Showing posts with label mentall illness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mentall illness. Show all posts

Sunday, May 21, 2017

[Review] Follow Me Back (#1) - A.V. Geiger: Twitter and Pop Stars

In FOLLOW ME BACK, pop star Eric Thorn sets up a fake twitter account and falls in love with one of his fans.

What intrigued me: Mixed format books are always a treat.

Romance-heavy page turner

FOLLOW ME BACK is an absolute page-turner. There is just something about this story that's captivating, especially through the mixed format with police interviews and tweets, it keeps you on your toes at all times. Even when the story gets a little too repetitive for my taste, I couldn't quit simply because I needed to find out how it all gets resolved. 

The thing is, FOLLOW ME BACK needs you to like these characters. A huge chunk of this book is spent watching protagonists Eric and Tessa fall in love through flirty DMs. I think in some way this really takes away from the premise. I would've loved a more thriller-centric story instead of a flat out romance with a side of a looming secret (that's not even that hard to guess early really)

At the end of the day, FOLLOW ME BACK has it going for it that this is every teenage girl's fantasy: the book. Your favorite celebrity is talking to you through a fake account and you'll fall in love. But FOLLOW ME BACK got a dark twist going on that really makes this story one of a kind. 


Fan fiction tropes galore

FOLLOW ME BACK's biggest problem is that the story isn't very strong. It reads like the mixed format has been slapped on (especially the police reports) after the whole thing was written to increase the lack of tension within this narrative. There is one mystery at the center of it that I don't find is explored as cleverly as you'd expect from a social media thriller. It reads like a cheap plot twist to set up the next sequel to this romance. It's a typical fan fiction trope. In general, this reads absolutely like fan fiction, which I assumed it used to be, since the author is well-known on Wattpad for her Maroon 5 fan fiction. 

This isn't a bad thing whatsoever. I like fan fiction every now and then and am familiar and quite a bit fond of these tropes and types of stories. But I think the average reader of traditionally published YA will probably be a little put off by this story. It's really a niche thing but I'd sincerely hope that it takes off. FOLLOW ME BACK is an addicting story of love and obsession that probably everyone can identify a little with. 


Rating:

★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're a fan fiction reader or have a celebrity crush that's a musician, you'll probably love FOLLOW ME BACK. It's fresh, it's fun, it's different. The mixed media format really makes this one stand out and quite interesting.

[If you have agoraphobia and have reviewed this, please link your review. I'd love to feature it.]


Additional Info

Published: June 6th 2017
Pages: 368
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781492645238

Synopsis:
"Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…"(Source: Goodreads)


Do you read fan fiction?

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Saturday, October 8, 2016

[Review] Holding Up the Universe - Jennifer Niven: Obesity and Prosopagnosia




In HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE, the world's fattest teen Libby, and Jack, who lives with prosopagnosia are sent to group counselling and community service.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Niven's books. The premise didn't necessarily pique my interest, I would've picked anything she'd release next.


Extraordinary writing and voice

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does bring a breath of fresh air into the genre with it's incredibly unique characters. From page 1 Niven is absolutely able to suck you into the story, to make you hear the characters' voices. 

She has an extraordinary feel for making characters speak aloud inside your head and make you forget that you are reading a fictional story, which undoubtedly shows that Niven is an insanely talented writer. However, it's the topic of choice that absolutely negates all of that for me and makes me disregard it almost completely when reviewing this.

Sensitivity is a necessity when you tell the stories of marginalized people.

When writing about marginalized identities, you have to be extra careful. There's just something about the tone of Niven's voice that irks me and makes me feel uncomfortable. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is told from the dual perspective of two teens who are obese and suffering from prosopagnosia (an illness that makes you unable to recognize faces) respectively. 

And both teens express extreme hatred towards themselves and their lives. Especially when you're including multiple teens who derive from "the norm", you shouldn't make them all hate themselves. This isn't how positivity works, this isn't the representation marginalized people are asking for. This story wasn't written for people who are obese or have prosopagnosia. 

All HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is teaching readers and teens who might live with the same illness that they should hate themselves. That they can only be loved by someone who is ill, too, if at all. I'm sure this isn't the intention, certainly not what Niven's trying to say, but this is exactly why it's so important to be nuanced and incredibly careful when tackling very real topics that affect real lives. 

In fact, I do think that to some extent this story (of course) is told for the shock value. It's oozing from the language Niven chooses to let their characters describe themselves. But I think we need to move past that. Stop telling the stories of marginalized people because it's shocking or seeminlgy "innovative". Start telling the stories of people who happen to be marginalized instead. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does not belong to the latter.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE simply makes me uncomfortable. I couldn't enjoy the story, despite very skillfull writing and strong character voices, which I usually applaud authors for. If the topic was approached with more sensitivity, this could have the potential to become a fantastic masterpiece, but for me it absolutely falls flat the way it is and disappoints.



Additional Info

Published: October 4th 2016
Pages: 400
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN:  9780385755924

Synopsis:
"Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.  

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours."(Source: Goodreads)

How do you feel about fat/mentally-ill characters for shock value?

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