Writing: Story Ideas

I love reading, but every so often I think to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to write a novel of my own?’ When this feeling strikes, I tend to come up with a few story ideas and get pumped. Super pumped, as I start thinking about how the characters will interact and how the story will progress. There will be a twist here, a turn there, and sad scene that pulls on the heart strings and another scene that makes your smile. It will be a good book.

And every good book needs companion, so I start to think of series and multiple standalone story ideas. By the time I’m done coming up with a few ideas, I feel accomplished. I have a story idea! Hear me roar…with a pen, so I suppose it would be ‘Read me roar!’ But I think we can all agree that it doesn’t have the same sort of bite to it as the previous statement.

I start to think up pen names, because I can’t stand attention and even though I would be proud of my books, I wouldn’t want my name associated with them for fear of people finding out and looking at me differently. It’s weird and complicated, but that doesn’t stop me from coming up with some awesome pen names. I get three down, before thinking of the prologues that will not only entice readers to read the novels, but will suck them in even if they don’t want to.

Then, I smile, maybe pat myself on the back for a job well done and leave. Nothing happens after that. My ideas stay just that, ideas. Ideas that are going no where fast.

I’m not sure why I don’t just start writing. I think I lack motivation, no, I know I lack it. It’s just that, every time I’ve tried writing a novel, I stop due to self editing and being overly critical of my work. I also get bored and stop due to that as well. It’s kind of depressing.

NaNoWriMo is coming up and one of my goals is to complete the 50 thousand word challenge. Even if my work is utter garbage, I want to see my ideas take fruit in a story and prove to myself that I can do this. Before that happens, I need to start planning. Outlines, settings, characters and all that fun stuff should be planned now instead later.

I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll be chronicling my journey here so that I don’t get discouraged. Here’s hoping I do well and not quit.

I need to remember that sucking at something is the first step at being kind of good at it. I know I suck, I’m my own worse critic, but I can still do this. Not only for my sake, but the sake of all of these story ideas that are just waiting for a chance to be written. It’s getting ridiculous how many I’ve thought up.

NaNoWrimo, here I come!

But first, sleepy time. Then busy life stuff, then the planning begins!

 

 

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco + Giveaway!

The Girl from the WellThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the Ring. I loved the Grudge. I love Asian horror movies, because not only does it have screams but it doesn’t always rely on gore to sell a scary scene. Not that I get scared, of course, but I love the feeling you get after when you’re looking around and wondering if something just might pop out and say, “gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” That’s the sound Sadako from the Grudge makes, in case you were wondering.

So when I heard about the Girl from the Well, I was super excited to get my hands on it and read. There’s not a lot of YA fiction like this and I was looking for something new. I think this helped make me like the book a lot more than others, because it was so different to what I’m use to. That doesn’t mean it’s the best book, because there are problems here, but it’s different and I enjoyed my time reading it.

The Girl from the Well is a ghost story about Okiku, a vengeful ghost from Japan who kills people who hurts children. One day, while looking for her next target, she sees a boy no more than 15 named Tarquin, aka Tark. For some reason she feels drawn to him and soon enough we find out why. Tark has a spirit trapped inside of him. The spirit is vengeful, out for blood, and wants nothing more than to take over the boy’s body and make it her own.

If I was an evil spirit, I might do the same thing. I mean, it’s what they do.

Tark, along with his cousin Callie, try to get rid of the spirit without killing him in the process. While they do this, Okiku is there to provide commentary and a helping hand when needed.

Is this book scary?

To me, not really, but then again I don’t get scared easily so I don’t know if I’m a good judge for this. I did enjoy reading the scary scenes and watching Okiku take down the bad guys. It was reminiscent of Asian horror movies, so I enjoyed it. The way she took out the enemies of child was gruesome, but fitting for a vengeful ghost.

I mean, if I was a vengeful ghost with time to kill, I might be inclined to do the same thing. Like before, it’s what they do.

One thing I absolutely loved was that there was no romance. That might sound weird, but after reading stories where the romance took over or love triangles and what have you, it was really refreshing to see a book forgo that and just have the story. Tark did develop a bond with Okiku and they did start to care for one another, but it was nothing more than friends and I appreciated that. For it to turn into a romance or anything would have hurt the story, so I’m really glad that it wasn’t there.

The writing style, unfortunately, is the only downside to this wonderful novel. The book is written in Okiku’s voice, which is why it’s in first person, but there were times when it would go into third person without any sort of notice. Once you get use to that, it switches back to first person and Okiku takes over once again. This happens more than once and each time it left me confused. There were scenes when Callie would notice Okiku and instead of saying something like, “Callie turned and noticed me standing on the ceiling…” It would say, “Callie turned and noticed the girl in white standing on the ceiling…” (Neither of these are taken from the book, it’s simply an example of what I was talking about).

For me, this didn’t really work. You do get use to it after awhile, but I never really liked these sudden shifts in view. Okiku is a bystander and watches a lot of stuff that happens, but I don’t understand why we kept switching from first to third to first again, if she’s meant to be the narrator for everything.

Some of the characters also did feel a bit underdeveloped, but the ones who were meant to be the stars, or had important roles, did have some depth to them. I kind of wish Tark’s dad was more available, but his absence did make sense since he’s a single dad with a stressful job.

