TTBF Author Repost Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors! First up is Keynote Speaker Marie Lu! 

This review was originally posted on January 19, 2012

 

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’ death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a bit of a dystopian fiction junkie due to my Master’s thesis being focused on it. However, this first installment hasn’t provided much of the background information concerning how the Republic and Colonies came to be–so I can’t judge it on the political aspects of it yet (cough, Marxism, cough). Perhaps the second installment will give us more information…I hope.

I see the problem that many of reviewers have mentioned that the two narrators’ voices sound very similar. However, I’m not sure that this was unintentional. Both of them are prodigies in their own world, and have similar thinking patterns. This means that, YES, these characters will sound the same to an extent. Do I think there should have been more definition between the two? Of course, because it would only strengthen the novel, which is already strong in its own right. I agree with Lu’s decision to split this narrative into two point of views, because the reader would not understand Day’s story as deeply if told strictly from June’s point of view (and vice versa).

I’m not sure why people do not empathize with June as much as Day, because she has had her share of hardship as well–again this can explain why both characters are similar in personality and voice. I definitely enjoyed reading this, and hope that this trilogy isn’t another Matched fiasco, because Crossed ruined that trilogy for me.

Much like Divergent and Blood Red Road, these characters must complete a journey (of sorts) in order to discover secrets about themselves and the society in which they reside. Since Lu’s story is a somewhat typical young adult dystopian novel, there are some obvious similarities plot-wise. However, I do believe that the difference in the characterization really changes the perception of the story.

While it is not something completely new and groundbreaking, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading Legend. I recommend this for those who really enjoy any of the dystopian fiction coming out of the Young Adult genre. 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!

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Review Repost: Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons’ plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

I’ve had this novel since it was released in late 2011, but for some reason it kept getting bumped down in my To Be Read pile! Now I really regret not reading this novel sooner, because I really enjoyed it!

As most story workshops go (at least in my creative writing courses), we always discuss the strengths of a narrative first. I’m not even sure where to start, because there are so many strengths in McNeil’s debut novel. So I guess I’ll just list them in the order I have them written down in my notes: Characterization, Subject Matter, Love Story, Plot.

So, Characterization. I have to say that I really respected Bridget as a character for being strong willed and for not readily accepting her abilities. Since religion has a large part in this story, we learn that not only does her ability have to do with the entities within Heaven and Hell, which proves to Bridget that God, in fact, does exist. She had previously renounced God after her father’s murder. So her slow acceptance of her fate coincides with her acceptance of God and religion.

I want a gay best friend like Hector. He was extremely well developed for a secondary character that isn’t privy to Bridget’s secrets. I just really loved his and Bridget’s relationship, even though it was strained through part of the story. Oh, Matt Quinn. He is the resident sexy boy who has the hots for our main character. Matt managed to surprise me throughout the story with his loyalty to Bridget, which I can owe to McNeil for making me dislike him because Bridget did. Their relationship developed organically (more on this later).

Subject Matter: In my opinion, the subject of demonic possession really hasn’t been overused in YA lit, and the use of Catholicism in Possess is extremely realistic and very well done. In a time where the Catholic church is criticized almost constantly for some of its amoral actions with choir boys and acolytes, or even its stance on gay marriage, it is really great to see the Catholic Church, a Catholic heroine, and the Vatican as heroes. I have to say that it really surprised me.

Simple statement: THE LOVE STORY DID NOT OVERPOWER THE PARANORMAL STORY ELEMENTS. Hallelujah. Thank you, McNeil, for not allowing the budding friendship/relationship between Bridget and Matt to come to the forefront when the major dramatic question was about the possessions. THANK YOU.

The final strength I want to mention is the Plot development. The pacing of Possess was great, and there wasn’t a spot where I felt like I could skip some chapters and still be able to finish the story. There were a few places that were somewhat obvious to me (with the plot twists) because I saw it coming, but it still didn’t take away my enjoyment of reading this novel.

Weaknesses: Okay….the only thing that really bothered me was the amount of current pop culture references spread throughout the novel. I just feel that these references (Ke$ha, Jersey Shore, and Mean Girls) can really serve to date the text. This means that some future generations that might want to pick up this book won’t really know what those references are.

I really enjoyed Possess, and cannot wait until the release of McNeil’s second novel, Ten.

4.5 Bards!

four.fivebards

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