Book Review: Wires and Nerves by Marissa Meyer

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

 

The first thing that needs to be known about Wires and Nerves is, you MUST read the Lunar Chronicles.  You do not have to read Fairest or Stars Above but it does add to the story line. I loved the Lunar Chronicles so when I heard Marissa Meyer was coming out with a graphic novel extending the series I was thrilled.

MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Wires & Nerves follows Iko on her journey to hunt down the last of the mutant wolf man creatures.  In this story we get to see the entire gang and figure out why Iko took up this task to help her best friend. Iko also deals with stigma because she is an android.  The general populace does not believe she helped stop the war between Earth and Luna purely because she is an android.  They believe no android could have helped save the world.  It sends out a powerful message about racism and it shows her struggles with it and how she attempts to overcome the stigma against androids.

I loved this graphic novel, I enjoyed seeing things from Iko’s perspective because we did not see her narrative in the Lunar Chronicles. I also enjoyed we got to see more of the Earthen Union. In the Lunar Chronicles we only got to see France and New Beijing. Due to the fact that this is a graphic novel it is extremely easy to read.  This book is full of adventure and Iko being a strong independent woman and a great friend. I will warn you though it does end with a minor cliff hanger but it is not as bad as other books(I’m looking at you Rick Riordan). The ending makes you want eager for more of Iko’s adventure.

4 Bards!!

Review Repost: Luna by Julie Anne Peters

In order to keep up our celebration of LGBT History Month here at Midsummer, we are going to spotlight a few of our favorite LGBT young adult reads from over the years!  This review is from former Midsummer teammate Missy *waves to Missy* and it focuses on a Transgender main character! Check it out:

Regan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. 

Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

I am on the home stretch of Molly Horan’s list of 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read.  The next book I read from the list was Luna by Julie Anne Peters

I was very excited to read this book.  I had not previously seen a young adult book that focused on the LGBT community, specifically on a Transgendered person.  Liam/Luna’s story is one that needed to be told.  I thought the concept of having the POV from the sister of a pre-trans woman (genetically male transitioning to female) was exceptional.  Because being a Trans affects the whole family and I thought this book did a great job showing that.  I really liked this book.  It was interesting, factual, captivating, heartbreaking, tragic, and a true must read for everyone.

I liked that while the topic of the book was super heavy the author still managed to create levity by having the POV from the sibling (Regan) as opposed to Liam/Luna.  If the book focused on Luna it may have been too heartbreaking to read.  It was touching to see Luna come to terms with who she is while at the same time watching Regan live “normal” her life.  It shows how completely life altering decisions can affect one person so completely and yet the other person has to try to continue living their lives.  I love that it also shows the complete love and dedication that Regan has for her sister.  That bond between the two is priceless and beautiful.

I thought the way Julie Anne Peters was able to portray a wide variety of emotions through her writings was phenomenal.  My emotions ran from scared for Luna, to relief for Regan for finally not having to keep this secret, to heartbreak for Aly (who discovers that she won’t get the man of her dreams) and then back to scared for Luna when she decides to be herself all within one sentence.

I think that this is an important book for all teens to read, not just for an LGBT teen.  This can help people understand how hard this decision is for any Trans person and how hard it is for the family to come to terms with this change.  I also believe that it could help any LGBT teen feel less alone and like an outsider.
4 Bards.

 

Be sure to keep up with our LGBT Celebration by checking our calendar!

midsummer-lgbtq-history-month

Book Review: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

There was something about this book that I liked. I’m not sure if it was because it was an easy read and easy topic or if the book was written well or what. Nothing stands out to me as good or bad about this book. The plot was predictable, the characters were okay, the writing was fine. But I liked it. I don’t think it was meant to be a life altering, mind altering book. It was about a boy that is invisible, and that’s okay sometimes. 


I guess now that I analyze it, I have some issues with the book. The characters seemed to be very independent for teenagers. I, for one, was not capable of taking care of myself at sixteen. I found Stephen to be older than his years, but if no one could see me I might be too. Elizabeth was your typical “I have to save the world female”, blah. I loved Laurie. I would have liked the book so much more if Laurie was the main character and fell in love with Stephen. He was quirky, fun, smart, and optimistic. His story was better than Elizabeth’s too. 

