Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Publication Date: 6/28/11
Publisher: Simon PulseBlurb (GR):
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.Review:
I was talking to Lyndsey
about how it feels to have a brother and the best example I could come up with is this: It feels like that force when you try to put two similar magnetic poles together, but right at that moment when it starts to push away. The love I have for my brother is so strong but he repulses me at the same time. I mean, he’s great as an adult but he is the same kid who once filled his Skeletor action figure with urine and sprayed all 3 of his sisters with it. He is the same brother who once fed 4-year old Flann a concoction of mostly Tabasco sauce while we were being babysat. (My mother made him drink it when she came home, FYI) He is the same brother who used to put his stuffed Hulk Hogan resting above his doorframe so if we tried to come in, it’d fall on us. And he is the same kid that said, “Polly want a cracker?” like a parrot all the way from Texas to Seattle on a road trip. (according to my mother) How anyone could ever be attracted to their sibling is beyond me. I do understand that it happens, usually in highly stressful family situations, but I just couldn’t get over my repulsion while I was reading Forbidden
. I wonder what the correlation is between people who enjoyed this book and whether or not they have brothers. Oh, I guess I was assuming that everyone who would read this review would already know what this book is about. If you don’t, SURPRISE! It’s about incest. (well, really it is about being in a terrible family situation)
This is written in first-person present, which really isn’t my favorite style, but I couldn’t get over the following:
“Summer gives way to autumn. The air turns sharper, the days grow shorter, gray clouds and persistent drizzle alternating with cold blue skies and bracing winds. Willa loses her third tooth, Tiffin attempts to cut his own hair when a supply teacher mistakes him for a girl…” What
is this? Most of the book reads like personal journal entries from Lochan and Maya’s present alternating perspectives but every once in a while there would be sections of text that were reflections on long periods of time. Overall, I thought the dual perspectives were successful but who writes their present thoughts like this?Dear diary,
Winter approaches faster than usual this year. Crisp, frigid air creeps into town with snowstorms right behind it. I made chicken casserole for dinner tonight. I cooked the chicken too long so it was a bit dry.
A bit jarring, eh? That’s an extreme example of what I am talking about but you get the point.
I want to make a comment on the names in this book but can someone named Flannery actually do that with a straight face? I’m not even going to tell you my other family members’ names—let’s just say it would be the pot calling the kettle black on this one. (though we DO all have Irish names so at least there’s a theme!) Willa, Tiffin, Kit, Maya, and Lochan? It reminded me of that quote from Baby Mama when the one mother reminds her kids that they have a playdate later with Wingspan and Banjo.
I found the whole story a bit predictable but was it entertaining? Definitely. And the sex scenes were really well-done, even though it makes me feel really creepy and dirty to say so. I have absolutely no idea what makes people love or hate this—my Goodreads friends are all over the spectrum and not in a predictable way. If you can stomach reading about an incestuous relationship, give it a go. It is worth the read but it was just a 2.5-3 for me.
Thanks for sending me a copy, Arlene:) 3.5/5 stars
Author: Connie Willis
Publication Date: 6/25/07
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Theodora Baumgarten has just been selected as an IASA space cadet, and therein lies the problem. She didn't apply for the ultra-coveted posting, and doesn't relish spending years aboard the ship to which she's been assigned. But the plucky young heroine, in true Heinlein fashion, has no plans to go along with the program. Aided by her hacker best friend Kimkim, in a screwball comedy that has become Connie Wills' hallmark, Theodora will stop at nothing to uncover the conspiracy that has her shanghaied.Review:
I won't tell you what D.A. stands for, as it would ruin the story. I will tell you that this story has gotten me all excited to read more of Connie Willis
' books. In my mind, I always thought that she wrote inaccessible sci-fi (fine, go ahead and laugh at me), and maybe she does—I’ll find out soon enough. But this story was an absolute funfest to read. And it only takes about 20-30 minutes if you’re interested in that type of incentive…which I sometime am. (Anything to up my count. Damn you, Goodreads Challenge!)
