Monday, March 28, 2011

Unwind

Title of the Book:
Unwind
Author:
Neal Shusterman
# of pages:
335
Published: 2007
Genre/Themes:
Science Fiction, Young Adult, Survival, the Value of a Soul

Summary of the Book:
Set in a futuristic America where the second Cival War was over the right to the soul. The result of the war was an order in which parents could have their children “Unwound” between the ages of 13 and 18. The children are not killed off because their entire bodies are used as organ donations and therefore the body and soul never dies.
Connor is your typical “bad boy.” His entire high school career has been spent getting in and out of fights. When he finds his parents signed form to have him Unwound by the government, he decides to run. His path crosses with Risa, a State Home unwind, and Lev, a “tithe” who is willingly being unwound in order to adhere to religious beliefs. The three run the track of fugitives until they are finally faced with the ultimate challenge: survive until they are 18.

Review:
The three unwinds in the story all bring to surface various themes and challenges Shusterman portrays through the novel. Connor is faced with dealing with his anger. How does an unwind who has been betrayed by his family and the entire world find a way to control his anger? Connor plays the game of emotions as he battles his inner anger and finds a way to cope with what has happened to him. Risa deals with the challenge of perfection. She has spent her entire life in the State Home where she became a pianist. Though accomplished, she did not meet the talent of those State Home orphans who are able to avoid unwinding. Eventually she finds that her talents grow and expand as soon as she is no longer under society’s label. Through Risa’s story Shusterman declares that we are all talented in our own ways but not always in the ways society wants us to be. Lev deals with the horror of realizing that everything he has grown up with and believed about God is smashed to pieces. Shusterman makes a huge statement about religion through Lev’s story and contribution. Ultimately Lev finds that he does not have to conform to society’s definition of God; he can believe in a God who doesn’t believe in unwinding.
One of the most interesting aspects of the novel was the short excerpts at the beginning of each section. These excerpts were taken from actual quotes or articles from the world we live in today and connected them to issues in the novel. The excerpts showed that the novel is not as “sci-fi” as we might believe; we are faced, and will continue to face questions about how our world defines the right to life and a soul as we develop as a society.

Monday, March 21, 2011

All We Know of Heaven Review


Title: All We Know of Heaven
Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard
Pages: 320 Pages
Release Date: Released 4/29/2008
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Goodreads Summary: All We Know Of Heaven was written by Jacquelyn Mitchard, a mother of seven and currently living in Wisconsin . It is a fictional novel but based on true accounts of patients who have had their identity mistaken.
Bridget Flannery and Maureen O'Malley have been BFFs since forever. Then a brief moment of inattention on an icy road leaves one girl dead and the other in a coma, battered beyond recognition. Family and friends mourn one friend's loss and pray for the other's recovery. Then the doctors discover they have made a terrible mistake. The girl who lived is the one who everyone thought had died.
Based on a true case of mistaken identity, All We Know of Heaven is a universal story that no one can read unmoved: a drama of ordinary people caught up in an unimaginable tragedy and of the healing power of hope and love. (from back of book)




My Review: This book was interesting, to say the least. After turning the last page I couldn’t decide whether I hated it or fell in love with it. It has a certain charm to it that makes you feel peace and comfort. However, it also leaves you saddened at how the characters were left. Even though I had mixed feelings for this book, I highly recommend it. It is thought provoking, uplifting, and makes you really appreciate what you have. And with all that, it still keeps you entertained the whole time!




This was the kind of book that hooked you from the beginning and kept you up all night thinking about it even after the last page was turned. You become so involved with the characters and their lives and emotions that by the end you really feel like you know them personally. As for the ending, it was appropriate for the book but not what I would have liked to see happen. This is the reason for my mixed feelings. Overall, it was an exciting, heart-wrenching read. If you need a good book to get lost in, this is it!