Overall: Other than the writing style, I did like a lot of stuff about this novel. I did find that despite this being a story about Okiku and Tark, it’s mostly Callie that takes center stage and steals the scene whenever she shows up. There were times when things were a bit convenient and clichéd, but I think because The Girl from the Well is so different from other YA books out there that it’s just felt refreshing to read.

Giveaway is now Closed:

I really liked this, which is why I’m happy to announce that SourceBooks is giving a lucky reader a chance to win a copy of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. If you are from the US and Canada, then all you need to do is comment below with your name and you’ll be entered to win.

Good luck!

The Girl from the Well was provided by netgalley

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California by Edan Lepucki

CaliforniaCalifornia by Edan Lepucki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first time I heard about California by Edan Lepucki was when she visited the Colbert Report. She was being interviewed about her sales since the plug Colbert made in a previous episode that I never got to watch. So as I sat there watching the video on the computer, I decided that I should check out the book. The thing that made me want to read this the most was that Lepucki mentioned that it has dystopian elements in it. Even though I’ve been a bit burned by this genre before, I do still like it so I really wanted to read California.

Now that I did, I feel like it is an okay book. Not good, not bad, just okay. I don’t think this will be a book that everyone will like and judging by the rating and reviews I’ve read, it truly seems like this is the case. There are some interesting elements at play here and I did like some of the plot lines, it’s just that everything seemed a bit bland. No, not bland. I don’t think that’s the right word to use here. It’s just…not what I expected.

California starts off with Frida and Cal living in the great outdoors. The couple moved out here after a flu outbreak and other things (that were never fully explained) left the world in chaos. The internet is only used by the rich few. Schools are hard to come by, since there’s no money for anyone, so girls like Frida are forced to not go and have her education limited while the boys still get to play. It sucks, but I can definitely see it happening.

In any case, the two leave the city and head out in the wilderness where they farm, hunt, go at it like rabbits, and enjoy life like the no one else is around. Because, there is no one else around. There was one couple, along with their two kids, but they soon passed away. Their only other human contact that they have is a travelling salesperson who provides them with goods for a cost.

One Frida becomes pregnant all that changes. Her need to be with others drives her and Cal to some spikes, where they finally meet someone who introduces them to their community. The more the young couple stays with them, the more they start to realize that something dark is amiss. For one thing, where are all the kids? And if Frida is pregnant and expecting, what will happen to her child?

Now, this does sound pretty awesome, and I definitely felt like some moments were. It’s just that, the characters of Frida and Cal were stupid. Neither of them grows as people and they constantly make the same mistakes. Cal had a hero complex, while Frida never thinks about what she wants to do. She has tunnel vision. Once she wants something, she’ll set out to do it even if she shouldn’t. Like at all. At all.

The thing is, can I really dislike Frida as a person if her character remains consistent to how she was written? Granted, I did like her chapters more than Cal’s, but she is stupid. There were times when I thought, why? Why would you say this when you know that bad things will happen to her and Cal…I mean, I just don’t understand her thought process. But she is consistent, which makes me wonder if I should fault the character when this was how she was always written.

I mean, we’re told that when she was younger she’d know her period was in when there was blood on her underwear. This would cause her to constantly buy new panties, because her period was that irregular. Only, once she starts keeping track of it she realizes that her period is actually on a pretty tight schedule and it never deviants from it. Most people, at least I’d hope most people, would have realized that after the first few times you start bleeding from the crotch, but not our Frida. She simply goes with the flow and when she realizes things are different, she just goes with that one too.

I could talk about Cal, but I mostly found him boring so….

I did like some of the plot. Even though it was slow, I liked the air of mystery and loneliness of the first half of the novel when it was mostly Frida and Cal alone in the woods. I know others didn’t, but I quite liked it.

I also liked the community and the leader. He wasn’t charismatic, but I did understand why everyone made him their leader and why he did what he did for them. The residents were afraid and he took it and made it into a town where people could actually function and not let the past take over.

What I didn’t like was the dystopian/post-apocalyptic aspect, only because I never really felt it or understood it. I don’t know why the world was destroyed or why resources and money was limited. There was a thing about a terrorist group, but even that wasn’t explained all that well.

Overall: I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I mean it has a lot of things that I like in novels, but some of the plot lines never really took off and I couldn’t stand Frida and Cal. By the end of the novel I was wondering how it was possible for them to survive in the wilderness for two years when it seemed like all they could do was grow beets.

But then again, Frida may be TSTL and Cal may be a boring person with a hero complex, but they were consistent with their characterizations. I dunno, I’m on the fence with this. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but it also isn’t the worse book I’ve ever read. I did manage to get to the end and even though I hated Frida, I did enjoy reading her chapters so I guess that says something.

California was provided by netgalley

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The Hit by Allen Zadoff

The Hit

The Hit, aka I Am the Weapon, aka Boy Nobody, is a fast paced action packed tale about a boy assassin whose mission in life is to befriend and kill his targets. And for the most part, it’s delivers on its promises. The first person present tense helps add to the experience, instead of hindering it, and the writing was smooth.

