Thursday, February 27, 2014

Champion by Marie Lu

"Sometimes the sun sets earlier. Days don't last forever, you know."

If you like, you can read my reviews of Legend and Prodigy. There's going to be spoilers of the first two books, but no Champion spoilers.

June and Day met in Legend, one of those typical love stories where girl thinks boy killed her brother, so girl hunts boy down undercover in the streets. June was a super soldier, the best that the Republic ever saw. Day was a legend, a nondescript shadow who robs from the government and gives to the poor and downtrodden. He was actually a young man who was supposed to have been killed after failing his Trials, a test every child takes that determines their entire future. They eventually gain an understanding of each other, then it blossoms into love. Despite some, um...misunderstandings along the way. By misunderstandings, I mean that June leads Republic officials to Day's door, where they murder his mother. Then, they are going to kill Day, but his older brother takes his place. And, the Republic kidnaps his younger brother, Eden, to try to find a cure for the disease that is spreading throughout the Republic. June learns that the Republic is full of corruption, her brother's murder was an inside job, and everything is pretty much the worst.

Then in Prodigy, June and Day team up with the Patriots, a group working with people from the Colonies (Divided USA, Colonies vs. Republic) in hopes of rescuing Eden. After the elector primo dies, his son inherits the role. The Patriots plan to assassinate the young man for the good of the people. June is working inside the government, and she gets close to Anden. She learns that he will help the Republic, so she decides to stop the assassination. It turns out that members of the Patriots were members of the government, who were working with the Patriots to kill Anden. Also, the Republic is claiming that Day was executed. Nobody believes it. Because of this, Day turned into a political symbol, and he rallies the people around Anden. On a sad note, Day finds out that he is dying because of what they did to him after his Trials.

The third installment finds June and Day once again divided. Now Day has a comfortable apartment that he shares with his brother. Unfortunately, his headaches have been getting worse. The doctors think that Day will only live for about two more months. June has been training to be a top government official. Anden believes that she is qualified for the job, despite her being 16 and up against two much more qualified candidates.

The Republic is having more issues with the Colonies. The Colonies have been suffering from that terrible sickness and blame the Republic for spreading it across their borders. They also believe that the Republic has a cure and will attack and overthrow the Republic if it is not turned over. Anden has been trying to find a cure, but nothing has worked. His last resort is having June ask Day to give Eden back to the Republic, in hopes that his blood contains a cure. Day would obviously be against this plan, but if June asks...

There's all kinds of drama happening. Anden obviously likes June, but she's still all about Day. Day still likes June, but he's pushing her away because he's dying and doesn't want to hurt her. June doesn't even know that he's dying. I know that I complained about romantic triangles before, but this isn't really a triangle. Anden barely factors at all.

Overall, I felt that Champion was a fitting conclusion to the series. There was lots of action and drama, which was very satisfying. I'll admit that the ending had me sobbing like a baby, both the ending and the prologue (For both happy and sad reasons). The entire series has been fantastic, so I am happy to see it go off on a good note.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

"Ruth was the only person I ever knew who wanted to be somewhere else as much as I did. The only one who got what I meant when I said, "Friendship as in you and me is great, but Friendship, Wisconsin sometimes feels like a bad dream that's too boring to be called a nightmare..."

One of my favorite scenes in No One Else Can Have You is when the main character, Kippy, asks her father for a salad for dinner. He doesn't understand what that even is. Then he throws some frozen green beans, canned tomatoes, bacon bits, and shredded cheese in a bowl and microwaves the whole thing. It sounds absolutely disgusting, but it made me laugh out loud. That special Midwestern flavor is all through this book. There is a lot of regional dialogue, you betcha. It can be too much, but it mostly made me giggle. Which is itself funny, as the book deals with a brutal murder.

No One Else Can Have You is set in the small town of Friendship, Wisconsin, population 689...make that 688. The community is shaken when the body of Ruth Fried is found hanging in a cornfield. Her football star boyfriend, Colt, seems like the obvious suspect, so he is arrested for the murder. Friendship is safe once again...or is it? Ruth's brother, Davey, doesn't think so. He recently returned home from Afghanistan after injuring his hand, and he starts to investigate his sister's murder. The sheriff isn't a big fan of Colt, as he had a fling with the sheriff's daughter.

