a jane of all reads

Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: November 1st 2011
Pages: 338
Genre: YA- Dystopian/Paranormal Fantasy

I’ve heard from various sources that the main complaint they’ve had with this story was its being essentially 338 pages of set-up for the next book. We get introduced and well acquainted with some very strong and captivating characters but very little insight into what was actually going on. And yeah, that assessment is pretty much dead on, but it doesn’t mean that the story is short on awesome.

When we begin Juliette believes herself to be a patient in an insane asylum. In her post apocalyptic world, resources, wildlife, safety and humanity amongst humans is growing increasingly rare. The remaining people are subject to a rigid military rule that leaves little tolerance for the unexplained and no one can explain Juliette. It is a complete mystery why the simple touch of her hand on another person can result in excruciating pain, so the world locks her away and forgets about her. Months later, Juliette is given a roommate, a young man named Adam with blue eyes that are unmistakably familiar to her. Adam is her first human contact in a long time and with him she tentatively begins to build a friendship that has her toying with the idea that she might not be crazy. And she’s right, she’s not in an asylum and she’s far from crazy- she’s a military experiment.

Something happened with this book that hasn’t happened for several books now- it’s filled with dogeared pages marking some exemplary passages. Mafi’s writing is tinged throughout with moments of OMG, some had me pausing to reread, or take in what she was describing. There’s nothing I love more than having pages that I simply HAVE to go back and revisit. I felt Mafi’s writing was far superior to the actual story and she could have been telling me anything and I would have bought it.

Killing time isn’t as difficult as it sounds.

     I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off the clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I’ve been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.

Juliette’s story is a scary one, and she’s not only scared for herself, she’s scared of herself. Where so many authors would take this opportunity to have their MC miraculously and heroically discover an untapped source of bravery and brawn, Mafi lets Juliette experience the terror of her situation just as she should. Not everyone with super powers is a hero. Not yet anyway. I prefer to think that in future installments, Juliette will come into her own gradually, as befits her personality.

I’m still not sure what to make of Adam, our captor/hero/love interest. I’m not sold on him completely as he falls into the group of heroes particular to YA fiction in which he lets his love suffer “for her own good.” And he isn’t broody enough- you know how I like them.

Final thoughts? We need more authors like Mafi in YA. You know, ones who can actually write. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m really interested to see where Warner’s story goes. Underneath he’s desperately afraid of appearing weak and I almost think he feels he needs someone as powerful as Juliette to love him in order to validate his position- which could make a man very, very desperate.

Every Other Day

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Date: December 27 2011
Pages: 352
Genre: YA- Paranormal Fantasy

In a world where paranormal creatures are viewed in the same light as exotic pets it’s easy to forget how quickly their true natures can turn humans into prey. For twenty-four hours Kali is human- fragile, weak, vulnerable and hunted. But in the next twenty-four hours Kali will become something else entirely- something inhumanly strong, bloodthirsty and insatiable. Every other day Kali is defenseless against creatures that should only exist in nightmares, but for the next twenty-four hours- she’s going to kill them.

With nearly every other book in the YA section being of the paranormal persuasion, it’s getting a little difficult to continuously revamp the same old subject matter (vampires and werewolves and angels oh my) into something that’s still new and appealing. You don’t want to stray too far from the norm for fear of loosing those mainstream followers but you won’t gain much street cred if you’re an unoriginal sellout (you know who are.) So what’s a storyteller to do when you’re left walking such a fine line- you cross that sucker and drive backwards in the other lane.

Barnes took a big gamble with Every Other Day- she threw in a bit of everything you’ve read in recent YA, put in a blender and set it on high. Ruthless in her plot twists and torrents, Barnes doesn’t allow her readers a lot of time to focus on just what type of story they’re reading. She throws demons, psychics, vampires, mythical creatures, possessions and zombies (you know you love zombies) at you so fast there’s nothing to do but roll with it and brace yourself for whatever comes next. Totally unpredictable with a pace set at warp speed, the story never settles before she picks it back up and off she goes again. Reserve a couple of uninterrupted hours for this quick read because you can’t stop once you get started.

For me, the supporting characters, whose identities and purposes once revealed, totally sold the story. The main character, Kali and I didn’t mesh as much as I would have liked simply because I couldn’t take her as seriously as she took herself. I’m all for a bit of brooding when it can be readily agreed upon that YOUR life sucks but I tend to start tuning out an inner monologue that only focuses on the “poor me.” Kali’s got a lot to carry, bless her, but she’s also a lot stronger than even she knows. I’m looking forward to the next book where hopefully Kali will embrace her inner badass. A great cast of characters, nonstop action, and a love interest with a very, very unexpected twist- yeah, you have to read it.

