Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book of a Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale

It's been a long time since I've reviewed a book that I could honestly say I enjoyed. Finally, here is a book that I think is simply amazing. Two thumbs up. Written by the brilliant and poetic Shannon Hale, I dove into this story and hardly wanted to leave it. Wonderful and solid world-building, characters you could relate to and knew were growing as the story progressed, and a happy ending that I could be well satisfied with. ^_^

Basically, it's a book written in a diary format about a girl named Dashti, who is the poor, humble maid of a sort of princess, Lady Saren, who was sentenced by her father to 7 years in a tower, because she refused to marry the man her father told her to. So the lady and her maid are imprisoned together. Luckily there's plenty of food in the tower, so at least they won't starve for 7 years (although they do have rats) and Dashti knows how to write, so she keeps a record of their time in that prison.

About a month of being locked in the tower, Saren's real love, Tegus, visits them, but Saren doesn't want to talk to him because she's scared, so she orders Dashti to pretend she's her. Dashti is quite reluctant to do that, but she does as she's told, and soon she and Tegus become really good friends, him thinking that she's Lady Saren. After a few visits in a row, though, he leaves and doesn't return for the longest time.

With many days, weeks and months skipped, eventually Dashti and Saren manage to escape the tower after nearly 3 years of imprisonment (I won't tell you how they escaped. ^_~). But the world around them has changed a lot. What used to be Saren's home is burned to the ground, so they have to go somewhere else. Dashti decides to take them to Tegus's realm, because she knows they'll be safe there. They get there, but Saren is a bit crazy from years in the tower, and she doesn't want to tell anyone that she's really a Lady, so she works with Dashti in the kitchen scrubbing pots all day.

I won't tell you how, but soon Dashti meets Tegus himself, and they become friends again, him never knowing that she was the one he'd spoken to in the tower. This is when Dashti realizes that she's in love with Tegus, not Saren. He never even met the real Saren, so that means he loves her.

As you can see, it was a really romantic story, and I loved it a lot. ^_^ I don't know why I haven't picked it up before now, but I'm glad I did. I highly recommend it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Girl Parts, by John M. Cusick

I saw this book in a bookstore in Boston, and I was fascinated by the synopsis on the inside flap. As soon as we got home to Florida, I reserved it from my library and in a few short days I had it in my hands. I pretty much gobbled the whole thing in one day. Here's the story:

This robot girl, a Companion named Rose, is programmed to help "disassociated" David Sun make real, emotional connections with an "actual" person. An interesting proposal, since with all the internet stuff and texting and things of that nature, it would be easy for teens to get lost and forget what making friends and having boundaries really means. She has this thing called an Intimacy Clock inside her, which tells her when it's okay to touch her at certain points of the relationship. If you touch her inappropriately, she gives you an electric shock. Reward and punishment system.

However, it's easy to forget that Rose is really a machine, not a person. She may look like a girl, but she doesn't have everything that a girl has. *hint hint* When David discovers this, he pretty much dumps her, and she's left heartbroken. Well, the nearest thing a robot could call heartbroken, anyway. Luckily, Rose makes friends with a boy named Charlie, who is a sweet, real guy who doesn't share David's disassociative problem, though he is a little shy and a loner. But he really does care for her, even if she is a machine. In the end, Charlie helps Rose learn to move on and become her own person.

This story was interesting, but I do have a few gripes with it:
1: There's a lot of bad-boy stuff in here. Cursing, drinking, drugs, and all David thinks about is going around the bases with Rose. I mean, it's horrible how much he and his stupid friends treat girls like objects (although in Rose's case, she actually is an object, but still). Personally, I don't go for books like that. It doesn't set a very good example for real teenagers.

2: I wasn't totally convinced that Rose was, in fact, a robot. I don't know, perhaps if you're able to suspend your belief and imagine that there's a company in Japan (Sakora) that makes absolutely perfect androids that think and seem to act human, you can enjoy the story. But she acts and moves too much like a human. She was just too perfect, if you know what I mean. Her thought process had a bit of a technical side to it, but she still seemed to think like a real girl.

