Review: Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan ~ vamps, zombies, BFFs

Do we look like we are from a small city in Maine? Um, yes this clubwear was made by LL Bean, can't you tell?

Do we look like we are from a small city in Maine? Um, yes this clubwear was made by LL Bean, can’t you tell?

Good story - Let's hack it and make it great

Good story – Let’s hack it and make it great

Verdict: This book is a light-hearted twist on teen vampire romances without being mean-spirited or satirical. It was a quick read, and while it wasn’t relentlessly silly, it was by nature not all that substantive. With a couple of hacks, this book could have been a bit more polished.

Perfect for: Anyone who wants to read a lighter, funnier, yet not sarcastic take on Twilight. Readers who don’t need romance to be the focus of the story, and who may be more interested in friendship dynamics.

Summary: Set in a small city in Maine within an alternate American history, vampires are a fact of life. They generally keep to their own section of town, and there are strict laws in place preventing vampires from draining human blood or turning people into vampires without their consent. Our main character is Mel, a fiercely loyal friend who throughout the novel tries to help her two BFFs with different vampire-related issues. Continue reading

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Review: The Loop by Shandy Lawson ~ YA “Groundhog Day”

TheLoop

Good story - Let's hack it and make it great

Good story – Let’s hack it and make it great

 Verdict: A fun, suspenseful thriller that is most fun if you suspend your critical thinking about its many plot holes. It’s a quick read and definitely gives you back the right amount of entertainment for the time it takes to read.

Perfect for: People who like stories and movies that mess with time (such as the wonderful Before I Fall, “Groundhog Day”, “Looper”).  People who like fast-paced quick reads.

Summary: Ben and Maggie are destined to repeat the same two days in an endless loop – a loop that starts with them running into each other as strangers in a mall and ends with them getting killed by a relentless adversary. Can they alter enough small parts of their endlessly repeating experiences to break free of this deadly loop?

Continue reading

Review: The Queen of Water by Laura Resau ~ when fiction isn’t truer than non-fiction

At last, a cover that does not lie

At last, a cover that does not lie

Some redeeming elements; major hacking needed

 Verdict: An inspirational story that shines some light on the struggles of semi-enslaved servant girls taken from rural indigenous Ecuadorean villages. While the story is a lightly fictionalized account of a real person’s story, it lacks the narrative propulsion of fiction and the feeling of truth of a memoir.

Perfect for: Readers who like tales of young people from other cultures who survive horrible situations against all odds, such as McCormick’s Sold, Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, Perkins’ Bamboo People.

Summary: Virginia is born into a dirty shack to indigenous farming parents in rural Ecuador during a time (the story is set in the 1980s) when whiter upperclass “mestizos” made life miserable for the generally lower class indigenous people. At the age of seven, Virginia’s parents agree to let her work as a servant and nanny for a mestizo couple hours away in another town.  Instead of paying her wages, the couple treats her as something between a slave and an indentured servant, all the while calling her “daughter” and promising her Continue reading

Review: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson ~ My Fave of 2013 (so far)

alif_cover

The perfection of this cover isn’t evident until you read the book. Perfection!

No Hacking Needed <3

No Hacking Needed ❤

Verdict: An exhilarating mix of action, fantasy, technology, philosophy, love, politics, religion, metaphysics, and semiotics. Oh and also: genies.

Perfect for: On the back cover there are blurbs describing this book as “a multicultural Harry Potter for the digital age” and “A Golden Compass for the Arab Spring”. I feel like these comparisons are not particularly accurate, other than the fact that I think they are trying to get across that Alif is the kind of fantasy book that is rooted in the world we live in now and that wants to explore some serious issues all while providing the reader a riotous adventure. I also think these comparisons speak to the fact that both adults and teens can enjoy this book on many different levels.

Summary: [Disclaimer: I started reading this book without knowing anything about it, and it was really cool figuring out what was going on.

Continue reading

Review: All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin ~ Sister/Sister Part TWO

Lying to Others vs Lying to Yourself

Lying to Others vs Lying to Yourself

Some redeeming elements; major hacking needed

Some redeeming elements; major hacking needed

Apparently it’s “YA Books about Younger Sisters Who Lie and Older Sisters with Psychological Problems Triggered by Strange Incidents” week here at LitHacker Central. First The Opposite of Hallelujah, now All You Never Wanted.

Verdict: This book seems to explore the different ways that lying to others and lying to yourself can be damaging. While this book has some strong writing and explores some interesting psychological issues, there are too many aspects that seem rather unrealistic, and the ending is somewhat abrupt. If you’re going to choose just ONE unstable older sister/lying younger sister book this week, choose The Opposite of Hallelujah instead.

Perfect for: People who like psychological fiction or somewhat unreliable narrators.

Summary: Thea and her older sister Alex are now living in a too-extravagant house (nicknamed “Camelot” by Thea) in tony Greenwich, Connecticut after their mom marries a rich man. Before this marriage, the girls and their divorced mother were barely getting by in their tiny apartment but they had each other and were pretty close. Now their mom seems to be always flying somewhere with her new husband – for vacations or charity events – and the girls are often left alone to adjust to their new reality. Told alternately in a forceful first person (Thea) and distancing third person (Alex), we learn that these sisters have dealt with the changes in their lives in very different ways. Formerly nerdy Thea has decided that conspicuous consumption and outrageous but borderline believable lies will make her interesting and popular. Meanwhile, Alex, who has always been somewhat of a golden girl, seems to be in the midst of a nervous breakdown that is getting progressively worse – for a specific reason that is revealed later in the novel. Continue reading