This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Goodreads Synopsis:

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Rating: 2.9/5

What I think:

This book was very conflicting for me. On one hand, I liked how this book tried to explain the issue of school shootings. I thought the story was explained very vividly, and I even had a dream about this topic the following night after I read it. However, there are A LOT of problems I have with this book.

First, this book does not portray real people. Everything is black and white with everyone in the book as either a helplessly good victim or an evil shooter. In fact, this book almost seemed like a supervillian cartoon. The shooter was the one dimensional bad guy that gives no explanation for his motives with evil tendencies throughout his life, while the victims were all portrayed with good characteristics. In real life, this is not the case. The lack of humanity given to any of the characters made me unable to connect with them and made the book extremely bland.

Second, although I like books that contain diverse character, it almost seemed like the author obtained a checklist of all the different types of diversity and started adding them in randomly. It just didn’t work because none of the characters were fully developed.

Third, the characters were awkward. I think the author did try to expand on the depth, but there were so many times where the characters’ reactions were not realistic nor made sense.

Overall, I did not find This is Where it Ends realistic or captivating. However, I think this novel was timely, as it explains a huge issue in our society today.

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Rating: 5/5

What I think:

Everyone NEEDS to read this book. It addresses current issues without preaching. To be honest, I was kind of worried that I would not enjoy this book as much everyone else just because it was so hyped by everyone who reads it, but I totally understand why now. The Hate U Give is the best book I’ve read this year.

First, the characters are amazing. The characters are so well-written that they feel like real life people that I personally met. Even the side characters feel so incredibly real. Even more remarkable was how easy and natural the dialogue was, whether it was the bantering, the serious talks, or the light-hearted chats. Another thing I really enjoyed was the addition of family dynamics in this book. It has become very uncommon for YA books to include plot surrounding the family, but The Hate U Give breaks that rule and makes Starr’s family an importance the the story line. However, the main reason why everyone should read this book is the message it conveys. It perfectly explains what is happening in the USA right now. By telling Starr’s story of witnessing her best friends getting shot, The Hate U Give is able to explain the situation surrounding the #BlackLivesMatter movement by exposing how racism is still an issue we continue to face in this this country. I believe that this book has the power to show people who don’t understand the severity and reality of this problem.  Through incorporating real and important matters into a fictional story line, Angie Thomas is able to help readers understand the systematic racism of the American society. Numerous times throughout the story, I would start bawling because I felt the hurt and confusion Starr experienced. The Hate U Give, not only helps gain insight into the lives of minority youth, but also allows us to experience the pain and struggles of their lives.  Although it is considered a YA novel with many YA themes, this book should be read by everyone.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Hey y’all! The past month has been very hectic with high school teen stuff, and I suspect April will also be kind of crazy, too. With that being said, I will still try my best to get back into posting regularly 🙂

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Rating: 4.7/5

What I think: 

This book was so CUTE and ADORABLE and makes me feel all fuzzy inside. It is possibly the cutest romance I’ve ever read. The fact that Simon and Blue fell in love with each other without knowing what the other looked made the book so wholesome. They 100% loved each other for what’s inside and that made it all the more beautiful.

I also loved all the characters in the book. Simon felt like a real person. His voice was so genuine and honest, which made the book very relatable in the sense that it perfectly captured the average teen’s worries and problems. Although Simon’s coming out story is not something everyone faces, his insecurities about his true self is something everyone can relate to.

At the same time, Simon’s stories are quite hilarious, especially the ones containing his parents. Also can we talk about how precious Nora is. His entire family just brings a smile to my face.

!!! Spoiler Alert !!!

However, the best part of the book has to be when Simon figures out that Blue is Bram at the Ferris wheel. To be completely honest, I wasn’t 100% sure who Blue was, but I was really hoping it was Bram. The scene where Simon is with Nick’s soccer friends and Bram is just being shy and the scene where Bram blushes as Simon hands him his paper made me like Bram way more than Cal. Plus it was very obvious that Simon liked Bram before he found out he was Blue, which made it even better.

I also ended up going to see Love, Simon, and I literally sobbed for half of the movie. It was so cute! I can’t even think about it without squealing; it was THAT CUTE! They did change a few things such as Leah confessing that she loved Simon, not Nick and the Ferris wheel scene being a public rather than a private confession. However, I would still totally recommend the movie. It has honestly become one of my favorite teen movies. Plus, the soundtrack is surprisingly amazing. I’ve been listening to it nonstop for the past week.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Goodreads Synopsis:

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Rating: 4.5/5

What I think:

I LOVE this book. It’s one of those books that makes you have uncontrollable fits of laughter in one chapter, and then sobbing the next. The best word for this book would simply be: beautiful.

!!!Spoiler alert!!!

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is the most original novel I have read in a while. In the beginning, I thought Monty’s Tour was just going to be a cliché adventure where he ends up coming back to his father with a new outlook on life. While I was not entirely wrong, I was also not right. Yes, Monty gains a new outlook, but he ends up realizing he does not need his father’s fame and fortune to be happy. In fact, he can even escape the abuse his father has given him by taking his own path. The ending was so heartwarming. I was literally in tears at the end when Monty and Percy finally told each other their true feelings.