3: The ending really seemed to fall flat. Sorry to spoil it for you, but in the end, Rose simply disappears. I have no idea what happened to her. Maybe she was taken away by the Sakora people and decommissioned. Maybe she ran away and started a new life for herself, one without David or Charlie. (I don't see why she couldn't have stuck with Charlie, but then again, she is a robot.) So with Rose gone, both boys get new girlfriends that they're happy with and everyone lives happily ever after. Really John? Really?

In conclusion, I'd say this book may look appealing by the attractive cover, but don't be fooled by it. Your time will probably be better spent with another book entirely.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

I'm not sure how I feel about doing a full review for this book. Don't get me wrong, I love the Hunger Games series! You can see how positive my response to the books were by reading my reviews for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I thought those 2 books were totally awesome, and I was sure that the final book promised to be epic and a satisfying end to the trilogy.

Sadly, my feelings pretty much match those of my friend Graham, whose review can be seen here. I think he says it better than I could. Well, he's already said it, anyway.

I didn't hate this book, but I didn't really love it either. I was sad that the main character, Katniss, had to endure so much physical pain, get addicted to the drug morphling, have her boyfriend Peeta go insane and brainwashed to kill her, and see all her friends die around her (even a member of her family!). I don't blame her for being so suicidal near the end.

Because of all this sadness, I was pretty confused how in the epilogue, Suzanne Collins managed to create a semi-happy ending, where the Districts don't do Hunger Games anymore but just try to rebuild their lives, and Katniss and Peeta get married and have 2 kids. It was just really weird, you know? It's obviously meant to be a bitter-sweet ending, but I don't know why after all the awful stuff, she even attempted to make it happy.

But like I said, the book isn't all that bad. I liked some aspects of it. The writing was really good, and I liked how Suzanne built the world of District 13. Interesting how that's like a big melting pot for all the rebels of the districts, and even some people from the Capitol are there. The character of President Coin, leader of District 13, is quite a piece of work. Like Katniss, I was really suspicious of her (you should be too).

And besides, this book has some cool memories attached to it. I actually bought this novel from the bookstore (a rarity for me, since I'm more of a library girl) so that I could get to meet Suzanne Collins herself! She couldn't really sign her books, because she had some condition with her hand, but she stamped this special Mockingjay mark in the front of each person's copy.

I was the 71st person in line to meet her. I know, because they handed out these tickets to people in the order that they arrived. There must've been over a hundred and fifty people in the room by the time Suzanne arrived, so I guess I was lucky. See how happy I am, holding up her book? My brother Adam is the one who took the picture. For some reason, only he and I were able to make it to this special event. My parents and sister were working at our apartment in Boston. It was our last day there, so I guess it was pretty hectic. O,o

In the fliers for the event, it said the author couldn't exactly pose with every single fan, but pictures seemed to be allowed. So my brother snuck this one in. Sorry for the blurriness. Anyway, it's proof that I got to meet Suzanne Collins. ^_^

She seems like such a sweet person. You almost wouldn't think that she is the individual responsible for creating such a dystopian universe for her characters to live in, not to mention making most of said characters suffer so horribly. I mean, she writes so well that she makes me believe that these are actual people, and then she just kills them off one by one (since there's no way around it in the Hunger Games). It's as if she's a murderer, although I'm pretty sure that she's not in real life. It's just... weird. O,o I guess that's how it goes for all authors who kill their characters at one point or another. How do they sleep it night, I wonder?

Oh by the way, at the event they had this table that suggested what other books readers might enjoy if they like the Hunger Games trilogy, so I took a panorama picture in order to get the entire table. Do you see that green book in the very middle? ^_^ Yes, it's the Maze Runner! I thought it was so nice of Suzanne Collins to help promote James Dashner's book like that. I'm very excited for the next book in that series, the Scorch Trials, to come out in October.
So yeah, it seems like I was able to give a pretty full review here after all. Didn't know I had it in me. ^_^ Until next time. *Bettina out.*