a space opera per se, but I thought a few things could have been resolved already. Also, way too many random coincidences used to move the plot. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world…anyway, some good parts, some bad, I’m still on the fence mostly on this book.


EMPRESS OF A THOUSAND SKIES

by Rhoda Belleza
Razorbill, February 2017
Young adult, science fiction
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

In a galaxy far, far away…

Cue the whole Star Wars opening sequence for when you read the book jacket summary. I swear to you the overall effect makes it even more dramatic. And, believe you me, this entire thing takes a turn for the drama. But such is a space opera, amiright?

But seriously, can we talk about this whole memory cube business first?

So in this world/galaxy, er, thing, most people are wired into a memory cube, which pretty much holds what I’m assuming is a database of their personal experiences. Because of Rhee’s flashbacks, it seems like an equivalent of a perfect recollection, one which she could go back to over and over again. So when that gets unplugged, most memories are essentially wiped out. And this is a universal thing. I wonder how much of this is hackable and easily attained/rewritten because the whole thing is largely online…

I shudder to think.

Having perfect recall and being able to go back to a memory over and over again is both a blessing and a curse, imo.

But I digress. My point is there’s a lot about this technology that was interesting to me, and I would have loved to have seen it unfold. In fact, Alyosha and Kara’s subplot kind of touches on this conspiracy about the memory cubes, which is probably why I found their POV the second most enjoyable scenes to listen to, the first being the fast-paced, high-risk chase taking place with Vin and Aly.

That being said, a lot of the story hinged on kismet and character ignorance. Several times, Aly and Rhee escape their conflicts unscathed because of a set of coincidences that were set in motion before they even entered the scene. Several times, the characters do stupid things and they still manage to survive (Aly crashing in a spaceship after a high-risk chase, Rhee dropping a pill and getting herself and Dahlen nearly killed). In one particular scene, it just so happens that both characters meet eye-to-eye for a hot second and then suddenly, everything escalates. I just…where’s the buildup? Where’s the danger? Why are the characters so. frelling. dumb?!

No, seriously. These characters had way too many issues that could have been solved if they weren’t so stupid and self-obsessed. The main villain was predictable, boring, and honestly, sounded like the equivalent of a Mary Sue if villains could be characterized as Mary Sues. Rhee, as the only survivor of the Kalusian dynasty, is supposed to have been taught to take over the throne of an empire, yet I in no way thought of her as anyone who would be fitting to take over a throne. The beginning of the book pretty much starts a few days before her coronation, and yeah, okay, shit happens, and we have explosions and death, and mo’ money, mo’ problems, but from the get-go, Rhiannon was the most aggravatingly ignorant girl ever. She reminded me of another YA girl-ruler who I completely despised because all that education and preparation amounted to absolutely nadand in the end do we really want to trust someone like that in a seat of power?

You’d think perfect recall would allow Rhee to dwell on memories and analyze the minutiae of human interaction and facial expressions. You’d think she’d pick up on facial cues through that recall. Instead, she spends the entire last few years thinking about shanking the guy she THINKS killed her family. Without proof. Without any other evidence other than the fact that she has a memory of her father’s adviser arguing vehemently against peace. And because the guy was so against her father’s policies, it’s clear that he TOTALLY DID IT.

Spoilers, he didn’t. Oopsie daisy? And does Rhee learn? Not in the slightest.

I could probably list a few other things that bothered me about this so-called empress, but I’m so over it, and I want to move on to better things.

Alyosha’s arc was definitely the most interesting to read. While Rhee’s journey was focused on the overarching galactic politics (peace versus war, an empire in arrears, a princess looking for revenge, and a madman trying to frame the wrong person), Aly’s had the most human-interest. Besides the memory cube technology, what I thought Belleza did well on was her touching upon race and racism in the galaxy. The Wraetan are looked down upon, and it mostly has to do with the coloring of their skin. When Rhee’s ship explodes before reaching her coronation ceremony, all the blame goes to Aly, a Wraetan who is blamed because of course it would be a dark-skinned Wraetan who would want to kill off Kalusian royalty. This aspect continues to be brought up throughout the book, and Aly has to constantly deal with not only escape, but survival. Easier said than done when most of the empire is out there to kill him…

Overall, a lot of what the characters did bugged me. A lot of the events made me roll my eyes because of course it would happen that way. I did greatly appreciate the interesting twist with the technology, and I liked the inclusion of different race dynamics in the story. I also liked that this was a space opera, because then lots of different characters and plots within plots within plots. There were a lot of loose ends that still needed to be tied up, however, and Belleza could have kept her story a little less convoluted. That said, I actually am keen to read the next book, if only to find out more on the whole memory cube plot.