Does it warrant a sequel? Absolutely. Barnes set the story up nicely for a second book and I feel there is enough solid material and a strong enough world to carry another book.

Review copy from Amazon Vine

24. 12. 2011


“You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”

Everything in the human world has at one point or another, run on pure belief. Once we questioned if the sun would come up again tomorrow as it did today so we decided to believe that it would. We believed in it and into existence popped the spirit of the rising sun, one of many small gods that wait just on the edge of realization for enough belief to give them a purpose.

Many, many years go by and we learn, and we change and we no longer believe that it’s our prayers that give us daylight and one small sun god is suddenly without a purpose. So we start to believe in something else. We decide to believe that once a year, a jolly man in a red suit comes down the chimney and gives children toys, and our belief gives that small god a new job. The Hogfather, in his red sleigh, drawn by a team of hogs, visits each house on the Discworld, bringing presents, spreading Hogswatch cheer and bellowing many a “Ho Ho Ho.” But one Hogwatch’s Eve, there’s another change, and people no longer believe there’s a Hogfather. The belief isn’t replaced, it’s just lost and tomorrow, with no Hogfather, no small god, the sun may not rise.

In his great hall of time, Death monitors the hourglasses of each and every life on the Disc. Every living thing has a life that can be measured in grains of sand, even that of immortals. When it becomes apparent that the life of the Hogfather is all but out, Death, false beard on his bare skull, and sack in hand, sets out to visit each and every house in the Discworld in an attempt to drum up enough belief to keep the Hogfather alive. He will break many rules, touch many lives (in a good way) and maybe, just maybe ensure that the sun rises.

———————

It’s absolutely no secret that my favorite author is Terry Pratchett. He writes what on the surface appears to be fantasy fiction but carefully interwoven into each story is a very important life lesson, a different way to look at the world and the permission that most of us seek that says it is OK to question what we’ve always been TOLD we believe. Pratchett always wants you thinking. He wants you to remember to feel everything. But above all, he wants you to be fascinated by the things that make us human because we really are, however you believe, quite miraculous.
“All right,” said Susan. “I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

“So we can believe the big ones?”

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

“They’re not the same at all!”

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

MY POINT EXACTLY.”

It is Death of course, that speaks in ALL CAPS. It’s fitting as his word would be, well, final.

I Am Number Four

Author: Pittacus Lore (James Frey and Jobie Hughes)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: August 3rd 2010
Pages: 440
Genre: YA- Paranormal Fantasy, Science Fiction
Source: I purchased with my own hard earned money.

I was scanning through the movies on Vudu the other night and I ran across a preview for I Am Number Four. There wasn’t a trailer available on Vudu (which is a horrid fail, btw) so I googled it, watched it and yeah, it looked pretty good. I was going to rent the movie but it turns out you can’t. You can only buy it and even if it was good, it wouldn’t be the kind of movie I’d spend twenty bucks on. You can already sense the negativity, can’t you?

So I bought the book.

In hindsight it wasn’t worth those ten bucks either.

Daniel John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith, is hot footing it out of town. About ever six months or so, he and his pseudo-father “Henri” load up the truck and move to a new town and change identities. It’s necessary, seriously necessary in fact because there’s an entire race of killer aliens after them. John is one of nine Super High-speed 4G Bluetooth hero children that escaped from the planet of Lorien in the midst of an attack by said killer aliens. As the last of his race, it’s crucial to his people’s survival that he and his kind stay hidden on earth until it’s safe to return to their home planet. The Mogadorians (killer aliens), having raped Loric for all its resources, have set their sights on the planet Earth and must destroy the nine super kids in order to carry out their evil, villainous plans. *Cue music*

The nine can only be killed in sequential order. Meaning, you can’t kill three before killing one or it JUST WILL NOT WORK. See instructions below:

(Sorry. This is just how my brain works.)

Three are dead. John is number four. Get it?

OK, now to get to the root of my pissiness. I liked this story. It was incredibly entertaining in a Saturday morning cartoon sort of way. The plot was great. The action was intense. All the super hero badassedness was badass. All that. I read it in two sittings because I really did care about what happened and I was into it. I was into it despite the fact that the writing was unforgivably atrocious and seemed, for lack of a better way to put it, to be written by a child…in crayon.

