Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host (The Host, #1)                      "Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies, The Host is a riveting and unforgettable novel that will bring a vast new readership to one of the most compelling writers of our time."

I read The Host last year, and since the movie will be out soon I thought I would write a review about it.  Let us get it out in the open: Yes, I read The Host even after reading Twilight and losing faith in publishing.  I don't want to say that Twilight was awful, there were moments that I enjoyed, but boy was it tough to feign ignorance.  So, yes, I chose to read a Meyer book once more and let me tell you: it was a great choice! 

Forget vampires and werewolves and that convulsion thing that happens every time Bella wants to make out with Edward (you know the one where he wants to eat her, while she want to suck on his face).  This story is all about dystopian societies and aliens.  An alien species have invaded planet earth, robbing the bodies of unsuspecting humans.  They say it is because humans are too violent, they say we squandered our chance at having planet earth.  Now with only a few surviving humans (a.k.a hosts) the aliens (a.k.a. the souls) are in charge.

This brings us to our MC Melany Stryder.  She has been captured and is now inhabited by a Soul, Wanderer.  Seems pretty straight forward, Melany will be erased and will lead the souls back to her family, endangering them.  The only problem, Melany won't disappear, Wanderer is literally stuck with her Host in the same body. 

The Host was so complex I really did not believe this came from the person who wrote Twilight (a seemingly superficial story).  I would not say it is compelling, not really but it is intriguing and note worthy in the sense of the themes and issues brushed upon.  Tolerance, acceptance, guilt, understanding, love, compassion, hatred, fear, comfort and sacrifice are all in this novel.  A novel that dares to ask the question does not every creature deserve to be treated with respect?

P.S.  There is no love triangle this is a straight up square, normally I hate love triangles but this one works. It is necessary and fits the course of the story, same when it converts to a square.

5 stars... don't over analyze the writing, listen to the story.

Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Macbeth by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Exposure: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's Macbeth (Twisted Lit, #2)                 "Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?"

Exposure is the the second book in the Twisted Lit series.  With a story full of social climbing, betrayals, deaths, and guilt Macbeth is not a particular bucket of sunshine; however, seeing how the events unfold in this version and that these are modern day teenagers behind one of the darkest plots of Shakespeare, Exposure definitely makes a statement.  As stated this story takes place in a modern high school in Alaska, which is pretty awesome seeing as it is a state that is known to have a regular period of black out time a year creating a perfect setting for psychological thrillers.  When then have Skye Kingston, call me dense but I don't see who she was suppose to be, but she was not Lady Macbeth.  Instead Skye is in love with McKenzie a.k.a Macbeth.  It is difficult to sum up the story because well it was crazy, in the sense that this is a prom and the crazy cheerleader is will to kill people to make sure she and Craig are Queen and King.  I mean really, step back a second and digest that, The would be prom queen is willing to kill for the crown... but then there are moments where that creepy factoid doesn't matter. 

Exposure definitely has its moments, and I believe was closer to Macbeth than the first attempt in this series, Tempestuous.  This is not version of No Fear Shakespeare, but the skeleton of Macbeth filled with original moments and modern day connections.  

3 stars out of 5, thanks NetGalley!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare's The Tempest (Twisted Lit, #1)3 out of 5 stars, Thanks NetGalley!
“Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.”—
Tempestuous: A Modern Day Spin on Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes is the first book in this duo’s book series Twisted Lit. In my years of schooling, specifically my college years, I have encountered Mr. Shakespeare on numerous occasions. Even when we are not looking, references or even similarities of his work jump up at us in other works of literature. It never gets old to read the line “Something wicked this way comes…” no matter how many stories incorporate it. Twisted Lit is not the answer to all the teenagers in the world assigned a Shakespearean play. It is not your No Fear Shakespeare, that’s for sure; however, Twisted Lit is fun! There are similarities with the plays and also the undercurrent themes are still there, just not as visible as you might think. Askew and Helmes have been able to interweave the themes in Shakespeare’s plays with the ever so melodramatic happenings of teenagers.
I am not going to sit here and bash the two authors for not keeping everything the same, what for? Nowhere did I get the impression that they were trying to do a real life remake of the plays. I do have to say that when I was reading this book I had the same giddiness as watching movies like Mall Rats or any 80s movie that had a group of teenagers with no parental units around that could do whatever they wanted for the night or weekend. It was a fun quick read with hilarious moments, delivered by Ariel a lot of the times. I have to say that The Tempest is not my favorite play, only the Wishbone version, really; however, this version was pretty cool and surprisingly fun. I suggest following Miranda and her band of misfits in this hilarious first book in the Twisted Lit Series.