Ben (an alias), came home one day to find that his friend killed his family. Since then, nothing has been the same for our little hero. He’s recruited into the Program to be an assassin and now works for Mother and Father. He learns to fight, kill, and never lose focus during a mission. To think of anything else would be suicidal, in more ways than one.

His latest mission is to infiltrate a prestigious private school, where he’ll befriend Samara (Sam) and then kill her father. Normally, a mission like this takes at least a month. You need to get friend with the kid so that they trust you completely, but this time it’s different. Ben has only five days to complete the task.

What makes this case even more troubling is that Sam’s father is the Mayor. Ben isn’t like other kids, he knows how to get in and out and remain undetected, but soon memories from the past start to creep up on him making him question everything the Program stands for. And soon enough, he’s starting to wonder who he can trust, the Program, Sam, or himself.

All in all, this is actually a really fun book to read. One of my biggest pet peeves is when first person present tense isn’t done correctly. If a writer decides to use that style, then things need to happen. It doesn’t really make sense if it’s slow. Maybe it does, I don’t know, but I haven’t read a book with a first person present tense style that is slow and was good. If you know of any, let me know.

In any case, this book does this writing style justice. I zoomed through the pages and never felt like there was a dull moment. Even when there were slower moments, I still felt the same intensity so it was never boring.

The plot is also good. The idea of using child soldiers, because that’s what Ben is, to kill things with no feeling is interesting. It kind of reminded me of Gunslinger Girl, except without the overbearing handlers and prosthetics. Actually, the only thing that is common between the two is that it deals with child soldiers who are taught not to think of anything except the mission. It’s sad, but fascinating. You want the kids to have a good life, but you also want to know what happens next. It kind of makes me feel bad; but thankfully, it’s fiction.

There are great things about this The Hit, but I didn’t really believe Ben. Sure, he had some scenes where he’s a killing machine and we’re shown this, but for someone who was trained to not think but do, he seems almost too emotional for the job. I mean, the moment he meets Sam he’s smitten by her, which is fine. Really, it’s fine. But he falls hard and fast and starts to think about running away with her. When this happens, he stops thinking clearly. Like when he finds out that Sam has a crazy ex-boyfriend who sometimes gets a little stabby when Sam is involved with a guy, he just shrugs his shoulders and accepts Sam’s affection. After three days together, Sam takes off her clothes in front of him and they have sex.

Not saying this is wrong or right, but for someone who is trained to be a machine you’d think that they’d stop thinking via their nether regions and use their brain here. Something is clearly off here, but he refuses to see it. And when the Program tells him that the Mayor is no longer the target, but Sam is, he starts to question everything.

I get that he sees a bit of himself in Sam and he likes talking to her, but whenever she was around he stopped being a badass assassin.

I was a little disappointed by this.

Overall: By the end, I was happy again and will read the next book to see what happens next to our little Ben. The writing is great and the plot, thankfully, didn’t go into predictable political clichés. The political plot deals with Israel and the Mideast Conflict, so I was extremely nervous while reading this. Thankfully, it’s okay.

Ben is a bit emotional, but if you can get passed this I think you might like it.

The Hit was provided by netgalley

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Book Trailer Reveal: The Girl from the Well

Today marks the release of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. I’m currently reading it now and loving every moment of it. It reminds me of a Japanese horror movie like the Grudge and the Ring. Think creepy girl with hair that falls down her face, ready to pounce and eat your soul. Ah, it’s right up my alley in terms of things I like. I’ve only just started, so I’m hoping that the good vibe continues and that this ends up being a deliciously creepy book.

If you haven’t heard of The Girl from the Well yet, then check out the book trailer reveal.

the girl from the well

Synopsis: Okiku has wandered the world for hundreds of years, setting free the spirits of murdered children. Wherever there’s a monster hurting a child, her spirit is there to deliver punishment. Such is her existence, until the day she discovers a troubled American teenager named Tark and the dangerous demon that writhes beneath his skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. Tark needs to be freed, but there is one problem—if the demon dies, so does its host.

With the vigilante spirit Okiku as his guide, Tark is drawn deep into a dark world of sinister doll rituals and Shinto exorcisms that will take him far from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Japan. Can Okiku protect him from the demon within or will her presence bring more harm? The answer lies in the depths of a long-forgotten well.

If you didn’t already know, I’m actually a part of the book tour for The Girl in the Well. That means that on September 5th, I’ll be posting my review and hosting a giveaway for this. Giveaways and reviews have already started to spring up, so do be on the lookout for those.

The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

the 100 society
317 pages
Expected publication: September 201

 

The 100 Society isn’t a perfect book. It’s not mind blowing, it’s not revolutionary, and it’s not really all that creepy. But somehow, I found myself enjoying this. Once I embraced the campy sort of feel, everything was okay.

The book starts off with Grace and her friends trying to complete a game of sorts. The game is called The 100 Society. The mission is successfully tag 100 locations around the city without getting caught. This might not sound like a big deal, but Grace and her friends are part of Clifton Academy. A boarding school filled with mostly rich kids, where doing things like this is seen as sinfully tempting. If caught, not only are they faced with expulsion, also (maybe, but not really) risk jail time. Tagging, despite how pretty some of the artwork can be is still very much against the law.

