Showing posts with label lgbtq*. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lgbtq*. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2017

[Review] We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson: Alien Abductions and the Apocalypse

In WE ARE THE ANTS, Henry is frequently abducted by aliens and presented with the choice to either prevent the apocalypse or let the world end.

What intrigued me:
 Alien abductions and the world is ending? Count me in!

... is that it?

WE ARE THE ANTS has a fantastic premise and an equally great narrative voice. Hutchinson absolutely had me from the first page, the cynic and observant way he writes Henry is incredibly entertaining and fun. However, all this can't mask the fact that there really isn't much to WE ARE THE ANTS aside from the premise. 

All characters in this are painfully obvious plot devices. The main problem I had with everyone in this book that Henry doesn't show any attachments whatsoever to the people surrounding him. How is the reader going to be enamored with the characters if they are all introduced like worthless scum bags? Henry's cynicism may be entertaining for the first 100 pages, but it quickly gets insanely tiring. 

Getting abducted? What else is new...

Another problem I had is that Hutchinson romanticizes depression. Protagonist Henry get depressed very early on when he realizes that the world's fate is in his hands and I just don't like the way this gets handled. The whole atmosphere just screams "your typical depressed kid from a broken home finds love and gets cured", and that's exactly what you're getting in WE ARE THE ANTS. The story has so much potential, but I think Hutchinson absolutely ruined everything that lured me to this story with the execution. 

Especially the abduction part is written so frustratingly boring that I can't wrap my head around it. Henry doesn't theorize about it much, or appears scared or worried about it! The only emotion he displays is annoyance, which seems to be pretty much his default.

WE ARE THE ANTS is nothing short from being a regular novel about a kid's high school troubles. The alien part is so redundant that this doesn't even feel like Sci-Fi. Absolutely a disappointment.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE ARE THE ANTS is just an average contemporary with a side of aliens. If you like that, and aren't expecting too much world building or fantastic characters, go ahead!

Additional Info

Published: 19th January 2016
Pages: 455
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Sci-Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9781481449632

"There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. 

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that."(Source: Goodreads)

Do you like books about alien abductions?

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

[Review] I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson: Twins and Grief

In I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN twins Noah and Jude tell the story of their lives before and after their mother's death.

What intrigued me: I felt like reading some contemporary.

Feels more magical than Contemporary

The biggest problem I had with I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN starts right in the beginning. It's the prose. Nelson has an overly ambitious super flowery writing style that is filled with metaphors so creative that I struggled to understand whether things were literally happening or simply metaphors. It's that apparent. I was a little disappointed to realize that this isn't a Magical Realism novel but a straight up Contemporary that just overdosed on the metaphors. With this writing style Nelson certainly would be able to pull of a magnificent book with magical elements, but I digress.

The main problem I had with I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is the concept. One POV follows thirteen year-old Noah, a gay teen that's struggling with his sexuality and wanting to get into art school. First of all - his voice is way too young for YA. Would this be a Middle Grade Contemporary it would've been way easier to stomach, but combined with having the extremely long chapters alternate between 16-year-old Jude three years later and him, it's just too much of a stretch for my taste. 

POVs don't fit together

I also think that beyond this concept, I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN doesn't have premise or even just a plot. Nothing of importance happens and Nelson very heavily relies on her flowery writing to carry the almost train-of-thought-esque narration. I just couldn't be bothered, the fact that I really disliked Noah's extremely young voice in combination with Jude's that feels more like traditional YA, it threw me off a lot and made reading this equal a chore. I hated Noah's chapters so much that I found myself skimming through them sometimes just to get to Jude. 

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN would've been so much better as a duology with aged up characters. Had Noah been a little older, only a year or two, and had he gotten his own book this could've been epic. Considering the length of I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN I just couldn't be bothered to stay enthusiastic throughout the whole thing because there is nothing in this book that warrants the length. It severely lacks in plot and therefore just fell absolutely flat for me, despite being the work of an exceptionally talented writer.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN is a classic it's not you, it's me novel. I really disliked everything about it, but is hardly an objective judgment of the style and writing. Nelson is a talented writer, but her style just isn't for me.

Additional Info

Published: 21st November 2016
Pages: 480
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 978-3-570-16459-4

"Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world."
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any books by Jandy Nelson?

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Recommendation: We Awaken - Calista Lynne: Dreamwalking, Asexuality, and Girl Loving Girls

In WE AWAKEN, Victoria meets a beautiful girl in her dreams that bears messages from her comatose brother.

What intrigued me: Asexuality and girl loving girls! Who could say no to that!

Dreamlike and Magical

WE AWAKEN stuns with an incredibly beautiful cover that absolutely suits what you'll find inside. The writing is atmospheric, lyrical, and makes this novel read like a fever dream. Lynne absolutely manages to immerse truly in this fantastically magical story and weaves a dreamy plot through sheer word artistry.

Protagonist Victoria is a lesbian asexual whose dream is to get into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. After her brother and father get into a car accident, the only lifeline she has to her comatose brother is Ashlinn, the novel's equivalent to the sandman. Hearing that a novel features dream sequences usually makes me groan and quite possibly stop reading. But Lynne manages for some unknown reason to fascinate me; may it be for the artistic writing or the brilliance of the lovely girl/girl romance. 

The story sucks you in around the first time the two girls, Victoria and Ashlinn, meet and you'll soon find yourself frantically reading and reading until you'll get to see the two together again. Lynn e doesn't shy away from stating clearly and openly that this is the story of two girl loving asexuals falling in love. To some degree this is a coming out story, but not as much as it is a tale of self-discovery. 

A very quiet love story

WE AWAKEN is a very quiet YA love story. You won't find any dramatic plot twists or action-filled fight scenes in this. To some degree this is the reason why I'm not rating it five stars - I would've loved more plot, more action, more drama. The stakes are a little low, but the story is all the much more lovely and romantic. A sweet love story.