Theodora attends a traditional high school at a time in the future when most kids are taught in online classes from home but her parents sent her to regular school to increase her chances of getting into The Academy. Students spend years trying to get perfect grades, taking classes on obscure space-related topics and learning random skills, all in the hope that they will get selected to go into space. Despite nearly every
student dying for the opportunity, Theodora has never had the desire to go so imagine her surprise when a school assembly is called and a representative is there to congratulate her on her acceptance. She never applied, so what the heck is going on?
It’s a bit cliché and reads like a less genius-ridden, war-minded Battle School and Theodora spends most of her time being a downer, complaining, and sneaking around, but I enjoyed where it ended up going at the conclusion. I only wish the story continued so I could see her develop even further.
This short story came to me as a recommendation from my query for 'YA in space' on Goodreads. Since you can't close a query, I will probably continue to get recs on it until I am 50 but you know what? That sounds great to me! I'll never tire of space stories. Kaethe recced this one to me, and a huge thanks go out to her for it. Even if it is does end up being whatever the female equivalent of blue balls is…in that it ends when I wanted it to go on for much, much longer. 4/5 stars
If you like this, you might also like Academy 7
by Anne Osterlund, the Ender's Game
series and Shadow
series by Orson Scott Card, Across the Universe
by Beth Revis, the new Starfleet Academy
series, and the Galahad
series by Dom Testa.
Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 4/25/11
Publisher: Dutton JuvenileBlurb (GR):
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay
, Where She Went
explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.Review:
My heart gushed rivers of love when I reviewed If I Stay
. I listened to the audiobook and just adored it because it felt like Gayle Forman
tapped into my heartbeat and the rhythm beat right through to the end. I put off reading Where She Went
because I wasn’t ready for another heartache. As it turns out, this is a rare instance where the sequel (or companion) has an entirely different tone than its predecessor. Rightly so, as Where She Went
is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view, whereas If I Stay
was primarily about Mia, his ex-girlfriend. In regards to spoilers, it is near impossible to have anything to say about this book without spoilering things about the first, but I think WSW can stand on its own even if you do
know the setup. That said, I’m not going to use spoiler html on anything related to If I Stay
. Since Mia decided to come out of her comatose state, she’s been studying at Juilliard. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, shot to the top of the charts and he is recognized everywhere he goes. The band’s two albums are filled with songs Adam wrote, and it should come as no surprise who served as the inspiration for all the lyrics. While he is dating a famous actress and has achieved so much musical success, Adam is disillusioned with life and the way Mia left things when she cut him off cold. Before he embarks on a world tour, he goes to one of Mia’s cello performances and gets the chance to speak with her afterward. Cue the life and relationship analysis…
Several reviewers have mentioned that this book wasn’t as enjoyable as it could’ve been because Adam seems overly angst-ridden for nearly the entire thing. Sure, I can see that. The whole thing just felt over-the-top, I agree, but I just loved the two of them together so I wanted
to think their relationship could define Adam’s whole being, his anger, his disillusionment. I wanted
to believe that he was missing his perfect complement. It was so interesting to me because the first book felt like an exercise in grief at the time I listened to it. I see now that, just like in life, the time right after a death is surreal. It doesn’t hit home for everyone at the same time. That
book is about losing someone. (or many someones) This book is about the actual recognition of loss and the crisis that follows, whether it be from the end of a life or the end of a meaningful relationship. As someone who has seen what a terrible breakup can do to a person, it didn’t feel like Adam’s actions were beyond the realm of possibility. True, he was sometimes a prick. True, it didn’t seem like he tried to move on. I was just rooting for him to get his own life back together. Where She Went
reads like a novella. I watched as the percentage completed on my Kindle just flew by. For me, there were a few negative points—the lyrics at the beginning of each chapter (not because they were awful, only because it is cliché) and Mia, for starters. She came off as self-involved and I didn’t enjoy how aloof she seemed. I felt like I was holding my breath through a tunnel until the two of them actually start talking about something real
. After that point, it was a much more comfortable read, despite the plot remaining heavy.
I was both happy and disappointed at the conclusion of Where She Went.