Ruth's best friend Kippy starts to look into the story. She keeps imagining her hero, Diane Sawyer, guiding her along. After talking to Colt, she decides that he is an a-hole, but not a murderer. He also has an alibi: he was destroying a mailbox when the murder was taking place. Kippy visits the woman who owns the mailbox, an alcoholic and rumored witch. Soon after the visit, the woman is found dead. The police rule the death a suicide, but Kippy doesn't believe it.

Ruth's mother found her journal and gave it to Kippy, hoping that she would cross out any sex parts and give them back. The journals reveal Ruth to be kind of bitchy, but also pretty funny and awesome. She had been seeing an older guy, one who had said he wanted to kill and mount her. Ruth works together with Davey, but they meet a lot of resistance. Sheriff Staake refuses to consider any other suspect, to an infuriating degree. An overly religious girl, Libby, starts an organization in Ruth's memory at school. She tries to recruit Kippy, who she keeps calling Katie. Libby considers Kippy's efforts to find a killer as offensive to her and the organization. As they get closer to finding the suspect, they get closer to becoming victims themselves. I love ending on statements like that.

I was a pretty big fan of No One Else Can Have You. The characters are really detailed in the book. There's Ruth, who I already mentioned a little. I really liked the journals, which helped show more of who Ruth was. It reminded me of how Veronica Mars had all those flashbacks of Lilly Kane, or how everyone has flashbacks of Alison DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars. Kippy is sort of all over the place, but I loved her. She was a weird one. Her mother died when she was younger, and she only has her father. Her father tries really hard, which is adorable. There are also many, many background characters, of varying degrees of likeability. The book was pretty funny, as I already mentioned. Lots of Wisconsin humor abounds. The mystery was compelling, though I did actually guess who did it. All in all, it was a good time, don't cha know.

I received my copy of No One Else Can Have You from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Deadly by Sara Shepard

I thought that this was going to be the final book in the series...but it's not. There are supposed to be two more books, though the way things are going with this series Alison will be stalking these girls in the rest home, still angry that they beat her at bingo. After they murdered her grandchildren, probably on accident, but you never know with those Pretty Elderly Liars. Anyways, on to the fourteenth installment...

As always, spoilers!

We left off Crushed with the Liars being positive that there is a second A, and that said A is Noel. Then, they found poor Noel all beaten and tied up in a shed during Homecoming. They weren't sure if he was alive. I, however, know that if they were going to kill him off, they would have done it then. These books don't cliffhang deaths. Noel makes it through, but he and Aria are over. Though he wasn't part of the A game, Noel had been in contact with Alison while she was at the asylum. He kept a lot of Ali-related secrets from her. To get away from A, Noel, and Rosewood, Aria decides to seek an internship in Amsterdam. During the interview, the police burst in and arrest her for her art heist. Needless to say, she doesn't get the internship.

One by one, all of the Liars are arrested. Spencer is arrested for planting drugs on a fellow college prep student (Remember old Kelsey, who came back and romanced Emily for a bit before being carted away because she had a pill addiction?). Emily is arrested for helping Jordan, the "Preppy Thief" who stowed away on the eco cruise and is currently on the run. Hanna is arrested for crashing a drunk girl's car and then fleeing the scene to make it look like the other girl was driving (That would be the cousin of Naomi, her frenemy from school). It seems as though the girls are in trouble, but then they find a way to solve all their problems: they tell the FBI agent about A. They send Agent Fuji every text and note that they received. Every Liar feels relieved, certain that they are safe once and for all.

Unfortunately, that isn't the case. A just fights back harder. He/she/it/they send an altered video to the FBI showing what looks like the Liars kicking and beating Tabitha's body after she falls. Plus, the FBI only pretended to believe them, while building a case against the Liars. The girls are arrested again for Tabitha's murder, and they are supposed to be extradited to Jamaica to be sentenced.