The high stakes involved in this game doesn’t deter Grace and her friends, it only makes them more determined to complete these tasks. Grace is especially connected to this, because her older, smarter, and all round awesome brother tried to do this when he was a student in Clifton. He got bored and never finished, but Grace only has four more places to tag before she’s done.

Things do start getting out of hand, when text messages and emails appear telling Grace and her friends that nothing is as it seems and that someone is lying to them. This wouldn’t be so weird, except there’s also a stalker who is breaking into their rooms and attacking them. To top things off, the school’s Headmaster/Principal stated that if he catches another tagging, then there will be consequences.

By the end of the book, not everyone will survive. But till then, who does Grace trust when everyone seems like a suspect?

Like I mentioned before, The 100 Society isn’t a masterpiece. The characters never feel real. I didn’t connect with them and those that I did find someone interesting were hardly shown. There is romance here, but it’s the same kind of romance that you see in a lot of things. Pete loves Grace, but she sees him as only a friend. Grace loves Trick, short for Patrick, a bad boy scholarship student with tons of tattoos. Faith, Grace’s best friend, is in love with Pete.

There’s also Ed and Cassie, but they’re together and not part of this square. Well, there is this one guy named Daniel who loves Cassie, but she sees him as a creep.

In terms of characterizations, no one is really developed. I do think Cassie had potential, but after an attack she’s hardly shown again in the book. Trick does have some depth, but its pretty clichéd. He’s a scholarship student who constantly feels like he has to prove himself that he belongs at Clifton, even though he didn’t pay for it like everyone else. I feel like Grace was trying to be a fully fleshed out character, but nothing really developed in her favour. She kept mentioning how she feels like her dad loves her older brother more than her, even though we never really see this happening. She also feels like she needs to step away from her brother’s shadow, but the only thing that connects her to him is this 100 society thing. She kept saying these things, but as the reader we never really see where she is coming from.

I did want to like Grace though, because I can relate to being under an older siblings shadow. But I kind of wish the book showed us this instead of telling us.

The writing is also a bit of a miss in some scenes. For example, there’s one where Grace and Cassie are talking about a character that died. Cassie says something like, “You don’t think (said character) is….” And Grace thinks to herself that she knows what Cassie is asking. The readers know what Cassie is implying here, but Grace has to spell it out by saying. ‘Cassie was asking if said character was dead.’

I feel like you need to give the reader a bit of credit here and not have to spell everything out. But this sort of thing does happen in the novel.

Despite that, I did enjoy reading The 100 Society. I liked the plot and even though I was right about who the bad guy was, I still wanted to see where Spradbery would take the story. Things were predictable, not only when it came to the plot, but the romance as well. Still, once you stop taking the book so seriously and view it more as campy, you tend to enjoy it more.

Plus, Faith is a bit of a jerk to Grace and it was kind of fun to watch. Since Faith loves Pete, she tends to take her anger at the love being one sided out on Grace and telling her things like, “Pete deserves better.” And things like that. I kept shaking my head and wondering what she was on about. The first introduction we have to Pete is him making puppy dog eyes to Grace as she tells him, “You’re a great friend.”

Then I started to think that maybe Grace knew about Pete’s one sided love, because it was obvious, but she doesn’t. She’ll constantly tell him that he’s a great guy and a good friend, but according to Faith this is leading him on.

She did kiss him, but that was because of certain things……

Anyways….

Overall: if this was a television show I’d probably watch it, which is why I think I liked the book even though it had a lot of things that I don’t normally like. The writing isn’t the best, the characters don’t always feel like they’re really there and are clichéd, the romance is predictable, and Grace is a bit stupid. But I did like the plot and the overall campiness of the story. It’s not the greatest, but it did help pass the time.

 

Novel was provided by netgalley

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Some Boys by Patty Blount

some boysPaperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014

It’s been over a month since Grace was raped by her former boyfriend Zac. When Grace tries to charge him with rape, she’s not only told that she doesn’t have a case, due to their previous relationship, but the entire school turns their backs on her. Sadly, this isn’t too hard to believe when you find out that Zac is the practically the King of their school. Not only the top sports star around, but he’s a model student. The teachers love him and the girls can’t get enough of him. Unfortunately for Grace, since there is no proof, is her story vs his and everyone wants to believe him.

Not only was she raped and left bleeding and unconscious after a wood party, but she’s mercilessly bullied the moment she walks through the halls of her school. Slut and whore is constantly flung at her and guys try to grab at her breast and butt as well. Her former friends also bully her and try to make her life a living hell. Teachers also try to downplay what happened, because they can’t pick sides, but still allow students to bully her while chastising Grace when she retaliates.

To top things off, she’s also have problems with her family. Needless to say, things are not going all that great in Grace’s life. Things do start to change when she’s punished with cleaning duty during spring break, after threatens one of her former friends/tormentors.

She’s not alone in this punishment though. Her crush, Ian, is also doing this fun task after he swears at his coach about not being able to play. Ian, who is the best friend of Zac, also has a crush on Grace. Can you tell where this will go? If you said romance! You’d be right.