I have to spoiler it and, for that, I apologize. **SPOILERS**I don’t think I’m encouraged by Adam and Mia getting back together right away. Mia has had 3 years to build up a life for herself. She said herself that Juilliard was more than she ever thought it could be. She thought of Adam but he didn’t define her. Adam, on the other hand, spent the last three years missing her, writing songs about her, and taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills to compensate for the void. He never had that time after the breakup to actually figure out who he is. They get back together—great, except I am still unsure how much he understands about himself. He seemed so willing to just give everything up for her…and I kind of believe he would do just that if she asked him. That’s depressing.**END SPOILERS**
Many people loved Adam in If I Stay
and if you were one of them, I’m fairly confident you’ll enjoy this one as well. Forman does a good job of creating a realistic male voice and painting raw emotions on the page. And to the rest of you, if you can handle the angst and the foreverlove foreverandalways, give it a try. Hey, at least there’s not a love triangle.
I loved this video. The author gives a tour of many of the sites from Mia and Adam's whirlwind NYC adventure.
Finding Cassie Crazy (aka The Year of Secret Assignments)
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publication Date: My version is 2004, original publication in 2003
Publisher: Loads, but the version I read (the cover on the far right) is Young Picador
Finding Cassie Crazy has been recommended to me by several
Invidivuals. I’m kicking myself for
Not reading it sooner because I found it hilarious. I’ve been
Delaying writing a review for it, though, because
Ican’t figure out what was so special about it beyond its humor.
Nothing is so spectacular about the plot (pen pals from private and public school), but each of the
Girls and, well, most of the guy characters were
Charismatic and/or charming. The
Author of this series, of which Finding Cassie Crazy is second, is a former lawyer and it
Shows in her jokes. I laughed out loud when Emily’s brother
Served her papers to summon her to dinner.
Icould connect with each pair of pen friends (Aussie word for pen pals), though I got
Excited every time I read about Lydia and Seb, as they seemed to
Care about each other and their friends the most. (and I liked their “dating”)
Released in the US under the title of “The Year of Secret Assignments,” for reasons
Absolutely unknown to me (what the heck is wrong with the title “Finding Cassie Crazy”?),
Zis book is lots of fun. (You have to say this line with an accent. I bet you were wondering how I’d work a ‘z’ in here.)
You should read this.
Don't you miss doing acrostics in school? It was always hard to think of 'y' adjectives for my name. Don't worry, I got to include fun, fiesty, fabulous, and the other 'f' adjectives that not too many people get:) Acrostics remind me of that part in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when he gives advice about how to fake sick. "The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh... you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school." Acrostics are a little childish and stupid but I'll be damned if they're not pretty fun to create.
I bet you thought I was going to put a video from Ferris Bueller, right? WRONG! This is my blog and I felt like putting a completely unrelated one from Goonies. I'm feeling pretty good about my choice.
At the top of this post, I included several of the covers for this book. I have to admit, I'm a bit mystified at the fruit cover. It looks like several other books in the series also have fruit covers--maybe they are related to a plotline in a different book? The strawberry isn't relevant to Finding Cassie Crazy at all. I think my favorite cover is the one with the three girls on it. Perfection.
Anyway, this book is a fun read for those who enjoy epistolary YA and don't take things too seriously.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 9/27/11
Publisher: Little Brown
Blurb (GR): Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
A girl grows up in the world, knowing not where she came from of who she actually is. Her memories amount to those she’s gathered whilst being raised by a group of monsters, one of whom served as a father figure to her. Now an art student in Prague, Karou runs errands for Brimstone, her father figure, and travels the world through portals to retrieve teeth from hunters and their ilk who collect them in every way imaginable. (for real) Karou doesn’t know what the teeth are actually used for though she does know there is a magical air to Brimstone and the shop he runs. Since childhood, she’s been helping herself to tiny stones that amount to wishes and sometimes, if she was lucky, he’d give her larger ones to use for weightier wishes—all the while warning her to never be flippant with her intentions. There is a cost to everything. Lately, Brimstone has been gone from the shop and looking rundown. Everything falls apart in her world in a quick turn and the pieces add up to a centuries-long war, in which she and a few that she knows play pivotal roles.
