I have been internetly absent for a few days. But I have reasons. A quandary, if you will. And tomorrow (if I feel brave) I will fling it upon you and you will help me.
Until then: mini reviews!
They are mini because a) I read too much, b) I was mildly underwhelmed by both books, c) they’re both from the same publisher so therefore THEY ARE BROTHERS. They are family. They won’t mind sharing a post.
Thank you Simon & Schuster for these review copies!
Release Date: October, 2014
If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.
She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.
I got quite a shock with this one because I was not expecting it to have a magical side.
BUT LET ME EXPLAIN! It is not all doom and gloom here! I did sort of sometimes mildly enjoy it.
First of all, the writing was quite excellent. I enjoyed Jam’s narrative. I even quite liked her name. Jam! Delicious! (I will never say no to delicious food.) Also she was a quiet shy person with long hair, which is nice and different. Jam was just all round nice. Deluded. But whatever.
Magicality? It’s similar to the movie Inception. If you’re desperately curious about the magical side (though I warn you it’s a mild spoiler) you can highlight this and know all: their journals give them magical dreams of their past, like replying memories very very vividly. It’s nearly paranormal.
So we’re waiting the WHOLE time to get to Jam’s Big Reveal. Why and how did her boyfriend die? Not a spoiler! It’s in the blurb! It’s THE THING you want to know. But when it came? I just say there saying, “Wutwutwut.” I didn’t find it powerful compared to everyone else’s stories. It felt petty. And if you’re dying to know, again, you can highlight this: Jam’s boyfriend dumped her. Suck it up, child. She is in a school with kids who have lost family members, been involved in murders, kidnappings, accidents that crippled them for life…and Jam is there whining, “My boyfriend dumped me and my heart broke.” BOOHOO. I felt so disgusted at her and it just cascaded the entire book for me.
But I think me personally (being a pretty logical and straight-forward person) found Jam’s secret too incomprehensible. If you have feelings and a heart (I do not obviously) you probably won’t be annoyed with this. BUT I WAS.
I appreciated the story, but I struggled to care.
Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.
The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.
Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.
I’m mildly underwhelmed.
But, aside from that, it’s still a fairly decent read. (You know, if you’re not looking for anything out of the ordinary.) It’s all about friendship and learning to move on and grow up. Travis was frozen for 5-years, so basically, he took a nap and woke up and bam: his friends are all in their twenties. The love of his life is engaged not to him. He has to go back to highschool. Make new friends. Get used to his new appendages.
I had just little problems with it here and there, like:
– the 21 year old friends sure didn’t act 21. They could’ve been in their teens still.
– stereotypes EVERYWHERE. Travis was judging kids off their hair at school.
– totally cliche bubbly new BFF
– money. His parents didn’t appear to be loaded, but yet they gave lavish presents, had paid for all Travis’ leukemia medication before he “died”, and then went through the whole reanimation process. You’d think that might cost them a bit, right?
– a sort of creepy romance, with the 16-year-old Travis chasing his former girlfriend (who’s now engaged and in her 20s and CLEARLY telling him to back off)
The writing was good, though a bit wordy. It was an interesting story, honest, it was. I just felt so tired of the typical plot it was following. The emotional part of learning to live again was hugely poignant though. I mean, THE DUDE WAS DEAD! No one thought he was coming back! His head got cut off!
So basically? Look, it was good but not even flirting with the vicinity of great. It was incredibly fair from unique (apart from the headless-ness thing…I seriously wish it had been more focused on THAT) but had a definite sweet message about friendship and don’t-be-selfish-you-moron. Nice themes.
Cait has been plotting Alice in Wonderland gifs since she even SAW the title of “Noggin”. It’s an obvious connection, don’t you think? Also Cait has been stewing over huge life decisions regarding the blog (which you will hear about soon) and editing. Again. But since this is the LAST edit of her fantasy before it goes on submissions…she is freakishly excited.