There is nothing quite as gloriously fun as a Mini Review. Why? Because a) they’re smaller so I’m not blathering on indefinitely, and b) I read like 5 books a week and cannot review them all so you get MORE of my thoughts. ALSO GIFS. Isn’t that glorious? You totally can’t get enough of my marvellous opinion. I’m joking. Except it’s sort of true.
These bite sized cacophonies are unsolicited surprises from Bloomsbury and Scholastic! Unfortunately I…didn’t…love them. (I wanted to. I love books.) It kind of goes from good to terrible so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE by Tiffany Schmidt
Thank you Bloomsbury! Published April, 2015.
This was all kind of cute…but totally unbelievable. “OH, CAIT, SHUSH YOUR CRYPTIC ANALYSING BRAIN AND JUST ENJOY THE BOOK.” Okay! Okay! I tried, I truly did. The writing was excellent, the premise was cute, the characters were adorable….but the plot?! The story takes place over a 24-hour period, which isn’t a lot of time to break up with a girlfriend, grieve a lost parent, make few friends, change your viewpoint on life, and, OF COURSE, fall in love.
It takes me 24-hours to decide on an ice cream flavour.
It’s dual narrated by Brighton and Jonah. Brighton is the sickeningly nice rich kid. Jonah is the bitter, poorer kid whose mother forced him to move in his senior year of high school and he hates everyone etc. etc. Obviously they hate each other. Obviously I shipped it.
Then stuff happened that I did NOT enjoy. like:
- Jonah’s motivations didn’t always make sense. Like when his girlfriend, Carly, breaks up with him because she thinks he’s cheating…Jonah decides, “Omg, she is so mean! I hate her! WHAT CAN I DO FOR REVENGE?!! Okay, lemme take Brighton to this party because she’s gorgeous and everyone’s gonna be jealous of my new girl-even-though-she’s-not-my-girl-and-I’m-not-romantically-interested-in-her” [yet]. LIKE WHAT PART OF THAT IS A GOOD IDEA?!! He wanted to prove he wasn’t cheating by….looking like he was cheating?? I liked Jonah, but then he was an idiot.
- A lot of disbelief had to be suspended. Because mostly the entire plot hinged on this unlikely chain of events that threw Brighton and Jonah CONTINUALLY in each other’s presence. Like Jonah locking his keys in the car. Like Jonah’s mother just happening to go to the same beauty parlour as Brighton and getting her to babysit. Like Brighton agree to babysit some random stranger’s kid (??!)
- Is this romance going to last?! Okay, I totally should be reading this book for the 300-page romantic fling over 24-hrs right?! BUUUUT. A romance forged in the light of the moon (everyone knows the night air gets ya drunk) after a fresh break up?! LIKE, ARE YOU GUYS GONNA HATE EACH OTHER TOMORROW? WHO CAN KNOW.
So it was cute and entertaining but…unbelievable. It reminded me of Graffiti Moon (but that one is Australian so clearly elite). I felt weird about shipping Brighton and Jonah because Jonah had just broken up with his old girlfriend and he had a LOT of baggage.
I’LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Thank you Scholastic! First published 2012. Reprinted, 2015.
This book and I did not get along. I TRIED TO BE NICE. But the book turned into a complete monologue of telling instead of showing. The ENTIRE book is told. There is a scraping of dialogue and there are NO action scenes. It’s like you’re reading a detailed essay on the lives of Emily and Sam The Most Passive Protagonists In The History Of Ever.
It’s the style that plopped the book into PLEASE NO territory for me. If you’re okay with the 98% prose, then you’ll be fine. Me? I like character development through dialogue and movement. I also like characters who stand up and take hold of their glorious story instead of sit back like impassive cucumbers.
Here are some other things that bothered me an insurmountable amount:
- Emily has as much personality as a cornflake. I mean, she seems sweet, but also an idiot. She totally becomes obsessed with Sam after seeing him once. She also gets pushed around so so easily…which is great for character development! If…there…was any.
- Emily’s “boyfriend”, Bobby, is awful. He starts off as the snarky wanna-be-boyfriend-so-is-mean character. Then ended as the awkward comic relief. Like he breaks his arm and has a caste on, and then he goes to get a spray tan?! WHAT.
- It’s in an omnipresent narrative. So any given chapter could be by any random passerby. How about that random jogger?! YAY. No.
- Then the story changes tune from Abusive Contemporary to Bush Survival. It felt like two separate books! And completely didn’t go together.
- It wraps up in a nice little Christmas bow. I’m okay with happy endings, but seriously, one’s life never wraps up that perfectly.
So do I have anything positive to say?! WELL?!! Yes, actually, I do. Apart from being a passive love story, it’s also about two brothers struggling to survive their psychotic dad! It’s about learning to have a family. It’s about love — romantic and platonic. So basically I liked the story and loathed the execution. A story needs logic to make my day. This? Nope. (Also it felt like a rehash of The Geography of You and Me.)
If you need me, I shall be in my cave of grumpiness, reading logical and sad books.*
* Ha ha just kidding. But really.
HACKED by Tracy Alexander
Thank you Scholastic! First published 2012. Reprinted, 2015.
Well, I am all kinds of angry right now. I did gaze shiftily at this book before starting it because it has the aura of mediocrity. HEY I READ A LOT OF BOOKS, OKAY? Sometimes I can tell. But, I tried to go in with an open mind and things just went…dooooownhill. I didn’t like the bland writing, the blurry facts, or how much of an idiot the protagonist was.
Reasons I Am Raging:
- Dan is stupid, sexist, and absolutely selfish. He’s introduced as this kind of deluded vigilante. Basically he gets free phone credit for his friends and blabs about his hacking skills. He’s sexist and has the maturity of a 12-year-old. (Do teenage boys think in exclamation marks?)
We really had nothing in common. That didn’t stop us talking all the way to Cardigan Bay. We covered immigration, Britain’s Got Talent, coursework versus exams and favourite sandwich. (Me – bacon and cheese on white. Her – cheese, jam and lettuce. Yuck!)
- The book is woefully inaccurate about ADHD. Dan gets diagnosed when he’s a kid and gets medication. He takes one course of medication aaaand BOOM HE’S CURED. So says the doctors. Are doctors stupid? ARE THEY? Doctors don’t say, “Well, mate, you look a bit better, so have a good life! BYE NOW, LUV.” Plus his parents are so thrilled their child “isn’t medicated”, they ignored any ADHD behaviour and it goes away! WHAT. The inaccuracy hurts my brain.
- Did I mention he was SEXIST?? So he gets conned by a hacker named Angel. It’s a mild spoiler so I shall wrap it in tags.
- The writing is really…bland. The tone read like an MG book. All the characters seem so young for their ages. There are ton of exclamation marks like Oh wow! Something bad is going to happen now! What do we do! Oh no, Dan! Run from the big bad government! Which made me want to, eh, I don’t know…perhaps faceplant in a cacti.
Basically, I don’t recommend this book. This might appeal to 12+ kids, who are willing to suspend disbelief and want to learn some hacking jargon. It might appeal to you as a doorstop, or perhaps something to stand on to feel taller.