Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Blog!

Hey guys,

I got a new blog for ramblings, and am keeping this one for book reviews.
Check it out, if you want:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Please Ignore: Please Ignore Vera Deitz

Today's book I'm going to talk about is Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King, published by Random House.

First off, I'm going to say that I am...confused about this book. At first it seemed bombarded by cliche's, unoriginal, and didn't seem particularly interesting. It seemed to drag it's unconscious plot behind it, banging it on things as it went.

I'm going to just start with the plot. Vera Deitz has a dead best friend named Charlie. She has a dad she doesn't particularly care for, and an AWOL mother who went off with some guy to Las Vegas. Charlie's father abuses his mother, and as told in flashbacks, no one did anything about it. Charlie ended up getting in with a bad crowd of kids who liked drugs, sex, and drinking the year before he died, and his jealous as hell new girlfriend hated Vera for no defined reason but that she was really, really crazy.

Now, you might think "But that sounds kinda neat...Doesn't it?" It does. The thing is, I can list of tons of books that have a very very similar plot. To me, at first, it seemed cliche. Abusive family next door, divorced parents, friend who suddenly hates you and smokes pot with people who also hate you.

But when you add in the fact that Charlie is haunting Vera so that she can clear his name about the circumstances of his death, the amount of his secret's she's kept of his, good characterization and writing, it suddenly becomes a lot better, right?

My only beef is that those interesting things, while hinted at juuust a little, don't pop up until about page 180. This is a 300 page novel. The rest of the not-plot parts seemed to recount her daily life delivering pizza's and getting angry at her dad, and her and Charlie's past. The past part is pretty good, although a bit slow at parts, but the daily life parts are a little grueling. Its because of her depression, her feelings of wanted to be ignored and left know, normal teen angst. This is understandable, but I'm just plain tired of reading angst without a lot of funny or anything in between.

Of course, when the plot swings into action like a very late-to-the-scene action hero, it really builds up and starts being pretty darned good. The people her best friend Charlie basically left her for, the so-called Detentionheads, are a group you really really love to hate. If you've ever been bullied or had a friend turn on you at all, you really feel for Vera. The girl who almost single-handedly snatched Charlie away from her, Jenny, is wonderfully bat-shit and bitchy. She's a character archetype or if you'd rather a cliche, yeah, but King really does pull it off well. While I'm not going to give it all away, because this is understandably the best part of the novel, the plot really does a good job once it gets there.

My only problem is, again, Vera herself. She seems to roll over and let them walk over her, not fighting back until the very end where Charlie's ghost makes her. Again, while this is fairly understandable, I really would have preferred a more, well, heroic hero. She had a lot of spunk in her, but she never really used it. I kept waiting and waiting for her to, but it never came, and it was rather a let down. Like the climax really fizzled out a bit.

Still, the writing was really pretty darned good. The perspectives changed a bit but it didn't get too confusing, and they sounded different. I personally liked Charlie's side better than Vera's, though. I wish there was more of that. Also, I applaud them for making Vera's father not like the parents from peanuts like most books do. He was a real character, rounded out, backstory filled and everything, and you really did get to like him after a while.

All in all, I really wanted so like this book. People have said so many good things about it, and I was pretty excited about it, but it just falled short on too many accounts for me personally. Then again, I'm sort of annoyingly picky about this kind of stuff so you may enjoy it more than me. In my opinion, this book was just very "meh". I'd say if you're not really annoyed with angst to go ahead and get it from the library, but don't run out to the store with 15 bucks and go buy it. I honestly feel pretty terrible saying this when other reviews are like "ITS THE BEST THING EVER OMIGAW", but its my opinion.

Final Verdict: First half: Meh, Second Half: Less Meh than the first, but not worth 15 bucks. Library it.

I'm probably just weird,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Review: Book Girl by Mizuki Nomura

I have a confession to make, everyone. I am not only a book nerd. No. Its much worse than that...

I am also an anime nerd, too! Arg, okay, I said it. Now you may laugh at me. Unless you like it, too, then you get a cookie. Otherwise, don't leave! I promise I won't rant about anime. That much. Except for today.

If you're familiar with anime and manga, maybe you've heard of a Light Novel. For those who haven't, a Light Novel (not to be confused with a Visual Novel) is sort of like a manga in book form. Its basically the equivalent of a Japanese YA novel, with few little illustrations stuck in for good measure. I personally love these things, because it mixes manga with books and makes me happy inside.

So, the other day I finished a galley we got from Yen Press, called "Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime" by Mizuki Nomura

Before you anti-anime people start thinking "augh, well, this must have no literary merit at all." I'd like you to please sort of ignore the synopsis the website has for it. It sounds fluffy and cute at first, and as you start reading it, it is. Its cute and funny, doesn't seem like much. But quickly it gets dark. Awesomely, deliciously dark.

