Tag Archives: YA

One of Us is Lying by Karen .M. McManus. Review 

One of Us is lying is the hotly anticipated new YA novel from Karen M McManus. The concept instantly intrigued me. Five students are all in detention when one of them dies. The other four are instantly under suspicion. One of the people in that room knows what happened but nobodies owning up. 

The novel is a very very easy read, not because of the subject matter or the writing style but because it’s so interesting. A murder mystery for teen readers. 

All of the students have a Secret which they wanted to keep quiet. There’s Nate who despite being on probation is still drug dealing. Bronwyn is super smart and heading for valedictorian or is she..? Cooper is the all star baseball player who goes out with the prettiest girl in school, but is she who he really wants to be with? And then there’s Addy, super pretty, popular and devoted to her boyfriend Jake but maybe being on the inside means she can’t see what’s going on. 

Simon ran a gossip app, like Gossip Girl but doubly as cruel and he had secrets about all of the others that they wouldn’t want to come out.  

The novel has plenty of twists and turns and suspicions jump from person to person so that even the reader doesn’t know who to trust. There’s the usual teen spats and bitchiness but with a darker undertone that I really loved. 

I really enjoyed this book, it was perfect in a very different way to the usual YA storylines. It was well written and all the characters were likeable and engaging. I really loved one of the relationships which developed along the way although I won’t say who it is though as I like to avoid spoilers. What I will say though is that I loved, loved, loved, this book and everyone should read it! 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Review. 

Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s debut YA novel. Set in an alternative world, it focuses on the main characters Scarlett and Donatella, two sisters who are desperate to get out from their father’s tyrannical control. 

Scarlett is planning on getting to get married to a mysterious Count in order to free herself and her sister from their father’s control. But then all of a sudden their invited to the mysterious Caraval, a game/carnival which Scarlett has been trying to wrangle an invite too for years. But now with her wedding looming the timing isn’t great. 

Somehow though the two sisters end up there. That’s when everything starts going wrong. Donatella is kidnapped and made a part of the ‘game’ and Scarlett is sent on a dangerous chase to find her sister before the game’s nefarious organiser ‘Legend’ does something awful to her. 

I liked the concept of this novel a lot. Mysterious carnival game, evil intentions it seemed to have it all. But I didn’t really engage it with it as much as I expected to in all honesty. I liked it but it didn’t hold my attention enough. The characters were quite underdeveloped and I felt that it tried to hard to involve lots of different things all at once so that I was finding my concentration was drifting. 

The world isn’t fully developed either, we have no real idea of where it is, it’s clear it’s supposed to be an alternative world as the islands all have names the reader have never heard of and the dress of the characters are different to modern day and more like the 1800s, but beyond that we know nothing about it or the time it’s supposed to be set on. While I didn’t dislike the novel I felt that the lack of development on both characters & world really let it down. 

Descent, Son of a Mermaid by Katie O’Sullivan. Review 

Descent by Katie O’Sullivan is the first YA book about mermaids I’ve actually read. I love all things fantasy but for some reason haven’t come across a mermaid related book before. But I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this one! 

Shea McNamara is a normal boy who lives on a farm with his dad and deals with fancying girls, hating the spoilt rich kid and trying to get a pass to spend his birthday at a baseball game with his best friend John. Oh and trying to ignore the weird traits he has like being able to remember everything he ever reads, and eyes which adjust to the dark. 

But when his father is killed in a freak, flash tornado, Shea has to move to Cape Cod to live with his grandmother. Here he begins to unravel the mystery of his mother’s disappearance and enters a world he never believed could exist. 

The story is really engaging and quite a quick read, mainly because it’s quite short. I found the characters interesting, and the plot engaging if simple. The underwater world is well constructed and the ending perfectly set for another instalment! 

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness. Review 

This book was poor. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s not often I’ll write a truly ‘bad’ review and I will still try to be as polite as possible, while in my head I’m raging with frustration. But of course you don’t have to take my word for it. If you loved this series good for you. If you still want to read it after reading my opinions then you should go for it. If you hated it then I completely understand that because I did too. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go was a really good start. I liked the concept: people leave ‘our world’ full of corruption, and find a new planet. Initially populated by hostile creatures but it’s ok because there was a war and they’re all dead now. Oh and the women are dead too. Until Todd, the youngest boy in Prentistown stumbles upon one and begins a journey where he finds out everything he thought was true was actually a lie. It was actually the only one in the series which made me feel the remotest bit of emotion and that was due to an animal not any of the characters. 

The Ask and the Answer was a lot more disappointing, as those who regularly read my reviews already know. The story didn’t really seem to get going and it was a BIG book for not a lot to be happening. It mostly involved in Todd allowing the mayor to control his actions because he needed to save the love of his life Viola. Except, hold on… where has this love come from?! There wasn’t even a hint of it in the first book and now suddenly they’re devoted to one another. Maybe Manchee’s death would have felt like it meant more if Ness had developed this love interest much sooner.

Monsters of Men was by far the poorest book in the series. To be honest I’m kicking myself for wasting a week of my time when I could have been reading much better books. Here’s some of the reasons I disliked the finale of this series so much: 
1. The fake love interest between Viola and Todd. There was no feeling in it. I couldn’t picture them together because I’m not sure Ness ever even described them. There was no emotional connection created from their encounters and the constant bleating of TODD? VIOLA?! Todd?! VIOLA!! Was probably the most annoying thing I’ve ever read. 
2. The length of the book was increased by about 50 pages throughout the book with 4 sentences on each page. 
3. None of the characters had any substance and made me hate them all. The evil ones weren’t even properly evil and the rest were just annoying. Through the whole series I liked the dog and the two horses and that was it. 

