Monday, April 30, 2012

Karla and Kinsey Book Review Part I: Shatter Me

Review of Shatter Me
By Tahereh Mafi
Reviewed by Karla Accorto
5/5 stars

No one can touch Juliette, or so she tells people, because bad things happen to those who touch her. Sometimes, even deadly things. Thus, she is thrown into a futuristic asylum where the only rules are the ones that you figure out for yourself. Hundreds of days pass for Juliette—almost a year—before she finally has contact with another human being: Adam, a ghost from her past. Only, Adam isn’t like the rest of the people Juliette has encountered in her life; he can touch her, and nothing bad happens. However, the government has other plans for Juliette, plans that she isn’t willing to be a part of. With Adam’s help, Juliette must figure out how to prevent a ruthless leader from exploiting the lethal weapon that is her body.

Quite simply, I loved Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. It was one of the best books that I have read in a long time. I truly enjoyed Juliette’s narrative and the story was told heavily with suspense—definitely a page-turner. I read it all in one day, almost a single sitting, staying up much past my bedtime to found out the ending that awaited Juliette and Adam. The world Mafi created, something that is really important to me as a reader, was realistic and gritty and quite plainly, scary. I was terrified of the society that Juliette lived in. I cannot imagine what it would be like. Adam was easily one of my favorite male characters in fiction because he was so complex. I never knew what to expect from him and I was constantly wrestling with the idea of him being good, evil, or even a little bit of both. His dialogue was believable, too, and he was quite charming and funny at times. I loved Juliette as a heroine because she was focused with strong inner morals and values. She knew what was right and wrong and stuck to her beliefs. She was not weak at all, and most importantly, she was independent. Adam’s younger brother was adorable, too, and Kenji provided some good comic relief. Warner, however, crept me out, even from the beginning, and when I found out his real age, my jaw dropped. He was obsessive though, and borderline stalker-ish. An interesting character, but downright scary.

I have few complaints about Shatter Me. As I said above, it is one of my favorite fiction books of all time. I was only sad that it ended. However, there is a sequel set to be released next February and even a movie in the works, as Fox has gained the film rights to it. Midnight Premiere here I come!

Kinsey and I both enjoyed this book….Dystopian seems to be a good genre for us. Although, I fell in love with the writing style and voice immediately, it took a little while to grow on Kinsey. In the end, though, we both agreed that the book was a great read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games or Divergent or is just looking for a book that isn’t like all the rest. 5 stars from me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Karla and Kinsey Book Review: Part II

Babe in Boyland

by Jody Gehrman

Reviewed by Kinsey Manchester

3.5/5 stars

High school junior Natalie Rowan writes the love column in her school’s newspaper. Natalie is sure that her alias, Dr. Aphrodite, gives the best advice and is the only thing keeping people reading the newspaper. However, a bunch of guys tell Dr. Aphrodite that she never looks at the boy’s side of things. Natalie realizes that she has zero dating experience and her advice isn’t exactly perfect. Determined to prove that she can turn the criticism around, she asks boys for their opinions and what they want in a relationship. As a girl, though, none of them take her seriously. Then, Natalie and her best friends, Darcy and Chloe, come up with the best idea: to disguise Natalie as Nat Rodgers and send her to the all boy’s school, Underwood Academy. As a boy, she will be able to figure out exactly what guys think and how they view girls! Natalie can use that information to improve her advice column. It’s a perfect plan, until things start going wrong. Natalie falls for her roommate, Emilio, but can’t do anything since she is Nat, not Natalie; Natalie’s archenemy, Summer, has her sights set on Emilio, too; and lastly, Summer will do anything to ruin Natalie’s life, even if it means blowing Nat’s cover.

Babe in Boyland is a fun, quick read. The characters are developed very well. Natalie is a very relatable main character, and I soon found myself looking forward to hearing more about her situation. Natalie’s voice as a character is funny, and it made the book a lot more enjoyable. As a reader, I really like when the main characters have a sense of humor. In this case, Natalie not only had a sense of humor, but it helped that the whole situation was funny. One of my favorite scenes is when Nat goes on a date with a girl named Erica. Nat feels nothing for her, but goes anyway. Jody Gehrman does a really good job of instilling emotions in the reader, such as what I felt toward Summer Sheers. I definitely found myself making faces whenever Summer came into the picture. Emilio is the quintessential dream guy and of course Summer would steal him from Natalie. I loved the way that the author painted pictures of the campus at Underwood Academy. I could picture exactly what it would be like to visit this place. The descriptions of the scenes were flawless and helped a lot when I was reading. There was only one minor setback. The plot is, more or less, predictable. I guessed most of what happened. It reminded me a lot of the movie, “She’s The Man”. Although it was predictable, I loved the story and the characters, and would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an enjoyable and short read.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Karla and Kinsey Book Review Part I

Babe in Boyland
By Jody Gehrman
Reviewed by Karla Accorto
3.5/5 stars

This month Kinsey and I selected Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman. It follows the life of a teenager named Natalie, a.k.a. Dr. Aphrodite, the school newspaper’s love advice columnist. However, when she is accused of only telling her readers only what they want to hear and nothing that is absolutely close to the truth, she decides that she needs to expand her knowledge of the male sex. The best way to do this according to her? Become one of them for a week. With some help from her close friends, Darcy and Chloe, she enrolls in an all-boys boarding school and becomes Nat. Her goal on the way to school? Discover the inner workings of the male mind. Her goal after the first day? Not to fall in love with her roommate. Babe in Boyland takes you on Natalie’s hilarious journey as she attempts to discover just how alike boys and girls can be and if the grass is truly greener on the other side.

Babe in Boyland was a light, quick, and easy read. I first picked it up because it reminded me of a movie I had really enjoyed, She’s the Man. While the two do prove to be similar at first glance and at some of the silly mistakes the two girls make as they pretend to be boys, ultimately, the stories are very different. Natalie was a very likeable main character and she lived in a fairly believable world. I loved the parts Chloe and Darcy played, especially because they reminded me of how I am with my own closest friends. I was somewhat disappointed, though, because the two seemed to be fairly flat characters. However, I was impressed with the amount of time the author spent on Natalie’s roommate, Emilio, and his sister. Both had believable motives and interesting backgrounds that I loved learning more about. In full disclosure, Emilio did have a few lines that made me swoon, and I was occasionally jealous of Natalie J. The ending was tidy and cute, which, being the sap that I am, I adored. I only wish that I was able to know more about all of the secondary characters and even Natalie herself. I often found myself wondering about her and why she was thinking the way she was. I would also have loved for the author to elaborate on her relationships: with her mother, Chloe and Darcy, her arch-nemesis, Summer, and even Emilio.

All things considered, I enjoyed Babe in Boyland. The story itself was good, but slightly younger than for someone my age. However, there were a few mature allusions made in the story, so I would recommend it to an incoming high school freshman or a mature eighth grader. I loved the ride Natalie took me on and I loved the look that I got inside the male brain.