Hello, and welcome to the first blog post where I get to showcase and share with you the books I read as seasons come and go. I got this idea primarily from Regan from PeruseProject, she calls these videos “(Season) Reading in Review”, and well, being the sneaky little brat that I am, I stole her brilliant idea (soz Regan) and called it “Reviewing My (Season) Reads”. Seeing as I’m going to be heading off to college pretty soon, I thought that posting a book review at a time would be very inconvenient to my presumably busy schedules, so it seemed fitting to pick up books to read for three months, take them with me to college, read them, and then write a post about them once the season has ended. Also, I just liked the idea because I love Regan so much and I couldn’t fight the urge to copy her. I know, I’m lame.
So, yeah, that was the biggest intro ever. Let’s get on with business, shall we?
The first book I’ve read this summer was The Ask and The Answer by the legendary Mr. Patrick Ness, second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, sequel to The Knife of Never Letting Go.
In terms of star rating, it was an easy and definite 5/5 stars for me. This is how a sequel is done, people. Mr Ness knows what’s up.
Well, we all know that TKONLG left us with a cliffhanger, Todd entering Haven with a wounded Viola in his arms, fleeing before a relentless army, but man, do things go down even deeper in this sequel. When I was reading it, it seemed like everything was happening, from the very first page, my brain would have trouble processing things because they were just happening all at once. Now I’m not saying that was bad at all, it rather kept me on edge, itching to know more and more of what was going on. I won’t go into so much detail because that would take forever, but Todd & Viola were separated by the mayor. Viola was taken to the Healers, the women of New Prentisstown, as she was deeply wounded, and Todd was imprisoned by the mayor, and forced to work with Davy Prentiss in Spackle labor. It took a while for the two of them to find each other, to know they were both fine and alive and still looking for one another, and when they did find their way around to meet again, things started to get out of hand.
As you would expect, things got a little complicated in New Prentisstown, and people started to take sides, which resulted into the making of two major forces, and a little third one, which was a little unexpected, but I’m not going to go in deeper about that, so as to not spoil anyone. But just so you know, it gets real hardcore. It also gets so complicated to the point that I couldn’t decide which is right and which is wrong. Which is good and which is evil. And I just couldn’t make up my mind which I was siding with.
The writing style is just as fabulous and original as it is in the first book. There’s a new villain to worry about. The bond between Todd and Viola is stronger than ever, now that it has gone through so many struggles, bearing distance and the battle between doubt and trust and the constant fear of one losing the other. I just love them, individually just as much as when they’re fighting side by side. There’s a new friendly face and also good old one. We lose some people and find out that others were not as bad as we thought they were.
Again, the books ends in a cliffhanger. More so, it ends with a word: “War.”
I don’t know how can anyone be so completely blind and not read this trilogy. Seriously, it is so good it’s unreal. I myself will be reading Monsters Of Men pretty soon. I cannot wait. I tried not to include so many spoilers in this review, just so that I could persuade anyone who has still not read The Ask and The Answer to go and read it asap. If only one person takes my word on it I will be very happy, but I doubt anyone with brains who had read the first book will need anyone to tell them to read the second one. It’s just that good.
The second book I’ve read was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. The hype around this book was insane, BookTube was raving about it, the movie trailer looked great, and basically everyone and their mother had already read it. And if you know me, you know that I like to jump on bandwagons.
Talking about this book requires me to firstly tell you that this book is different than what you may think it is. If you picked up this book thinking that it’s a replica/retelling of TFiOS by John Green, than you are very much mistaking, my friend. It’s very different. This piece of information may appeal to you, or it may not. As for me, I was very disappointed to know that there’s no Gus and his metaphors anywhere to be seen in this book. I love TFiOS, guys. I miss it so much.
With that being said, I liked the book, but not really. I just don’t know how I feel, and thus I’m not so sure how to rate it. It wasn’t everything I wanted it to be, but I also didn’t feel like putting it down would be fair. I could give it a 4/5 stars but that just doesn’t seem right, and I will tell you why in a minute. I guess I’ll settle with a 3.5/5 stars.
