I absolutely love John Green and The Fault In Our Stars, so what inspired me to read Turtles All The Way Down, was just wanting to read all of his books. It was so worth it. I really had no idea what to expect when I opened up the book. Aza is sweet, but also struggles with alot, and it was sad, but cool to see the world from her perspective with her anxieties. The plot about Aza and Daisy investigating Russell Pickett's disappearance was entrancing. I was in disbelief when I found out what Pickett left his inheritance to, instead of his sons. The romance between Aza and Davis is bittersweet, and navigates the rocky road of distrust, and understanding. I am so excited that this book is going to be made into a movie, but it's story in paper form will always be special to me.
I chose the Inheritance Games to read, because I love fantasy, realistic fiction, and dystopian books. This one caught my eye especially from the cover. I know, never judge a book by it's cover, but this one ended up being great. This book is one I can safely say I will reread many times. It was hard to put down, because it incorporates mystery, romance, and the feeling of being in an escape room so perfectly. It is not only cool to see Avery solve the puzzles in the Hawthorne house herself, but to try solving them from the perspective of the reader. The Hawthorne boys are witty, and each so unique, they are easy characters to love. Especially Jameson, who is a very dynamic character, always doing and saying the unexpected. This book was far from predictable. It is a given that once you read the first book you will want to read the sequel, because the series as a whole is fantastic.
Reviewer grade: 11
Tiny Pretty Things surrounds an exclusive ballet school in Manhattan, where three prima ballerinas struggle for the top. There's Bette, whos been the star of the studio ever since one of her competitors had a mysterious fall. There's June, a half-Korean dancer that struggles to keep her weight down and head high as her mother threatens to pull her out of the studio. And finally, there's Gigi, a newcomer and the only black dancer in her level. When Gigi lands the star role, the jealousies and insecurities of these girls will pull them deeper and deeper into corruption and rage, until one of them crosses a line they can't return from.
The writing of this book is really what propels it to the top. I have never had that much passion or interest for ballet, but this book seems to seep love for it. The description of dancing from many of the girls make it seem as though they are dancing in your room. You can almost feel the lightness of the steps, the satisfaction in perfect movements. The prose makes you feel as if you are flying alongside the dancers. However, it isn't a blind adoration, which only makes the book more interesting. The girls are told to keep their weight up but pressured by their instructor to stay as low as possible. They are sexualized by the people around them and by themselves in attempts to be the perfectly beautiful ballerina. There are racial stigmas, as the book describes how ballet adores the completely white stage, "ballet blanc", which includes the dancers themselves. The Asian girls are often shoved into roles that are "Oriental," and Gigi worries about how she stands out on the stage. In short, the story shows all the beauty of ballet, while acknowledging the harmful obsession with beauty and whiteness that has plagued ballet for centuries. The characters of the book are also fantastic. I love how so many of them are deeply unlikeable, but we get to see the reasons that they fight so hard for ballet. No one is completely perfect. Absolutely no one is blameless. Their actions impact each other in so many different directions, and the levels of miscommunication and tragedy make the drama nearly Shakespearean. In particular, I love the attention given to June, and how she was allowed to devolve despite sympathetic beginnings. Over and over the reader believes that she is going to be redeemed, but she just gets worst, and it tears you apart. I also enjoyed how the author went in-depth to the imposter syndrome that June experiences as a mixed Asian, which is very accurate.
However, this book does have a lot of problems. For one, the girls in this book are sixteen. That doesn't come through at all. I could see how the book is trying to show how ballet's sexualization and pressure causes these girls to mature before their time, but its just really weird reading about kids that are younger than me going clubbing and sleeping around and trying to destroy each other via psychological warfare. Again, this might be intentional, but it makes these girls seem like even worse people. I could see adults in careers doing this, but I don't thing juniors in high school would go this insane over one role. Furthermore, while the main three get excellent backstory and reflection, a lot of the other kids do not. One girls whole motivation for hating and horrifically bullying another girl is that the bully tried to kiss the girl once and now the bully is worried that the other girl will out her. This is stupid for a lot of reasons, mostly because I don't know why someone would antagonize someone that has potential black mail on them. A lot of the margin characters in this book are pretty underdeveloped and have bad motivations for doing pretty horrible things, which makes them look pretty stupid at best and plain cruel at worst. Finally, I wish Gigi had been a bit of a worse person. It would've rounded out the three girls as all being flawed people, and it would've given catharsis for a lot of the horrible things Gigi endures because of the other girls. Instead, she doesn't do anything wrong, and I spend the entire book being so mad at what was happening to her to the point where I lost a lot of sympathy for the other girls and their problems. I think it would've been amazing if Gigi had been allowed to become more corrupted by all the jealousy and cruelties around her, and had to fight her way back to the good person that she's always been. Instead, she barely changes besides becoming more and more beaten down by the things that are done to her, which gets frustrating.