This is it, folks, one of those rare instances when reality meets expectations. This is 420 pages of generally well-paced fantasy. I say generally because the action is back-loaded, which makes sense since this is the first book in a scheduled series and the setup is complete. (imagine that!) I was telling my sister about the writing and I truly don’t know another author that writes like Laini Taylor. She writes atmospheric, poetic prose that hits home and feels current. She makes me believe in, and I’m holding my barf in while I say it, WHIMSY in everyday life. She makes me want to go to all the places she describes and creates such vivid characters and settings that I can imagine it all so perfectly. And how easy is it to imagine creatures that are a mishmash of 4 or 5 different animals? Usually not so easy but in Taylor’s world, it is effortless.
Something else I found so intriguing about this book was the fact that it is so unclear who the good guys and bad guys are—everyone is existing in some kind of confusion. What are they fighting for? Is either side’s goal better than the other? The second half of the book jumps all over the place temporally-speaking but I didn’t find it hard to keep up with where we were or who we were following. It was almost as if a question was brought up in the present and then the story would jump back years earlier to explain what it meant. I was equally intrigued by the current and past stories and both the action going on in our world as well as the chimaera/seraphim world.
If you’re thinking that this blurb does nothing for you, throw that thought out of your mind. I hate angel books, especially the fallen angel cliché. I hate reading about instantaneous love. There is nothing cliché about Laini Taylor’s story—even if these elements appear in it. I loved everything about it, even the love story between Karou and Akiva. It isn’t distressingly rare that I find the torment that characters carry around with them to be believable but I believed it here.
The ending is certainly a cliffhanger but it felt like a natural stopping point in the overall arc. I can’t wait to read more of the story but I am not outraged that it ended where it did.
Thank you so much to my wonderful friend who let me borrow this prized possession of hers!
Gone (Dream Catcher, #3)
Author: Lisa McMann
Publication Date: 2/9/10
Publisher: Simon Pulse (audio publisher: Brilliance Audio)
Blurb (GR): Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her. She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.
Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out. . . .
Now, I'm not saying that length and quality are completely connected. (they're definitely not) All I am saying here is that the entire Dream Catcher series is shorter than many adult novels and is half the length of some middle grade series. There just isn't much going on--and there wasn't enough substance for me. Sure, I enjoyed the writing. Sure, I thought the story was interesting. But when it came to writing a review, I felt like there just wasn't enough
. This series is the first where I just do not understand the 5-star reviews. The gushing love out of every bodily crevice. (I take it back. I also don't really understand Mortal Instruments, Twilight, and a few others) Perhaps people just fell in love with the writing style and I missed out on it with the audiobooks. However, I read the last section of the first book (Wake
) and didn't love that.
I doubt anyone will be reading this review that hasn't read the preceding two books but here is a recap of the series in three sentences: In book one, Janey, who lives with her alcoholic mother, figures out that she falls into people's dreams and falls for a neighbor boy who is actually (SPOILERa narc for the copsEND SPOILER)
and she helps solve a drug ring. In book two, Janey and Cabel help figure out which teacher at school is sleeping with students and Janey comes to know more about the ramifications of her "gift." Book three just wraps things up...I guess. I just finished it yesterday and I had to actually think hard
about what actually happened plot-wise. Not much. I feel like a total jerk. The second book definitely has the most going for it--substance and story-wise.
Anyway, if you are at all curious about the series, I'd recommend it. It takes a nanosecond to read all three and they are enjoyable. Just don't be expecting anything earth-shattering. 3/5 stars
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: 5/3/11
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
This book is getting so much hype, I think my blood pressure was running high before I even began. Basically, this book is 486 pages of action-packed fun. While I have a few gripes with it, this book basically delivered what you are all hoping it will.
Beatrice (Tris) Prior lives in a future Chicago where everyone is divided into six factions: Abegnation (the selfless), Dauntless (the courageous), Erudite (the knowledge-seekers), Amity (the hippies, oops, I mean the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). At sixteen, each young person is put through an aptitude test which determines the faction they will join for life--usually the one in which they've grown up. Tris, however, ends up in a different faction and this book follows her initiation trials in the Dauntless faction.
