Monday, January 31, 2011

Perfect by Sara Shepard

Yes, I read another Pretty Little Liars book. Yes, I'm going to throw together another ramshackle review. You can ignore this and hopefully I'll get into something of a higher quality in the future.

Anyways, Flawless ended with corpse number two, Toby Cavanaugh. He killed himself out of guilt over molesting his sister. Emily then feels guilty about Toby's death. She had asked him to Foxy, ran away from him, then hid out in her house while he OD'd in the woods. She decides that enough is enough, she will tell the cops about A.

It turns out that this isn't the right solution. In Perfect, A goes from passive observer to active meddler. Whoever A is, they are out to hurt. First, Emily's swim meet is interrupted when A posts pictures of her kissing her girlfriend Maya. Emily's parents are less than understanding and give her an ultimatum: complete the Tree Tops gay reprogramming class or be banished to her ultra-creepy aunt's house. Seriously, they make their children eat Cheerios and run through cornfields to repress sexual urges. That entire situation was absolutely disgusting and infuriating. Poor Emily is so confused as it is.

Aria's secret, seeing her father kissing a student and not telling her mom, was revealed in the previous book. Now there are a bunch of consequences as a result. Her mom basically blames her for the situation and kicks her out of the house. Aria moves in with her boyfriend Sean's family. Unfortunately, Aria soon grows tired of Sean and starts back up with her stupid damn English teacher again. In a pretty awesome scene, the cops show up and arrest Mr. Fitz. Sean had called them because of a tip from A. He then breaks up with Aria and kicks her out. Aria is now homeless, and though I think it's stupid to try to date your English teacher, her mom really should grow up and realize that it's not Aria's fault.

Spencer previously turned in one of her sister Melissa's essays as her own. It was then nominated for the important Golden Orchid essay award. The whole thing snowballs, with Spencer getting a newspaper cover. During a family game of Scrabble, A texts part of the essay to Melissa and the entire situation is revealed. A massive sister fight ensues resulting in Spencer pushing Melissa down the stairs. Spencer's parents also reveal her history of blacking out during traumatic memories. Spencer has flashbacks to the night Ali disappeared, memories of a fight and shoving Ali. Aria has a vision of Alison that points to Spencer as the killer as well.

Finally, Hanna is having problems with her best friend Mona. There's a police interrogation that interferes with their frenniversary dinner, then a skywriting mishap. Hanna's receiving texts saying that she can't trust Mona, but she doesn't take the advice. Mona has gone all mean girls on her, even disinviting Hanna from her birthday party and cozying up with their archrivals. Despite all the cattiness, when Hanna receives a dress from Mona's birthday court, she runs off to the party even though the dress is too tight. Unfortunately, this leads to public humiliation. Later on, she gets a text from A that shows the actual phone number, a number she recognizes. Hanna gets the other girls to meet her at Rosewood Day school. As she is getting out of her car to talk to them, Hanna is run over.

Then the text: "She knew too much." After that, there's the usual letter from A. Yes, I've neglected to mention that A has a little letter to the reader at the end of the books. A comes off like an even crazier, murder-obsessed Gossip Girl. I can't promise that I won't be reading and reviewing more of this series in the future. I do apologize because it's difficult to write reviews of single books in a series, and it's really kind of boring unless you've read the series or have a vague interest in the series. On the bright side, this was the best book in the series so far.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flawless by Sara Shepard

 Flawless (Pretty Little Liars, #2)

The first Pretty Little Liars book left off with the discovery of Alison's body and her funeral. All the girls got a text from the mysterious and threatening A:

"I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything."

Flawless, the second book in the series, starts with a flashback to "the Jenna incident." Toby had been peeping in the Liars' window. Alison was affronted and decided to get revenge. She was going to set off some firecrackers outside of Toby's tree house to scare him. Something went wrong, and Jenna was permanently blinded. Toby took the blame for the accident. Alison always said that he kept her secret because she was keeping his secret, but none of the other girls knew what that secret was, except Spencer.

None of the secrets have changed in this book. Aria is still hot for teacher, then hot for Hanna's ex Sean. Hanna still has daddy issues and body issues. Spencer is still chock full of sibling rivalry. Emily still has sexuality issues.

The big event of the book is Foxy, a charity dance thing. Hanna's dad invites her for a fancy weekend, but invites his new wife and daughter. A texts Hanna that Sean is attending Foxy with someone else, and Hanna sneaks away to the event. Sean invited Aria and the two are the talk of the party. Spencer is there with Andrew, her main academic rival. It's obvious that he's smitten with her, but she hurts his feelings by revealing she's attached to her sister's ex. Finally, Emily invited Toby Cavanaugh as her date. When Spencer sees them together, she freaks out. By the time she gathers the others, Emily has disappeared.