All in all, this was a very well written book with a tight plot and great characters. It just had problems with the side characters and some overwrought drama. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in ballet, revenge, tragedy, and some excellent twists!
Reviewer Grade: 12
We Deserve Monuments follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Avery as her and her family leave Washington, D.C. to return to her mother's childhood home. Avery's grandmother is dying, but somehow her mother and her grandmother still can't bring themselves to reconcile over decade-old, hidden arguments. While Avery struggles to adjust to a new school and new friends, she must also try to untangle the deep roots of family resentment that could keep her family broken forever.
This book is beautifully done. The prose is something out of a dream, and stays light and airy in the same way that small towns seem to hover in a landscape. The past is interwoven into the landscape to create a truly textured story. Every moment is given the weight and wonder that it deserves, and is a glorious reflection on the raptures of youth. Honestly, my only issue is the plot. I feel like the story would've benefited from more focus on Avery and her family, and less on the drama with her friends. I appreciated it in the beginning, but I felt like things fell apart so quickly that I couldn't get invested in what was going on. Avery herself was sympathetic, but both her and every other younger character in the book makes some truly stupid decisions. It worked better for Avery, since it showed her struggling to grow up and be an adult in her family situation while still embracing her teenage years, but I'm not sure if anyone else has enough of an excuse. With the three generations being examined, I wished that Avery's mom had gotten more of a spotlight in the story instead of whatever was happening with the kids all of the time. The story was still tight, and I felt like the ending was deserved and poignant.
I know it sounds like I didn't like this book that much, but that's just because its a very well done story with lots of style and a lot of things to nitpick. My opening notes still stand: this is one of the most poignant and affecting books I've read this year, with a lot of heart and charm distilled into it. I would recommend it to anyone that wants to read some beautiful prose and cry over family!
Reviewer Grade: 12
The Westing Game is a very eventful book with lots of twists and turns. It starts out as a novel about an old rich man who ‘died’, Sam Westing. All of his heirs live in Sunset Towers and are competing in a game he made. In his will, Westing claims that one of the people that resides in the tower killed him. All of his relatives get assigned another family member they have to work with as a partner. The groups start finding and solving clues, one leading to another and making each family suspect each other throughout the whole game. His heirs are hoping to gain control of his business and win millions of dollars through the game, which they will split with their partner. I really liked this book because of all the mystery and obscure details that lead you to the answer. Who set the bombs? Who REALLY killed Westing? Why did Turtle cover up for Angela? Did he even die? Are Sam Westing, Sandy McSouthers, Julian Eastman, and Barney Northrup hiding something? The suspense draws you in, and leaves you wanting more and questioning everything. I would highly recommend this book for any young and curious reader.
Although I was skeptical at first, I quickly fell in love with the bizarre world of Dellecher and its fourth-year theater students. The worldbuilding and three-dimensional characters transcended expectations. I read this novel in a mere 3 days, and it didn't take long to get me hooked. I'm obsessed the way these students were with Shakespeare. Unfortunately, this beautifully written novel has some glaring flaws that it wasn't poetic enough to cover. The plot started off strong but lost its way in the whirlwind of the theater world. It veered towards a tangled romance before reluctantly wandering back to its roots abruptly before the novel ended. I would've liked more development in any and all realms besides Oliver and Meredith. In fact, I would happily read a series of books detailing these seven students' journey through university. After about six hours spent reading, I feel I only have a vague idea of these characters, and I'm on the edge of my seat for more. Regardless, it was a thrilling ride, and I'm optimistic for Rio's other works.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a story about love, loss, stuck couches, time travel, bad magic tricks, and the beginning of everything. It's an examination of death, life, conscious, and missing cats. But mostly, it's about a detective agency that does no detective work, and the people that get roped into it.