3 out of 5 cookies! And honestly, this whole “the two fugitives must join together” thing on Goodreads is another blurb gone wrong. The two main characters never actually meet each other in the book, so um. Yeah.


Did you read this book? What did you think?

I Avoid Horror Stories…Except When I Don’t || Asylum Review

Initial Review: 

I feel like I’ve gotten more paranoid now after reading this book than before I went into it. A lot of this probably has to do with there being way too many characters that were too coincidentally linked with the asylum. And, like, seriously, who converts a dilapidated asylum into a dorm room. Just…I cannot. That said, at least the scare factor wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I’m not big on horror reads, but I’m also not big on horror, and yet I found myself getting desensitized after playing Until Dawn multiple times…So you crazy asylums can go suck it.

Still, you wouldn’t find me anywhere near one of those things.


ASYLUM

by Madeleine Roux
HarperTeen, August 2013
Horror, young adult
Rated: 3 / 5 cookies

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

The Short and Long of It

Normally I avoid horror stories. Sometimes it’s because I want to avoid the gorefest in some, but honestly it’s mostly because when I read horror, I tend to let my imagination get the better of me, and then I start worrying about the wee demon I am sure I have under my bed. And then that leads to thoughts about said demon being hungry and me running out of sacrifices to satiate it.

Whatever the case, horror isn’t my go-to for reading.

But I have tried to branch out. And while it’s not my typical faire, it randomly shows up on my reading list out of whim or initial curiosity. In this case, it was definitely the photographs and the book cover that brought me to reading Asylum.

The funny thing is Asylum puts two of the main reasons why I try to avoid these books: ghosts and asylums. All it really needed was a clown and I’d be scared out of my mind.

Unless the clown is this little fucker. In which case, I’d just think he’s an absolute troll.

The book has been compared to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so much that it is hard not to compare Asylum to the former, and honestly, I picked up the book because of Miss Peregrine, so…yeah. The pictures were just as intriguing, and I liked the idea of people telling a story with pictures included. Only, sometimes the pictures did throw me off, because Roux would be describing one thing, and then I look at the picture and oh, hey, I’m going: “But…the warden isn’t sitting down at the center, he’s standing! And the girl at the far right isn’t the one with the discombobulated head…I’m confused…” For the most part, though, the pictures added to the imagination, and it was a nice touch.

I liked the premise of the book. Dan Crawford goes to a summer program and his current home situation throws him into a dormitory that used to be a hospital for the insane. Not just any asylum, mind you, but one filled with terminally insane, homicidal folk with an equally terminally insane, homicidal warden at its head. Pulled by a need to investigate the mysterious pictures at the old warden’s restricted office, Dan becomes embroiled in some weird historical investigation where he finds out that the past can quite literally haunt you. Especially if your name’s Daniel Crawford.

Dan’s friends are also hoots and a half. Jordan was probably my favorite, but that’s mostly because if I was a character in the group, I’d be the scared math-geek with hermit-like coping mechanisms. But that’s assuming I’d make it that far into a program that has an insane asylum as its dormitory. I probably wouldn’t have even applied for the program to begin with. You wouldn’t see me anywhere near old hospitals–oh, wait, I sort of kind of work in one now. Oops?

What did annoy me was the weird progression that the story took. What became an interesting mystery and delving into people’s minds boiled down to a case of some not-so-mild possession. Not much was really explained by the end, and I’m still not sure how some people got possessed while others didn’t. And the random letters Dan kept getting in the story was never really fully explained. I mean, yeah, Dan made conjectures, but there wasn’t much basis in them, and I’m not sure that’s supposed to be left open because this is, after all, only the first of a trilogy.

There was also the fact that this is apparently meant to be a young adult book, though I didn’t really see much of that in the book. Yes, there’s a romance, and yes, the characters are your typical YA characters, but uh, there wasn’t much drama in that department. High school kids go to a college-like setting with college-like classes, and honestly, nobody romped behind closed doors in a dormitory? Ugh, what a bore.

All in all, though, it was a good story and a quick read. I wasn’t wowed by it, and I actually did prefer Miss Peregrine over this one, mostly because of the more fantastical, supernatural element, but I still liked the story and I’d probably pick up the next at some point.

3 out of 5 cookies!


Have you read this book? What did you think?