The book is told in Grace’s and Ian’s point of view, with each chapter changing voices. For the most part, I felt like both had their own distinctive voice and you definitely knew which POV you were reading from, even if you didn’t see the title of the chapter. Not too hard to do seeing as how Grace talked about her rape, while Ian talked about being conflicted about it. Even still, I felt like they had their own personality, which I appreciated.

I do like that the issue of rape was discussed and that Grace does tries to stand up for herself, even though she’s still suffering from panic attacks and is afraid of being alone with men. I also really liked how she was written.

When Ian mentions how she would look better without her costume on, i.e. the girl in the cover of this novel, but with more lots of black eye shadow, she ends up saying this:

“I won’t give up and I won’t run away. And I won’t change how I look even if you do think I look better this way, because I’m not the problem here! Everyone says it’s my fault because I got drunk, and you know what? That doesn’t count! Everyone was drinking that night. There’s only one thing that counts, but nobody wants to hear it.” (This is from the uncorrected arc version, which I normally try not to use for review, but I really loved this quote.)

This was scene was great, because how many times in books do we have the main hero tell the girl, “You’d look better without all of that makeup.” Or, he’ll mention how a piece of clothing that she wears doesn’t suit her and then she changes for him, instead of herself.

When her former friends come at her, she fights back. When guys try to grab her, she kicks them wear it hurts. Grace won’t allow herself to be objectified or to be a victim again and I loved this!

Some Boys also stresses that what you wear doesn’t justify guys or girls to call you disgusting words like slut or whore. This is a great message to send to young girls, so I did appreciate this as well.

However, yes there is a however, at some point in this novel things become preachy. Instead of sounding awesome, like the quote above, it started to sound more like an afternoon school special and less like real life.

This preachiness also starts to get a bit uncomfortable, when Grace decides to protest by donning a niqab. In her defense, she does think it’s a burqa……

Being a Muslim and reading this just made me shake my head and sigh heavily. Why does it seem like whenever someone wants to show that clothing shouldn’t matter, they decide to put on a religious clothing symbol and act like wearing this is demeaning to women? I don’t wear the niqab, I wear the hijab and cover my body with loose clothing, but I do have friends who wear it and love it. Sadly, a couple of them stopped wearing their it because of negative reaction and attention they got from people.

Thankfully, one of the Muslim characters in the novel does set Grace straight by saying that what she’s wearing isn’t a burqa, but a niqab. But then she also says, “The burqa is a symbol of oppression the Taliban forced on women.” Even this I have an issue with, because while some are forced to wear it, I’m sure there are also many who choose to wear it because it brings them closer to God. Some may even wear it because that’s what all the cool chicks are doing in their neighbourhood.

Despite how it may seem to others, wearing the hijab, niqab, and even the burqa isn’t meant to be a form of oppression or to help men control themselves. It’s a means to spiritually get closer to God. Men don’t really play a role here. Even in the Quran God tells guys to lower their gazes before anything is mentioned about women covering up.

Sorry, I’m getting religious here, but I do feel like I need to mention this because it does get annoying to read a book that had good points about not judging women on what they wear, to judging what women wear. Grace only stopped because a the Muslim student was around to witness this and cried. If said student wasn’t there, would Grace have stopped wearing the niqab and telling men that they’re all rapist who can’t control themselves due to her clothing? I don’t think so and I think this is what troubles me the most in this scene.

Enough about Grace though, the book is also about Ian, who reminded me of Clay from “Thirteen Reasons Why.” I liked how Ian was conflicted about being a true bro to his best friend Zac, who said that Grace didn’t say no, and wanting to be with and protect Grace, who said that Zac raped her.

He isn’t sure what to believe and this did provide for a nice narrative. He did seem like Clay though, when he started agreeing with Grace on everything she said, minus the rape, and basically became her cheerleader.

The thing is, Ian isn’t a knight in shining armour despite how much the book tells us he is. He was the one who discovered Grace, half naked, bleeding, and unconscious on the floor, and never said anything about it. He also hurts Graces and does join in with the bullying in one scene.

He also has this epiphany that girls are weird, when his sees his friends triple team a girl. The horror that he feels isn’t about how his friends are going at it with the same girl, but that she allowed them to do so. The horror! His sister explains that some girls are desperate for attention, while others are desperate for friends. The girl only allowed for the guys to have their way with her, not because she wanted to, but because she was the wing woman to her friend who wanted to get laid with the main guy.

*sigh*

Other than this and him driving under the influence, he’s a pretty decent guy. But I don’t like how he’s meant to be the beacon of what a great guy is after everything he did. If I were Grace, I’d accept his friendship but I’d never want anything to be romantic between us. Then again, I’m not a teen so maybe I’m seeing things a bit differently? I’d like to think I’d feel the same way though.

The ending, unfortunately, also doesn’t quite work for me. It was a typical happy ending where all of the loose ends are tied up in a nice pink bow. And even though I’m glad Grace found happiness, it didn’t ring true to me. This is a school that clearly idolized Zac, who is their star lacrosse player. The team was undefeated and heading into the playoffs. To lose that opportunity and have some of the other players benched due to their behaviour, would get some people angry. Grace would definitely have people coming to her once the truth is revealed and finally be on her side, but she’d also have a group that hates her because, according to them, she ruined the school’s chances at a perfect win.

