Dec 20, 2012

The Queen of Everything

The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti
Published: 11-2-2002 by Simon Pulse

People ask me all the time what having Vince MacKenzie for a father was like. What they mean is, was he always crazy?

High school junior Jordan MacKenzie's life was pretty typical: fractured family, new boyfriend, dead-end job. She'd been living with her father (the predictable optometrist) since her mother (the hippie holdover) had become too embarrassing to be around. Jordan felt that she finally had as normal a life as she could. Then came Gayle D'Angelo.

Jordan knew her father was dating Gayle and that Gayle was married. Jordan knew it was wrong and that her father was becoming someone she didn't recognize anymore, but what could she do about it? And how could she -- how could anyone -- have possibly guessed that this illicit love affair would implode in such a violent and disturbing way?

I like Deb Caletti's books a lot, but this wasn't one of my favorites. It kinda reminded me of Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, which was a depressing book. This book is about things going on in Jordan's life, but most of the things going on in her life are actually things going on in her dad's life and how they affect her.

  • Jordan's mom - While Jordan sees her mom as a slightly crazy hippie, I think she's a delightful crazy hippie. Jordan's mom seems to be a much more supportive parent than Jordan thinks she is. She also lives a zany and interesting life.
  • Jackson - Jackson is a sweet, patient, and unique guy. Jordan should have spent so much more time with Jackson than she did. He's quirky because he got lost by himself for a few days and followed sounds that no one else heard back home. He plays bagpipes and shows up whenever Jordan needs him, even if she doesn't realize she needs him. 

  • Kale - It's difficult to describe how much I hate this guy. He is such a jerk, and every time he showed up I cringed inside because he's just that much of a loser. Jordan wasted so much time with him even thought she knew the kind of guy he was.
  • Melissa - Yeah, as far as best friends go, Melissa isn't the greatest one. She doesn't really care that Kale is a disgusting person - she just gets obsessed with the fact that a boy is paying attention to Jordan. Melissa is a pretty flat character, and she gets annoyed at Jordan for silly reasons.
  • Jordan's dad - He's so selfish. He gets into a bad situation, and even though his is fully aware that seeing a married woman is a bad idea, he chooses to ignore the things he doesn't like. When Jordan tries to talk to her dad about what he's doing, he gets angry and pushes her away. He's extremely selfish, and it would have been a lot better for Jordan's life if he had at least attempted to be a decent parent.
  • I'm confused - You go into this book not knowing what happened, but Jordan is telling you the story after everything has already happened. It was a bit confusing, especially when Jordan refers to Big Mama, a character we aren't introduced to until very late in the story. It can add to a story if you don't know what's going to happen, because the characters don't know what's going to happen. But it was like Jordan existed in 2 times at once - the time when everything was happening, and the time after it happened.

  • This photo, ripped up and discarded in anger, did not belong here at our house. This photo of a man who was not even one of us, dressed up for an occasion we were not a part of. It frightened me. Frightened me in a way that I had never felt before. It was the sudden realization that terrible things might not just be for other people.     - pg. 103
  • "I think I'm going nuts," I said to the cat. But I heard it. It did. I stood up, as if that might help my ears somehow. God, I felt so crazy, but I could have sworn I heard the sound of bagpipes coming from the direction of the creek.        - Jordan  pg. 332-333
2 robots
Deb Caletti writes about bad family situations so well, but I found it hard to enjoy this book

Acquired: swapped for on

Dec 13, 2012

The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Published: 10-11-2011 by Delacorte

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

My opinion of this series is a little strange. I thought the 1st book, The Maze Runner, was just ok. The 2nd book, The Scorch Trials, was action packed and awesome. This book was a big letdown for me, which sucks, but that's just my opinion.

  • Cranks - The scenes with Cranks in the deteriorating city were intense. These scenes were probably my favorite parts of the book. The subplot of one of the group being infected and slowly going insane was, to me, more interesting than what was going on with WICKED. It was also an emotional punch in the gut.
  • Brenda - I love how Brenda, and really most of the girls in these books, are not afraid to embrace the butt-kicking that comes with being somehow connected to WICKED. Brenda is not the most fleshed-out character, but I like her. She's smart and not dead weight in the face of danger. I can't remember much of what went on in the Scorch Trials with Brenda, so maybe she is more of a developed character and I just don't remember the details.

