On Books and Whatnot

I’d like to pretend I’ve been terribly busy, too busy to post, but that’s not true. What’s closer to, and a better explanation of, what’s been going on is an odd combination of laziness and springtime. Sun is shining, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and I want to be out there with them, not hunched over a keyboard. All of that blooming and budding and frenzy of life out there also does a number on my allergies, leading to headaches that stagger me and leave me stretched out on the couch, unable to do much more than sleep.

But it’s Monday, the first day of a new work week. I slept pretty well last night. The headache is, if not vanquished, at least crouching off to the side for a bit. And I feel like sharing.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

  • YA Distopian
  • Library e-book
  • PopSugar Challenge Category:  A book that became a movie

I read Divergent a while ago and loved it, which means one of two things would happen with Insurgent – it would be terrific or I would hate it.

I most certainly did not hate this book. I was Kindle-in-bed-at-midnight with this book. I was peering-around-the-shower-curtain with this book.

I wish it was about 200 times as long, but I get that it’s YA so it can’t be 200 times as long. And I’m cool with that, I suppose. And even though it’s not at all fair, I can’t help but compare this series to some others I’ve read. If I could put each series on a ladder, these would be on the second-to-the-top rung (I haven’t read the last book yet, so I can’t put it at the very top). The Uglies would be half a step down. Artemis Fowl would be a full step down. Harry Potter would be on a different ladder. The Dark is Rising would be on the roof, about three feet above the ladder. Twilight would be in a hole, deep down, under the ladder.

So in order of worst to best:

  • Twilight (please)
  • Artemis Fowl
  • The Uglies
  • Divergent
  • The Dark is Rising

I really do enjoy YA adventure series, as you can see. There’s a bunch that I haven’t read yet (Cinder is definitely on my list, for example, and I need to finish Divergent, and I want to read The Dark is Rising again). I’m glad that this particular series is holding up, though, and can hardly wait for it to be my turn to get the library book.

My advice: Get all three of the books and then read them. The only thing that disappointed me about Insurgent was that I didn’t have Allegiant in my hot little hands to read immediately.

Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

  • YA Paranormal
  • Kindle e-book, free from BookBub
  • PopSugar Challenge Category: A book set in high school

Jenny Pox is a self-published book that masquerades as YA but is really geared towards an older reading population. The general plot: Jenny was born with some sort of condition that causes anyone who touches her to grow nasty, plague-like sores. If she holds on, the other person dies. She killed her mom, the doctor, and the nurses when she was born. She’s spent her whole life living in the woods outside a small town in North Carolina with her alcoholic dad, and when she leaves their small and dirty house, she dresses so that everything, including her hands, is covered.

Enter her dastardly villain of an enemy, Ashleigh. Ashleigh is a beautiful and popular girl who has a power of her own. She also is the girlfriend of the most eligible boy in their small town. To get a good image of Ashleigh, imagine what would happen if Regina George (had Plastic in Mean Girls) and Heather Duke (lead evil Heather in the Heathers) melded into one horribly popular bitch, who then produced a kid with Satan. That kid would be about 25% as horrid as Ashleigh.

And then there’s Ashleigh’s boyfriend Seth, who also has a power. His power is the opposite of Jenny’s and he is the only person she can safely touch. Of course she immediately falls in love with him. At first she sort of lets herself be mowed down by Ashleigh, but then she puts on her Big Girl Panties and commences to fight back.

I love the idea of this book, and some of it really pulled me right in. I was especially pleased with the bits that talked about people unleashing their powers – those were particularly interested. What I didn’t like was what I feel was a lack of good editing, which is a common issue with self-published books. The story is really great and the voice is decent, but the writing is sometimes drawn out and repetitive, and I stumbled over more than one mistake. I know how hard it is to self-edit (believe me, I really do) so I’m not slamming the author, rather I would hope that he could get picked up by a publisher and perhaps get set up with a terrific editor.

My recommendation: if you have a ton of patience for something that is sometimes a slog (and not really a positive one), and you LOVE gore (I do, sometimes), read this book. Otherwise, give it a pass.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

  • Mystery
  • Hard cover, library check-out
  • PopSugar Challenge Category:  A book written by someone under 30

I thought this one would be coming of age, but it turned out to be a rather delightful mystery. The narrator, Blue van Meer, is a freshman in college, telling the story of what happened during her senior year in high school. There are deaths, bumbling police officers, cliques, bad teachers, and bullies. There are twists and surprises and love stories and “a-ha” moments. Blue is funny, witty, and often wry; who is still often ruled by the same crushes and vanities that every other teen is plagued with, despite her rather odd upbringing.

Folks, I loved this book. Pessl writes it in such a newly refreshing manner: making Blue a total egghead who is supposedly writing her memoir, complete with in-text citations and a LOT of supporting information. I wonder, still, if all of Blue’s sources were real or if some were made up, but it wouldn’t matter to me one way or the other. It’s a fabulous read, devourable despite its length.

I would think even people who don’t like a good mystery (crazy talk, right?) would enjoy this book. It’s just plain fun to read. My advice: go for it!

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