So it starts out being a story about this guy named Konoha. Konoha is a published writer with a bestseller, which he got published through a contest. The only problem? He sent it in with a female pen name. Everyone starts calling his pen name the "Cute sweet Book Girl who won a contest at the tender age of 14", when no one knows its just this random highschool kid. Going in public he's blasted by his own novel everywhere, and the sudden fame (for his work) has left him feeling embarrassed and withdrawn.

So, Konoha meets this girl named Tohko who immediately drags him to be the only other member of the book club at his school. The catch? She recruits him to write her tasty snacks. Tohko is a real "Book Girl", a goblin or demon that eats books and stories instead of food. Like, omnomnom, tasty book! Romance stories taste sweet, complex ones savory, and she's always hungry for something. Handwritten stories are her favorite, and most of the book clubs activities surround feeding her in some way.

So one day during book club, this girl named Chia comes in, begging the book club to help her confess her love to her crush, Shuji. Konoha gets forced to write Shuji love letters from Chia every day at the hounding of Tohko, because she wants Chia to write a "report" about it later. After a while, Konoha gets aggravated that he's ghost writing these letters for a girl to a guy he's never met, so he goes to the Archery club where Shuji is supposed to be.

Only problem is, Shuji isn't in the archery club like Chia had said. Actually, Shuji isn't in the school roster either. Shuji doesn't exist. But Chia insists that he does, and says that "something is bothering him". She then hands him a disturbing and depressing letter that Shuji supposedly wrote, that is tied heavily too a book written by an infamous author named Osamu Dazai, called "No Longer Human".

As the mystery unfolds, you find suicide, love, jealousy, betrayal, and redemption that stems from the present of the story, and Konoha's own past. Suspenseful and dark, it always keeps you guessing and doesn't really give the answers away until you really want them.

Okay, that was a long-ass synopsis. You still with me? After reading this, I can say even if you're not a manga fan...go pick it up. Seriously, from the library or something at least. Its in my top ten list of books this year (of YA) and that's saying something, because I'm pretty picky. I

Its got comedy, suspense, a good mystery, simple but very effective and at times poetic writing, and makes you think. The writing style is different from english writing in general, and it might not be your thing at first, but give it a shot. It was such a refreshing breath of air from all the rest of the YA fare, for me at least. And if you already like manga, I'd say go buy it!

The only slightly sad thing about this book is that it'll probably be stocked in the manga section of bookstores and libraries, and not the regular YA section like it belongs. Light Novels really are and can be great works, and deserve recognition as translated YA novels more than just another manga-like-thing.

Either way, go check out Book Girl! Tell me if you liked it in the comments.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hello World! (Dangit guys, do I have to do this?)

Hello everyone,

If you're reading this blog, its all Danny's fault. Go right now and blame him. And probably Katherine's, too. And my mother's. For they all say, "Hey Hannah, go make a blog. It'll be awesome. You'll like it, your blog. Blogging. Writing useless things. It'll be great." After a while, I finally caved. It was also the fault of my friends for having interesting blogs, too. Dangit, if you guys can do it so can I. So, there!

I'm not 100% sure what I'll write about here. I think I shall do book reviews from time to time. Does that sound good? I'm in a book club (the best in the world, ever) called Eva Perry Mock Printz Book club. Go google it, really. We're awesome. Join our ranks if you can.

So, we get advanced copies of YA books to read for purposes of talking about them with people, and I believe you are just the people to talk to them about.

At first glance, you might think "YA books? Really? That's most of what you read and want to review? Can't you read something with substance!?" and then I'd have to whack you on the side of the head because you are oh so wrong. Every once in a while there is an amazing gem of a book to come out from the YA scene, with literary merit more than any adult book could muster. And then on top of that, there are a good stream of enjoyable books that are just plain fun to read.

The only teeny tiny problem is that other than what's mentioned above....everything else is kind of cringe worthy. Another pink covered book about the magical world of shopping and dating? Another bland book where they try to preach to us like we're seven? Another book where they just plain think we're seven? Another damned paranormal romance!? I am so tired of hot sparkling vampires in leather pants. Really.

So while I will rave about the books I love, I'll probably rant just as much or more about the ones I don't. Better me than you, right? You might ask why I still read books that are bad, though, right? I'll let you in on a secret. When you're a writer like I am, you learn ten times more from a book that's bad than one that's good..aaannnd when you're a writer, you're probably crazy. On top of that, I like ranting and keeping other people from suffering from the pain of reading a bad book, or worse, spending money on it.

But, YA books are a genre, not a reading level. And like any genre, there are going to be books that are awful and books that are amazing. If you don't read YA books, you're missing out.

I'll be your own personal spam filter, everyone. Sure, there are other's out there, but I'll do the job in style. At least, I think I will.

So I hope you guys at least partially enjoy the reviews to come (among other things that will hopefully be interesting) and will forgive me for any ranting. Happy reading!

Hannah (NotVeryCharming)