As for the plot, well, it was predictable. When you meet Elizabeth you just know, “oh she is going to try to fix everything, and sacrifice herself for a boy.”  I hate that mentality, but I digress. Each “twist” was guessable. I thought the idea of the spellseaker, spellcaster, and cursecaster lacked imagination and showed a bit of laziness. These are ideas we have already heard about, nothing new. 

And that you left it at that is a little lazy. What you couldn’t think of other supernatural occurrences that could be real in this world? I have not read any other books by the authors and would pick up another book but only if I didn’t have anything else to read. Like I said, I liked it because there wasn’t much to it. Sometimes it’s nice to read a book like that. 

2.5 Bards

 

Book Review: The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them. 

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood. 

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

My first thought was that this book was a lot like the premise of the Hunger Games. Except the people are all vampires and they are hunting Humans or “hepers”. Now these weren’t your normal vampires, they don’t sparkle for one, they have no body hair, and no real facial expressions. They also salivate and go mental when they smell a heper. The story focuses on one human who has managed to blend himself in with the vampires by masking his scent and emotions, until he gets picked to go hunt the last of the human race. 


I thought the book was really good. It was a bit graphic for me though. I really could only read it during the day as to not give me nightmares. The descriptions provided were so detailed that it left me with a graphic realistic vision as to what was happening in the story, which was really scary! 

I had some logical issues with the book but other than a few “huh?” moments, but it kept me on the edge of my seat. I did like the random romance that evolved in the story. It wasn’t totally necessary, but it made the book more versatile to a wider range of audience. I was tickled that the author had the vampires be less intelligent than humans. I thought that was quite funny. 

Overall I thought the book worked. It kept my heart racing the whole time. And end was a cliff hanger that had me reaching for the next book right away. I would recommend this to people who like action movies! 

4 Bards.

 

Book Review: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Appearances can be deceiving. 

In the Community, life seems perfect. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited Lyla’s family to join his group and escape the evil in the world. They were happy to be chosen, happy to move away from New York and start over in such an idyllic gated community. Now seventeen, Lyla knows that Pioneer is more than just their charismatic leader, he is their prophet . . . but his visions have grown dark. 

Lyla is a loyal member of the Community, but a chance encounter with an outsider boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community—everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. Her family and friends are certain in their belief. Lyla wishes she could feel the same. As Pioneer begins to manipulate his flock toward disaster, the question remains: Will Lyla follow them over the edge?

First things first: this book is extremely intriguing, but it isn’t something that is sugar coated and tries to make it any easier to comprehend the occurrence of cults.  

Now, for some interesting background info.  In order to maybe get an idea of what Parker used for information, please go and do a little bit of research into The People’s Temple and Jim Jones, The Manson Family and Helter Skelter, and the Branch Dividians and David Koresh.  For the most part, many of you will know the basics of these stories, but it does give you another lens through which to read this novel. 

I think that the best part of this novel is the fact that we are reading the story from the point of view of a protagonist that was practically raised in the cult environment, and are given the unique ability to witness what it really could seem like from the inside.  We witness as the character undergoes preparedness drills (which is somewhat indicative of the tv show Doomsday Preppers), and we get to see exactly how life inside of a cult from day to day could possibly be.  

One of my favorite parts of this book is how each chapter starts with a quote.  Now, at the beginning all of these quotes were from Pioneer (the leader of the Community), but as Lyla’s doubt concerning her future and that of the Community the quotes at the beginning of the chapters shifted.  First they shifted to some Bible quotes, then to quotes from some famous cult leaders: Charles Manson and Jim Jones.  I like that it was a very subtle way for the author to let us know that things were beginning to change in the narrative. 

While I understand the use for some sort of love story in every young adult novel, I really liked that it wasn’t the main focus of the narrative.  However, it did seem a little odd that he would be so interested in sharing the truth with Lyla and being so interested after just one quick afternoon.  He also seemed very flat and without character flaws, which makes him seem too good to be true, but in essence he wasn’t really a character so much as he was a plot device.

The most disturbing part of this novel is how real it feels and how easily we realize it could be for people to become involved in organizations and communities like this.  We just have to be vigilant and remember the past so we can look to the future. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It was fast paced, it had all of the realistic elements it needed, and the majority of the characters were extremely relatable. 

4.5 Bards (minus .5 for Cody)


Book Review: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Can Cameron find what he’s looking for? 

