I hope you’re having a wonderful year so far (filled with books). I missed out on reading in January and half of February due to being overseas and no access to English YA novels (had some gay novels). That was tough. Once I returned I started looking at all I missed out on, series that I can finally complete, etc. I think I devoured more books in these past 3 months than I ever have in a 3 month span!
So, considering that sometimes I do read more than I can review and/or sometimes I read something that I just don’t have a ton to say about, I thought I could do MINI reviews sometimes. Helps to consolidate things. This MINI review contains 4 books (I think that’ll be the max for every MINI): Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, Hero by Perry Moore, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, and Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Each image leads to Goodreads details.
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Genres: young adult // LGBT+ // fantasy > magic
This book was so much fun! I loved Simon’s journey through this and Baz is just awesome in his broody, snarky, vampiric way. I thought they were so darn cute! I re-read some of their cuter moments a couple of times before moving one, heh. I also was a big fan of Simon’s friend, Penny; she was pretty cool, level-headed, and not annoying. Kind of the opposite of Agatha…she wasn’t my favorite. She helped a little, but it wasn’t really supposed to focus much on her, anyway.
I saw this as one great self-discovery journey for Simon. He didn’t know his parents, only the Mage, he didn’t understand his magic, had trouble controlling it, and was just trying to find himself. Thank goodness Baz was there to help!
And the idea for how the magic works was hilarious! Quoting songs, popular phrases, adages, whatever works. Odd, but unique
This was a magic-filled, twisty story that I couldn’t predict, at least until pieces came together near the end, but that doesn’t really count, now does it? The first 1/3 to 1/2 was much slower than the latter portion. Lots of info dumps. But the characters and story well made up for it!
- Hero by Perry Moore
Genres: young adult // LGBT+ // fiction > superheroes
This ended up having darker moments than I was expecting, but I am quite the fan of unexpected brutality, so nothing wrong there. It also portrayed struggles with sexuality, yay! It was in a superhero-infested world, though, so you can’t take as much realism from it. But it showed Thom’s inner struggle and the relationship between him and his father through everything, not just the sexuality, was fairly well done. I think the relational parts, were some of the best in the book.
Though, I think with the focus on that, it took away from his romantic relationship. I couldn’t see much development and chemistry between them.
I think the reasons for my rating, though, is because a) the writing and b) the superhero part. Hold on, I’ll explain that second one! The writing was kind of sloppy… It didn’t flow well, the pacing was weird at times, I found myself questioning a few events or aspects that confused me for a bit. As for the superhero aspect, that is all me. I just couldn’t take it very seriously. Sorry… I tried it, I wanted to see how the author would put a twist on such a thing, but they’ve always been wacky characters to me that I can’t connect with nor take seriously. I just think of comic books (which I’m not really a fan of when it comes to superheroes even in those) and the fact that movies generally portray them as humorous and wacky.
- The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Genres: young adult // LGBT+ // romance // fantasy > magic, fae
So this was a bit of a disappointment… It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t as good as I hoped. Also, it’s not entirely LGBT, like the other books here. There are 2 couples we work with. And I am a sucker for horned boys. Well, horned people, but I can adore horned boys even more *wink* But his personality was a bit lackluster than I expected. I thought him and Ben made for a cute couple, though. (It was a bit too insta-love for me) Hazel and Jack were ordinary to me (aside from the not so ordinary aspect of Jack), but I liked their relational developments. Jack was a sweetie and Hazel was a brave girl, dealing with everything very well. Relationships overall lacked chemistry. Dang.
And I’m also a sucker for fantastical and contemporary juxtapositions! So the story was quite unique, I loved the beginning parts, talking to the horned boy in the glass coffin. Though, most of the book was pretty slow-paced for my tastes. This is going to sound mean, I’m sorry! But at times (not the whole time) I felt the writing was trying to hard to sound magical…there, I said it! Other times, it truly was, though! And the ending parts with the fights and fae realm were very enjoyable and faster paced. It had some nice suspenseful, creepier moments. But overall, It didn’t stick to that creepy wonderment…it died somewhere in there. Or maybe repeatedly in small parts until it resurfaced. *shrugs*
- Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Genres: young adult // LGBT+ // contemporary
Also a bit of a disappointment. It was slow and the writing style was OK. However, it delved a bit more into the mind of a young man who is going through the discovery of his sexuality, whether he realizes it or not. I can’t say I’m an expert in stuff like that, but it seemed like realistic actions and reactions, thoughts that someone struggling with that may go through. But maybe not, too? If you do into this book with absolutely no previous info, you might not see why they do what they do…
Ari has more of an aggressive personality than Dante. Probably due to the hardship of jumbled, colliding thoughts as he discovers himself. He also deals with a haunted veteran father and a brother he never sees. As you read, you see that he’s trying to find his other emotions other than the rage that seems to always come first. Dante seems to be more of an intellectual rather than an active person. He understands more of who he is and I think that helped Ari along his own journey. He coaxed answers from Ari, made him think, but still struggles a little with his identity – that of his heritage. They make for an adorable pair at times, willing to protect each other. And I loved the family element in this.
Deep, complex characters: check!
However, the dialogue and writing seemed…stunted at times. Stiff. It didn’t flow well, it wasn’t a comfortable atmosphere. It jumped oddly. It was repetitive. This made for a tough time in connecting with the characters, as well. I can see their problems, understand how they can be problems, but sometimes the writing made it hard to really feel it. And the ending… Rushed and strangely executed – not a fan.
(UPDATE July 4th: I found a review that expands on my thoughts almost to a T! Reg @ She Latitude’s review)
Uh, I think I mentioned pacing in every single one of these… Huh. Well. I guess we’ve established that pacing is an important factor in my ratings.
~Also, let me know if this dragons scales rating system just looks stupid or something… I wanted to be more creative, instead of just numbers or stars…and I love dragons, so…I hope it looks OK and maybe you think it’s creative, too, heh~
Thanks for reading!
Did you read these books? What did you think of them? Comment below! (Careful of spoilers, though)
~Photos taken from Goodreads~