To me, it doesn’t seem realistic for everyone to seek her forgiveness and be okay with the outcome, as sad as that may sound.

Also, [ spoilers : highlight the text to read them ] Zac keeping a video of the rape seemed pretty convenient. I mean, he doesn’t even have a password on his phone so anyone couldn’t have seen this piece of incriminating evidence. I just don’t understand why he would retain this video, knowing that it could ruin his life and chance to go to a top tier school.

When Ian finally realizes the truth, he starts to stop seeing Zac as a friend and instead as a symbol for female oppression. All of the hook ups, the look at girls like conquests, and how he treated his mom. For example, Zac’s mom offers to bring some food down, she starts talking to Ian only for Zac to say, “Mom, the food?” Then when she brought down the food and he didn’t say thank you to her.

….

Not saying this is right or not, but this seemed like typical teen behaviour and not a snapshot of female oppression. [/ spoilers ]

Overall: Some Boys has a great message for young girls and for the most part, Grace is a great MC. She’s tough, she’s smart, and she won’t back down when people come after her. I do kind of wish that the entire story was told from her point of view, but I guess Ian did have some good points in his chapters too.

Despite this, the book does go into preachy territory and the double standard about clothing didn’t sit well with me. The ending also felt a bit forced and unrealistic. The writing is great though and I did stay up to finish this, so there’s a balance of good and bad here.

 
Novel was provided by netgalley

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The Death Cure by James Dashner

the death cureHardcover, 325 pages
Published October 11th 2011

Usually when I read series that I’m on the fence with I tend to find that the final book is the best one. That happened in Matched and it happened in Divergent, so I was kind of hoping it would happen here. Unfortunately, I think the Maze Runner series started off bad (the beginning of Maze Runner), got somewhat interesting (middle/end of Maze Runner and beginning of Scorch Trials), then took a nose dive (middle/end of Scorch Trials) and I don’t think it ever recovered from that. In the end, the series just died.

Welcome to the The Death Cure.

I don’t think Dashner had a clear plot for this series. I mentioned before that with the Maze Runner, there was a clear plot and flow with what everything happened. Not only did it have a clear story, but you could feel like something wasn’t right with this world. Even if you didn’t like the story, you still wanted to know more about the world that the Gladers came from. Unfortunately, once we finally got to see the world, the less I wanted to see it. It just made no sense. Nothing made sense. Still, I stuck with this because I hoped that some of my questions would be answered.

Only none of them were. Not even one.

The Death Cure starts off with the two groups, the Gladers and Group B, being given the choice of regaining their memories or to remain ignorant of their past. The majority agree to the terms except Minho, Newt, and our lovely main character Thomas. Their reasons for not getting their memories back do make sense. Why trust an organization that has been trying to kill you for the past two years? Or in Thomas’ case, a couple of weeks. From a character standpoint, yes it does make sense, from a reader’s standpoint it doesn’t. The simple reason for that if Thomas remains ignorant about WICKED, the reader also remains ignorant about WICKED.

Why would an organization that was formed by all of the world leaders, entrust their entire project to a boy that’s 13 or 15 years old? Why did everyone trust Thomas so much to make him the leader of WICKED and if they knew he was the perfect candidate from the get go, why did they bother doing all this to begin with? Why did they waste money on making mazes when infrastructure would have saved more people? The tests have failed before and a lot of kids died, why did Thomas want to continue? Where did they even find the kids?

These questions of mine, never answered.

If Thomas regained his memories, we would have gotten some back story on his relationship with Teresa. They started out as friends in the Maze Runner, but that all dissolved in the next book. We never really get any insight on why Teresa did what she did. Sure, she believes that WICKED is good, but why are they good? Also, Aris and Rachel…(was that her name?) were also there with them, so what is their relationship with Thomas? Are they friends as well? And why did WICKED give them the power to talk via their minds? If WICKED can make a telepathy machine why are they having a hard time with the Flare?

Sadly, these questions are also not answered.

But back to Teresa, I feel like she got the short end of the stick with this novel. After what went down, you’d think she’d spend as much time trying to redeem herself to Thomas. Maybe even explain some things about WICKED, since she got her memory back, but it’s almost like Dashner didn’t like her and wanted Brenda to take the lead role.

Which brings me to another point, Brenda is pretty much Teresa except she likes to kiss Thomas on the cheek while Teresa just smiles at him. Both are depicted as kick ass women, but they’re still pretty much the same. I know this sounds unpopular, but it’s true. Both girls didn’t really have any personality and were simply tools to provide Thomas some emotional conflict. If he wanted to feel annoyed or angry, he’d think of Teresa. If he wanted to feel hopeful or look at the bright side of things, he’d think of Brenda. They were polar opposites in the feelings that they evoked out of Thomas, but in terms of their characterizations, they were mirror images of each other.

An when it came to Thomas, I find it incredibly hard to believe that he was able to run WICKED and that he’s depicted as some super genius, because he’s an idiot. How do I know this? It’s simple, when you’re in a coffee shop and someone comes with a gun, you run. You don’t stay and watch the guy with the gun as he beats up someone with a fatal life threatening disease. You just don’t. And even if you do, you don’t say, “My name is Thomas and I’m immune to the virus,” when you know that people are getting killed and kidnapped because they’re immune. You also don’t leave the safety of a van to run into a hostile situation, just because your friend is out there.