So, this book follows around a high school boy by the name Greg Gains. What you need to know is that Greg is a weirdo, and he doesn’t like high school. However, he’s smart enough to know just how to barely survive and get by, as he has this theory, this brilliant master plan that kept him out of the spotlight, which helped him to go about things and stay at bay. His plan was to be friends with everyone, but not really. He made acquaintances all around the place, with all of the gangs, was sure to be nice and friendly to all of them, but not actually hang around full-time so that he would attract attention. Naturally, he didn’t fit in any gang, but all of the gangs knew him as Greg, and that was about all that he asked for. Earl is his best friend, but he doesn’t like to call him that. They’re partners in crime, or more to the point, in business. They make films. But these films are basically shit. So they do make stuff, but they make sure not to show it to anybody. They could not take the cringe.
Greg knew this girl from when he went to Hebrew school. Her name was Rachel. They were kind of friends, but again, not really. It was him, though, the one who refused to hang out with her, as he was busy worrying about the other stuff boys his age worry about, stuff like this girl who was really attractive and how he could make her notice him. Fast forward to present day, Greg’s mum tells him that Rachel has cancer, and that she wants him to go and hang out with her.
If you don’t want the book to be spoiled for you, the rest of this review is for you to skip.
Right, so, to be fair, this book is good. It’s been written creatively enough for it to stand out among other books. It doesn’t feel formal and heavy on the literary spectrum, on the contrary, it’s light and humorous and has a lot of weird swearing and Andrew Jesse would write things like “I hate writing this stupid book”. But most of all, this book is honest. Almost, too brutally honest for my liking, on the cancer side of things, which made TFiOS seem to have a bit of a sugarcoat, and mind you, TFiOS doesn’t have any sugarcoat.
I want to say Greg is an asshole, but I know he doesn’t mean to be an asshole. He knows he thinks and does and says horrible things, and that he’s a moron/idiot, but like I said, he keeps it real, and most of the time when something bad happens he would say: I know this is bad and that I should feel bad but I don’t and I can’t help it because that’s just how it is. And that’s what made me not hate him. I’m just sort of in between.
And granted, I know that I was secretly hoping for him to be a Gus. I know this is wrong, but my God, I love Gus. *sobs uncontrollably*
Rachel, however, was the nicest girl ever. I was surprised when she liked the boys’ films and thought that was because she could see in those movies what normal people wouldn’t pick up. And what could that be? Hard work, passion, dedication? Or was it really just that the movies were so bad they were so funny and good to watch? Either way, I think she just liked the films because Greg and Earl were after all her friends and she wanted them to do something about their future, which is something she herself was deprived of because of her illness.
I didn’t cry when Rachel died, and I have Greg to blame for that. I don’t know why. Maybe because their relationship wasn’t that strong. I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I don’t know how I feel about it.
Yeah, um. I guess I would recommend this book, but I don’t think it’s for everybody. It’s humorous, I’ll give it that, but as long as that goes you wouldn’t finish this book with a new lesson about life or illness or love or anything. But it was okay, now that I’ve read the book, I’m happy that I did.
The third book I’ve read was Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. And man, am I happy I’ve read this book. It’s one of those times I’m so glad I watch BookTube, especially Regan’s channel, as she was the one who recommended this book on one of her videos and gave it so much praise. I think I will always trust her when it comes to reading.
Also, can we just talk about the cover for a second? #COVERGASM
Oh, dear heavens. The feels are attacking me. Just thinking about this book gives me so much nostalgia and emotion. I want to reread it so badly. I’m going to do my best to try and review it coherently. If I’m able to convince one single person to read it then that’s all I’m asking for, because I genuinely believe this book has the capability to change lives.
In terms of rating, I’ve never given a 5/5 stars this easily in my life.
This is a story that’s so simple yet absolutely and utterly brilliant. There’s a thing of beauty and magic in its simplicity. There’s not even a solid plot to it, so even if I wanted to give you a synopsis of the story I wouldn’t know how. All I can say is that it follows around the story of a teenage Mexican boy called Aristotle, or just Ari, as he grows up into manhood and tries to discover things about himself and life in general. Ari is sort of closed in on himself. He doesn’t have any friends. His mother is sweet but his father is distant, even though they live under the same roof. Him being named after Aristotle the philosopher makes sense, as Ari likes to sit and ponder for hours nonstop, he’s a deep thinker and I love that this book enables me to be inside his thoughts for a while and forget about mine. He has inner struggles to deal with, and no siblings he could pour his heart out to every once in a while, and so he keeps everything inside. He has two older sisters, both married with kids almost his age, and a long lost brother that no one ever, ever talks about. He lives in the silence that his father engraved in him, and has to deal with his sweet mother stroking his hair as if he’s still a little kid.
