Oh it’s MINI REVIEW time again!
And this time seems to come around like…a lot. But you know what? I read faster than I blog so we just have to deal with this or I’d be posting reviews from February right now in August. OH WAIT. Haha. I am. (Excuse me I’m sorry. This year has been madness.) However I find mini-reviews are also good when I’m being a particular bucket of sour grapefruit….which will be the case a bit here.
BUT HEY! Just because me (who is a nobody, by the by) didn’t click with some of these books doesn’t mean they won’t suit you! I totally recommend them if they poke your interests! GO FOR IT
Thank you to Bloomsbury and Allen & Unwin for these review-copies!
published June 2017
This is a really multicultural story that’s all about bringing a street of humans together with HOPE. Super sweet. And quite emotional too! However I kind of came unstuck when I realised it was going to have 7+ narrators and it is a tiny book so this made it (a) epically confusing, (b) I never really got to know anyone, and (c) it’s hard to feel invested when there’s SO much going on in SUCH a short amount of time. I am the sad.
It’s basically about a street of families, all from different backgrounds. I did feel most invested in Kane’s family since they start off the book and their story is SO SAD. Their father is abusive and Kane is super angry and wants to kill his dad. He’s protective of his little brother and their relationship is super sweet. I also thought it did a good job showing the traumatic after-affects of domestic violence. So brutal and painful to read.
However I struggled to care about anyone else. They had FAR less page time too. Gugu was from an African-immigrant family and I would’ve looooved to know more about her, but we barely get any details? Every time it was the cranky racist veteran’s chapters I just wanted to eat a piece of brick. I don’t even get the POINT of some of the other characters when their stories barely tied in. TOO MUCH. NOT ENOUGH SPACE.
But A+ for all the diversity and I felt it was really respectfully and wonderfull done!
published February 2017
This is a pretty important book that tackles topics like racism, finding your voice, and why ice cream is better than frozen yogurt. All good points. All need to be said. It’s #ownvoices too! And I appreciated how it really delved deep into a lot of micro-aggression that African Americans face every day, plus it unpacked a lot of problematic things some white people whine about: like why Black History Month is important and why saying “I don’t see colour” is problematic, which are important discussions to have.
Unfortunately I found the actually writing style didn’t work for me. Bit unemotional? Bit bland? I’ve been spoiled by other contemporaries like ones by Angie Thomas and Dhonielle Clayton and Tiffany D. Jackson where the writing style reeeeally resonated with me. So just a personal writing style thing here.
It’s basically about Maya and her identical twin Nikki finishing off highschool and looking to college and realising growing up sucks. Lots of coming-of-age angst. Lots of twins-not-being-super-close-anymore. Also they get a passive-aggressive principal at their new school and it’s really hard for Maya who wants to fight back but isn’t always sure how. I did chaff at the really slow pace though. The story kind of wandered.
So very important issues and discussions to mull over! Just needed a bit more concrete direction in the plot and sparkle in the writing style. Also I want ice cream.
published August 2017
Sparrow had a terrifically strong start that totally hooked me in and then…it kind of drizzled. I am so disappointed because I thought this was going to be a very ME book. It’s about this kid named Sparrow who escapes juvie and swims through this croc/stinger/shark infested waters and then survives in the bush! And it flips back and forth from when Sparrow was 12 and first on the streets, leading up to how he gets throw in juvie.
12 year old Sparrow WAS ADORABLE and broke my heart. I absolutely loved him. He has selective mutism. And like he just drifts around this esplanade, being like semi-adopted by a kind cafe lady and this old gnarly but nice pensioner who teaches him to swim. And he’s avoiding his slightly scary brother. These chapters are A+.
BUT SMOL LIST OF REASONS IT FELL APART FOR ME:
- The survival chapters were cool in theory but it was freaking boring reading about Sparrow just walking and walking and gathering food.
- My eyes glazed over at the sheer dullness.
- I wished the entire book had been about 12 year old baby Sparrow to be honest.
- But like I don’t even understand how none of these “kind adults” actually did anything about this CLEARLY HOMELESS MUTE CHILD. It was beyond negligent and unrealistic.
- And then the disability rep for his mutism? Well…let’s just say a pretty girl can cure anything.
So I enjoyed it partially…but in the end I had too many “what the even” moments going on. Premise = love. Execution of premise = not so much.
published June 2017
Wow I feel like I just got preached at. Duuuude. This is the kind of book that feels like a scared adult is writing about how the internet is “ruining teens’ lives” and having a rant about how horrible teenagers are today. No thanks. (And maybe that’s not the intent! But that’s how it feels!)
The message that cyber-bulling is bad is a GOOD MESSAGE. And I did like how it showed how you can cyber-bully on accident and still face the consequences of your actions. But the rest is 100% PREACHING AT YOU on how bad social media is.
MC was also a really really frustrating protagonists. And her, um, name is “MC”…which is also slang for “main character” so that’s weird. But she was selfish, rude, cruel to her friends, and her life was 100% her. I couldn’t care less about her. And what’s the crux of the story? Oh it’s all about girls-who-are-fighting-over-a-boy of course! Girl on girl hate is NEVER a storyline I’m interested in.
LIST OF OTHER DISLIKES:
- The blurb spoils the whole book…
- When it starts MC’s brother and their mutual friend have a huge falling out that “nobody talks about”. I instantly knew what it was.
- So…cliche? Predictable? A bit.
- All the girl-on-girl hate.
- There are a million characters and I have only one small pea-sized portion of my brain reserved for remembering names.
- How am I supposed to feel ANYTHING NICE towards MC who has a tumblr purely so she can bitch about her friends??? Oh and she names them. Online. And never thinks this’ll come back to bite her.
- The viral part I found quite unrealistic. The fact is, the world doesn’t CARE about a couple of random girls’ teenage drama. If they’d been celebrities, yes. But they weren’t so…no.
published July 2017
Oh look, ANOTHER book that’s terrified of the internet. Mate, I love the internet (HI I’M ON IT RIGHT NOW) so these kind of books tick me off so quickly. Plus I’m tired of these books where a privileged white rich girl gets a spontaneous holiday to another country and SHE WHINES ABOUT IT THE WHOLE TIME. Um, take me then.
But the romance was cute! Except for the part where every time Liam and Emerald disagree they just kiss to get over it. This…isn’t going to work long term, folks. However I did root for them.
LIST OF WHAT WENT WRONG FOR ME:
- SUPER SUPER SLOW. Like nothing even happens for the first 150 pages. They eat cereal and cut meat in a deli and whine about their lives.
- Emerald spends so much time weeping about her instagram feed.
- There were several romance scenes so cringey I started laughing.
- This news just in: I may be an unfeeling turnip.
- Emerald actually LOVED the IG filters which is confusing and bizarre.
- The book had this super preachy tone about if you like social media you are “not living your life”.
- All the girl-on-girl hate because GIRLS CAN’T BE FRIENDS.
- NOT impressed with the moment Emerald says she probably “OCD” because “seriously, that’s a thing!” when she feels upset from her “internet withdrawal”…like that’s ableist and cruel.
- I am SO NOT HERE for putting asterisks in swear words books. It’s annoying. Look if a book can have kind of a hot sexy time then you can swear without literally going “effing f**k” on the actual page.
- It fell into the “THIS IS HOW TEENS SPEAK!!” cringe moment with instagram user names being “0o_kittykatz_o0” and “rupertisnotabear2000”. And the captions were like “#tbt GLASTO!!! SIKKK START TO SUMMER WITH MY BAE!!!!”
- You have got to be kidding me.
- Please. do. not.
- PRO TIP: If you are writing for teens, try not to insult them the whole time.