  • short chapters - The chapters in this book are way too short. They average about 5 pages each, although I am completely guessing - this isn't mathematical at all. It was horribly distracting for there to be a new chapter so often. There are 73 chapters in this book! I just...why? In most books I read, I barely notice the chapters because they are normal length, and I like not noticing the chapters.
  • epic conclusion? - I thought this book was a big step down action-wise from The Scorch Trials. There's a lot of description of people being shot with weapons, and other action-y things, but it doesn't feel like action. There's not a lot of dialogue either. Thomas does a lot of thinking and warring with himself.
  • indecision - Is WICKED bad? Is WICKED good? What do we do in either of these situations? It's still unclear if the villain is really the villain. This doesn't bother me, but Thomas thinking about it constantly was annoying after awhile. Stop thinking and do something! Also, there was very minimal recap from the 2nd book, which I read a long time ago, so I would have liked a refresher on what happened.
  • the group - In The Maze Runner there was clearly a tight-knit group. They had to work together to survive and to escape. In The Scorch Trials, the group expanded a bit, but was also called into question. In this book, Thomas and a few others were separated from everyone else. Basically, the core group was really small and I forgot where some of those characters came from, and I missed some of the other characters I was familiar with.
2 robots
Not the action-packed satisfyingly epic conclusion that I was looking forward to

Acquired: bought

Dec 6, 2012

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published: 10-12-2010 by Little, Brown

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

I really liked the first book in this series, Beautiful Creatures. Overall, I thought this book was too long and not nearly as exciting as I had hoped. I mean, the summary does say life-ending, so I don't think I was wrong to expect excitement.

  • Liv - Once I got over there being a girl who could be the harbinger of yet another YA love triangle (please, please don't be), I realized I like Liv. She's smart, quirky, and gutsy. And also about 99% less whiny than Lena. She made me realize how much I don't really care for Lena.
  • enthralling - There is something about these books that is charming and funny. There was more of it in the 1st book, but it still exists in this one. I think this charm may come, in part, from the setting, but I don't think it can be pinned down.

  • Lena - Uuugh, Lena. I know you are grieving and you were a bit strange before that, but  what are you doing? Every time Lena acted rationally, she came up with some new crazy reason to go off and do something stupid. Then she would get mad at Ethan for whatever he was doing while she was destroying things, but never appreciating him when he was trying to help her.
  • length - This book is so long. The 1st one was really long as well. While I like that this isn't a series cranking out a 200 page book every year where nothing happens, I also dislike giant lengthy books crammed with non-action. Beautiful Darkness has a lot of back and forth as far as plot goes - lots of thinking and flashbacking, not a lot of anything actually happening until the end. And that bugs me.
  • claiming - SPOILERS! Hey, look at that - another book that ends with a claiming in which Lena yet again does not decide if she's going to be a light or dark Caster. Two things about this: 1. Is it really that hard to pick a side? Light or Dark - they're even capitalized (which is annoying). Don't they have Star Wars? The Dark Side is clearly not a good thing. 2. Again? You really need two very thick books worth of time to choose? I understand that the time passing is way shorter than it feels to people reading about it, but if I wait a year for a sequel, something significant should happen. Is this whole series going to be a buildup to you picking? Because it's on book 4 now and I don't think I can read for that long unless major things happen.

  • My voice echoed across the chamber, and I noticed an intricate chandelier hanging from the high, vaulted ceiling. It was made of some kind of smooth, white polished horn, or was it bone? The ironwork held long tapered candles that lit the room with a delicate flickering light, illuminating some corners while leaving other dark and unexposed.           - pg. 177
  • "L, look at this."   Ridley's head whipped toward me, and I froze. I had called Liv "L." There was only one L in my life. Even though Live didn't notice, Ridley did.     - Ethan  pg. 375
3 robots
Still a great setting and premise, but not as exciting as the 1st book

Acquired: swapped for on