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Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down

Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green35504431

Aza is a perfectly normal teenager who is investigating the disappearance of a millionaire, with a help from her best friend Daisy. They started with an investigation because there’s a reward for any information about disappeared millionaire Pickett. They’re lucky because Aza hanged out with Pickett’s son Davis when they were younger.

But the disappearance is not the only thing that occupies Aza. She suffers from anxiety, a mental disorder that makes her everyday difficult and affects relationships with her loved ones and friends.


Two stories are intertwined in the book. The first is the story of Aza, which is actually a rather average girl who suffers from anxiety and OCD. The other is the story of the investigation of a missing millionaire.

Green decided that he would discuss the topic of mental illnesses in his book, which is great. Mental illnesses are common and much present today, but they are rarely discussed, especially in YA literature.

I believe it’s difficult for young people who know that they have problems, to define what is actually wrong with them and how to deal with their disorders, or where they can seek help. It’s important to know what we’re dealing with and how to verbalize our feelings and mental state. And Green is quite good at this. And yet, it seemed to me that he was exaggerating. And I am saying this from my own experience because anxiety has been a part of me since I can remember. Nevertheless Green’s good intentions, I could not identify with Aza’s character and what she was experiencing.

Nonetheless, Aza seemed as a likable character through which Green attempts to portray what people with anxiety are facing and how thoughts can have a negative impact on the person and his everyday life. And how negative thoughts can actually control a person. What really disturbed me in the book was Aza’s rejection of medical treatment. Many people don’t have the opportunity to seek help or to treat their mental illnesses. Still, despite the privilege of having this opportunity, Aza consciously rejects treatments. Do not understand me wrong, I know that healing is only a small step towards improving the conditions and that it is a lengthy process that does not end. A person has to live with such disorders every day until the end of his life. However, treatment is an important part of this process, which should be more obvious from reading this book.

I’m also aware that every mental illness is shown in a different way, but I could not identify with Aza’s disorder. It seems to me that she reacts all too easily in certain situations and she’s living a simple life – her mental illness just makes her more introverted than others. But, as has already been said, it is likely that each illness is indicated in a different way. However, I am interested how people who never had any problems with anxieties would comprehend everything written and how the ones who are living with it will.

The disappearance of the millionaire is the frame of the story, which, however, fades somehow through the book. I understand that Green wanted to devote to other topics, but he ignored something that led to the plot itself and the story of the book. And the fact that he put the basic story on the side, didn’t make a good impression on me. In the end, it seems like Green has given himself too heavy task, which he couldn’t accomplish. The disappearance only helps as a driving force to another situation, and in the end, it all seems tepid. It looks like book wouldn’t have a common thread, and I had a feeling that nothing much is happening in the book.

If I mention language and writing style, I don’t have any complaints. Green certainly does not underestimate its readers of different ages. He also knows how to create charming characters who are not fake. Yes, they are all unique, because obviously, it can’t get without that. Still, they don’t stand out in the way that this would disturb the reading. They are confronted with the problems that all people in real life have and sometimes they are not successful. They live lives like we all do. However, it seems to me that at times he is exaggerating with incorporating of philosophy, especially in dialogues. In my opinion, this makes dialogues fake and unrealistic.

I gave this book two stars because I thought it was ok reading, but it was also just a regular read.

Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Did you already read this book? What do you think about it?

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Book Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi

 

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It’s been 264 days since Juliette touched anybody.

The last time she did, it led to something terrifying. But nobody believed her that it was an accident. The Reestablishment charged her with murder and locked her up. They don’t care to find out, why Juliette’s touch is fatal. Nobody cares for her because they’re all too busy with the outside world, which is completely different now.

Until someone else joins Juliette in her cell. Someone, who’s really familiar to Juliette.


This book was really hyped a few years ago but, I’m slow sometimes, so I only had a chance to pick it up this year. Maybe I made mistake and should read it a while ago when I was younger and not so tired of all YA dystopian novels. Right now, I really feel like I’m not a target audience for this genre anymore. I’m just too old.

The beginning itself was extremely boring and I struggled through the first pages (a lot of them). I was compelled to read on, not because the story simply would draw me in, but I was wondering how did Juliette become like this and what’s with her fatal touch. This is probably the only reason I read the book to the end. And let me tell you, the mystery around everything really got on my nerves.

Juliette is one of those characters I didn’t like from beginning and it was that way until the end. She is indecisive, distrustful when there’s no need for that and she’s complicating all the time and can’t make her mind. It’s good that she’s immense beauty that every guy in the book falls for her and that saves her life many times (that is, according to the book). In general, I did not like the characters very much.

