Mini book reviews – Heather’s recent readsPosted: May 19, 2016
I’ve read so many books recently, and instead of doing extensive reviews of all of them, I thought I would write mini reviews instead. There are a few spoilers here and there so be warned!
I would also love to know your feelings on the below books, so leave your opinions in the comments!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Enjoyable easy reading with well-developed characters and a subtle storyline (not an awful lot actually happens in it). Bonus points because it’s about twins, but subtracting points for the Simon Snow FanFic which the whole novel is based around. I thought it was boring and hard to take seriously (mainly because of the ridiculous names and because it seemed like a joke version of Harry Potter). I skipped the majority of the FanFic excerpts and think that it was a missed opportunity, as the concept is really interesting and could have made the book ten-times more enjoyable than it was. All in all, I liked it but it was a bit of a non-event. Also, I’ve been put off of reading Carry On as I disliked the FanFic so much, which is a shame as I have already bought it.
Paper Towns by John Green
Enjoyed reading it as it was funny (especially the road trip element) and intriguing. Liked the mixture of mystery and high-school drama. Also found the concept of ‘Paper Towns’ really interesting, as I’m really into abandoned places. In parts, I felt like Margot’s character wasn’t as developed as I would have liked as she really seemed to change at the end, but I’m aware that this may have been intentional – the whole point was that Quentin didn’t understand her at all and put her on a pedestal. Liked the ‘adventure mystery’ vibe.
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Again, I liked reading this (perhaps a little less than Paper Towns), but the amount of similarities between the two is high. Here is a summary of both of their storylines…
‘Fun loving young girl who no one understands goes missing and their male companions (who just happen to be in love with them) try to figure out what happened’.
Still, cool setting (boarding school) and a range of three-dimensional characters. Also, was a little shocked at the end, definitely didn’t expect it and I’m not sure how I feel about it…
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Quite different from any of the other books I’ve read (which was refreshing) and although I didn’t really understand why the two main characters were attracted to each other (male character exhibited distaste towards female at first, and I didn’t understand what made him change his mind), I did feel emotionally attached to the two and wanted them to have a happy ending. The ending, although not ‘happy’ did give hope, so that’s better than nothing. All the characters were unique, as well as being very well-developed (I wanted Richie to get his comeuppance at the end), so Rowell clearly did a good job regarding characterisation. More of an emotion-led story than an action led one (and I generally prefer the latter).
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Favourite of all the books I’ve read recently. Probably because I love dystopian YA but also because I loved the concept. Don’t get me wrong it’s a bit silly (why a maze? What’s with the random telepathy? The characters experience memory loss so how can they remember the names of things?) but I’m sure (well I hope) the questions that remain unanswered will be answered by the end of the series. Although there were lots of names and characters to remember, this didn’t put me off (it normally does if I can’t follow who is who) and I just loved the setting – I’m a sucker for a unique story world. One major criticism would be that it is cliché in areas (self-sacrificing hero/unnecessary death just for the emotional gut-punch) but all in all I loved it and read it in two sittings. I have also bought the other three and can’t wait to get cracking with those.
*Update* The rest of the series was dissapointing to be honest.
The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
Interesting concept but the whole novel stressed me out – I wanted to know if there was a happy ending almost after the first two chapters. Like the impatient douche-bag I am, I Googled the ending (so naughty). Funnily enough, I enjoyed the book more after finding out what happened, as I was no longer skipping chapters to figure it out. Good character development but a frustrating concept if you like justice and happy endings. Unique voices from the protagonists (you could really tell the difference between the mother and daughter but sometimes I felt the daughter sounded too grown up for a six-year-old). The blend of real life and the occasional fantastical elements was confusing at times, and I felt there was sometimes too much description, so minus points for that.
