Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Contemporary, 3-out-of-5, Released-in-2010, Kindle-eBook

Synopsis: “Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. 

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. 

But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I’m not sure I really understand the hype surrounding this story. Charlie was a character that I came to dislike throughout the book with his incessant whinging and crying. I get it, Charlie is meant to be autistic … but it got to a point where his character became so unbearable that I had to put down my kindle for a few hours so I wouldn’t throw it across the room.

While I’m not saying the whole book was horrible (I did give it three stars), the main character was what made my rating go down. Yes, I’m aware that I’m in the minority of people who do not love and worship this book like it’s the most amazing piece of literature on earth that defines our generation – and I don’t even care. While I understand that Chbosky created Charlie as a character that we’re meant to root for and relate ourselves to – I found it increasingly hard to because I found him to be a very 2D character.

For a 16-year-old boy, he sure didn’t act like it. [What 16-year-old boy does not know about masturbation. Did he just tune out completely during sex-education class every time? Please.] He was extremely emotionally unstable, and the reason was not explained until the very last part of the book. It just felt forced and unbelievable, like Chbosky realised at the last minute that Charlie’s actions needed to actually be explained.

BUT as I mentioned before, this book was not all bad. I did in fact enjoy it, even though its protagonist marred the reading experience. I did love his friendships with Sam and Patrick. (Side note: Did anyone realise that Charlie had said that Patrick’s nickname was ‘Nothing’ – except apart from saying it once or twice, no one ever brings up that name again? What was the point in introducing that name if it’s never going to be used?) What I did like about Charlie was how supportive of a friend he is. This redeeming quality made me like him a little better. I really like it when friendships just click together, and that happened in this book. (Apart from the times when Charlie kept whinging about his love for Sam.)

While not all bad, I was eventually let down by this book. I guess I was pulled in by the hype surrounding the movie, and went in with really high expectations. While not my favourite book of 2012, I did enjoy it overall (when Charlie was continuously whinging).

– – – –

The movie trailer on the other hand, makes Charlie seem completely different to his character in the book. I think I’ll give the movie a try.

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Book Review: What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

Title: What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopia, 4-out-of-5, Released-in-2012, Kindle-eBook, Netgalley-Read

Synopsis: “I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, especially with a plot that moved along so slowly. But wow, I’m so glad it blew my expectations out of the water! More than once, this book ignited questions about humanity that resulted in momentary lapses in reading time to try and resolve. It was odd to think about having two souls in your body that co-existed together and was able to watch what either one was doing – in a sense it was similar to siamese twins, but with their minds and thoughts conjoined.

I found Eva to be a very well constructed character – and props to Zhang for writing from the perspective of the recessive soul that existed only as a remnant of most people’s memories. I found Zhang’s writing to be strong and flawless, and Eva’s voice resounded so well within the pages.

The relationship between Addie and Eva was written wonderfully too. They behaved as sisters would – they fought and they supported each other. What made it so different to normal sibling relationships is that both souls shared the same body, thus if one kissed someone, the other had to experience it too. This once again made me think – while hybrid souls are solely science-fiction, what about conjoined twins within our normal world? How does it work when one twin has a physical relationship with their partner? How does the their twin react? What happens when one gets married? I’m really interested in finding out after reading this book.

***SPOILERS***

What irked me about this book (and kept me from giving it 5/5 stars) were some of the side characters and the pacing. Hally/Lissa was a character that I couldn’t invest in. Hally appeared for the majority of the first part of the book, while Lissa seemed to replace her in the second. While Hally seemed to reappear a few times, it seemed this happened sporadically, as if Zhang only just remembered that Hally still existed. There was no explanation as to why Lissa seemed to take over their body once they got to the hospital. These soul switches were executed better with Devon/Ryan – and I understood why they switched around, especially when Eva finally gained control of her and Addie’s body again. However, I’m still confused as to how Eva could tell when Devon or Ryan was in control … they shared the same body, so it’s not like there were little differences to their faces like twins may have.

The second thing that irked me was the pacing of this book. I found the plot to be extremely slow, but then BAM, Eva tells me that only a day or two has passed since the time she was admitted into the hybrid hospital. I’m surprised for a bit and then the plot continues to move along at a snail’s pace. Luckily, it does speed up towards the last fifth of the book, which I think redeemed itself. But now that I think about it, Addie and Eva only lived in that hospital for 5-7 days before they escaped to live with their rescuers … where they hell are their parents? Surely they couldn’t have forgotten about the girls in less than a week? And don’t get me started on Hally/Lissa and Devon/Ryan’s parents. Did they not even bother to fight for their children? It seemed a little too easy that they would let someone take away their only two children to a completely different state without putting up a fight.

