Archive for Two Stars
SCOWLER by Daniel Kraus Book Review
Publication Date: March 12th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Poor
Book Summary: Imagine your father is a monster. Would that mean there are monsters inside you, too?
Nineteen-year-old Ry Burke, his mother, and little sister scrape by for a living on their dying family farm. Ry wishes for anything to distract him from the grim memories of his father’s physical and emotional abuse. Then a meteorite falls from the sky, bringing with it not only a fragment from another world but also the arrival of a ruthless man intent on destroying the entire family. Soon Ry is forced to defend himself by resurrecting a trio of imaginary childhood protectors: kindly Mr. Furrington, wise Jesus, and the bloodthirsty Scowler.
Scowler by Daniel Kraus Book Review Overview:
- Jaw-dropping book that keeps you on the edge of your seat
- The fantastical/magical/hallucinations were too much for me
- The audiobook was way too long
Ever since I read Rotters by Daniel Kraus, I know that as an author, Kraus has the ability to keep me up awake and scared at night. He is definitely the first author I think of when I think of YA Horror. For a horror book, SCOWLER by Daniel Kraus is perfect.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Book Review
Publication Date: May 13th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Rating: – Poor
Book Summary: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Book Review Overview:
- Found the characters to be really unlikeable
- Surprise ending the lives up to the hype
- As much as I wanted to like this book, I just couldn’t
When I started reading WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, I literally had to stop myself from constantly rolling my eyes. The novel is full of rich people problems. The character’s mother and aunts are fighting over the millions in properties that her grandfather owns. They bicker over who is going to inherit once he dies. None of their mothers work real jobs and they rely on the patriarch of the family to support them. Of course, Cadence and her cousins (they dub themselves as the Liars) think that the constant fighting is ridiculous and they just shake their heads while they lounge at the beach of their private island.
But Something happens on the summer of their Fifteenth Year. Something big. Cadence has a head injury and the memory of what happens that summer gets all fuzzy. Two years later, Cadence is back at the island. Everyone tiptoes around her and refuses to talk about what happens.
A REALLY, AWESOME MESS by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook Book Review
Publication Date: July 23rd 2013 by EgmontUSA
Rating: – Poor
Book Summary: A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.
Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents’ divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.
Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog– and Emmy definitely doesn’t. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.
Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.
A Really, Awesome Mess Book Review Overview:
- Unlikeable protagonists but diverse and interesting cast of secondary characters
- The plot gets out of hand and I ended up skimming the last half of the book
I picked up A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin on a whim. I was looking for something to read, and A Really Awesome Mess kind of reminded me of a younger-self favorite: Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a novel about a teen who ends up at a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. A Really Awesome Mess tries to follow in the same vein by mixing mental health with humor. Unfortunately, A Really Awesome Mess is unsuccessful.
Emmy and Justin arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school for messed up teens. But Emmy and Justin refuse to admit that they both have problems. Emmy had always felt like an outsider in her own family. She was adopted from China, and she looks nothing like her family. After a scandalous photo of her spread around her school, Emmy retaliates by spreading rumors on Facebook. Justin was never able to properly cope with his parents’ divorce. When he overdoses on a handful of Tylenol, Justin hits rock bottom. In A Really Awesome Mess, Emmy and Justin make new friends and learn how to cope with their problems.
One of the downfalls of A Really Awesome Mess is that the two protagonists, who alternate narrating the story, are not likeable. To be honest, they’re quite annoying. At first, I thought that this would be the kind of story where you hate the main characters, but you end up growing to love them. This was not the case. As the story progressed, the more I rolled my eyes at the characters. It was really hard to empathize with them when I didn’t even like them.
A highlight of A Really Awesome Mess is the diverse cast of secondary characters. Emmy and Justin are forced to work as a team with others in their anger management class. Mohammed, Chip, Jenny, and Diana all had distinct personalities. So even if there were a ton of people to keep track of, it never got confusing.
I enjoyed the group’s dynamics, but then the plot takes a turn for the worse. The antics that the group gets into just get utterly ridiculous. I know I’m probably not supposed to take this book all that seriously. But to be honest, I really didn’t find myself laughing throughout the book. There were a few lines that deserved a chuckle, but for the most part, A Really Awesome Mess was silly, not funny. I had to resist rolling my eyes in a few scenes, and I ended up having to force myself through the last half of the book.
Once I reached the climax of the story, it was difficult to take the protagonists seriously. It’s hard for me to feel like they accomplished anything in terms of getting better. The characters never felt sincere to me when they came upon their turning points. I never really felt that Emmy or Justin improved by the end of the book.
Overall, A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin is a mess not worth reading. The unlikeable protagonists will just have you rolling your eyes from beginning to end.