4. The way every ‘section’ ended with a cliffhanger that turned out to be nothing. Not only was this really annoying, forced and did I mention annoying? I soon got wise to the fact that nothing bad was actually ever going to happen to the main characters. 
5. The words spelt wrong were pointless and annoying. The change in font and word size was annoying and pointless. 
6. There was actually no plot. It came to an end and nothing actually happened. 
7. There were lots of unanswered questions, plot holes and pointlessness. Case in point would be Todd’s mother’s diary. He lugs it around everywhere determined to learn to read it and we still never find out what it said beyond the first paragraph. 

I could go on but it’s becoming exhaustive and I want to sleep.

 The point I will make is that if you, like me didn’t like the series, don’t let it put you off the author all together. I was lucky enough to have read More Than This before I read the Chaos Walking series and really enjoyed it. 

Try not to let this one ruin it for you. Right, off to bed to dream about killing every character in that book. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Review 

I’m still reeling! I must admit I wasn’t sure about this book when I first started it. It’s the first one I’ve read by Patrick Ness, and the slightly strange way of talking that the main character; Todd has made me think I might not like it. But it grew on me pretty fast and by the middle I was racing through the pages. 

The premise of The Knife of Never Letting Go is that finding what (I presume is) our current world is corrupt and evil so god fearing folk have travelled to a new world where they plan to go back to basics and live clean, good lives. But it doesn’t exactly go to plan. 

As the only ‘boy’ in his village Todd has grown up believing one thing only to find out that it isn’t in fact exactly true. 

It’s a book about self discovery, love, friendship and understanding. And let me tell you one thing it’s heartbreaking in fact no, not heartbreaking it’s goddam heart wrenching! 

Although it has pretty much destroyed me, there’s no denying that this is an amazing YA novel. It has all the ingredients to make it into a fantastic series and I can’t wait to get started on the second book. 

We Were Liars by E Lockhart. Review. 

One of the best books I’ve read this year. We Were Liars by E Lockhart is a YA novel like no other. 

Intriguing and fast paced in a slow way, which doesn’t even make sense but it does when it comes to this book! 

Cadence Sinclair is a teenage girl who has changed completely since a terrible accident that nobody will talk about. All Cadence knows is that she was having a great time enjoying her privileged lifestyle on her grandparents private island and falling in love for the first time, then it all changed. 

What got me about this novel is that it creeps up on you. The build of intrigue around the accident and what is happening now on the island and then WHAM! It hit me like a punch in a gut. 

I haven’t read a book that has stayed with me for so long for ages! 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Review 

First off I want to say that if like me you’d seen the film first and had no idea what to expect from the book, then in order to enjoy it you need to know something important: 
This book is based around some old photos. Creepy old photos of what were once named ‘freaks’ (think Victorian freak shows) and other photos which are made creepy by tricks of light. You know the sort I mean; I’m thinking American Horror Story. The author Ransom Riggs had collected these photographs from charity shops, antique shops and junk shops as well as people’s private collections (because yes, people do collect the oddest things!). The book was originally planned as a picture book but developed into a narrative based around the pictures instead. 

Another thing, I’d probably recommend you see the film first. The book is better of course (it always is) but it does give you some foundation to base the pictures in your mind on. This is the (and I hesitate before using this word) problem with a book based around photos it causes a struggle to create the usual pictures in your mind as a reader. Particularly as some of the photos used for the same character were not the same person in the picture. Subtle differences but different nevertheless. Also if you’re expecting a creepy horror story that isn’t exactly what you get, so avoid disappointment now. 

Anyway, now that I’ve hopefully cleared up some of the reasons that this book has been criticised I’ll get on to my full review. I’ll start off by saying that I’ve given this book an easy 5*. 

Jacob Portman is the son of a rich pharmacy heiress mother and a failed author-cum-birdwatcher father. He finds escapism in the stories his grandfather tells him about his evacuation as a persecuted Jew in the Second World War. Jacob’s grandfather Abe tells him tall tales of ‘peculiar’ children who he lived with in a huge house on a little Welsh island. He even has the photos to back it up; creepy twins, levitating girls, and boys infested by bees. Not to mention the terrifying monsters who hunted them. It’s only as he gets older that Jacob begins to suspect his grandfather was lying to cover up the horrors he experienced in the war. 

But when Jacob’s grandfather dies in suspicious circumstances Jacob and his father take a trip to the island to find out more about Abe’s past in the hope it will settle Jacob’s case of ‘acute stress’ brought on by witnessing his grandfathers death. 

It’s on the island that he meets Miss Peregrine and her ‘peculiars’. These children all have a ‘peculiar’ talent just like in his grandfathers photos and it’s here that Jacob’s ordinary life becomes extraordinary. 

It’s a very engaging book, the photos are brilliant particularly if like me, you find those old creepy photos fascinating. Riggs writes beautifully and weaves together a story full of magic and mystery, any YA fantasy lover’s dream. In my book it shows a true talent to be able to put together a whole narrative based around a bunch of old photos and I can’t wait to get stuck into book 2.