Category Archives: Romance

Review: Fangirl

Book Overview:

Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publication Info: St. Martin’s Press, 2013

Synopsis: A devoted fangirl and fanfiction writer, Cath must come to terms with adulthood and independence, anxiety, and her evolving relationships with her twin sister, terrifying roommate, and classmates in her first year of college.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 5/5

Let me say that I rarely consider a book to truly deserve such a high rating. I most often give this rating during the aftereffects of finishing a great book — the “book high,” if you will — or because I ignore or overlook the tiny flaws I noticed while reading. However, it has been quite a while since I finished this book (weeks, even, thanks to my proclivity to apathy and procrastination), yet I still feel that this book deserves a perfect rating. Why? Because Fangirl is the perfect blend of teen and adult content, wit and humor, sadness and emotion, and fantastic writing. I think everyone should give this book a try, or at least read the synopsis, because even if it is outside your interest type, it is a wonderful book.

Plot:

The storyline and plot development of this book is different from others in the teen category, in that most teen books set up a quest or goal for the main character(s) to achieve in the first few chapters, with side plots and events merely adding to the main plot. Fangirl, however, does not really follow this trend, as Rainbow Rowell chooses instead to follow Cath’s life and growth throughout her first year of college. Because the quest plot trend has become so ingrained in me from reading so many teen fantasy novels, I admit I was thrown off by this at the start. But looking back, I really appreciate Rowell’s choice in this, because it shows that the real goal is for Cath to grow and change and accept herself, rather than win a boyfriend or become popular. And this, to me, is what life and college are really like, so when you read this book, you are reading real life experiences.

Seriousness aside, the romance in this book is by far one of the most perfect and well-written relationships I’ve ever encountered. Here are the five reasons why: (1) awkwardness, (2) tension, (3) fighting/misunderstandings, (4) slow development, (5) actual chemistry. If you want to know what real romantic relationships are like, look no further than this book.

Finally, I tremendously appreciated the ending of this book. I won’t spoil anything, but Rowell doesn’t spell out everything in Cath’s future for the reader, which in this book did not seem necessary. Personally, it meant that it was enough that Cath had grown and changed, and while she still had things to learn and do, we are given confidence that she can handle them. This is genius to me.

Characters:

If it feels like I’m fangirling and raving over this book, you may want to skip over this portion, because I can do nothing but rave over the characters in this book.

Cath is such a relatable protagonist to me, as she struggles with shyness, anxiety, and the inability to connect with others — all things I have struggled with and continue to deal with on a daily basis. While some may not be able to relate to her position as a fanfiction writer and devoted fan of Simon Snow, her personality traits are enough to make her frustrating and realistic in the most endearing way possible. (So many times I wanted to shake Cath and yell at her, only to realize I did the same things in college.)

I’ve already ranted about the romance of the novel, but allow me to briefly say that Levi, Cath’s romantic interest, is so lovable and interesting and intriguing. Yet another point for Rowell.

Even the smaller characters of this book read like authentic, real people to me, such as Wren, Cath’s father, Reagan, Nick, etc. Every character reminds me of people I have met and known, which is a feat of great writing to me.

Writing Quality:

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the writing or quality of this novel as a whole. Everything is well-developed, well-timed, and well-written.

 

Who I recommend this to:

  • Fans of John Green’s novels
  • Realistic fiction readers
  • Romance readers
  • Soon-to-be or current college students
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: language, mentions of sex, drugs, alcohol)

 

 

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Review: Scarlet

13206760Book Overview:

Title: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

(If you would like more information on the first book of this series, Cinder, visit https://transitionreads.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/spotlight-cinder/.)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Teen Futuristic/Romance

Publication Info: Feiwel & Friends, 2013

Synopsis: In this second installment of the series, Cinder must escape from imprisonment and find the one person who may hold the key to her past: Michelle Benoit. However, Benoit has mysteriously disappeared–kidnapped, according to her granddaughter, Scarlet, who teams with Wolf, a streetfighter, to find her.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

As sequels go, Scarlet was an exciting and well-written continuation of the series. Rather than focusing on the main character of the first novel, Cinder, Meyer introduces us to a whole group of new characters with humorous and realistic personalities. This, along with an action and twist-filled plot, developed the series so much more and kept me engaged. I’m much more invested after reading this book!

