Sunday, March 30, 2014

Panic | Lauren Oliver

Panic began as so many things d in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She'd never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. 
Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he's sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he's not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. 
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them-- and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most. 

Non-Spoiler Review

I didn’t expect this book to be as intense as it was. As soon as I started the first page, we hit the ground running with the beginning of the epic games of Panic. In this small town of Carp, there’s an annual game of Panic, in which the contestants have to go through ridiculous, crazy challenges that usually endanger their lives. These games take place during the summer and only graduating seniors are eligible to participate. During the school year, each student must pay a dollar daily in order to fund these games, regardless of their age. This year the grand total is $67,000, but not everyone plays for the money. Dodge, Heather, and Nat, three unlikely contestants, all have their own reasons for playing. If you enjoy adrenaline-filled books that really get your heart racing, then I completely recommend this book!

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

I had a lot of expectations from this book because it was so widely spread around the book community, but not everything happened the way I thought it would.
For example, I thought Dodge and Heather were supposed to get together, but a few pages in, Dodge was pining over Nat, and Heather was acting jealous of Avery and Bishop. So right away, those predictions were out the window.

Disregarding all the couples, I thought that the entire game of Panic was incredibly cool, and incredibly dangerous. All of the challenges had my heart pounding just because there was a faint chance the characters wouldn’t make it. Out of all of them, I think the scariest one was when Heather was forced to put the gun to her temple and pull the trigger, not knowing whether the bullet would be fired. When I first read it, I was so confused as to why it was so hard for her to shoot a gun, because I missed that she was supposed to point it at herself. Putting myself in her position, I would be so scared to go through with it; add a father killing himself in the same way, and there’s no way I’d be able to go through with it.

The characters were pretty meh in this book. I really did enjoy seeing Heather grow throughout the book. From the beginning, she was super self-conscious and questioned practically everything she did. But as the book went on, she discovered that she really loved animals, despite what she previously thought. She was finally able to admit her tendencies to focus on the negative, and change it.

Both Nat and Dodge really annoyed me throughout the book. As characters, both were extremely flimsy and had strategies for Panic that weren’t…conventional. Nat basically got to the semifinals without lifting a finger, much like Foxface in The Hunger Games, except that Nat isn't that smart. She didn’t have to do the first challenge, nor did she really do anything in the second challenge. She was such a flaky character, I never felt like I could trust anything she said or did, which is why I don’t completely understand Heather’s friendship with her.

Contrastly, Dodge was extremely stubborn about everything he did. He completely immersed himself in every emotion he felt. When he felt anger and wanted revenge on Luke for paralyzing his sister’s legs, rather than simply beating Ray, Luke’s brother, in Panic, Dodge went so far as to almost kill him. When Nat showed him even the slightest bit of attention, he became the complete puppy dog and fell head over heels in love with her. Because he was so stuck in the emotion, he wasn’t able to accept the change that was happening. He wasn’t able to accept that Dayne, his sister, was getting accustomed to her new life. He couldn’t accept the fact that Nat was obviously using him. By not accepting this change, he was continually hurting himself.

Bishop as the judge was extremely predictable. As soon as Dodge noticed something weird, I knew one of the judges was Bishop. But I was also expecting the other judge to be revealed too. Personally I think it was Vivian because why else would she be in Bishop’s house.

Everything about the book was great, but I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Throughout the entire book there was so much intensity geared towards the end of the book: who would win, what would happen between Bishop and Heather, would Dodge get his revenge? On top of that, Heather took the car with the explosives in it, building on the anxiety, and the rest was a blur. And then all of a sudden we skip to like two months later and all of a sudden there’s a happily ever after ending. I really wanted to see the conversation between Bishop and Heather, and how Nat and Dodge ended up together.

If you guys were the judges of Panic, what kinds of tasks would you put? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Summon | Meredith Mawr

What if dreams always came true?--or at least parts of them did? That's what happens to Electra Vance, a smart, small-town, Beaufort, South Carolina girl who's excited to go to far away Killewycke Academy for her Senior year (at least 99% of her is), a new school brimming with the promise of new experiences. 
But even before Elle arrives, unusual things start to happen-- then the dreams begin... And, once she meets beautiful and mystifying Sam, her logical, rational world changes in strange and frightening ways. Away from home for the first time, Elle discovers that so much she thought she knew for certain is chaotically, unimaginably wrong. And, Elle hates messy unknowns!
Join Elle in Summon, the first novel of The Summoner Series, on her unforeseen journey, discovering more about herself, her world, her family-- even about Sam-- than her wildest dreams dared foretell.