If said friend was healthy, this is actually pretty heroic. But if your friend already has the virus there’s no reason to do that, especially when there are many more infected people out there who wants to kill you.

That’s not smart, that’s reckless.

I’ve already spoken at how I didn’t like that Thomas didn’t get his memories back, but when Brenda started to tell Thomas who she really worked for and her story Thomas stopped her and said, “I don’t want to think about that anymore.” Someone who is smart and thinks of all of the possibilities doesn’t say things like that. He may be overwhelmed by what is happening, but that shouldn’t negate his need to figure things out in a smart and intelligent manner. The thing that annoyed me the most was how in the end, he questions why Brenda knows what to do, even though it’s obvious why she knows. She tried to tell you earlier in the book….you told her not to say anything, remember?

I can keep going on about the characters and their lack of development, especially Minho who seemed lifeless and one-note, but I think what I was most disappointed about was the world that Dahner created. The Maze Runner made it seem like it was insane. I mean, Alby did go on a suicide mission so he wouldn’t have to suffer through that again, but I don’t understanding why? Right now, the world is suffering from the deadly attacks from Solar Flares. Due to these flares, the climate changed, places became a wasteland, the heat from the sun is enough to burn someone, and there’s crazy lightning as well. I’m fine with this, really I am, and in fact I find it super interesting! But it seemed like these flares were inconsistent. In Mexico, the characters had to cover themselves from the harsh rays from the sun, but in Denver no one really cares about doing that.

Mexico is closer to the equator, so it would be hotter there, but if the sun is enough to burn you down there then it should still have some harmful side effects in Denver as well.

On top of that, there was a virus called the Flare which made people go crazy. Why or how is never really explained. Some characters mentioned that after being in an infect area for awhile, it made them more susceptible in catching the virus, but does that make the Flare an airborne virus? And if so, why are there still people, who are not immune and not infected, still around? And if it is airborne, then what exactly is the government doing? Torturing kids may be fun, but it isn’t going to save the human race. If it isn’t airborne, then why were characters saying that they may catch it? Is it from drinking water or something? How is there even water around when the sun is hot enough to burn you alive?

Again, more questions that are not answered.

In the end of the novel, it’s said that WICKED released the virus to curb the population, but why would you do this when the Solar Flares already did a great job in doing that? How is going through a bunch of life threatening trials a means to finding a cure to this disease? They developed variables and patterns, but they didn’t really explain this in depth. If solar flares were continuously happening then it would have messed up their system, so their variables and patterns would be lost. Everything seemed machine based so…….

No answers here either.

Overall: I think the Maze Runner had a lot of potential to be a good series, but this book was really a disaster. The plot kept jumping around and there wasn’t a clear thread that tied everything together. It’s almost like things happened for the sake of filling up pages. Pages that could have been used to develop the characters more. In all honestly, most of these characters are interchangeable and the ones that might have had a bit of interest surrounding them, were regulated to a few pages.

I’m glad that characters died and that Dashner wasn’t afraid of doing that, but the deaths that happened here were lackluster. I didn’t feel an emotional connection to anyone, because they were just names on the paper. Their buildup and their history essentially were thrown out the window for reasons unknown. And in the grand scheme of things if their deaths didn’t really affect Thomas, why should I care about them? Sure he may have shown some guilt and sadness, at first, but after a few paragraphs or pages he quickly forgot about them.

The worst part is that none of my questions were ever answered. I’m still confused about WICKED, the solar flares, and the Flare. Seeing as this is the last novel in this series, I don’t think I’ll be getting my questions answered anytime soon, which is a shame, because that’s usually what the last book in a series is meant to do.

 

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The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Scorch Trials
Hardcover, 1st Edition, 360 pages
Published October 12th 2010

 

Book Two, Woo!

I had some mixed feelings about The Maze Runner. I thought it started off horribly, but by the end I was intrigued. It still wasn’t a great book though and I was surprised by all the love that it got. With the Scorch Trials, I was hoping for two things to happen.

1. That it would be a lot better than the Maze Runner.

Like Divergent, I didn’t really like the first book. In fact, I thought it was stupid. Sorry Divergent fans. But I did think that as the series progressed it did get a bit better. I still didn’t really care for the second book, but I did like the last one, even with the shocking, but not really, twist, that was foreshadowed from the second book.

Still, I did think it got a bit better. I was hoping that this series would get better too. If it didn’t, then the next best thing would be for it to follow the Matched series which was pretty meh throughout.

2. Some of my answers, not all because this is a trilogy, would be answered.

Sometimes the second book in a series seems like filler and while it may make sense for some instances – actually no, filler books never make sense and just fill readers with rage – I still want some of my questions to be answered. Since we’re out of the Maze and into the real world, I expect to see some crazy stuff and then finding out why there is some crazy stuff.

I didn’t go into this expecting much, but expecting everything, so how was it?