Slated by Teri Terry

Slated (Slated, #1)

“Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She’s been Slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?”—
Slated by Teri Terry opens up with our MC Kyla waking up from a nightmare that has been plaguing her. She has been in the hospital for some time now, trying to recuperate from the Slating process. In this dystopian world, kids ranging a certain age that commit a crime against the country are slated; erased and given a second chance. I have to admit that the premise is enticing; however, the delivery leaves something to be missed.
Kyla is the MC and narrator, which means that we know as much as she does and since she has been erased, she doesn’t know much. For a third of the novel we follow Kyla through the journey of relearning things, understanding the world around her and also trying to fit in. We also are prevey to the fact that Kyla is not like a normal Slater. All that have been slated have a Levo device. This device is described like a watch that monitors moods based on a scale of 10. If a slated person becomes sad or angry their Levo readings go down. Anywhere past 3 is bad. The Slater will pass out and eventually could die if not treated immediately. This is necessary for two reasons. One, the person will never be depressed and will hold on to a false sense of happiness and two, if the person wants to hurt someone they just can’t.
Kyla is not affected the same way. When she gets angry her Levo maintains a normal balance, when she is scared it goes down. There are other things that are pointed out that are different between the Slaters and her. The rest of the 2/3rd of the novel consist of figuring out who Kyla was, why kids are disappearing and what is really behind this new government movement. Through circumstances Kyla discovers her true identity, she also discovers that unslated and harmless peers of her are being taken way by Lorders (Law and Order people), what for? As soon as she and Ben (another slated) begin to investigate certain questions spring into mind. What did Kyla do or Ben for that matter to become slated, were they really terrorists? Her “mother” is the daughter of the man that later began this initiative in the government, how does that connect in the present day, after her son was killed in a terrorist bombing? Was her son really killed in that bombing? Who in the world is Kyla’s “dad,” does he know more than meets the eye? There are similarly confusing questions that arise throughout the novel like these; however, nothing is revealed at the end. I’m okay without the reveal but really I need to know who the hell Hatten is and need to find out the rest of Kyla’s story! I dare say I cannot wait to follow Kyla in the next book in order to find Ben, poor Ben.
3 out of 5 stars, thanks NetGalley!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

(side note... I really love this Tim Burton type of cover)Paper Valentine
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff is a dark tale set in the hazy summer heat.  Hannah is the main character and also the narrator.  It has been 6 months since Hannah’s best friend died.  The opening chapter involves the broadcasting of a recent murder in the park next to Hannah’s house.  Also, Hannah’s friend Lillian, who died, is haunting her.  There is also this boy Finny that has Hannah in a twist.  While the story telling is simple, that of good friend relating a tale of their teenage years, it is also complex and not easy to piece everything together.  This writing reminds me of the author’s blog; however, the blogs are less dramatic.  One minute you get a story based on what is happening presently, and that story gives you a clue to the bigger picture.

The Friend:

Lillian is the best friend/ghost.  What can I say Lillian is a bully; she is also girl that battled with obsession, control and anorexia.  Her constant mission in this story is to challenge Hannah into a reaction.  At first she almost seems like an unworthy friend, but as the story comes to a close one can see her true nature.

The Boy:

Finny is a scary kid.  You know the ones that never go to class, are huge in comparison to the football team, and are you know… scary.  All of this does not deter Hannah from crushing on him, hard.  Even with his scary persona, there are many kind moments shared between the two, and even with Finny and Ariel, Hannah’s little sister.

The Murders:

The story opens up with a murder, but soon the number grows and connections to a past murder are eluded.  They are young girls between the ages of 13-16.  It is ritualistic and sadistic.  I think this is the best part of the story because it is very difficult to figure out who is behind these murders and why.  I don’t think anyone will be disappointed about how it unfolds. 


A really good story. Simple but overly dramatic.  4 out 5 stars.