Until one day, Ari meets Dante.
Dante is this also teenage Mexican boy with the worlds biggest smile on his face. Dante is what I would call a happy soul. He’s just so content in life. He’s different than everyone else, and Ari realizes that. He’s just so open with himself, and he doesn’t think twice about the things he says. He has the loveliest relationship with his parents, which is something that caught Ari off guard. He didn’t know anyone could be that comfortable around their parents. To quote thebookbasement: “Dante is fresh air and rain and sunshine. He seems so pure and natural, and he never tries to be anybody but himself.” And much like Dante the poet, Dante is fascinated by poetry and reading.
I love Ari because I can relate to him so much, it’s unreal. Reading his thoughts makes me forget about my life for a while, and that is basically everything I want to get from a character. I want to be immersed in their thoughts and problems and live inside of their head for a little bit. I understand how it feels like to have two older sisters, because like himself, I do too. It’s almost as if you’ve never even had any sisters at all, once they get married and have kids and only visit on occasions. The big age gap between you and them gets in the way and so they don’t understand your teenage problems and you can’t talk to them about anything because they’re adults and you’re basically the same age as their kids. It’s like having three mothers. It’s awful. My relationship with my parents is exactly like the one Ari has with his parents. His mum is sweet and caring, his father is silent and distant, and dinner meals are always spent in silence and awkward eye contact.
I love Dante because I want a friend like him. I want him to show me the way to self-acceptance. I don’t know how he does it, and I sure as hell could use a bit of his help. He just knows who he is and he’s cool with the whole package. He never wants to change himself. He’s quirky and funny and free and he can see beyond the limits. He’s never afraid to show his emotions. He lets himself cry in front of people and does never feel too embarrassed to tell Ari that he loves him every now and then. And I don’t know about you, but I could really use a bit of Dante everyday in my life.
I love Ari and Dante together just as much as I love them as individual characters. From the very first conversation they had I knew they were going to be instant friends. They just go so well with each other and the way they communicate is so natural and unforced and full of emotion and curiosity. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life.
Something I also loved about this book was family. When it comes to YA you think of parents as nonexistent or only there to cause trouble or conflict, but not in this book. Ari and Dante’s parents are just as present and dynamic as Ari and Dante themselves. My favorite was Ari’s dad. He went to war back in his days, but he never talks about it. He gives the impression that he still lives the war inside of his head everyday.
Finally, I want to talk about the writing style. I can’t even fathom how much I love it. It’s so absolutely simple yet unbelievably beautiful. Mr Benjamin Sàenz is just so incredibly talented. The sentences are just so short and simple yet they resonate with you and you find yourself rereading them over and over and over again. Thebookbasement explained this bit so well in her review video, as she said something along the lines of: “The writing could sometimes feel a bit underwhelming, as there would be sentence after sentence starting with the word “and”, then Benjamin Alire Sàenz does it again and suddenly there is no air”.
Yeah, I guess that is everything I have to say.
I really love this book, and I believe that everyone should read it, whether you like LGBTQ books or not, because at the end of the day it does not even matter, this book will help you learn to accept all the other sides about yourself that have nothing to do with that particular issue, and I think that’s what makes this book so incredibly well done.
“The problem with my life was that it was someone else’s idea.”
“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
“Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”
“I don’t always have to understand the people I love.”
The fourth book I’ve picked up this summer was one that I’d been dying to read for a what seems like a lifetime. First time I saw it was on Caz‘s video where she did the First Sentence Challenge with her boyfriend, which was a very hilarious video, and granted, when Alex read the first sentence of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, I was sold instantly. It goes like this:
”Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.”
I mean, if that doesn’t make you want to read the whole thing in one go, I don’t know what will?