Emily's super poor family has to sell all their worldly possessions in order to pay her bail (Can't you just offer a lien against your house/car or whatever, rather than selling them? Because you get the money or whatever back after they appear in court?). To make matters worse, she accidentally gives her mom a heart attack AND destroys her Hummels in the process. Then her family is super mean to her, and Jordan gets arrested because of Emily's tweets to her secret account. It becomes so much that Emily *SPOILER*decides to throw herself off a bridge, which is funny because she is going to drown herself and she's the best swimmer in the world, but not funny because Emily is the best, nicest character and suicide sucks*END SPOILER*

Meanwhile, Hannah's dad refuses to talk to her because he still plans to run for Congressman. He doesn't show up for her trials or anything, and is generally the worst, though still not as bad as Emily's entire family. Spencer's conspiracy theorist boyfriend gets mad at her because he didn't know that he was a target to A. Dude already had a stalker who threw acid on him, so he is understandably upset that he might end up assaulted/murdered some more. Her stepdad gets mad at her because A trashes his model home, and it's a situation for about two seconds, but eventually it gets resolved. Though Spencer sees some security footage that may have been Alison herself. And, Aria... misses Noel a lot. She finally gets up the nerve to talk to him, and gets an actual lead on Alison. The Liars arrange a meeting through Noel, though they still don't know what to think. Is Alison really alive?

*SPOILER* YES! They find her secret lair and are soon apprehended by Ali's sidekick, who was someone they all knew, though by different names. He was Emily's gay friend Derek from the seafood restaurant that summer she was pregnant (I may have imagined that he was gay). He was that Olaf guy who stole the Van Gogh with Aria. He was the bartender who served drunk cousin all those drinks when Hanna crashed her car. And, he was a bad drug pusher who got Spencer and Kelsey addicted to study pills. Being murdered multiple times has been tough on Alison, who has scars and burns from that time she was exploded, plus she is missing teeth and her hair is a mess. The dastardly duo are planning to gas the Liars to death, thus enacting their revenge for their part in taking her life away. Which is really not the Liars fault at all, but whatever. Ali's a little LOT crazy. Long story short, the Liars don't die. The FBI realizes that the video of them murdering Tabitha is fake, so they don't have to go to prison. And, now everyone seems to realize that Alison actually isn't dead. For her part, Ali vows to make herself hot again and to keep on keeping on against the Liars. I can't really remember the exact details of the ending, so some of this may be wrong. *END SPOILER*

I think there are still two more titles after this one. Things have been progressing fairly quickly in the last couple of books. The Liars aren't as easy-to-hate as they used to be, and manage to be almost likeable now. I'm interested to see how everything ends. Hopefully, it actually does end this time. I've come this far with the series, so I can manage to stick around for a couple more books.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

It starts when she sees the ghost. Walking through the graveyard, Kennedy sees a lady in black straight from a horror movie. It's weird, but there's high school business to be attended to, so life moves on. Then, Kennedy's mother turns up dead and Kennedy is attacked by the same spirit. She is rescued by twin brothers Jared and Lukas. They tell her the truth: ghosts and demons are real, someone is summoning them to bring about the end of days, and it is up to a group of teenagers to stop the apocalypse.

The teens are members of the Legion of the Black Dove, as their parents/grandparents/other relative had been before them. Every member's relative recently died in the same manner as Kennedy's mother, leaving the society in the hands of the younger generation. Each member was trained for some special skill to help hunting ghosts and demons: weapons, tracking, fighting, or spells. Well, they all were trained, except for Kennedy. Her mother didn't tell her anything about the Legion, and she certainly never prepared her to face their enemies.

Unfortunately, this leads to an overage of angst about fitting in with the group. Just to make things worse, there is a love triangle. *GRRARGGHH* Flipping love triangle. Yes, the kick-ass demon fighters fall apart because the twins fall in super sparkly love with Kennedy. It's hard not to hold it against her, but she doesn't have many redeeming qualities to balance against. Kennedy is drawn to the gruff, distant, bad boy Jared. Jared shares some vulnerable moments with her, but still seems to be holding something back. Meanwhile, nice, extroverted, goody-goody Lukas is all about her all the time. Kennedy likes him well enough, and kind of wants to keep him as a second choice because Jared is too aloof.

To be honest, a lot of the book reads like some sad girl's Supernatural fanfic. The triangle really drags down what could be an otherwise decent story. It would be vastly improved if we didn't have to deal with Kennedy's, "Should I pick the boy I actually like who likes me back, or the one who likes me and I want to keep that door open while still maintaining friend status" or her, " I don't fit in/have cool powers or knowledge/the other girl in the group wants to eat my face." I'm torn, because I would like to see what happens with the Legion trying to save the world, and all the twists that came from that part of the story. At the same time, we ended with Kennedy going through some particularly unappealing drama, and I don't know if I have the patience to spend another book yelling at her to shut up.

I received my copy of Unbreakable from Edelweiss, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.