Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publishing Date: May 10, 2011 (first published 1999)

Publisher: Square Fish

Pages: 214 (Paperback)

Summary (From back cover):

Melinda Sordino's freshman year is off to a horrible start.  She busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and now her friends- and even strangers- all hate her.

Months pass and things aren't getting better.  She's a pariah.  The lowest of the low.  Avoided by everyone.  But eventually, she'll reveal what happened at the party.  And when she finally speaks the truth, everything will change.

I'm not really sure how I feel about Speak.  In my opinion, it was very middle of the road.  Not too great, but also not bad at all.

There were some things about this book that were absolutely beautiful.  Times when Laurie seemed to stun me with her eloquence or her observation of something so often dismissed or not thought of.

Other times, however, I was left just sort of facepalming.

I will give her this, however, that Speak is perhaps one of the most accurate portrayals of a high school that I've ever seen in my life.  Often, high schools are either WAY overplayed on the strictness/ how they work, or WAY underplayed.  This version wasn't quite perfect, but man, it was close.  I was seriously impressed with the accuracy of her portrayal.

Speak was a good book, but not the best.  Other than what I've already mentioned, I don't really have anything bad or good to say about Speak.  It was not a waste of time, but I also would not put it at the top of my to-read list.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against."

Peace out, Girl Scouts!

(Note- This is my OPINION.  I know tons of people who really liked this book, so if you think you'd be interested, I'd go ahead and suggest that you check it out.  I didn't think it was a poorly-written book.  It just wasn't one of my favorites.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Publishing Date: January 10, 2012

Publisher: Dutton Books

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

Summary (From Goodreads):

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

 Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

 Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

I've been wanting to write this review for a long time.  There's so much to say, but it's almost impossible to say it.  I've tried to make myself just sit down and do it.  Get it done.  Rip it off like a band-aid.  But each time, I just couldn't find the words.  Or, at least, the right words.  I think I've finally found them though.

Love is not entirely composed of happy things.  If it were, what would love be at all? When people think of love, it is usually in that ooshy-gushy, holding hands, iwillloveyouforeverandever, type thing. But love is made up of more than that.  Love is made up of more than just happiness.

Love can be made up by dreary things, sad things, things that cause countelss emotions.  Sure, happy things are a part of love, but they are not love in its entirety.  Love can be for something melancholy or gloomy, like a rainy day.  Love can be the hard things in life, like rough days that somehow make you stronger.  The days that, in the end, push you harder and make you grateful.  That is why a heart-breaking, emotional, tear-jerking story such as this one can even be described as love, and can be described as something completely beautiful.

This is the story of cancer patient, Hazel Lancaster.  She grew up knowing that she was going to die.  She constantly stays tethered to an oxygen tank, and hasn't really had many true friends since she was diagnosed.

Until she meets Augustus Waters.   A cancer survivor himself,  something about Hazel catches his eye when they see each other at a "Cancer Support Group" meeting.  He asks her to come see a movie at his house with him, and that is the beginning of everything.

These characters are some of my favorites, possibly ever.  As opposed to a strong, kick-butt, dystopian female who can do everything for herself, Hazel is quite dependent on others.  But she is still strong.  Stronger than I've ever been, at least.  She finds a way to maintain her independence and her own opinion, even when everyone else tells her she can't.  Even the knowledge that she's dying won't let her stop living.

And Augustus Waters.  Oh, Augustus Waters.  What can I say? He's a great person.  Absolutley beautiful.  I don't really know what to say about him.  You can just read about him.  I don't think I could find any words that accurately describe him.  He's just his own person.  The only words to desrcibe him are Augustus Waters.

I'll admit, for a long time, I didn't really want to read this book.  I was worried that I would go into it with high expectations and it wouldn't live up to what everyone else claimed it was.  In additon, I rarely read contemporary.  I like to stick with dystopia, urban fantasy, medieval fiction, etc.  Mainly, fiction with a good bit of action in it.  So, this book had no general appeal to me.

About a month ago, though, I saw my best friend put up a review for this book.  She gave it five stars and went on about how good and emotional it was.  So, I decided it was worth a shot.  Little did I know what I was walking into.

I've never cried over a book like I have for The Fault in our Stars.  I've cried hard, but not like this.  This was sheer, raw emotion.  It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever read, which makes it hard to talk about.  It cuts deep into you, reaching into emotions buried so deeply inside, you barely knew you had them at all.  It touches a part of us that we all fear, a part of our hearts that is innate in nearly every human.

So, what can I say?  Read the book.

Favorite Quote: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” 

Rating: 5/5

Peace out, Girl Scouts,