Showing posts with label mg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mg. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

[Review] Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin: Afterlife and Aging Backwards

In ELSEWHERE, Liz dies in a bicycle accident and goes to Elsewhere, where everyone ages backwards until they are reincarnated on Earth.

What intrigued me: Amazing premise. Wow.

Quiet and comforting

Stories about the afterlife are very tricky to write in my opinion. Zevin decided not to play into any of the expectations I had, let them be religious or not. The concept of death being just another life, this time in reverse, is strangely comforting. Comfort is definitely the first word I'd use to describe ELSEWHERE. It's a very quiet, almost shy story that absolutely lives from its beautiful premise, but is also, sadly, crippled by it.

Beyond the neat idea of a utopian afterlife, there isn't anything memorable about this story unfortunately. The voice is very reserved and the main character Liz strikingly colorless and forgettable. Most of the novel is spent exploring Elsewhere, without actually gaining much insight on the world. The world building is almost non-existent, the interesting bits happen within the first 50 pages and from then on it feels like you're just observing awkward mundane tasks. ELSEWHERE has a nice premise but absolutely relies on this.

More of a MG read

The writing is extremely simple and plain, lacking descriptions, but nevertheless I had images in my head non-stop. The concept is definitely powerful enough to make you think up your own expectations of the afterlife, and I really love that. ELSEWHERE's approach to life after death is open, but still imaginative. I longed for every piece of information about this world.

I would definitely say that this is lower YA, even upper Middle Grade because of the language and the approach to the topic. You won't find any typical YA tropes in this.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

ELSEWHERE has a nice concept, but that's about it. I think this could really appeal to Middle Grade readers more than it did to me - I expected typical YA, and was disappointed.

Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2007
Pages: 277
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780312367466

"Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It's quiet and peaceful. You can't get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere's museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe's psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver's license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she's dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn't want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?"(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book about the afterlife?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Review] The Summer I Turned Pretty (#1) - Jenny Han: It All Comes Down To Beauty

In THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY, 15-year-old Isabel's entire life changes when she discovers one summer that she actually turned pretty. 

Toxic Mindset

The novel is set in your typical summer beach town and if I read another sentence like "this summer everything would change" or "this summer is the summer of a lifetime", I might roll my eyes so hard that they simply get stuck in the back of my head. 

I can't stand novels that give toxic vibes to teenagers. Having your main characters life suddenly become perfect and beautiful the second she grows boobs and looses her braces? Come on. We have enough of that in all those terrible high school romcom movies.

The Summer of Every Cliché Ever

There's every single cliche of a summer read in this novel, we have bonfires, parties, weird dudes to hook up with, jealousy and I wouldn't even be surprised if she gets blackout drunk in the last chapters and hooks up with one of the dudes. I didn't finish this one, because I honestly had to force myself.

Love interest Conrad is the only one that's halfway not boring me to death but he's just a walking cliche so I'm also conflicted about him. The dark, overprotective, super deep, guitar-playing older brother that Belly obviously crushes on. And he also thinks she's immature, that gets the party going. Like, so totally, because, like, so hot. Can you feel me rolling my eyes? I never understood why girls that age are so obsessed with dudes that think they're 12. I mean, she does act like she's twelve, so he has a point.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

The problematic thing about this novel isn't only the title - which I thought was a metaphor, else I would have never bought this - but also the toxic, toxic vibe.
  • You can't have fun if you're not pretty.
  • You can't have friends if you're not pretty.
  • Also pretty much everything sucks unless you wake up one day to a pimple-free face, C-cups and straight teeth.
  • Oh, and if you don't drink, you're a kid and you should go play with your barbies.

Let me tell you something: The second you're old enough to legally be able to do all the exciting stuff that Belly is dreading to do, you're going to want to do it. It's only exciting because it's forbidden. There's a reason it's forbidden, too.

I don't even want to imagine how many teenagers read this, sighing to themselves why they aren't as pretty as Belly and couldn't land all the hotties that are all about her. Absolutely toxic.

Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2009
Pages: 276
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA / Romance

ISBN: 9781416968238

"Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."
(Source: Goodreads)

 Have you read The Summer I Turned Pretty?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

[Review] Last Chance Angel - Alex Gutteridge: I'm Too Old For This Stuff

In LAST CHANCE ANGEL, 14-year-old Jessica Rowley is life-threateningly injured in an accident but gets a last chance to say goodbye by Darren, the designated Angel of Death.

Not a YA read!

I tried my very best to like this novel and I really wanted to, but it is sort of obvious that this is neither adult nor young-adult literature but rather aimed at an audience aged about maximum 12.

The writing is very simple and therefore it is insanely easy read, but the content is nothing that intrigues me personally. This is by no means a judgement saying that this is a bad novel or bad writing, but just not what I'm looking for personally.

I was very excited about the story being about someone that's on the verge of death, just like in Gayle Forman's "If I Stay". I was stoked to get another chance at exactly this scenario, hoping for a bit of romance and finally a near-death-experience novel that doesn't drip with cliche. Well. In general "Last Chance Angel" is pretty much the toned down version of "If I Stay", no even remotely questionable topics, you could probably read this to a five year old without having to worry.


When I think about it the story idea also reminds me of Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL, but without the Groundhog Day aspect. A shame, really, because I love novels like this. This is essentially a Middle Grade read, there is no sex, no violence, no swearing, therefore exactly what some people might look for and won't find in novels like "Before I Fall" for example.

Personally, I jsut missed these aspects and I couldn't identify with a 14-year-old, which just massively impacts whether I enjoy a novel or not. Her thoughts throughout the novel are simple, revolving around the same topic and very naive. Given the fact that the novel highly relies on internal monologue and is told from Jessica's perspective, that's all we get as readers.

Where's the teenage drama when her crush gets snogged by a friend? Where's the angst? Where's the hysterical obligatory I-Don't-Want-To-Go meltdown? 

It's just a very frustrating read for someone that can not identify with the main character. Gutteridge did a good job at drawing her characters in general, though - I got the notion that her characters were planned thoroughly. I'd rather had read about the story from her brother's perspective or one of her friends though.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

No. Not for anyone older than 12. This might sound like a nice cute little read to reminisce about the meaning of life. But actually it's disney-esque grief-counselling-vibe literature for 7th graders.

Additional Info

Pages: 367
Publisher: Templar
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Ghosts
ISBN: 9781848772991

"A poignant, bittersweet story of friendship and family

When Jess is knocked off her bicycle she finds herself at the gates of Heaven early – before her actual death date. Striking a deal with Darren, the angel of death on duty, she is allowed to return to earth to visit her friends and family, in invisible form, for five days.

But saying goodbye is harder than Jess ever imagined, as she learns new things about her friends and family. And, when Darren offers Jess a last chance at life, she is faced with an impossible dilemma."
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