In terms of rating, this book just does it all. It goes beyond any rating system. It breaks all the limits. I give it 6/5 stars, a 1000%. I loved it so much, I don’t think you understand.
The year is 2044, and the real world is in ruins. Much like the rest of the population of earth, Wade Watts escapes the ugly reality of living in ‘the stacks’ and feeding off food vouchers, and spends his waking hours in this virtual online world by the name of the OASIS.
The OASIS is a utopia. It’s heaven in a piece of technology. You can be anyone and anything you want. A half-human half-dragon. A wizard. A super hot and attractive girl when in reality you’re a middle aged guy called Chuck.
Or a Gunter.
James Halliday, the master mind behind the creation of the OASIS, dies in the first page, and since he was a recluse in his life and didn’t have any relatives/friends known to be alive, he left his entire fortune -and granted, the OASIS itself- to one lucky somebody. He scattered around the planets of the OASIS a bunch of riddles and puzzles for people to decipher and try to solve. Three Keys, Three Gates, One Easter Egg. One winner. The hunt for the Easter Egg begins, and people who join the hunt start calling themselves egg hunters, or just Gunters. Being a Gunter has become a lifestyle, everyone wants to win the game, for all the good it could do them. They want nothing more than to escape poverty and starvation.
If you have not read Ready Player One yet, this is your warning. I don’t want to spoil this awesome book for you, trust me, it’s for your own good.
First of all, can we just talk about the OASIS for a second here? It’s world of endless possibilities. I want to try it so freaking badly. Shout out to all the game developers out there, get on top of things. Bring us the OASIS.
Okay, so, I think everyone who has read this book agreed on one thing: the start was kind of slow. But it makes sense, without those slow parts the world building would not have been so great, would it? I powered through the slow beginning and soon enough everything was clear as daylight and things started happening all at once, which was a bad thing for my heart, I must say, as it has usually skipped a beat or two every few pages. Not that I’m complaining, though. I love me a fast-paced read.
Now, another thing I have to talk about is the 80’s culture, it’s a huge part of this book. I didn’t get half of the references that were made in the book, as I’m an 90’s kid. I wished I did get all the references, the jokes and the sarcasm that was based around 80’s culture, but honestly, I didn’t need to, because I still enjoyed the book as thoroughly as someone who did understand it all. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m glad it did. I could have stopped every time to do a little google search, but I just couldn’t put the book down, in fear that I would distance myself from the story. It was so good, guys, honestly.
The characters. Oh god, I could go on forever about the characters, but I’ll try to condense it down. Parzival was awesome, hands-down. He’s funny, smart, honest, and very, very true to himself. He’s the geekiest nerd of all nerds, and I love that. He’s also brave and caring and did make decisions that were a bit reckless, but after all it was all to save his friends from trouble. Art3mis. Now, that girl can kick some butt. She’s just awesome. I loved her and how she and Parzival connected. Their conversations are just pure hilarity. Aech is probably my favorite. At first I was okay with ‘him’, but then when it turned out Aech was a ‘her’, everything fell into place and I instantly thought she was the most badass character ever. Also, thank you Sir Ernest Cline for not making a love triangle out of the situation. That was wise of you.
I hated the Six0rs so much. They were good villains, but I hated them, especially that jerk Sorento. I’m happy that Parzival managed to kick their asses and get ahead of them in the final gate. I was all about that.
The ending was just pure perfection. It couldn’t have ended any better for me. It was perfect and Anorak’s surprising apparition was so emotional. It felt like he was giving Wade his final will about the OASIS before disappearing forever. I was so happy for Wade, he deserved it all, and how nice of him was it to split the price with Shoto, Aech and Art3mis. It showed just how much he valued friendship.
Again, this is a book I would definitely recommend to all the nerdy geeky types of readers out there. In fact, I would recommend it to everyone, because it’s just so awesome and funny and filled with high quality bad-ass adventure.
In this summer, I’ve also read Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire by JK Rowling, but I’m not going to review them just now. I have other plans for those books. It wouldn’t fit in this post. But just to let you know, I gave them both 5/5 stars. Frankly, if I could I’d give them all of the stars in the world.
Well, that was a long post. I enjoyed writing it like nothing else.
I hope to see you around soon.