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

I am on the home stretch of Molly Horan’s list of 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read. The next book I read from the list is Going Bovine by Libba Bray. 

So I just finished this book, like two minutes ago and have a definite book hangover right now. I don’t even know how to process what I just read. The story was excellent, characters were brilliant and well thought out, the setting was great and the adventure was real. The book starts with your average kid who is just doing the bare minimum to pass through life. And then he learns that he is dying of Mad Cow disease of all things. The interesting thing about Mad Cow is that it makes you go a little crazy, like having hallucinations crazy. That is what makes the story so interesting, and in fact it made the story what it is. 

The whole time I was reading this book I knew that the adventure was all in his mind and yet I still had hope that there was a cure for him at the end. It wasn’t until the last chapters that the book that I realized for real he was not going to get better and it wasn’t about finding a cure, it was about living life to the fullest. It made me want to go out and have an adventure because you never know what could happen to you. I thought this book was just great. It wasn’t cheesy or overly sad as it could have been, given the subject matter. 

I both loved and hated when Cameron would slip in and out of his hallucinations. When he would come back to reality it sort of brought you back to the realization that he was dying and this grand adventure is all in his head. And that his family had to watch him die a slow agonizing death. That was hard. I also grew to love Dulcie. I wasn’t sure what the purpose of her character was at first, besides starting the journey. But she was more than a supporting character. She ended up being his peace in the end. And that is beautiful. I can only hope that there is someone that is there to bring us peace at the end of our lives. There was not I did not like about this book. Of course I hated that he died but really that was not a surprise. I give a big thumbs up to this book. Good job, Libba Bray. 

4.5 Bards


Book Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Be careful what you believe in. 

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house. 

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.


My second to last book from Molly Horan’s list of 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read I read was Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz. 


I wanted to like this book, I really did, the cover looked neat and the title was intriguing. But alas I didn’t like it. I don’t get what the point or plot of the book was supposed to be. It reminded me of a John Green book, where these kids have all of these epiphanies about the meaning of life at the tender age of 16. And you feel as the reader that your teenage years were completely wasted! 

The main problem I have with the book was that it just jumped right into the story without providing background information on the family or the setting. That made it confusing and hard to read, because you could not really get connected to the characters or their story line. I felt like the secondary characters were not well developed either. They were just kind of there. The secondary plots were there but not really developed at all. They brought nothing to the story, didn’t halt the progress of the one plot or speed it up. They were just there. 

The major story line fell around the main character Rudy and his struggle between wanting to keep his brother alive and wanting a life. In order to keep his brother alive, they needed to feed him a magical fish. But Rudy meets this fish boy who claims to be related to these special fish and wants Rudy to stop eating the fish and killing his brothers. There then becomes this fight between wanting to please his new friend or keep his brother alive. While 

I think the idea of the plot was good, but Moskowitz didn’t develop it enough to keep you interested. Overall the book was a flop in my opinion. As I mentioned before I had trouble really picking out any sort of moral to the story or purpose for reading the book. It felt a lot like a first draft of a story. A good start, interesting plot lines, but needs some major work. 

1 Bard


Book Review: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. 

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. 

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. 

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

I will admit that I’ve had the advanced reader copy of this book on my shelf since last summer, but it took a good friend of mine reading this book and telling me how much she enjoyed it before I finally pulled it off the shelf to read. 

I am now officially regretting not picking up this book sooner.  Not only was it well written and plotted, but it kept my attention through the whole text. Bracken’s story picks up at the beginning when the “disease” strikes children all around the United States.  I put “disease” in quotations because I’m not entirely sure whether or not I believe it would be a naturally occurring thing or if it was manufactured by scientists within the storyworld.  Something I suppose I’ll find out as I continue to read. 

So basically these poor kids, who can do extraordinary things, are put into modernized concentration camps and forced to work and do mundane tasks to keep their minds from honing their skills and possibly using them against anyone.  Although, this is a very stupid plan by the adults, because it just serves to make the children and teens resentful of their treatment and provides them with motivation to strike back.  

And when our protaganist, Ruby, finally gets out of her prison, she is faced with the ultimate challenges of survival in a world that treats her kind like fugitive. Lo and behold she meets an adorable boy and his ragtag friends, and they go together like “peas and carrots.” 