I read an interview somewhere in which Veronica Roth
said she wanted to write a standalone. I get that--the YA market is saturated with series, but by dropping us into this world and then concentrating on Tris' trials, I felt like I was missing that undercurrent of rebellion. I'm sure this book will be compared to Hunger Games
more times than anyone can count, but hey! that's a lot more flattering than comparing every vampire book to Twilight
. Anyway, in Hunger Games
, you could feel the rebellion growing. I was constantly wondering what was going on in other districts--and Suzanne Collins
made us worry
about it all. In Divergent
, this element was lacking. I loved most of the book, but the climax and wrapup (if you can call it that) are only in the last 50 pages! This is an instance where I wish the author had built up the tension a little more, maybe given us a few other characters in different factions, and saved the ending scenes for a second (or third!) book. I just laughed a little bit thinking about how this book could've used a little dose of Matched
to slow it down...
I hated the name of the male love interest. I don't want to spoiler it for any of you so I'm putting it in here--> view spoiler
in original Goodreads review.
I keep trying to discuss this book with people so I can't wait till all you GR friends of mine get into it, too! You'll love it. Well, at least "really like it." I did.
Cracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Publication Date: 12/23/08
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody—be totally alone—then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.Review:
Parker Fadley used to be head cheerleader. She had perfect grades and a perfect boyfriend. Fast forward a few months and she is drinking heavily, treating everybody like crap (though this hasn’t changed much), broken up with her boyfriend, and missing every single homework deadline. What happened to cause her decline?
When I was in high school, I had to wear a uniform. Since it was an all-girls Catholic school, my morning went something like this:
6:00—alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:15—alarm goes off. Snooze.
6:30—alarm goes off. Snooze
6:45—roll out of bed wearing t-shirt and boxers. Put on socks. Pick up polo shirt, kilt, and clogs from floor. Brush teeth.
7:00-7:30—drive to school. Eat granola bar. In school parking lot, put polo and kilt on over pajamas.
Proceed with day.
This is funny to me because Parker’s hungover/total mess description basically aligns with my every day of high school look. I don’t remember brushing my hair for four years. But, thankfully, I wasn’t such a psychological mess. The narrative in this book basically follows Parker in the present day but snippets of the night “it” happened are interspersed in the text until it all unravels. I found this both intriguing and annoying; the latter because the night kept building up little by little but what we already knew was repeated. (x, then x and y, then x and y and z) By the end, I was practically shouting at the book, “I GET IT! I KNOW XYZABCDEFGHI happened. Just frakking tell me already!” (though I already had it figured out)
But you’ll notice that I gave this one four stars. I love Courtney Summers
’ writing style. She writes the horrifically mean girl like no one else. (more prominently in Some Girls Are
) Her characters are realistically flawed and you can almost smell the desperation that drips off of nearly every one of them, whether they are desperate for friendship, love, or forgiveness for missteps. This book isn’t for everyone for that reason—it is a frustrating read because you see all of these characters trying to help Parker find what she is looking for and she walks all over them and manipulates their feelings. I don’t know if I could have the patience for her that several of her peers did, especially considering I didn’t have much patience for her as a reader.
The “love triangle” (if you can call it that) in this book was a little bizarre. Parker’s ex-boyfriend Chris is still in love with her and will basically do anything for her. The more-like-a-love-square is filled out with Parker, Chris’s new girlfriend who is Parker’s frenemy, and new guy Jake, who is attempting to get Parker to open up about what happened. Flash! Bang! Drama! Anyway, Courtney Summers lovers will find the same old awesome in this one: gritty topic, beautiful writing, a bitchity main girl, and a lightning fast read.
Shoutout to Cory, who interviewed Courtney Summers
last week at The Book Lantern
Author: Cindy C. Bennett
Publication Date: 7/26/10
Publisher: At the time I read it, it was self-published on CreateSpace. However, it has been picked up by a publisher.
Blurb (GR): "Think I can turn that boy bad?" 17-year-old Jen turns her life upside down when, out of boredom, she makes a bet that she can turn school geek Trevor into someone like her. Instead, the goth girl finds herself sucked into his world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even-ugh!-bowling. To truly belong with him-and with her new foster family-she must first come to terms with her violent past.
Psych Major Syndrome
Author: Alicia Thompson
Publication Date: 8/11/09
Blurb (GR): Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year.
The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).
Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.
Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?
Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive.