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
The beautifully designed cover and blurb drew me to this but once I began reading the elaborate detail and description really put me off. Really like the idea behind it but feel it would be stronger if it were less flowery. Didn’t like the mother character as she seemed a little detached, and quite frankly I didn’t like the girl either as she was a bit plain. This isn’t really a fair review though as I didn’t finish the book. I feel like this review isn’t a reflection of the writer’s ability to write, more a reflection of my own personal taste. I might give it another go later…
Based on what I read, 5/10
The Host by Stephanie Meyer
Started off really enjoying it but the more I thought about the concept behind it the more I thought it was weird. I didn’t really ‘get’ it, but of course, that may just be me being a dumbass. The thought of a silvery wiggly worm as a conscious being was odd and I found it hard to understand because to me, ‘Wanderer’ seemed really human. So I guess it could be argued that the novel is thought-provoking as it brings up themes and questions relating to humanity – What really makes us human? What really is a ‘mind’? How important is a body? being just a few. So I suppose this is good as novels are meant to make you think more in-depth about their themes. Despite my reservations, this novel explores a unique concept and is full of conflict. Bit long for my liking so I didn’t finish it and instead watched the film (awful of me I know, but I felt it would be awesome in visual media).
The Understudy by David Nicholls
Funny, vibrant, believable and interesting characters who made me laugh. I really wanted the main character to succeed, which is the sign of a well developed and three-dimensional protagonist! Would recommend if you are after a light-hearted read. The protagonists 6-year-old-daughter was hilarious and Nicholls used her to poke fun at the typical London upper-class snob (her love of sushi and her distaste of her Dad’s ‘common’ choice of pizza restaurant), which was amusing.
Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Although I liked this book, I couldn’t get past the obvious flaw in the concept. The main character had a face transplant but was back at school after several months. I thought this was ridiculous to be honest, as something as awful as losing your face would take YEARS to fully recover from. As well as this, I found the main character made stupid decisions (stopping taking her anti-rejection pills as an example) which also bothered me. Aside from this I did actually enjoy reading it and would recommend. I just felt that the novel was a little shallow and focused too much on the physical trauma of losing a face, and less on the emotional trauma. Just my opinion, though.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I actually didn’t enjoy this as much as Sharp Objects, so I don’t understand why Gone Girl is more popular/well-known. I found it long and dragged out in places, but Flynn did do a good job of throwing suspicion over the male protagonist. I also did not guess the twist, which was good. Characters were well developed and interesting and tension was high throughout but I disliked the ending because it lacked justice. I found it really frustrating and it made me mad, which is probably good as I did actually care about what happened to the characters and the conclusion of the story.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
One of my other favourites on this list; kept me guessing and I couldn’t put it down. Kind of guessed the twist towards the end but this didn’t put me off. A twisted and somewhat horrifying concept but also really intriguing. Main character was a little bit cliché (emotionally damaged and personally involved with the events) but this didn’t stop me enjoying it. Would highly recommend unless you are sensitive and dislike reading about crime and violence.
Us by David Nicholls
Not much to say about this other than the fact I enjoyed it. It’s funny, original and made me laugh out loud (which I rarely do when I read books). Highly recommended if you want a unique and heart-warming read.
The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
Only read a few chapters of this before I gave up. I may have given up too easily, but there were just other books that I would have preferred to read at the time. So why did I stop reading? To be honest, the narrative put me off a little. It was clinical (which I understand was intentional) and I failed to warm to it. I also found the narrative far too wordy – think The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon. Fine on screen but super long to read. I also found the character of Rosie to be unlikeable. I haven’t read the first book (The Rosie Project) so maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had. This probably isn’t a fair review as I have seen so many positive reviews of this book (one of the reasons I bought it), I just don’t think it is my cup of tea!
Based on what I read 5/10
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Finished reading this recently and thought it was good but didn’t live up to the hype. Super interesting and such a good choice of narrators (there were three, who were all unreliable in their own way). Lots of twists, all of which I didn’t guess (which is good). Characters were quite well-developed but could have had more distinct narrative voices (sometimes I got confused as to who was narrating). I enjoyed the writing style as it was very to the point (I HATE too much description) but sometimes the author would jump between scenes with no warning – for example, Rachael would often jump from being in bed to being on the train with no real transition, which could be a bit jarring at times. Was a bit disappointed but only because it has been mega-hyped up.