Read in May 2016 : City of Fallen Angels, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Everything Everything, The Raven Boys, and Wink Poppy Midnight.
1.City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
As mentioned in my February Read List, I’ve been working my way through the Mortal Instruments series. Thus far, this was my least favorite installment. It just kind of dragged for me. The conflict in City of Glass was so high-stakes. The coming together of downworlders and nephilim combined with the unveiling of some of the biggest secrets in the series made it feel like the climax. It’s a tough act to follow and City of Fallen Angels fell pretty short of that excitement.
2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
All the posts I read about this book promised cute fluff. It was definitely fluff, just not sure if I found it cute. For starters, I couldn’t really get over Jenny Han’s style. The protagonist Lara Jean’s narration sounded more like the thoughts of a twelve-year-old than a sixteen-going-on-seventeen girl. I also found her to be whiny and passive instead of “quirky cute” and couldn’t bring myself to root for either of her love interests. The high point of the book though and what made me keep wanting to like it was the dynamic of the Song family. There were little bits and pieces of the book that I could cut and paste into a biography about my life with my own sisters. That being said, it’s not enough to redeem the book for me and despite those pretty, pretty covers, I probably won’t be back. Sorry, Lara Jean.
3. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
The format takes a little bit of getting used to. I opened and closed the book quite a few times before actually reading it because the drawings and diagrams were a definite turn-off at first. The story is also pretty impractical, but all that aside, I think Maddy’s feelings were incredibly relatable. You don’t have to have been raised in a bubble to know that scary, liberating feeling of being out on your own for the first time or first love or taking a risk that makes you feel so young and alive and present. Reliving that feeling made it an enjoyable read. I wish the story had just ended at that though. I could have done without the twist and the ending. For me it changed what the story was about and took away some of what made the situation relevant. Sometimes things should just end the way you expect them too.
4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
So this series has been out for a while, but I didn’t discover it until seeing it here on The Excellent Library’s blog. Very, very glad I did because I loved it. The writing style was superb, the characters were well fleshed out and it was always obvious who was speaking in each chapter. The story follows a series of teens on a search for a magical mythological king supposedly buried somewhere in their town. If any of you watch the show Teen Wolf (my guilty pleasure), it has a lot of elements in common. High-school teens unraveling a mystery in a small town that somehow heightens or attracts the supernatural. It was a lot of build-up, so the actual story moves along a little slowly, but the characters and writing were so great to me that I didn’t mind. I kind of wanted more to be revealed by the end, but it was an excellent set-up and first installment to the series. One of those can’t put it down reads. I’m already a third of the way through Book II. My favorite read of this month!
5. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Wink Poppy Midnight. I have mixed feelings about this book and I was sitting on the fence for a good hour after I finished it. But I think I’m leaning negative. The prose is lyrical and yes, very full of whimsy. But it tries so hard to be whimsical that it fails to be relatable. The plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; the message felt unclear and oftentimes elements of prose that felt like should be perspective specific were present regardless of the speaker. (i.e. The repetition of phrases like “as if, as if, as if” or “green, green, green”). It made each character’s voice less distinguishable. There were so many fairytale references that you can get a little lost and they didn’t add much to Wink’s character once she was already established. The ending felt rushed and again, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It read like it wanted to be magical realism, but didn’t have any of the magic. Then it attempted to twist into some sort of psychological mystery but there it felt short for me as well. There were too many characters and too many elements. The story was being pulled in too many different directions and no amount of “beautiful” writing could reign it all in. That being said, it is a very weird, interesting read. You’re not a hundred percent sure where you’re going as a reader and that experience is kind of a unique one.
I think Bone Gap by Laura Ruby establishes a similar setting and story, but does so in a much more heartfelt way. Finn, another handsome, gentle boy, is a much more successful hero than Midnight and Petey as the whimsical girl-next-door is much more endearing than Wink by far.