Sadly, we don’t get to know much about the dystopian world. For those few information that comes to the reader, we can be sure that they are there to mislead us. This predictability slowly destroys all the stories, and here it was not different (still, there are chances that I’m wrong). There are two types of people in this “new” world, first are “bad” and the others are “good” and they want to resist the bad guys. We get to know some things about both, but we know that we can not trust anyone because everything can mislead us. I would love to get some more concrete information which would surely make the story more interesting.

As already mentioned, the idea is not bad, in fact, it seemed quite interesting to me but it was just not written in the way that would entertain me. Especially after some exceptions began to appear (don’t worry, no spoilers). I understand why this happened, but, at least to me, it completely destroyed the pleasure of reading, and also the idea the author wanted to present.

Yes, there are some chapters that keep a reader in tension, but they don’t outweigh the rest. Too much romance, too much mysteries, too much focus on relationships. And still, it was not enough for me.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Did you read Shatter Me? What did you think about it? Did you read the rest of the books in series?

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Book Review: Auggie & Me

Title: Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

Author: R.J. Palacio

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In book Wonder, we read about a boy named Auggie, who was born with a facial deformity and starts attending a new school.

This book consists of three different chapters – Julian chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling. Julian chapter is told from a perspective of Julian, who bullied Auggie in book Wonder. Pluto chapter is told from a perspective of Christopher, Auggie’s best friend since early childhood. And the last chapter, Shingaling, is told from a perspective of Charlotte, who is now Auggie’s classmate.


This book is not a sequel to Wonder, it’s a companion novel with three different points of views on Auggie from Wonder. Each view has its own chapter within the book and can be read completely separately from other two.

First, it’s Julian chapter. Julian is a spoiled kid and he couldn’t accept Auggie and soon it’s clear why. He simply repeats the behavior patterns of his mother, who also had troubles accepting Auggie. She’s scared of Auggie and with her behavior, she’s encouraging her son to behave likewise. Julian (as his mother) always justifies his behavior, defending himself he’s only joking and that people shouldn’t felt so offended by his jokes. It was hard for me to read this story because Julian was mean and I didn’t like him at all. Not to mention his mother who was supporting, encouraging and justification Julian’s unacceptable behavior.

Next one is Pluto chapter, where we met Christopher, who is/was Auggie’s best friend from early childhood. They drifted away because of his moving to some other place. This story, more or less, represents Christopher’s memories of Auggie and how friendship with him affected his life. I felt that during growing up, Christopher started feeling ashamed of Auggie’s look. This aspect is the only thing that I found interesting in this chapter. It’s a reflection, how are we accepting social prejudices and how we submit to the opinion of others while growing up.

The story Shingaling, Charlotte’s chapter, is the longest but while reading it, I was surprised, there was almost no Auggie in it. Basically, it’s a story about growing up girl, her daily life, and problems in school. Maybe there was some secret connection of her story with Auggie’s but I couldn’t find it.

I enjoyed reading this book but it was far from what we got in Wonder. It seemed to me, that author just wanted to extend the success of it. At first, I was truly curious to read what other has to say about Auggie and how he affected their lives, but I think it was simply not best managed. Of all three stories, I enjoyed reading Julian’s chapter the most, even though I found characters unbearable. Because the other two stories are mainly just a description of the lives of two people, with occasional references to Auggie.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? If so, what are your thought about it? And what about the book Wonder?

 

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Book Review: All the Bright Places

Title: All the Bright Places

Author: Jennifer Niven

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Theodore Finch is fascinated by death and he’s constantly thinking about different ways to kill himself. One day, on the ledge of the school bell tower, he meets Violet. Violet’s having trouble dealing with her sister’s death, so she came on a ledge, seeing if she is brave enough to jump. Finch “saves” her and since then, he can’s stop thinking about her. Still, everybody in school thinks she saved him – because after all, he is a “weird one” in school.

Finch is more than happy when they work on a school project together, where they’re discovering natural wonders of their state. But they’re also discovering each other’s world and they become very close friends soon.


I read this book a few month ago but I was too lazy/busy to write a review. So, writing this, I did have some troubles about remembering what happened – ok, I remembered the story but the details were (almost) gone. Which says a lot about the book, no?

Considering, that this book deals with important topics, such as suicide, mental illnesses, bullying, I expected much more. In fact, I was disappointed. It’s well written and also quick to read, but that’s all.