It read about like this:

I woke up. I walked to the refrigerator. I opened the refrigerator door. I took a moment to brood about how much it sucked that I might get killed by aliens. I really want to just be human and eat fruit loops. I can’t be human because I’m so badass. MAN AM I BADASS! I’m still going to eat fruit loops.

That was the reenactment. Here’s an actual quote:

“I go to the bathroom, enter an empty stall, and latch the door behind me. I open my hands. A slight glow in the right one. I close my eyes and sigh, focus on breathing slowly. A minute later the glow is still there. I shake my head. I didn’t think the Legacy would be that sensitive. I stay in the stall.”

It brought to mind a traffic jam, with cars lined up for miles and miles behind each other, moving at the speed of one bumper length every fifteen minutes. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Short, clipped little sentences written for the ADD afflicted in mind.

Still, all in all, it’s a great story, and I hope it made a better movie. If “Pittacus Lore” would like to send my back my ten bucks, I’ll throw in the other ten and watch it.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, in which we share the books that we are anxiously waiting to be released.


Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi

Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: January 3rd 2011

From Goodreads:

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love – one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

Oooooh a little sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian novel with a dash of lurve? Alrighty, sign me up. Don’t you just love that cover?

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Personal Demons

Author:Lisa Desrochers
Publisher: Tor Teen
Date: September 14, 2010
Pages: 365
Genre: YA- Paranormal
Source: ALA

This one was a little tough for me. I was completely into this story up until the point where I wasn’t. Right out of the box, it’s fast, suspenseful and oh so sexy. Then it’s kind of like, if you divide the book exactly in half, the first half was totally captivating and the last half was, eh, well- it just wasn’t.

Riddled with YA cliche, (In insta-love with the new boy who is now her class partner, new boy is smoldering hot, girl is clueless as to why all the guys want her, enter the love triangle, yada yada) this story could have very easily been a disaster. Surprisingly, the aforementioned elements worked in this scenario, again, up until the point where they didn’t.

Frannie is a normal high school girl, with average everything- including an average soul. It seems that Heaven and Hell have been playing a rather nasty game of dodge ball, and each side is trying to claim the best players before the other team lands them. Frannie’s soul has been firmly on the fence for years. Having lost a brother at a young age, she has some serious issues with the guys upstairs. Her strong Catholic upbringing has kept her on the straight and narrow but with her doubts and one really dark, painful secret she could just as easily tip towards the other side. Heaven and Hell each send their individual ambassadors to entice Frannie toward their side. And of course, Hell sends Luc- that smoldering, wicked looking new guy who just exudes dark hotness. Heaven counters by sending Gabe, a tall handsome blonde who threatens to make Frannie feel the one thing she has sworn off since her brother died- love. The battle over Frannie’s soul begins and quickly turns dangerous, and neither side is playing fair.

Let me point out, that even with all the heaven and hell goings on, this is not some underhanded attempt by an author to sneak a little God into your reading. In fact, given the elements, it was delightfully surprising to find not one ounce of religion in this book. So don’t run screaming.

My issues where never with the plot, because well, a demon and an angel fighting over your soul- that’s just hot. Where Desrochers drops the ball is in her attempt to balance the players in her love triangle. Gabe seems to have been randomly thrown in without ceremony and almost written as an after thought. He has very little dialogue or presence and Frannie’s feelings for him just have to be assumed because Frannie said so. Her constant struggle against her feelings for Luc was where the real action was. The front cover asks the question:

“If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be? Are you sure about that?

which would lead you to believe that you’re in for some serious friction. Nope. Frannie never even made it a choice- Luc does, because he’s awesome like that. So I got a bit turned off in the second half of the book when the only chemistry was between Frannie and Luc but Gabe was still considered to be a contender and we’re suppose to believe that Frannie still doesn’t know which one to choose. Why didn’t Gabe get any chapters from his point of view? That would have made me feel a bit more connected to him.

Frannie annoyed the hell out of me. If she said “Whatever” one more time, we were going to have words. I can think of a lot of people more deserving of a hot demon lurver (pick me! pick me). But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike this book, the actual story was amazing and I was hooked on the heat from page one, she just lost me in the second half when everyone was so decidedly vague- which should be near impossible to pull off.

Will I read the sequel? Yeah. I will.

Thoughts?