Psych Major Syndrome
In the movie So I Married An Axe Murderer
, which is mega-quotable, Mike Myers’ dad (also played by Mike Myers, but with a Scottish accent) says that he believes there is a pentaverate of rich people that run everything in the world. My favorite member of the pentaverate is Colonel Sanders. (“because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass!”) Anyway, I’ve started my own collection of people—the hilarious YA authors. Remember that old show called “Celebrity Poker” where we’d just watch a bunch of random celebrities play poker and shoot the shit for an hour? (or at least I did that?) Well, I’d love to watch the hilarious YA authors do their thing in an enclosed space. Who’d be funnier? I really don’t know.
Let’s meet the lineup:
Well, since you are reading my Psych Major Syndrome
review, I bet you know the first player: Alicia Thompson
. Next up is Lish McBride
, who rocked my funny bone in Hold Me Closer Necromancer
. In corner number three, Leila Sales
, who cracked me up twice, first in Past Perfect
(which is actually her sophomore effort coming out in a few months) and then in Mostly Good Girls
. The fourth corner is saved for Megan McCafferty
and the first few Jessica Darling books. (don’t fault her too much for the later ones!) I haven’t read her books in a few years but I think 18-year-old Flann might come after me with a cleaver if I don’t include her since she was my original funny YA love. Oh, you thought we were in a four-cornered room? Well, the joke's on you because I’m also including Louise Rennison
in our pentagonal room. Her Georgia Nicolson series, though I’ve only read a few of them, is pretty hilarious. Some might try to argue that John Green
belongs in here. Shush your mouth because while he is
funny, his books aren’t consistently hilarious—it’s just every once in a while. A special mention must be put in here, though, for the Aussies. Their sense of humor always gets me. I particularly enjoy Lili Wilkinson
’s jokes as well as the queen’s (The double-M, as if you didn’t know) and Laura Buzo
's. If I hadn’t decided before I wrote this paragraph that there would be 5 people, Wilkinson would be a shoo-in. I guess she’ll just have to guest star all the time. I’m only going to talk about Ms. Thompson from here on out but I’m really curious to know who you all think is the funniest YA author out there. Any of these ones? Someone totally different?
In Psych Major Syndrome
, Leigh Nolan is attending a small college in California where they do a lot of hippie things like let you decide how you’ll be graded and invent your own everything. (I’m still bitter about taking Development of Western Civilization every day for two years) She quasi-followed her high school boyfriend, Andrew, there and the relationship is less than ideal. This book follows Leigh for a few months during her freshman year as she tries to adapt to all the personalities that surround her—the uptight studyhard in the psych department, her flighty and fun art major roommate, the sassy junior high girls she is mentoring, her boyfriend, who only seems to care about schoolwork and not her, and last but certainly not least, his roommate who has taken a particular interest in Leigh. (that sentence has too many commas but you’ll get over it) While I wanted to slap Leigh upside the head for staying with Andrew for even one minute after getting to school, I (sadly) know people in relationships just like Leigh and Andrew’s. Gross. The whole plot of this book is rather well-worn territory and just by introducing the cast in one sentence, I bet you can see where it goes... What makes this book so enjoyable is the narrator.
Everything I thought, Leigh thought. Everything I wanted a character to say (with limited exceptions), they said. Leigh is snarky, realistic, and hilarious. She’s definitely flawed but I found her immensely likeable. And Nathan? Swoonfest 2K11. Even though I kind of feel like a pedophile when YA guys are all over the place with no shirts on, at least this one was set at college so it wasn’t the worst of the worst. (He’ll definitely be joining the back of our Cougar Shirt
—forgot about that thread, didn’t you? It WILL be happening, I just don’t know when) It felt like this book was written just for me. I love when psych majors overanalyze everything. I love Tom Waits and TMBG! I love when teenagers drive old cars in a non-hipster way, and I especially love pop culture references. (Hollaback Girl;-)) Oh, and I love reading about people being mortified in public speaking situations.
4.5 stars for the entertainment value and the laughs (and Nathan). Don't go thinking that I'm gushing all over this book and want YOU/EVERYONE to read it. I don't. It's YA contemporary romance with snark. If that's your bag, then I rec it to you. 4/5 stars