Plot:

First of all, I am so grateful to Meyer for including timelines and perspectives of various characters instead of giving the reader only one point of view and plot line–to me, this variety automatically makes a book more interesting and engaging. However, I have read other books/series that have taken a similar approach and only became confusing and not easy to follow as a result. For me, this problem did not occur with Scarlet whatsoever; it made me addicted, and it was extremely difficult for me to step away from this book.

Also, because of certain characters and plot events that I will not spoil, Scarlet was much darker and more violent than Cinder. I can’t see very many finding issue with this, but you have been forewarned. As for me, I love the dark and violent [insert sinister laughter here]. If Meyer hadn’t included this, the book (and series) would seem too sugar-coated and unrealistic. Well done, Meyer!

Finally, my only criticism with the book lies not surprisingly in the use of instalove, or extremely quick romance. To be fair, I was rooting for Scarlet and Wolf from the very beginning of the plot, but things progressed much more rapidly than I would have liked. I personally enjoy suspense and tension rather than instant gratification when it comes to romance, but not everyone feels that way. Please don’t let this stop you from reading the series.

Characters:

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the characters of this series, because Meyer uses such fresh, realistic, and funny people throughout.

Cinder remains as awesome and sarcastic here as in the first book, and though the reader clearly sees her feelings for Kai, she doesn’t fall into whiny, mopey romantic territory. Cinder also grows as a character through delving into her past, which I really enjoyed reading.

Scarlet has my favorite personality traits in a character: impulsive, fierce, and real. From the very first pages, I knew I would love reading her perspective and plot line, and I was not disappointed (instalove aside).

Wolf, to me, provided a well-written and developed version of the mysterious love interest, not only because of his past, but also (and more so) because of his clumsy, awkward shyness. Some “shy” characters aren’t truly shy, but more elusive and guarded; while Wolf certainly is guarded, there’s more to him than secrets. I really appreciated Meyer’s handling of this character.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Thorne. He is an amazing comic relief and dashing scoundrel character. He brings so much to the book, and I can’t wait to see how Meyer will use him in the future.

Writing Quality:

As Meyer keeps building this series, the world and plot become more complicated, which I attribute to her creative genius. The reader has experienced life in various parts of this world (Asia, Europe), and I look forward to seeing the cultures and futuristic design of other parts of this world, perhaps even the planet Luna. From this book, the reader learns that the relationship between Earth and Luna, between Queen Levana and Princess Selene, is not so simple, and this will keep any reader engaged, invested, and ready for more.

 

Who do I recommend this to? 

  • Fans of the Divergent and Legend series
  • Fans of fairy tale interpretations
  • Futuristic/science-fiction readers
  • Romance readers
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: violence, death)

 

 

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Review: Grave Mercy

Book Overview:

Title: Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) 

Author: Robin LaFevers

Genre: Teen Fantasy/Romance

Publication Info: Houghtin Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

Synopsis: Ismae’s survival of an attempted abortion as a child marks her as a daughter of Death, and she is taken to the convent of St. Mortain to train as his servant, an assassin. Yet her mission to protect Brittany’s ruler lands  her in the dangerous plots and scandals of court and under the scrutiny of the mysterious Duval.

 Book Review:

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

I adore the idea of this book–assassin nuns working for the mythological god of Death during the 1400’s–and it was this idea that kept my attention while reading. LaFevers certainly creates an enjoyable and romantic storyline while intertwining action and politics, so this book appeals to large amount of genres and readers.

Plot:

While I was fascinated by the idea of the novel (as stated before), I felt disappointed at times when reading. The book promises action and violence and weaponry (which oddly makes me excited–don’t know what that says about me), but focuses so much more on politics and romance. While Ismae’s time training as an assassin is mentioned, it seems glossed over, and I wanted to read so much more than I was given.

Because action seemed to take the backseat in the plot, the romance between Ismae and Duval was overwhelming to me. As told from Ismae’s point of view, the story focused a lot on her interactions with and feelings for Duval, which I would have expected from a romance novel, not from a book promising violence and assassins. But this disappointment may be my fault–perhaps I judged the book’s genre and content too quickly.

Characters:

Although I do criticize the plot, I loved Ismae’s personality. If nothing else, read this book for the heroine. Her no-nonsense attitude and impulsive nature drew me in (as did her sarcasm and wit, which I always appreciate). While her relationship with Duval sometimes left her lovestruck, she stayed an assassin at heart throughout the entire book, which kept me reading. Additionally, I could easily see her growth as a character in the first book of the series, which I applaud LaFevers for, as often characters in teen novels grow over the course of the series, but not the individual book. Throughout the plot, Ismae became more and more independent and free-thinking, which I believe makes her not only relatable, but also well-developed.