The beginning is really good and starts off with a BANG! It’s almost like Dashner realized that a slow beginning wouldn’t work here and instead went all out. I was pumped reading this. The kids find out that the facility they were brought to was actually the start of another test, don’t you hate when that happens? Unlike the last test that was confined in a closed area, this one deals with the outside world. The world that was so messed up that that Alby (spoiler alert) goes on a suicide mission just to avoid seeing it.

And at first, it’s amazing. The world is completely messed up and the sun burns skin, so you have to keep yourself covered, and there’s this virus, called the Flare, that going around that makes people crazy. Kind of like zombies, only somewhat smarter and more organized in the way they kill people. The teens have to make their way to a check point across this terrain that’s filled with crazy people, in order to get a cure. Because WICKED, the organization behind these tests, kind of gave everyone the Flare while they were sleeping.

It’s a race against time, because if they don’t make it they might start killing each other and stuff and then the entire experiment would have been a giant waste of resources and tax dollars.

People start dying and we find out that there is actually another Maze group filled with teen girls that is also trying to get the cure as well.

I’m not sure what happened, but things started in awesomesauceland and then it got stupid. The more I started to think of the Flare, the more I started to question what was the entire point of all this. We know that Thomas and Teresa were at the head of WICKED and helped make sure that this Maze thing would happen. And we also know that WICKED be shady, but why was Thomas at the head of this major organization? Why was the Maze the best thing to do, when you know, building infrastructure to keep the sun’s rays at bay would be more important? Maybe figuring out a way to use the sun’s massive energy to power up these dome like homes, where they can plant, eat, and live merrily. Saving a few kids to better help mankind is a noble cause, but what land would they help if everyone is dead or infect by the virus?

It just doesn’t make sense.

And then I started to think about the teens here and the amount of times they sleep. Sleeping is great, I mean, I love it. Yay sleeping! But when you have an organization that likes injecting its subjects with a horrible virus while they sleep, I would think that these smart saviours of the human races would realize sleeping in shifts would be the best course of action. Sadly, they never figure this out and stuff still happens to them while they sleep.

I also didn’t like how Teresa was completely mishandled. Teresa is almost like the complete opposite of Thomas. He’s willing to go with the status quo, while she always looks at the big picture. Due to some events, Thomas ends up hating her and isn’t able to forgive her for what she did. The thing is this change seemed off. The book does try to make sense of it, by mentioning variable this and test that, but it still didn’t make much sense to me. It’s almost liked Dashner liked the new girl and decided to get Teresa out of the way so that there wouldn’t be an annoying love triangle. While I do appreciate the lack of triangleness, I don’t like how it ruined a good character just to prop the other one up, especially when that character seems to be lying to him too and hiding things as well.

Overall: Unlike the Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials started off with a great start, but the more the world revealed itself the less it made sense. While I could forgive the Maze Runner for some of these nonsensical ideas, I don’t think I can do it here. Plus, it seemed like in the last book there was a clear plot in place, boy enters a strange world, meets people, has to escape. Here, we don’t really have the same luxuries. In The Scorch Trials the plot is, boy enters strange world, goes on test, things happen, some other things happen, people meet him, things happen, other things happen, the end. I’m exaggerating a bit here, but it did feel like there were a bit too many plots and ideas that never really came into fruition. I almost wish it did, because I did like the beginning of the novel.

 

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze RunnerHardcover, First Edition, 374 pages
Published October 6th 2009

 

I realize that I’m late to the party, which is weird considering that the Maze Runner was a series that I’ve been meaning to read, but never had the chance to.

Till now!

It all started when I found out the movie came out. After discussing the trailer with a friend of mine, I decided to read it. She said the trailer looked amazing and had tons of action, so as someone who loves action and amazing stuff I decided to take a closer look at the Maze Runner.

Reading this was a struggle. A really big struggle. If I didn’t agree to read it and have my friend check up on my reading status, I would have dropped this book. Why? It’s because of the first half of the novel.

The beginning is so excruciatingly boring, so painful to read that I’m surprised I made it out okay. Thomas, the main character of this story, details the mundane life of a bunch of boys trapped inside a Maze. They don’t know why they are there, but only that this is where they live now. This should have been interested, especially since outside of their home there are creatures that try to kill them and that the maze moves every day, but instead of having an air of mystery it was boring.

Thankfully, things do pick up and it does get really interesting, but that first part….I dunno man, the new lingo, the fact that nothing happens, and that it takes so long for the story to pick up made me wonder why I was reading this and why it was so popular. When things do start to get pick up, they move quickly and pack a punch.

I was thankful for that.

I was especially glad to see a group of guys take the lead in a YA novel and that they worked as a team. No Lord of the Flies rock killing happening here. People do die though, which is great considering the world that Dashner set up. If everyone lived, I think I would have thrown my ereader to the ground.

I do think that the special gift that Thomas has is a bit pointless. Yea, pointless is a good word for it. Considering how gruesome the world is, his little quirk seemed out of place. I still don’t really understand the world, but I’m sure all of that will be revealed in the following books.

Overall: This is a hard book to get into. Really hard, in fact. The pacing is slow, in the beginning, and you never really get a good grasp at Thomas as a character. However, once things pick up, they really do pick up and I found myself glued to the pages to see what would happen next.

If you can get over the first hurdle, you might find yourself enjoying this novel. I do wonder how the movie will deal with the slow beginning though.

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