The girls think Toby might be A and that he could hurt Emily. During their ride home, Toby suddenly becomes angry and mentions how much he hated Allison. There's a hilarious misunderstood conversation where Emily accuses him of a terrible deed. It's funny because she's referring to killing Alison while he's referring to having inappropriate relations with his stepsister. Well, not funny-haha. Emily thinks that he killed Alison and she runs away from his car. She makes it home safely, though Toby follows her and tries to talk to her. In the morning, his body is found in the woods, dead from a suspected overdose.

Because they think Toby was A, the Liars believe that everything is over. Of course, there's still a whole bunch of books left in the series, so it's not quite as simple as that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars is the story of a group of teenage girls who have SECRETS. They used to be BFFs, but drifted apart after the disappearance of their friend Alison. Alison was the glue holding the group together, their leader. She also was the one who got the girls to admit their secrets, because friends tell each other their secrets.

Two years after Alison disappeared, her friends started to get texts from a person called A. A knows all of their secrets, secrets that only Alison knew. Could the texts be from her? The secrets are:

Spencer: She kissed her sister's old boyfriend Ian. Spencer constantly lives in her sister's shadow, so it's almost inevitable that she keeps stealing her boyfriends. It helps that the sister is horrible.

Emily: She was in love with Alison and once kissed her. Now she is falling for new girl Maya.

Aria: She saw her father kissing one of his students and didn't tell her mother. After returning to Rosewood from Iceland, she started a relationship with her new English teacher.

Hanna: She made herself throw up so she wouldn't be a chubby loser anymore.

Other than the individual secrets, all of the girls share the secret of The Jenna Thing. It's only really hinted at in the first book, but it involves Spencer's neighbors Toby and Jenna Cavanaugh.

Near the end of the first book, *SPOILER ALERT*
Alison's body is found, so the girls know that she can't possibly be A. She was the only one who knew their secrets, but if she isn't A, then who is?!?

Pretty Little Liars was adapted into a show on ABC Family. I admit it, I like the show. The books seemed like easy fun reads, though I was only going to read the first one to compare with the show. Then I was hit with a sudden urge to download the second one right before going to sleep one night, and I just downloaded the third. These things are incredibly addicting. Plus, I've read the Wikipedia summaries, and some incredibly exciting and crazy things are coming up in this series.

In the not-so-distant future, I promise I will abstain from the fluffy book crack for something with more substance, if only so my blog gets some variety.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

"The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking."

Long ago, settlers came to a new planet. They sought out safety and home. The planet was already inhabited by creatures called the Spackle. The Spackle didn't want the people there, so they fought back. They fought back with the germ. First, the germ caused the Noise. Now, every man can hear every other man's thoughts. Not only that, every man can hear every animal's thoughts. Second, the germ killed every woman. In the end, the Spackle were obliterated, but Prentisstown was the only settlement left. It is a town of 146 men and one boy. That boy is Todd Hewitt.

Todd is 30 days away from his 13th birthday, the day when he becomes a man. Until then, the other men exclude him. Todd spends most of his time with his guardians Ben and Cillian and his dog Manchee. One day, Dug and Manchee are looking for swamp apples on the outskirts of town when they come across something surprising: silence, something difficult to come by when you hear the thoughts of every man and beast.

Todd doesn't know what the silence is or what it means, but it's enough for Ben and Cillian to send him off in search of Haven, one of the settlements that no longer exists. It's enough for them to tell him that everything he knows about the history of Prentisstown is a lie. It's enough for Mayor Prentiss and his men to chase him. Imagine that, being chased by someone who can read your mind.

I'm honestly having difficulty writing this review because the book is incredibly awesome and I want to convey that to my reading public. There's exciting chase scenes, action scenes that had me actually crying out loud, and some brutally heartbreaking scenes. Manchee was my favorite, mostly because he reminds me of Dug from Up, though with less "I hid under your porch because I love you" and more poop obsession. It's a pretty realistic interpretation, as realistic as interpretations of talking dogs get anyways. I love how Todd goes from resenting him to loving him throughout the book, it warms my heart.

In the About the Author page, Patrick Ness says that The Knife of Letting Go is about learning to stay yourself when society is trying to change you. Todd is a lot of things, among them proud, angry, bad with grammar and spelling. The men from Presntisstown want him to be just like them, cold and ruthless. Settlers along the way think he's already like them just because of where he's from. From the beginning, Ben taught him to settle his noise by telling himself who he was, "I'm Todd Hewitt." Todd is fairly self assured given his young age and horrible upbringing. Despite the bleak note that the book ends on, I believe that there's still hope that Todd will prevail and I am definitely looking forward to the next books in the trilogy.

"And I think how hope may be the thing that pulls you forward, may be the thing that keeps you going, but that it's dangerous, too, that it's painful and risky, that it's making a dare to the world and when has the world ever let us win a dare?"