Writing Quality:

I have to give LaFevers even more kudos for this, for she didn’t use first-person point of view, and moreover, used language and writing that fit the setting and characters! I know this may seem trivial to some, but the writing style, to me, balanced out the romance-based plot and enhanced the characters and dialogue.

 

Who do I recommend this to?

  • Historical fiction readers
  • Romance readers
  • Fantasy/magic/mythology-based readers
  • Late high school, college, and beyond (warning: death, murder, brief mentions of sex)

 

 

 

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Spotlight: Cinder

Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) 

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Teen Futuristic/Romance

Publication Info: Feiwel & Friends, 2012

Synopsis: In this futuristic rendition of the fairy tale, Cinderella appears as Cinder, a cyborg mechanic who inadvertently is thrown in the middle of  dangerous plots after meeting the popular and handsome Prince Kai.

This, to me, is one of the most innovative and well-done fairy tale adaptations I have ever read. From the setting to the plot to the characters, this book was fantastic, and I recommend it (and its series) to everyone!

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Review: Every Day

Book Overview

Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publication Info: Knopf Books, 2012

Synopsis: A wakes up as a different person every day, with only 24 hours to adjust to and learn each person’s appearance, family, and life before switching bodies the next morning. A is accustomed to this routine, this abnormal life of observing others and never interfering, but begins to question everything after meeting Rhiannon, putting A’s lifestyle and identity in danger.

Book Review:

Overall Rating: 4/5

When first encountering this book, I was intrigued by the idea of A’s life, jumping from body to body regardless of gender, race, culture, etc., and it was this original and creative idea that led me to actually buy the book. I am so glad that I did, because I was not disappointed. Every entry/chapter records a day in A’s life, and so as A experiences life from so many different perspectives, so do we. To me, Levithan handled this brilliantly, and this book is definitely an amazing read.

Plot:

Although some might complain that the beginning is slower compared to the rest of the book, the opening of this book shows clearly the reality of A’s life, which I think is crucial to understanding the whole book. Once A meets Rhiannon, the love interest, I had already begun to see things from A’s perspective, and I could understand A’s motives and feelings.And if you’re a romantic person, then this book is definitely for you! The romance between A and Rhiannon drives the plot and was so well-done that I could not put this book down; I read it in two days. That being said, while I was completely addicted and caught up in the plot, I could easily see the whole love-at-first-sight, instalove phenomenon happening from the very beginning. I’m not a fan of instalove and was bothered by it occasionally while reading. However, if nothing else, the romance here is realistic–to which I say a huge thank you to Levithan–and shows the struggles of relationships (both normal and completely abnormal, as in A’s case).

Other than the instalove, I can only criticize the ending, which I will not spoil for you. All I can say without giving away anything is that Levithan leaves a lot of questions unanswered, both plot-related and idea-related. Because of this, I couldn’t get the book off my mind for days afterward, which is a good thing. Overall, I would NOT stay away from this book just because of the ending. It is still worth your time.

Characters:

Some people are bothered by A’s personality, for a myriad of reasons, but I loved A. Although I constantly had to reconstruct my thoughts on character gender, telling myself that A is neither a girl nor a boy, the character was extremely relatable and likeable to me. And because of the non-gender characteristic and abnormal life, A saw the world in a way that was so fresh and different and wonderful to me.  I loved the narrative, I loved the perspective, and I loved reading from A’s point of view.

Similarly, I also felt that Rhiannon was a strong character, realistic and relatable, though she frustrated me on several occasions for her reactions to A’s changing identity and appearance. However, I think this was intentional, and if nothing else, meaningful, because most of us would react the same way if we had to rethink our whole worldview for the person we loved.

Writing quality:

As mentioned before, I loved A’s point of view and perspective, which forced me to rethink my ideas of gender and appearance. A (or Levithan, rather) had a very blunt and yet beautiful way of telling events and looking at things that I appreciated. As a result, he first person point-of-view actually enhanced this book, and the writing was a joy to read.

 

Who do I recommend this to?

  • Fans of John Green’s writing
  • Realistic fiction readers
  • Romance readers
  • High school, college, and beyond (warning: mentions of suicide, drug use, sex)

 

 

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