It’s hard to point out, what exactly did bother me about this book. Perhaps poetical writing, in which author wants to disguise the seriousness of the situation. Maybe too mature Finch and Violet, who were exchanging Virginia Woolf’s quotes on daily basis (I highly doubt that any of my schoolmates knew who she was at that age) or their unreal world that they created. Don’t get me wrong, I know that people often create their own worlds when they’re dealing with mental illnesses but it just didn’t felt real here. It’s not like that (And I worked with people with mental illnesses. I know something about it.).

I’m only glad, that this book doesn’t only deal with depression but also bipolar disorder. However, I think that readers who are not familiar with this particular illness can not understand, why Finch behaves like that. It should be more pointed out why one day, he’s in heaven and all funny-happy and the next moment, he’s down and totally depressed.

At the same time, however, it’s all to revolved around the illness. Considering, that they both “recognized” the problems they had and they found a support in each other and that they could rely on each other, I still have troubles with understanding why they refused help.

And about the help and support… ignorance of the adults, as has been described in this book, just stunned me. I was speechless. And I couldn’t believe it. It felt just too phony to me. I know that some people have parents who don’t care. But seriously?!? His own mother didn’t saw what was happening with him? I found this absolutely unbelievable and unacceptable.

At the end, it seemed to me, that author didn’t want to encourage readers to seek help if they need it (or help someone else) but the message of the book is: nobody cares. There’s no help and each one has to deal with their own problems and in their own way. Things will be better after the death. WHICH IS WRONG!!!

Every life counts.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Did you read All the Bright places? What did you think about it? Like it or not? Please, share your opinion in comments below!

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Book Review: The Letter for the King

Title: The Letter for the King

Author: Tonke Dragt18113445

Young Tiuri is getting ready for a grand ceremony where he will become a knight. He just has to pass the last test with three other boys and spend the night in silence and isolation. However, they are disrupted by knocking on the door and Tiuri breaks a rule and opens the door. He accepts the request of a stranger, to deliver a mysterious letter for the Black Knight with the White Shield. He leaves his friends and goes searching for Black Knight but when he finally finds him, he’s dying. Tiuri promises him he would deliver a letter to King Unauwen in a neighboring realm.

But soon, the Red Riders who also want a letter, start chasing him. Tiuri finds himself in an incredible adventure, full of intrigues, danger, and betrayals.


What a wonderful books this was!

This book is written for younger readers, which was rather obvious from the writing style but I really didn’t mind. Dialogues are simple, also situations are presented clearly and characters are very black and white. This is particularly obvious in situations where there could (should) be a violence. The author avoids the violent situations, despite the fact that reader is expecting some bloody situations. After all, this is a book about knights who want to destroy a kingdom and Tiuri.

While reading I often smiled at the naivete of the situations and their outcome – unravellings of the events are simple and always in a favor of the main protagonist. I’m really not used to it (yes, I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin!) because in adult fantasy books there’s a lot of deaths and the hero can’t only rely on his/her good instinct and belief that all people are good and will help him/her.

Like I already said, the characters are presented black and white. Where the author wants that reader would not trust the first impression, it’s clearly displayed that way. Characters are good or they’re evil. There really is nothing in between. There are the ones who help Tiuri and those who hinder his way.

Tiuri is clever and truly nice main character. At times a little naive but charming. His kindness and faith in people are incredible. This book as well shows an incredible friendship between him and Piak. It was truly amazing reading about such a bond.

I would say that this book is perfect for younger readers who want to get into fantasy books. For slightly older readers it may be a little too simple and easy. But if you have in mind for whom this book is intended, it still can be an amazing read. The writing style is beautiful despite being simple. It’s a book about good and evil, where it’s obvious that good will win at the end. But that really doesn’t spoil the pleasure of reading.

I just can’t wait for next book!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Book Review: Gemina

Title: Gemina

Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff29236299

A sequel to Illuminae offers new characters and a new story. In the foreground, there’s a story about space station Heimdall, whose people are not aware of what happened on Kerenza and on other space shifts.

Hanna is station captain’s daughter, dating a nice guy who’s working for her father. She also likes to draw, she loves her dad but yet, she’s often bored because there’s not much going on on a space station. Sometimes she hangs out with Nik, who is a member of a crime family. When the elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik join forces against them and their evil plan. They just want to survive and save the people on the station.