Non-Spoiler Review

I began reading this book right after the Unwind Dystology, so right off the bat it was difficult for me to really delve into the characters and plot of the book. But once I got into it, the plot was pretty interesting, and by the end, the book was moving so fast, I didn't even realize when it had ended. The book leaves off on a horrible cliffhanger, leaving the reader dying to know how it all ends. If you enjoy books like Twilight or the Lux Series, I recommend picking this book up!

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

When I went into this book, I thought it was just going to be a typical love story between the small-town quiet girl and the completely perfect boy. It turned out to be so much more. The light cover doesn't at all portray the darkness and evil within the book. Meredith Mawr does a wonderful job in creating up a type of world that hasn't been written about before. 

This was one of the few books where I enjoyed the minor characters more than the main protagonists. Elle, Electra Vance was the ultimate female. And although I admit having a lot of the same thoughts she does, most of the book seemed to be dominated by how gorgeous Sam was. I definitely didn't mind the extremely vivid visuals of Sam, but when I was trying to get into the plot, a lot of her lustful thoughts got in the way of the development of the plot. I actually thought that Sam was a lot better than most of the YA male characters in books. Unlike Edward in Twilight, Sam gave just enough information to subside Elle's curiosity, but not enough to reveal anything important, until of course, the end. But their relationship really made me cringe. When I read about relationship I adore the antagonizing relationships when neither party refuses to admit their feelings for each other, so this constant coddling between Sam and Elle didn't really appeal to me. It also felt like their relationship moved in fits and bursts: she'd kiss Sam one day, and then barely talk to him the next, and then practically jump him the next. It just seemed extremely inconsistent. 

Throughout this whole book, Camden was one of my favorite characters. He didn't handle the situation with Elle very well, but I personally think he got the short end of the straw, and I really hope to see him again in the later books of the series. 

The plot began to get more and more intense near the end, especially after we discovered that Elle was a summoner herself. Although I feel like a little more explanation of what a summoner actually is and a little more backstory behind it would be good. Overall, I'm really excited for the next book! I can't wait to find out what actually happens to Elle and Sam, and how they battle against the venators, and what happens to them after that.  

*This book was provided by the author to read and review. This is a 100% honest review.*

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lux Beginnings Cover

Here it is! The Lux Beginnings, Obsidian and Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The hardcover volume containing books one and two will be released on June 3rd! If you haven't read this series, it's definitely worth the read! Personally I like the original cover better, but this isn't terrible. I definitely recommend this book to everyone! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book-Movie Discussion: Divergent

I cannot express how much shock I feel right now. This book to movie adaptation was so good; it served as a great precursor to the rest of the movies. If you haven't seen it, go see it right now, even if you haven't read the books. I'm going to be discussing specific scenes from the movie, so if you don't want to be spoiled, go watch the movie and then come back! 

Spoiler-Filled Discussion

When I had previously heard the news that Uriah and the Dauntless-born initiates were cut, I was completely flabbergasted, I didn't think they'd be able to work around that since all of them play such major roles in the later books, but I think they worked around it perfectly. If you looked at the ranking board carefully, Uriah, Zeke and all of them had spots, so they weren't cut out of the movie completely. 

Starting from the beginning, there's a voiceover of Tris giving a little history behind the factions and basically how they came into place after the war, which I didn't love, but I guess it's necessary for the audience who hasn't read the books. There's a short clip of Tris when she was little, running after the Dauntless in her Abnegation clothes, which was fantastic foreshadowing of the rest of the movie. 
Although it was a bit weird seeing Ansel and Shailene as brother and sister, it worked to the extent it needed to, even though I wasn't too fond of it. 

The next best part was when she first joined Dauntless and was running with the other initiates to the train. As everyone got on the train, she kept running and during this whole time my adrenaline levels shot straight up and once she was finally onto the train, I was breathing as heavily as she was. And then she jumped again off the train with Christina, and then was the first jumper into the net. 

Then we meet Four. I am absolutely in love with Four and I think Theo James plays him perfectly. When Four and Tris first met, it was exactly how I imagined it. Tris's face was flushed from the adrenaline of jumping and Four just displayed the strong confident leader he was supposed to be. 

Peter didn't seem like the terrible guy that he was in the book. It was never actually revealed that he was part of the gang that attacked Tris, so there wasn't as much hatred against him. He also had some of the best lines in the movie, making him super sassy and almost likable. 

One change within the movie that I really liked was when Four taught Tris to go through the fear landscapes how a Dauntless would, rather than a Divergent, while in the book, she basically just had to slow herself down. Minor thing, but Tris only had five fears, unless I counted wrong...that was somewhat unclear. 