True to the theme, it reads like a dream, but never loses itself in that. Aside from the dream sequences, we get lots of scenes that will ground you in Victoria's reality without losing the magic of the meetings with Ashlinn. Lynne manages to tell a fascinating story with very minimal plot complication and delivers a stunning romance that you won't soon forget. WE AWAKEN will have you  long to meet your own keeper of dreams and fall madly in love like Victoria and Ashlinn.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE AWAKEN is a beautifully dreamy story that I can only dearly recommend to lovers of dreamy writing, Gabrielle Zevin, and Maggie Stiefvater's books. If you like wonderfully magical novels that walk the tightrope between fever dream and reality, this is the pick for you.

Additional Info

Published: July 14th 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Genre: YA / Magical Realism
ISBN: 9781634769969

Buy from Harmony Ink

"Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book about wlw?

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Monday, October 27, 2014

[Review] Beauty Queens - Libba Bray

In BEAUTY QUEENS, the contestants of the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant fall victims to a plane crash and now have to survive alone on an island in the middle of nowhere.
Note: I went in with the wrong expectations. Had I known that this is nothing but a very shallow satire on American consumerism and patriarchy, I would have never read it.

Major LGBTQ* Representation 

From deaf to transgender, to questioning sexuality, to lesbian, to feminist, to celibate, to mentally-ill, the beauty pageant contestants show every possible plot twist about their identity and/or personality. This would be great and I would be cheering usually, weren't they incorporated into a novel that was basically just written for jokes. The characters are definitely interesting and well-developed and I am sad that she didn't use them for a serious work. I thought I was dealing with a serious novel that displays serious social critique while also taking LGBTQ* issues into consideration. Wrong. 

The characters in Libba Bray's novel are mainly used to show that no matter what sexuality, what ethnic background, you're a consumerist douchebag, and I, the oh-so-smart author, am going to help you fix this! Don't worry! 

I know that it's a satire, I know you're supposed to shrug these kinds of novels off and say 'hey, it's just a joke' - but no. I refuse to do that because I genuinely want to know what she thought when she wrote this. Yes, corporate America is a problem, and no, it's not just them. As a non-American, I can assure you that it's not only their country that has issues, encourages superficiality and drives teen girls (and also boys) insane, trying to withstand the pressure.

Nonsense Plot? Well, It's Funny, Sooo

Honestly, I didn't understand anything of what is going on in this novel. The overall development makes little to no sense, probably that's the point - but how come these two dozen girls that are forced to fight for their lives on an island, do not notice that they're not alone on there? I have never understood how the plot twist of every survival movie/novel ever is that they're not alone.

You can't write a novel with the premise that basically everyone is stupid and oblivious to what is going in front of their eyes and then have plot holes in your novel the size of Mount Everest. Maybe that's exactly her tactics, but with all due respect, then she needs to change it.

Educating people on feminism, LGBTQ* issues, and consumerism is important. But doing this in a way that makes you feel like you're a third grader, because she explains everything over and over again just drives me up the walls. I can't even say that this should be a MG read because she cuts into rather sexual scenes (for no reason) between the beauty pageant girls and random male sidekicks (using insta-love of course).

Overall: Do I recommend?

Hint: If a novel blurb already says it's hilarious, it's not going to be hilarious.



"When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.
Written by Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again."

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Review] Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

In ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE, two teen boys all in love with each other. The problem is, one of them won't admit that he's falling for his best friend.

What intrigued me: The LGBT premise!

Very Unique Writing

It took more than 150 pages for me to get used to the way Sáenz writes. I also have to say that I don’t believe this novel would ever have gotten published, had the author been a first-time novelist. Never. He writes very, very short sentences that make you feel like you’re reading a children’s book. 

Interestingly enough, Sáenz seems to be using this writing style as a stylistic device; the older Aristotle gets, the less frequently he writes like that. Another thing that massively annoyed me is that the novel basically is 90% dialogue.

The chapters are very unorganized and there is not really a clear plot line, it is rather a diary or maybe a story of Ari's and Dante's lives, told over the course of two years. However, I never lost the desire to find out what happens next, there a certain sense of suspense to it all, it feels like the whole novel leads up to something when you’re reading it.

Loveable Characters!

I can’t recall the last time I cared so much for a protagonist.

Ari is a typical, lost 15-year old who doesn’t really know what he wants, but knows exactly what he doesn’t want. It feels like you’re reading about a 12-year-old, especially in the beginning. And Dante, despite being basically a main character, remains extremely absent, not only physically in the story, but rather as a person. All he does, is cry and get upset and hurt. I don’t really know as a reader what he is like and what made Ari fall in love with him. That’s not a good sign at all, given that the novel is more than 300 pages long.

I feel like Sáenz knows exactly how to write adult characters. I loved both their parents, i connected to them emotionally, no matter how many lines they had. I cared about the backstory of Ari’s parents and I wouldn’t have minded going bowling with Dante’s parents. They’re beautiful characters but I’m getting the impression that YA is not so much Sáenz’s department. Especially because every single one of the teen characters remained so unimportant and could’ve just been left out.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I’m going to go with maybe. This isn’t a typical novel. This isn’t even a typical love story. The writing is very unique. Still, I insist to call this thing a work of art, because I didn’t just finish it.

I feel like this novel is still with me and that’s really all an author can ask for, isn’t it? I’d recommend this novel  for people who are patient and open-minded and like to dream, but I warn you, once you get into it, you won’t be able to let go.

Additional Info

Published: Feburary 21st 2012
Pages: 368
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA / LGBTQ*
ISBN: 9781442408920

"Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be."
(Source: Goodreads)


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