It would be very hard for me to describe the plot of Dirk Gently's Detective Agency. It's a book that's highly based on time travel, and this is fully taken advantage of in the novel. Things happen out of order, and it doesn't follow the protagonists journey through time. Rather, the reader and the characters are forced to piece everything together one strange moment at a time. I had to read this book, reread the ending again, then cave and read Wikipedia before every piece fell into place. This is a book that needs to be read more than once. The question is if it's worth it. I feel that it is!
This book exhibits some of the best of Douglas Adams: nonsensical stories, quirky characters, silly syntax, and an emphasis on the absurd. I especially love how are the characters are connected, by circumstance or otherwise. I like the protagonist is confused all the time, because that made him very relatable over the course of the story. The story managed to be both extremely funny and heart wrenching and heartwarming in a relatively short amount of time, without too much whiplash. Every character makes you laugh while they pull at your heartstrings. Basically, everything weaves together like a quilt, whether the writing or plot or characters, to make something fun and fascinating and endlessly comfy!
All in all, this is an extremely interesting and funny book. I docked it some points because the confusing plot can detract from the story, but that's the only flaw I could find! I would recommend this to anyone who likes time travel, hilarious writing, and a real rollercoaster of a story!
Reviewer Grade: 12
This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us is a wonderfully witty Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque tale of crime, passion, and sibling squabbles. Adrian and Zooey Kimrean are twins forced to share the same body: the same brain, the same limbs, the same life. After establishing a Private Eye business to utilize Adrian's deductive analysis and Zooey's creative skills, the two are thrown into the path of a mob war. Can they learn to work together, or will their self-destructive self-sabotage spell the end for the both of them?
This book is insane. It's absolutely insane. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, plot points, and story trajectory, and I loved every minute of it. The mastery of the book comes in large part from Cantero himself, and his mastery of humor and pacing and personality. Every character, especially the two main leads, seem to explode from the page. The book acknowledges the tropes of the detective story, and a lot of it plays into it, but there are also some wonderful subversions in the simple act of giving two-dimensional characters a lot more depth than they usually warrant. Very few characters are taken for granted. Beyond that, there's a beautiful vibrancy to the dialogue, and it highlights the unique character dynamics that emerge from the story. The story takes full advantage of its goofy premise, using it for all the drama and humor and plot fodder that it can. Both the hilarity and the absolute tragedy that is the main character's situation is wonderfully balanced. The jokes about it have some of the best slapstick and back-and-forth I've seen in a book. The sorrow of it was genuinely moving, and wasn't undercut or dragged out. Finally, even the writing was wonderful. The imagery was gorgeous, the prose was moving, and the general comic air of the book make the serious parts hit that much harder.
There are some problems with the book. Yes, the wildness of the plot can detract from the mystery. Sure, the humor can be crude and the ending was pretty conflicting. But I don't care. I read this book in a straight 48-hours and I wish it could've lasted for hundreds of hours more. It's a masterclass in characterization, dialogue, humor, and out-of-the-box writing. All in all, I'd recommend this for anyone who wants detective stories, mob wars, unlikely friendships, fantastic action, and one of the most interesting sibling dynamics you'll ever see!
Reviewer Grade: 12
Daniel, the main character of the novel ‘Took’ is struggling with family issues, but then his sister, Erica, is taken from plain sight. It can’t be the woods where the witch lives, so what happened to Erica? The book is about Daniel uncovering new clues and going through twists and turns to find his little sister.
I absolutely loved this book! I’ve read it at least three times and it never gets old. I can appreciate everything about this book from the detailed scenes to the simple, but chilling artwork on the front cover.
Reviewer Grade: 8
The Girl in the Locked Room is a ghost story written by Mary Downing Hahn. In a nutshell, this book is based on a strange girl who has been locked in a small room for many years. As the story goes on, many secrets unfold and all questions are answered with shocking twists.
I enjoyed the plot of this story. As simple as the setting is many secrets unfold throughout the book. The character (the girl) is extremely complex even though the setting is small. This isn’t my favorite novel by Mary Downing Hahn, but it is definitely worth reading in my eyes.