***SPOILER***

While there were negative aspects of the book, it didn’t really hinder my overall enjoyment of Eva and Addie’s story. I thought the entire story was very though provoking and extremely creative and original. There were light aspects of romance, and luckily it didn’t make up the plot – huzzah! I am definitely intrigued about this series and will most likely pick up the next book as soon as it comes out. I do recommend this book to anyone that likes a dystopian read that is original and not powered only by romance!

THANKS TO: HarperCollins Australia for the read on Netgalley

Book Review: Kid in Chief by Paul Maguire.

Title: Kid in Chief

Author: Paul Maguire

Illustrator: Katy Betz

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Children, 3-out-of-5, NetGalley-Read, Kindle-eBook

Release Date: 6 November 2012

Synopsis: “When third-grader Bobby Barton visits Washington, D.C. on a class trip, he doesn’t know he will walk away with a chance to become the leader of our nation. It’s on that trip that Bobby finds a missing part of the United States Constitution telling him how he could become President! Soon after making this discovery, Bobby moves into the White House as the youngest American President in history. With his friends Maria Cagney (Bobby’s Vice-President) and Kevin Sawyer (his Chief of Staff), Bobby is faced with many important decisions, confusing situations, and exciting adventures. Bobby quickly finds out that being President is a very tough job. Join him as he and his friends learn all about how the government works, having loads of fun along the way!” (Taken from Goodreads)

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Book Review: Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem by Melissa Lemon

Title: Snow Whyte and the Queen of Mayhem

Author: Melissa Lemon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, Fairytale-Retelling, Fantasy, 3-out-of-5, TBR-in-2012, NetGalley-Read, Kindle-eBook

Release Date: 11 December 2012

Synopsis: Stuck in her family’s apple orchards, Kat’s got plenty of work to do and only pesky Jeremy to help. But when Jeremy convinces her to run away, Kat will discover that nothing—and no one—in her life is quite what it seems. Wonderfully reimagined, this is the magical tale of Snow White as you’ve never read it before!” (Taken from Goodreads)

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Book Review: The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Title: The Girl in the Wall

Author: Daphne Benedis-Grab

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Shelf: Read-in-2012, Young-Adult, 3-out-of-5, TBR-in-2012, NetGalley-Read, Kindle-eBook

Release Date: 18 December 2012

Synopsis: “Ariel’s birthday weekend looks to be the event of the season, with a private concert by rock star Hudson Winters on the grounds of her family’s east coast estate, and all of Ariel’s elite prep school friends in attendance. The only person who’s dreading the party is Sera, Ariel’s former best friend, whose father is forcing her to go. Sera has been the school pariah since she betrayed Ariel, and she now avoids Ariel and their former friends. Thrown together, Ariel and Sera can agree on one thing: this could be one very long night.

They have no idea just how right they are.

Only moments after the concert begins and the lights go down, thugs open fire on parents and schoolmates alike, in a plot against Ariel’s father that quickly spins out of control. As the entire party is taken hostage, the girls are forced apart. Ariel escapes into the hidden tunnels in the family mansion, where she and Sera played as children. Only Sera, who forges an unlikely alliance with Hudson Winters, knows where her friend could be. As the industrial terrorist plot unravels and the death toll climbs, Ariel and Sera must recall the sisterhood that once sustained them as they try to save themselves and each other on the longest night of their lives.” (Taken from Goodreads)

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Book Review: Blue Skies (Atopia Chronicles) by Matthew Mather

This is me right now:

Let me start off by letting everyone know that I don’t read a lot of sci-fi novels. I watch sci-fi movies, but when I choose a book to read, I lean towards the Young-Adult selections because they don’t really require a lot of brain power. When I read, I prefer to just spent my time relaxing.

But ever since I got my kindle (yes I love the thing and I will mention it as much as I want), I’ve been finding a lot of unique stories that I’ve never stumbled across before – and actually giving them a try. Following UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn, I read a novella called Ashes to Ashes and Cinder to Cinder by Cameron Jace. It was … meh, to put it politely. If it hadn’t been a novella, I wouldn’t have finished it in the first place. But the main point was, I had read one good unique find and one not so good find – at least they were both free for download on Amazon.com.

When choosing the next thing to read (yes, the kindle still hasn’t lost its novelty yet), I was a little iffy in attempting to read another YA fairytale retelling, especially after AACC. So I decided to be a little adventurous and read a sci-fi instead. And boy oh boy was it a good decision!

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