Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

Saenz, Benjamin Alire - Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / YA
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published by Simon and Schuster

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

There was much I enjoyed about this Young Adult book about a Mexican boy in El Paso coming of age, but I also cannot help the feeling that at the end I wanted something more from it, or something different.

The characters were well written. The two boys from the title are very different in characters, but they develop a  friendship. This friendship was what I enjoyed most about this book, as well as the respective relationships with their parents. I like seeing parents actually being this involved in their children’s lives. That was refreshing. Too often the parents hardly feature in YA books.

The ending did not quite work for me. Somehow, I had expected (and hoped) the book to do something a bit different. It was not a bad ending, by any means, but it was just a bit middle of the road in the end. I wish it had wowed me more.

It was definitely a good book and I would recommend it, but it is also a little forgettable.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: This Adventure Ends (Emma Mills)

Mills, Emma - This Adventure Ends

★★★★★☆☆

Title: This Adventure Ends
Author: Emma Mills
Genre: Fiction/YA/Contemporary   Pages: 308
First published: 2015
Edition: Paperback, published by Square Fish in 2017

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

I am not sure what I expected from this novel, but I liked what I got, which is a story that is basically about friendship more than anything. And about love, not just love love, but love for your friends and your family.

The characters were interesting enough, though a few could have done with fleshing out a bit more here and there. I liked the fact there were parents present in this story and how much love there was between the characters.

This was such a sweet book, but not in a overly lovey-dovey kind of way. Although there was a slow-burn romance that I was rooting for it really centered around friendship. 

I did not quite fall in love with this particular story, but I will definitely read more by this author.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: My Heart and Other Black Holes (Jasmine Warga)

Warga, Jasmine - My Heart and Other Black Holes

★★★★★☆☆

Title: My Heart and Other Black Holes
Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary    Pages: 303
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. 

I am a little bit torn as to my opinion on this book and I found it pretty hard to attach a rating to it.

I liked the writing and I connected with our main character Aysel well enough, but the subject matter and how it was handled did not always sit well with me.

Suicide and depression are  of course a very important and difficult subjects and it is difficult to handle them well. The author managed to convey the feeling of helplessness pretty well. Depression is not rational and I felt that was very clear in the book. Both Aysel and Roman were the kind of teenagers that carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and that was a feeling I recognised from back when I was that age.

The idea that a suicide pact makes for a great plot for a book is something that does not sit well with me. It almost romanticises that idea. However,the idea of finding someone that you can talk to that changes your perspective is a trope I do like. Whether love can save you from depression is highly doubtful, but I think finding out somebody feels you are worth loving can help you see yourself in a different way for sure.

So, the plot feels a little uncomfortable to me every now and then, but I enjoyed the writing and it read away quite nicely.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Wrath and the Dawn (Renée Ahdieh)

ahdieh, renee - the wrath and the dawn

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Fiction / YA Fantasy / Retelling Pages: 388
First published: 2015
Edition: Kindle e-book

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. 

After reading the final page of this first part of Khalid and Shahrzad’s story, I am not quite sure whether to shrug my shoulders or say that I enjoyed it.

It was a pleasant enough book. I liked the romance, even if I did not quite understand it and the setting added a bit of magic. However, I do not feel Shahrzad’s character is explored enough. I never felt like I got to know her that well. I felt it was strange she did not seem to have emotions regarding her physical relationships at all. Surely, a young girl of her age would have lots of thoughts and feelings about such things.

Unfortunately, although I did enjoy The Wrath and the Dawn, especially the first half, in the end it fell a bit flat for me. it really did not have enough substance for my personal tastes. I simply wanted more from it. I doubt it will stay with me very long. Just to clarify, it is not because this is YA, as there are plenty of YA books that do satisfy that itch.

It was entertaining enough, but I do not think I will be continuing this series.

4 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater)

Stiefvater, Maggie - The Raven Boys

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fiction / YA / Paranormal    Pages: 419
First published: 2012
Edition: Paperback, published by Scholastic in 2012

This is the year that Blue will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.

So I have finally decided to start this series and I have to say, it did not disappoint. I was not sure what to expect, but going in I was aware how much people love this series. Now I have read this first book, I can understand why.

Stiefvater seems to build her characters with ease without losing an air of mystery around each of them. The story flows very well. It never feels too slow or rushed. The world she builds is very interesting, and although it has magical elements, this book does not stray into pure fantasy territory.

Instead we get a story full of interesting plot points and well-developed characters with interesting interactions. The plot leaves a lot of room for further exploration of each of the characters and their world, which I like. It just feels a bit different from your usual YA fare.

I enjoyed this very much and I will definitely be continuing this series some time in 2019.

6 out of 7 stars