In some way, this book is a continuation of the first book, despite the fact, that there are new characters and a different place with a new story. I really liked the first book. I gave it 5 stars and I couldn’t wait for a sequel. The story was interesting but especially attractive was a format of the book – documents, e-mail correspondence, … That really was some different and interesting look, but above all, completely unique reading experience. Therefore, I was eagerly waiting for Gemina to be published.

I liked that there were new characters in this book. It seemed exciting and daring move. I liked Nik, his sense of humor and how he kept his cheerful nature even in difficult situations. I enjoyed his jokes and really thought he was funny. I couldn’t say same for Hanna. I didn’t like her at first. I thought she is spoiled daddy’s girl who always gets what she wants. Still, I think her character improved through the story and she showed her toughness by the end of the book which was great. But still, she was that kind of character that I don’t care much about. Most of all, I liked Ella, Nik’s little cousin. Smart, funny, realistic and sarcastic – I loved her! There were not many other characters, except the bad guys. Overall, I was not impressed by characters at all.

The story itself was ok. I did have problems at moments where I was confused about what’s going on and it was hard for me to follow the story line. Not to mention, that I was also bored between reading. I still can’t figure out why because there’s a lot of going on, there were many plot twists and everything.

Nevertheless, the format makes this book entertaining, just like in the first book. But it’s much more “narrative” as the first book was. So it was easier to read it but I still missed it. It’s so much more fun to read documents, files, and other stuff than just an ordinary texts. After all, this is what makes this books so special. And I was disappointed about that.

Yes, the story is full of action, unexpected twists, some were better, some worse. I really missed old AIDAN *sigh*. And that other, unexpected enemies that appear in the middle of the book…. really?

Yes, the book was ok. It was an interesting read and also funny and sad. But I really think that Illuminae was the book where every single page was well thought and developed to the last detail. But Gemina doesn’t have this. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the third book, where I hope, all together will join forces in the battle against BeiTech.

Rating: 3/5 stars

You can also check my Illuminae review here.

What do you think about Illuminae Files? Did you like Gemina? What are your thoughts about this book? 

 

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Book Review: Fly on the Wall

Title: Fly on the Wall: How one girl saw everything

Author: E. Lockhartmuha

Gretchen Yee is attending Manhattan School of Art and Music but she feels like she can’t fit in. Everyone else is standing out, they are different and special and she’s just a completely normal teenage girl. Even in a classroom, she’s not standing out, her teacher thinks she shouldn’t drawing just comics.

She’s in love with Titus but is too shy to do anything. And even her best friend Katya is preoccupied with other things and doesn’t have time for her anymore recently.

So one day, Gretchen wishes she could be a fly on the wall in boy’s locker room. She could learn more about boys, what they really like and how do they think.


I read this book for one of my reading challenges. It really surprised me, in a good way. I thought it would be just another typical YA book, cheesy and full of cliches. But it was nicely written and full of humor.

As a synopsis tells, it’s about a girl named Gretchen who turns into a fly in boy’s locker room. She’s stuck there and has to spend a few days trapped there. Observing through the eyes of a fly was fantastic. It was funny and felt real. Above all, I truly identified with the fly because I would felt exactly the same in her skin.

The story remains realistic all the way and reader actually believes what’s written. Even when she has transformed into a fly, I believed it and never wondered why did it happen.

If I thought this book would be just another one of many similar teenager books, and that it will not stand out, I was wrong. The author perfectly demonstrates how it is to be a teenager and how young people (and older maybe) feel in their skin. Even more, she shows us, that boys are not different at all! Describing all the details of boy’s bodies, their hairiness (or lack of hair), pimples on their asses – it was fun to read about it. I really think it’s great for young girls who doesn’t have experiences with boys, that they can learn, boys are not just some “confident gods” as many thinks but they also have flaws and their own insecurities.

The process from shy and unnoticeable Gretchen to Gretchen the Fly, who is observing the most intimate parts of guys without shame and with a lot of pleasure and who becomes a real naughty girl, is amazing and unique. And why not? Why should only guys look at girls in a sexual way? Why shouldn’t girls also objectify guys and wondering what’s hiding in their pants? After all, it’s normal we all have the same thoughts. But it’s pity that only boys can act that way but it’s inappropriate if girls are talking about it. But it’s different in this book which I support completely.

All the characters are typical high school teenagers, with whom the reader can identify easily. But Gretchen really stands out because she’s just an average, sweet and nicely confused girl.

I’m happy I get a chance to read this book. It was short but entertaining read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? Please, comment below.