The last quarter of the movie was definitely the most intense, just as it was in the book. Both Four and Tris got recognized as Divergents, and Four was taken away, while Tris was about to be shot, when her mother saved her. When both of Tris's parents died, I basically lost it, I was crying so hard in my seat. Right after that, Four almost tried to kill Tris, and that entire fighting scene was intense. 

When she was fighting with Jeanine and getting her to shut down the program, I visibly cringed when she threw the knife, going right through Jeanine's hand. I was slightly confused when Jeanine was injected with the simulation and shut down the whole system. I feel like that could have been explained better, but it still doesn't affect my view of the movie too badly. 

The script for this entire movie was amazing. There was a perfect balance between serious, romantic and comical. One of my favorite dialogues was when Tris was about to jump of the ledge into the net and she was taking her sweater off and Peter began catcalling "Yeah stiff! Take it off!" Then once she had, he again said "Nevermind put it back on!" 

Another one of my favorite scenes was when Tris was trying to talk to Four for the first time, she asked him whether he was Dauntless born or a transfer and he replies "Why do you think you can talk to me?" And she replies sarcastically "Because you look so approachable." 

The final scene that I want to talk about is when Tris is threatening Peter to tell her where the Erudite are working. She's threatening to shoot him and he scoffs and says, "Pft you won't shoot me." Frustrated, she replies, "Why do people keep saying that!?" before shooting him in the arm. 

One thing I wished they would have added was the visiting day scene. In that book, that scene was so emotional because Tris didn't know if any of her parents were going to come and visit, but her mom did. That and Uriah would be the only two changes I would make to this movie. 

But overall I completely loved this movie and I can't wait until I go watch it again. What were your favorite scenes? Let me know in the comments! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Unsouled | Neal Shusterman

Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they're not just running away from something. This time they're running toward answers, in the form of a woman whom Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. 
Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that is he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.
With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, their paths will converge explosively- and everyone will be changed. 

Non-Spoiler Review

Continuing the plot development from the previous two book, Unsouled continues to uphold my high standards. As the book continues, we begin to get more of a backstory of how unwinding came to be, and we learn that it's much deeper and darker than what's on the surface. There's no way for me to review this book without spoiling it. If you haven't picked this book up yet I completely and utterly recommend it. Go read it!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

UnWholly | Neal Shusterman

"Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa, and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp, people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens and, in the same stroke, providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. But unwinding has become a big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but expand. 

Connor has his hands full running the Graveyard, a safe haven for AWOLS, kids like him who escaped unwinding. Low on supplies and always afraid of discovery, it's all he can do to keep the place afloat. Risa, paralyzed from the waist down after the attack on Happy Jack Harvest Camp, is struggling to stay positive and help Connor, but she is afraid that she may be more of a burden to him than a help. And Lev finds himself involved in an underground movement to rescue tithes, where he is practically worshipped as a god. 

One of them will be betrayed. One of them will go on the run. And one of them will cross paths with Cam, a teen who doesn't exist, and make a startling discovery about the truth behind unwinding. 

Non-Spoiler Review

As a sequel to Unwind, I thought this book was completely amazing. This book reflects our own society in a horrifyingly accurate way. From the first book, the law Cap-17 has been passed, lowering the unwinding age from seventeen down to sixteen. Now, every harvest camp is forced to set all the seventeen-years old free. Although this has spared many lives, no one foresaw the terrible consequences that followed. With a significant lack of unwinds, the population isn't getting the parts its so used to getting. Black market parts pirates are developing around the country picking AWOLs off the streets to sell at outrageous prices. After barely escaping the explosion at Happy Jack Harvest Camp, Connor, Risa and Lev fight to save more AWOLs from the Juveys. Along the way, the society raises many ethical questions. I recommend the first and second books to anyone who's able to stomach the images and questions implied in this novel. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Why Do We Read?

These days with all the new technology, it's rare to see a teenager not with a phone in her hand, but a book. People constantly stare at her, trying to figure out what in that pile of papers is generating laughs, frowns and cries. The newer generation, the ones with the influx of new technology at their disposal, is completely unaware of the tremendous worlds at their fingertips. Some of us living in the normalcy of the everyday life frequently get bored, and when reality isn't taking precedence in our lives we find ourselves disinterested in the happenings of our own lives. When this happens we turn to books for relief. Books allow us to step out of ordinary reality and into a world full of adventure and emotion. Whether it be a world of witchcraft and wizardry or a world full of half-god half-human teenagers, we get to experience something we couldn't have in reality. In books we can watch someone fall in love for the first time, and fall with them. We can watch someone die and cry along. Unlike reality, there's no limit to what books can make us experience.