Aside from the amazing love story, this book was so fun! Monty’s POV is so refreshing to read. Even though the story takes place in the 18th century, everything feels so relevant especially the scene where Monty discusses his sexuality with Felicity. Plus, I loved Felicity! She’s such a girl boss and a role model. I WANT TO BE HER WHEN I GROW UP! (even though I’m pretty sure I’m older than her in the book)

The only thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was how long the beginning took. The first few chapters were agonizingly slow. It wasn’t until probably a quarter of the way into the book did the plot really become interesting. However, the ending made the 500+ pages totally worth the read.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Hey y’all! I’m trying out a new format for my book reviews… hope you like it… 🙂

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

Rating: 4.3/5

What I think:

This book is wack. I was not fully prepared for the ending.

First, this book was a page turner. It was one of those stories where I had to know what happened next, which resulted in me staying up past 1 am on a school night. I wanted to know who’s “done it.” I had my suspicions on who it was once I was about halfway through the novel, and they turned out to be right, but I just didn’t want to believe that was true.

!!!Spoiler alert!!!

I don’t know what to think about Simon’s suicide. It was sick and twisted, but somehow I felt like that was the point of the story, the fact that some people are dealing with things that could be unfathomable to the outside world. Unfortunately, those things happen pretty often in today’s society. However, it made me confused about whether I should like or dislike the characters in the book. While revealing that Simon’s “murder” was actually a suicide prevented the other characters in the book from going to jail, I can’t help but think about how these people made him feel like he had to take his own life to escape. Also, WHY DIDN’T JANAE STOP SIMON??!!? She talks about how she was his only friend and how she knew he was plotting this huge scheme to end his life. Why didn’t she tell anyone? The police? His parents? I was so mad about that. It seems so inhumane. Despite all possible consequences, I feel like you would stop your friend from ending their own life.

Aside from the whole murder/suicide aspect, I really did enjoy the characters. My favorite was Nate. I loved how he was the guy that you dated to disappoint your parents, but also the guy who threw stones at his girlfriend’s window that just so happened to be next to a big tree, allowing her to climb out and make out in his car. However, at the same time, his romantic relationship with Bronwyn seemed force. While I am usually all up for the nerd and bad boy combo, the added romantic interest in this book simply felt clique and unnatural. 

I honestly felt like One of Us is Lying could be a TV series… it kind of reminded me of Thirteen Reasons Why mixed with Pretty Little Liars. Both TV series, I’ve watched and loved. With that being said, One of Us is Lying is definitely a page turner and I truly enjoyed reading it.

 

Warcross by Marie Lu

I think Marie Lu has become my favorite YA author of all time. I’ve been reading her books starting with Legend which has been at least four years ago. Since then, I’ve read several others. Each one is refreshing, realistic, and addicting, but this one is the BEST one yet.

From the very first page, I was hooked. I would not be lying if I said I neglected all my homework so I could finish this book in one night… but no regrets, because currently, this is definitely in my top 10 books of all time.

Here’s a summary according to Goodreads:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

The plot is AMAZING. While some of the major plot twists were kind of predictable, I was still addicted to trying to find out how exactly it would play out. I honestly was not able to predict the ending, so that really threw me off, but definitely in the best way possible. I am also slightly confused about the details of Hideo’s plan, but I felt like it was purposeful and will be revealed in the next book.

However, what I truly loved about the novel were the characters. I have always admired how Marie Lu is able to create a cast with such diversity and representation. The main character of Warcross is an independent, rainbow-haired, electric skateboard-riding hacker Emika Chen. The captain of Emika’s Warcross team is in a wheelchair, Roshan and Tremaine are gay, and because the games are international, the majority of the main characters are not caucasian. I love the fact that despite the diverse backgrounds, everyone accepts each other as they are.

While there is some controversy over the romance between Emika and Hideo, I thought it really made the story more captivating. Yes, it was slightly clique, but I still kept on hoping they would end up together.

Overall, Warcross is AMAZING, and I would highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next book!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Hey y’all! I’ve finished this book for a while now, but just recently got around to writing a review…

This book is so pure. It’s one of those classic books you read to elementary or middle school kids that ends with a good moral. With that being said, I felt like I was too old to truly appreciate this book. It’s simplistic and beautiful, and if I were to have read it eight years ago, it would’ve probably ended up being one of my favorite books. But because I read it now, I couldn’t help, but notice all the tiny plot holes. However, overall, I really liked this book.

My favorite part was the characters. I loved Winnie. She’s very relatable and realistic, and I enjoyed how she knew she was not extraordinary, yet she managed to discover her own adventure just by stepping outside of the fence. I also really liked the Tuck family. They gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling especially when they showed how much they cared about Winnie. However, one thing that did bother me was how the Tuck family behaved. I understand being condemned to live life on this earth forever sucks, but why constantly complain about your situation when you can actually doing something purposeful with your immortality? Maybe there’s an underlying reasoning Babbitt wanted to convey, but I only became annoyed each time they brought up how terrible their lives were. I was also just slightly uncomfortable about the age gap between Jesse and Winnie…

While many people did not like the ending, I thought it was perfect for this story. The plot-twist was necessary to make this book unique and not like another fairy tale ending where the prince and the princess end up living happily, ever after. Instead, Winnie’s choice was bittersweet, making me both sad and happy when I read it. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone, but I think it would be most appreciated for readers between the ages of eight and thirteen.