The plot really picks up at this point, and the story just takes off with Bracken’s excellent descriptions and her ability to construct realistic conversations and emotions.  I’d like to say that I didn’t see the twist coming, but it is something that I guessed toward the last fourth of the novel when Ruby was working to hone her skills. However, guessing it didn’t take away any of its impact. 

The ending is heartbreaking and I really wish that it hadn’t happened, but I understand why it did narratively, and I’m already moving the sequel to the top of my to be read pile!

4 Bards. 



Book Review: If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Both Elisha (Ellie) and Jeremiah (Miah) attend Percy Academy, a private school where neither quite fits in. Ellie is wrestling with family demons, and Miah is one of the few African American students. The two of them find each other, and fall in love — but they are hesitant to share their newfound happiness with their friends and families, who will not understand. 

The next book I read from Molly Horan’s list of 15 YoungAdult Books Every Adult Should Read was If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson.

I was a little weary to read this book at first.  When I saw that it was about an interracial couple I thought it might have been written a while ago and would be outdated and antiquated.  But I was wrong; it is set in the present day and very real.  I had a hard time starting and getting into this book.  The initial language and having two POV’s was slightly confusing to me.  But I did warm up to all of that and ended up liking the book a lot. 


I thought it was important to show that racism still exists today.  The book didn’t sugar coat it but explained it in a way that was relatable and made you think twice about your own reactions when seeing an interracial couple.  I also really liked that both family’s had the same socioeconomic status.  I get a little bored with the stories where one person is wealthier than the other and it turns into a Cinderella story.  That idea is archaic.  I thought it helped show the reader that it didn’t matter how wealthy or poor you are that people still deal with stereotypes and prejudices in their daily lives.


I liked that the couple didn’t rush right into it.  They took it slow, even know they had this amazing connection, they still let love happen in its own time.  I read too many books where two people meet each other and bam they are in love.  That is not real life.  And if we are targeting young adults it is so important to set realistic expectations with relationships.  I think this book does a good job at that.


The tone of the book was very sad.  It was like you were just waiting for something bad to happen throughout the whole book.  I even stopped reading with 20 pages left in the book because I could tell something was going to happen.  And it did.  And while I knew something was going to happen, the ending came out of left field and I didn’t like it at all.  It felt too abrupt and unresolved.  We were given no explanation as to why, or what the consequences were for the other people involved.  The book just ended.  I feel like the epilogue didn’t do the story justice either.  There was so much that the author could have had the main character do, or learn, from this experience.  She could have had her become an advocate for racial profiling, or minority rights.  But instead the girl was sad.  I get that, but woman do something, right the injustice that happened in your life.  Fight for what is right.  

Overall, I liked the book.  The ending could have had a greater impact and it would have made the book more of a must read for me.  I would still recommend the book, but not as strongly as some other books I have read.


3.5 Bards



Book Review: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

Callie has grown up keeping her feelings locked away from the outside world, and as her painful past threatens to consume her life, most days it’s a struggle just to breathe. 

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence has been the only way to survive, until one night when Callie and Kayden’s worlds collide. 

After that moment, Kayden can’t stop thinking about Callie and when they end up at the same college, he does everything in his power to convince her that it isn’t coincidence – it’s fate.

This being my second Jessica Sorensen read, I’m beginning to think that her purpose in life is to break my heart and make me feel like epic love stories are waiting in the wings for heartbroken and screwed up people. 


Both Callie and Kayden have some serious baggage, which makes them have some serious compatability in understanding the position that the other is in.  Although, unlike in Breaking Nova, Callie and Kayden’s past is intertwined because they technically grew up together and she did manage to help him out of a tight spot at one time.  

Then Sorensen uses the typical “Journey” trope to explain and create a whole new world for Callie in her University setting, and to help bring her out of her protective shell.  I don’t want to give away any of the personal issues that both Callie and Kayden have, but I really think that Sorensen does a good job of explaining the post-traumatic stress and the unwitting coping mechanisms that both characters developed.  

The plotline of this novel truly followed the rising action, rising action, turning point, and quick resolution that led to a pretty decent cliffhanger at the end.  Do I wish that there had been a pretty solid resolution? Yes, but I suppose the set up for a sequel does mean that we get to spend more time with these two characters.  

Overall, I’m going to probably keep reading her stuff.  I really love the dynamics that she creates in her stories, and I really think that it would be beneficial for older teens and college students to read this story and enjoy it. 

3.5 Bards


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