Rating:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tyger Tyger Book Review

Title: Tyger Tyger
Author: Kersten Hamilton
Pages: 322
Date Published: November 15, 2010
Genre: Fantasy

Summary:
Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.
Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing because, this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming. (from goodreads)

My Review:

I enjoyed this book very much. It had everything you could ask for in a book. Action, adventure, mystery, magic and even romance! I felt like I could really connect with and relate to the main character, Teagan. Although of course I don’t have magic trolls coming after me in the middle of the night, I could sympathise with her in her troubles with boys, work and school.


I would recommend this book to anyone Jr. High aged and above because of the only thing I didn’t like which was that this book swore. Not extensively, but it had its share of curse words. Other than that, I would recommend this book to any reader looking for a story of adventure - someone ready to travel to another world. Also, sometimes even I would get a little creeped out by this book and I wouldn’t want my elementary aged little sister to read it. If it scared me a little bit then I don’t think that anyone younger than Jr. High should be reading this. Other than that, I absolutely adored this book and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out because I can’t wait to find out what happens next!




Rating:


4.5 out of 5

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


TITLE: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
AUTHOR: Mark Twain
PAGES: 366
RELEASE DATE:1885
GENRE: satirical novel

Summary:
Mark Twain's classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, tells the story of a teenaged misfit who finds himself floating on a raft down the Mississippi River with an escaping slave, Jim. In the course of their perilous journey, Huck and Jim meet adventure, danger, and a cast of characters who are sometimes menacing and often hilarious. (retrieved from amazon.com)

My Review:
My childhood was a time of unlimited possibilities and few consequences.This book takes me back to that time when magic was real; where sticks became the weaponry of elven heroes or goblin villains. The magic produced by the novel combined with Mark Twain's literary skill makes this book one of the best books I have read in my entire life. The imagery and insights into the Deep South are skillfully and methodically placed through out the novel, leaving the reader with understanding and familiarity with a culture that no longer exists. This novel, however, isn’t for everyone. By this I mean that readers may not fully appreciate the ridiculousness of little boy's pretend games and adventures, if they have not participated in them. Grand adventures (pretend pirates, robbers, etc…) were my life when I was in grade school. The way Mark Twain eloquently brought my childhood back to life has made me laugh until I almost cried. This novel may not be as enjoyable for a reader whose childhood lacked grand adventures and imagination because they are the foundation of the novel.


I must confess that I didn’t read this novel--I listened. This is also a reason why I liked The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn so much. The reader was very talented at voicing for the many characters in the novel. I feel that having read the novel I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did. I can see why reading the novel would be difficult. The southern accents do become very difficult to follow and the novel does at some points seem to be going nowhere in particular. This could be seen very negatively by readers. I didn’t particularly mind the slight pauses because the story is supposed to be written by Huck and true life sometimes slows down and drifts in no particular direction.
This book is an American classic (not to be confused with the British ones) and I strongly encourage everyone to read it and to laugh at the silliness of the grand adventures of two young boys, Tom and Huck, and a run-a-way slave.


My Rating:



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Before I Fall Review





Title: Before I Fall
Author:Lauren Oliver
Pages:470
Release Date:March 2, 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction

From Goodreads:
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

My review:
I read this book all in one setting, thanks to my boyfriend bailing on our plans for the day. Thanks, boyfriend. Even if he hadn’t bailed on our plans, I would have found it difficult to put this book down. It is entirely captivating. Lauren Oliver does a great job in her debut novel of capturing a self-centered and egocentric teenage voice but still manages to pull the reader in.

At the beginning of the novel, Sam is your typical popular high school girl (think The Plastics from Mean Girls) and I kind of hated her, and all her friends. I mean, seriously. Sam doesn’t even care that she gets a girl in trouble for cheating, or that she’s super mean to just about everyone. However, as the novel progresses so did my understanding of the characters, and I became more sympathetic.

At times the book comes off as preachy, but only slightly, addressing the reader with a very personal “you.” The novel does delve into serious territory, like suicide, sex and drinking (there was so, so much drinking in this novel, and discussions about having sex) but for the most part I thought it was handled well.

Readers who enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why will like this book, and even those who didn’t (like me) will still find this as a worthwhile read. I would recommend this book, but it’s not one I’m dying to go out and buy. I am excited to read Oliver’s second book, Delirium, which came out in February.

Rating: