Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

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This was one of my recent adds to my TBR, but a comment Vivian pushed the book upwards on the list.

I instantly got hooked at the words ‘…meets Eleanor and Park’. And like I’ve written a million times before (this is an exaggeration, but it is deeply true), I am still in a search for a book that can give me what Eleanor & Park made me feel.

Okay, now I’m feeling a bit lost for words. I have mixed feelings about it—at one point some of the workings of the relationship irked me, but by the other point I think it turned out to be quite sweet. I’m going to bring it points again because I’m feeling the words going to mush in paragraphs.

Finch – Let’s start with the hero, shall we? Finch—or Theodore Finch—is a suicidal ‘goth’ boy who frequently changed and adopted personas along the course of the book—Badboy Finch, Nerd Finch, All-American Finch, etc. He supposedly had been having this ‘blackouts’ where he just, like, went off to ‘Asleep’. He also declared as being bipolar in the end—or at least diagnosed with it—actually attempted to kill himself and then sent off to attend a teen-suicide group.

When he first came into the picture, all chatty and grave, I thought—is this really the kid who is going to kill himself? Because I don’t think suicidal people can be that chatty—or maybe it’s just because I don’t know much about suicidal people. And also the way he made this gestures of to get people to pay him attention, how he sometimes like a know-it-all, I keep thinking, seriously?

Then he started targeting Violet—acknowledging her in the hall, choosing her to be his partner, being so direct at her with actually knowing her personally in the first place, being a bit happy-go-lucky at times—he reminded me a lot of this guy from By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters. The guy in that book is also the happy-go-lucky kind, showing up almost every day to the main character while she waited for her mother to pick her up. This guy also has something ‘death’ about him—he suffered from a disease, cancer, I think. I don’t remember. Both guys have this cheery personality hiding their death-related problems and also are instantly attracted to the heroine who just wished that he would just leave her alone. But despite her attempts, he would always run back to her. The difference is, the guy with the cancer is not chasing death—death is chasing him. And he was sort of sweet, I think, in an ‘I-have-no-boundaries’ kind of sweet. While Finch—he was asking for it.

But then they started going on these wanderings, they interact, they became more than friends, and then my opinion about Finch shifted. I initially thought of him as this weird, privy kid who did not understand the meaning of personal space. But as the story went on, I began to see him as this troubled guy who just wanted someone to understand him. His grand gestures, his ability to get Violet driving again, his late night chats—I actually thought he was kind of sweet. Plus, he’s tall. Okay, that’s irrelevant, but I like tall guys. Talking about bipolar disorders—yeah, I think I see where it is coming from.

Violet – Now the flower. My opinions of her were bare until somewhere in the middle of the book. At first, I thought she was just plain despite the description that she has a flower-smelling hair, curves, and ex-cheerleader and so on. But halfway through the story, I think she began to sound too perfect—Mary-Sue-perfect. Maybe it’s the jealousy inside me speaking, but yes, I think she was too perfect to be true. She’s practically flawless—nice looks, great body (being an ex-cheerleader et al), friends, supportive and loving parents, doting sister, boyfriend, successful hobby, cute ex-boyfriend and another boy chasing after her—except for the fact that her sister had just died from a car accident that left her with ‘Extenuating Circumstances’. Also how easy it was for her to get people to contribute to her new webzine—yeah, too picture perfect.

Anyways, let’s stop talking about the characters for once.

Plot – Finch and Violet finally got to properly know each other by going on a project assigned by their teacher, courtesy of Finch himself. This is a common trope to make the story go into how the characters met, but it sounded too cheesy, too easy, too neat, too…unnatural. In short, too forced. I’m not a fan of these kinds of meetings.

Then the wanderings played out and then the relationship began to look natural. Take a skip to the part where they began to wander more than the project required—you can feel the real relationship building from then on. I love their night-time chats, their nocturne walks, their wanderings—every of it, up until it took an ugly turn. And the Bookmobile wander *gush* it sounds like a total dream date—an every bookworm’s wet dream! Also Violet’s life pre-Eleanor’s-death—that also counts as a bookworm’s dream come true with massive book hauls and stuff.

But one thing that has bugged me—why did Finch and Violet want to kill themselves? What drove them over the edge? What has been clouding their heads so much that they just want to eliminate themselves from the world? Their reasons here didn’t work out enough for me. Their current reason is not strong enough to make them wishing for death.

Notable quotes:

“You deserve better. I can’t promise you I’ll stay around, not because I don’t want to. It’s hard to explain. I’m a fuckup. I’m broken, and no one can fix it. I’ve tried. I’m still trying. I can’t love anyone because it’s not fair to anyone who loves me back. I’ll never hurt you, not like I want to hurt Roamer. But I can’t promise I won’t pick you apart, piece by piece, until you’re in a thousand pieces, just like me. You should know what you’re getting into before getting involved.” – Theodore Finch

“I know life well enough to know you can’t count on things staying around or standing still, no matter how much you want them to. You can’t stop people from dying. You can’t stop them from going away. You can’t stop yourself from going away either. I know myself well enough to know that no one else can keep you awake or keep you from sleeping.” – Theodore Finch

In conclusion, this book could have been a sweet, romance novel purely based on the interactions between our two lovebirds. But incoherent reasons for death and suicidal thoughts chased the perfection away.

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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

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This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

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This is the first time I nearly DNF’d a book because of anger. I’m angry at Naila’s parents, I’m angry at her chacha, I’m angry at her in-laws, I’m practically angry at everybody!—except Selma and Imran and Carla maybe. Saif and Naila—I’m still a bit angry with them. Since the first chapters till the last one, I gritted my teeth, wanting to just slam this book close but instead telling myself that it will just a few more chapters till I finished the book.

The reason why I’m angry? Well, let’s just say that everything they did contradicts to what I had been taught and believe in.

If reviewers tell you that there the religion is not clearly implied here, they’re wrong or maybe they just didn’t recognise it (not their fault, by the way). Naila and every one of them—except Carla—are Moslems. Saeed might not state it clearly in the book, but at the mention of ‘masjid’—or mosque, in English, which is the place where Moslems often go to do their prayers—I know that they are, in fact, Moslems. I am a Moslem, too. And as a Moslem, I understand some of the reasons for what Naila’s parents did to her. But still, as far as Moslem marriages go, forced ones—especially to the point of violence—are not one of them.

Before I continue, I want to apologise in advance if anything that I am going to write next will anger some people or maybe are completely false—especially about Pakistan, forgive me but I do not know much about the traditional customs of the country. And for all the Nailas out there, my heart goes out to you.

First of all, let me tell you how the relationship between a boy and girl who aren’t family goes in Islam.

  1. We aren’t allowed to date—or being in a romantic relationship, or skinship (a Korean term, where a guy and girl share moments that involves skin touching—holding hands, etc) or PDA, or even kissing, or even seeing each other aurat, which is places of our body that people except our family (our mahram, to be exact) cannot see. Though what Naila’s parents had put her through are cruel, I understand why they just took her out to Pakistan and forced her to marry Amin—Naila and Saif are dating, it isn’t allowed and frankly, puts shame on both families. And this is why I’m angry with them. Coming from a more conservative Moslem society, I do not approve of this, though I can see where it is coming as Naila and Saif are from America which is more liberal. *sigh* I wish Saif is more reasonable enough to ask for Naila’s father’s permission first (for marriage, of course) to pursue her rather than just come up to her and say ‘I love you’ and then started to get cozy—which brings us to number 2.
  2. If you want to get a girl to be your wife, you have to go her father and ask for her hand in marriage instead of pursuing the girl first, say ‘I love you’, and then tell the father that you want to get married. Boys and girls are allowed to interact to some extent. But if a boy wants a girl to be his wife, he has to go to the father and say ‘Sir, you have a wonderful daughter, I want to be his husband’ or something similar. And then there will a court of ‘ta’aruf’, which is a meeting between the two future couple accompanied by the family of both sides or the mahram of the soon-to-be-bride. Here, the two couple can talk, getting to know each other without raising suspicion that they’re doing something inappropriate (we can not go off on our own alone in couples, too, you know). I don’t know much about burqas, but from what I saw on a movie (Ayat-Ayat Cinta, to be exact, the film is much better than the book, and also feature one of the sweetest fictional Islamic marriages I’ve ever seen), in this court, if the girl wears a burqa, she can take it off for her future husband to see (in the book of the same title, the guy is also given an album of the girl’s picture, still in her hijab, before the ta’aruf). If both parties are satisfied, then the wedding will take place. I don’t know if this is something taught in Moslem families there, but if Saif’s sister is already married and Naila’s parents have been pestering her about husbands since she was ten, it is something that I think they should have known.
  3. Forced marriage and arranged marriage are different. Because sometimes (more often than not, some other times) in some places and societies, the interaction between a boy and a girl are really minimum to none, it is the parents that look out for a potential spouse. And thus, an arranged marriage is assumed. Some other times, it is the guy who only saw a glimpse of the woman and is enchanted by either her hidden beauty or manners or even both will propose first without really knowing her, but then if the father of the woman approves because of the man’s manners, a marriage will also be assumed (I have no idea if this is an arranged one, too, or not). The difference between an arranged marriage and a forced one is that in arranged marriage, the girl has a say in it. If she doesn’t want it, there will be no marriage. If she wants it, there will be a marriage. In a forced one, whether the girl likes it or not, she will still get married. Naila was forced into her marriage with Amin. And what makes me angrier? They used violence on Naila—drugging her and forcing her to a wedding she wasn’t even aware off. Gosh.
  4. When a woman marries a man, her loyalty shifts from her parents to her husband. That means, if she wants to do anything, she will have to ask her husband for permission. If the wife is a bit ‘naughty’, the husband can punish her in three stages. First is reprimanding, tell her that she is wrong. If this does not work, then he can deprive the woman of her spiritual need that can only be satisfied by the husband (think of birds and bees)—which, I think, is actually what Naila did to Amin instead of Amin doing it to Naila. Haha, I have a bit of satisfaction in this, considering all the horrible things they did to her. The third and final stage is the husband gets to hit on her wife with the condition that he doesn’t mean to hurt his wife, just to remind her, and also not to hit in the face. But forcing yourself on your wife without her consent? Married or not, I still think this constitute as rape.

Now, enough of the contradictions. I’ve read a lot of stories about how these forced marriages still happen out there. And even though the basic concept of the reason they do it because of religion or culture (or whatever other reason they have), I think it is cruel and inhuman. It violates the human rights of free will, and that is clearly not justified by law.

However, one point that I want to make clear of is even though forced marriage is cruel, it doesn’t mean an arranged marriage is also like it. There are a lot of stories on how couples who are initially arranged to be married by their parents without knowing who their future partner is has a happy ending. These couples put their beliefs completely on their parents to choose the right partner for them, and their beliefs are clearly not misplaced. Take a look at the author herself—Mrs. Aisha Saeed’s marriage was semi-arranged by her and her husband’s parents while they only met once, surrounded by family, and she is happy (see the Author’s note after the epilogue). But clearly, not everyone gets the same ending as she did, as a lot of forced marriages still happens out there.

Usually, when I read a book so infuriating, I would directly put it down and gave it a one or two stars depending on how much I enjoyed the book. But since one of the reasons the author wrote this book is to open our eyes to a reality that this kind of cruelty still exists out there and that is supposed to burn our anger at the injustice, I think she has done a great job doing it.

But, for a book that is also supposed to give an exposure to humanity, I wished that she had done it more elaborately. The writing of the book sounds too…simple? Like it was written by someone who doesn’t use English as his/her first language. And if it is their second or third, he/she hasn’t practised it really well in writing. It’s like there is something missing in the book that prevents it from becoming an epic realistic-fiction novel that really brings out the social problem that it contains.

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Book Review: A Million Suns + Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Book Review: A Million Suns + Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

A Million Suns + Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

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A Million Suns

Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. 

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Shades of Earth

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has travelled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

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I have to admit, this series has gone way better than its first book. Though there still some plot holes—a lot—the characters and storyline has developed quite well.

After we went across the universe, we will see a million suns.

My first reaction when I read the part where Elder failed to assume leadership that resulted in several chaotic events was ‘eat that!’. I was so frustrated by Elder so wanting to rush in leadership in the first book that when he was now forced to face a difficult one he struggled I was happy that he finally got it boomeranging back to him. But that is also what caused some character development in him—he grew more mature and responsible for his actions. Especially at the part where he offered to step down from the role and also where he gave his people the choice of either landing or staying within the ship—the realisation that there was a need for democracy—of choice. Still, there were some parts where he compared himself to Eldest I didn’t like—like when he said that the people looked at him like they were to look at Eldest—there went the big nose again, young man.

Amy, well, she has changed. But still, I don’t like her much. It’s like she’s this know-it-all who pranced around looking for clues being giddy while the other are working their head off to survive. She has moved on from Jason, but still laments on her unfortunateness like almost being raped by Luthor and how she still wasn’t able to unfreeze her parents.

And the plot hole—why in the world did they not suspect Doc to be behind the murders? If there were crime using Phydus which was only accessible to the Doc, Kit, and the nurses, he would be on top of the list of suspects.

And now we have landed on a planet with shades of earth.

The soldiersAmy’s father, directly after being unfrozen, walked around, barking orders like a total militant without even understanding a bit about what was going on. As a leader, one must have a full understanding of what was happening around him/her. And without even asking how the situation after 300 years is, he just marched up and down, ordering people around. I was expecting more from a colonel—from someone who had the conscience to give his daughter a choice than making it for her.

And don’t let me started on the wife soldier of the one who got killed—Juliana or something. She accused the shipborne of murdering his husband—and while she’s doing this, she looked more of like a rabid mad woman than a soldier—and also called them all ‘freaks’. Considering her a soldier, a wife of the first or second in command (I forgot whose wife she was), and also someone who had COMMITTED themselves into being frozen until years into space, she should have known better. She was frozen for CENTURIES into a destination in OUTER SPACE people! She—all of the ones that are part of the FRX mission—should have expected weird and different things when they woke up. A lot of things can change in just a decade. Two cities in the same country can differ so much in culture. And here they were naming those people who at least are still human with different features freaks.

Maria – Amy’s mother. At first, I was irked by her at how she seemed to be happy seeing Chris with Amy—like she was giving them the blessing to be together. But—apart from Emma, who looked like the only soldier from the FRX who had a heart—she was one of the Earthborn people I liked. She had sass, that’s for sure. When her husband began to speak that he was keeping secrets because of the orders, she said ‘Orders! Screw the orders! I’m your wife!’—spoken like a true woman.

Kit – it’s a pity she died. She was nice and humble.

Chris – When he showed up and Amy’s dad told him to be her bodyguard, I thought her parents were trying to play matchmaker. I wasn’t exactly surprised when he turned out to be one of the bad guys. What I am confused was why didn’t Amy became suspicious of his weird blue eyes? I had my suspicions.

And back again to Amy. Amy had always had this voice in her heart telling her that part of what she felt about Elder was because he was the only choice since there were no other kids around her age left. And then enter Chris, acting as a bodyguard who occasionally flirted with her and then she realised that now she had another choice—Chris. Remembering her experience with Jason—who, in the first book, was implied to have cheated her along the course of their relationship—she should have known better than to even delve into the idea of playing hooky with another man. And not to mention that prior to Chris, she did have other choices—the other shipborne. Those in the 20s were only a few older than her—Chris was in his twenties, too—and Elder was even younger than her. There were then just a few options for her. Seriously, this girl needed some love therapy.

And now the plot holes—why in the world did no one explained what had happened since they launched from Earth to the Earthborns? No one—NO ONE—mentioned how the ship had been floating above the planet for another more centuries since the scheduled arrival. No one mentioned how it got awry after the 300 years aboard the ship. No one mentioned the government system they had with the Eldest system. No one—NO ONE—explained what had happened since the launch of the ship until they had landed on Centauri-Earth. Hmm—no wonder Elder’s leadership was doubted by the Colonel

And second—did they even recognise the word ‘transparency’? I was getting sick of all the white lies—authorities covering up the truth in the name of ‘for the better’. A good government has transparency—they are open about the choices made and the situation they are in because all of it are for the well-being of its citizens. The ‘colony’ here was no government, but as it was led by someone from the military, they should have known better of it.

Despite its bad points, the plot and suspense were great enough to keep me going. I finished both books in one day because I was curious on how the events would turn out.

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Book Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Book Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

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Across the Universe by Beth Revis

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A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realises that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone—one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship —tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

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After my reading slump, I reviewed the books in my to-read list, carefully examining them one by one on whether I still want to read them or not. This book was one of those who had a long history of sitting on the to-read shelf. And because of that, I considered setting it aside as I figured I had lost interest in it completely. But re-reading the synopsis now, it got me hooked again. The reviews did warn me about how I was going to be disappointed—Bella-like heroine, explicit inappropriate scene—but the plot was too tempting to ignore. I have held down hopes of finding it a great read considering the amount of time I have left it collecting dust.

The main two warnings I particularly took note from the reviews were how Amy is Bella-ish and the ‘Season’ where humans did the reproduction thing in an animal-like mating system instead of being in love. Those warnings, I discovered, were true. And furthermore, I discovered that I had a lot of problems with this book.

The first chapter – Just as we ventured into this modern-spaceship world, we were already introduced to a scene where one must undress to be properly frozen over time. Seriously? It’s disturbing and privacy-invading. Imagine you getting picked on with devices and such without a single cloth on? Considering it was set in the future, I was expecting that they would’ve come up with something more…suitable to accommodate that kind of condition.

Amy – Again, I found problems with this character within in the first chapter.

“I cried as I undressed. The first boy who ever saw me naked was Jason, just that one time, the night I found out I would leave behind everything on Earth, and everything included him.”

What the heck, heroine? There she was, fretting over the choice of going with her parents being frozen for millennia or staying behind in the Earth she loved, and all she could think of is her manipulative deceiving boyfriend?

“I want my year back.”

Then when she eavesdropped that they were going to be frozen an extra year than planned, she whined about wanting to have that year for herself back in Earth. With who?

“This was one more year I could be with Jason, one more year I could live!”

Yup, with that Jason again.

And then the thing about her usual running clothes, the way she was so blind about Jason cheating her, her frequent flashbacks about how everything—EVERYTHING—she felt with Elder reminded her the way it used to be with Jason, and also how she practically screamed and whined her way on the ship—that girl is sooo shallow (pardon me with the exaggeration). She was so annoying it is frustrating.

Elder – Reading the synopsis, I was hoping he would be more of a mature character with a humble background. But then flipping through the first of pages of the chapter with his POV—again, what the heck hero?

This kid here was prepped since he was a kid to be the next leader with a bunch of drugged community, and there he was whining every now and then on how the Eldest wasn’t properly training him. And with him being a clone, he was also—to some extent—show the power-hungry vibes coming from his predecessors. Also, he’s a pervert AND selfish. Seriously, looking at a girl for the first time (unclothed, please note this), and then in every few pages or so all he wanted was how he’d like to kiss her. And remember when they were in the garden when it was the ‘Season’ and there’s this two people ‘mating’—he said that they were giving him ideas of what he’d like to do with Amy. And again, seriously?

The ‘Season’ – This book totally makes human sounds like mindless lusting animals instead of proper human beings. Not to mention the aftermath of female Feeders lining up at the Doc’s, getting their wombs injected with some meds and the lies that it’s going to keep the baby strong, and then absently rubbing their stomach. Ugh.

The curse words – Revis made up her own curse words—at which I say, they’re silly-sounding. It doesn’t sound swashbucklingly good or cool, just plain silly.

Orion – How in the world does Elder met him and looked him as a father figure without ever asking how the scar in his ear came to as he works as a Recorder which is practically a safe job without the danger of having your ear cut?

The leadership system – One thing I agreed with Amy—this isn’t leadership. It is pure tyranny, dictatorial-ship. There’s no democracy or whatsoever. Though I understood why Eldest chose to run the ship the way he does, a leadership like this is bound to be doomed.

The switching POVs – Different length of chapters with different POVs between one another is okay. But changing the POV in the middle of ONE exact same scene just to write ONE line in ONE chapter—what? It’s too short and too confusing in the end.

Despite the negative points, I found some good things about this book.

The cover – Pretty cover! At first, I thought it was just plain beautiful with purple and pink nebulas, but then I read this review and I thought again, hey, clever cover? It looked like two faces facing one another in opposite way surrounded with the purple and pink galaxy—which again, is clever.

The suspense – This is why I most likely to fail reading Agatha Christie’s books. My guess on the real culprit was easily swayed by the turn of events. At first, I thought it was Orion, but then my suspicions turned to the Eldestwhich is completely wrong.

The plot – Even though the characters are plain annoying and the scenes are some unsuitable, the plot and future happenings of the series still interest me enough to continue to the sequels. Knowing me in real life, people might think that this book is definitely what I would stay away from with all the inappropriate scenes going on. But personally, when it comes to reading, this kind of stuff I would usually overlook as I care more about the plot, storyline, and characterization instead of some acts which are deemed too explicit.

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Series Review: Pivot Point series by Kasie West

Series Review: Pivot Point series by Kasie West

Pivot Point + Split Second by Kasie West

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Pivot Point

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier…

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without.

Split Second

Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too… but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories… once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot… and a future that could change everything.

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I fist discovered Pivot Point years ago before its second book came out. Back then, dystopia and paranormal themed books were totally so in the hype. I found it sitting on the recommendation section on my Goodreads account and add it to my TBR list. I even got myself a copy of it. But I did not read it until now since I kind of lost interest in it for a while.

Now, skipping to my current state where I still have like a month and a half left of holiday and also am currently overbored, I decided to re-arrange my list of to-read books on Goodreads. And by re-arranging, I mean throwing out the ones I have completely no interest in reading and starting to read the ones I still have an interest in. And Pivot Point was the first book I picked up.

Considering the good, gushing reviews from trusted reviewers and also the plot in which the main character has the ability to ‘Search’ the future and a world with top-secret government stuff, I initially had a high expectation of it being the next great read. But the after effects is far away from what I had hoped for. Let’s break it down to bits as it going to be pretty jumbly.

Plot – Both books—the first and the second one—were written in switching point of views. And to be honest, I sometimes mixed them up. During the first book, yeah, I think what drives the plot is pretty convincing and good—a girl forced to choose one of her parents to live with, sees into her future for both choices, wants to choose the ones that better for her but in the end chose the other one to save her best friend’s life. But in the second book, it feels like the main drive was how to get Trevor to be Addie’s. And also Connor. Don’t get me wrong—I think these two guys definitely would fit in my book crush list—but the way these guys are introduced to the story and the way they finally got to be in the main plot is…well, sort of like we’re being told that hey, that’s their love interest. The first time they were introduced, and then bam, the girls are head over heels for them. I’m speaking meanless nonsense here, so let’s just say that I don’t really feel their background story and it’s like they’re there in the story just to be a love interest and also like the relationships there is mostly so physical so you don’t exactly know whether they are really acting on feelings inside or just physical attractiveness.

The world-building – Like I said earlier, this book presented you a parallel universe where there are like super people with abilities and also they’re own government to keep it all shut in. Sounds a bit like Divergent, doesn’t it? And yes, it’s kind of ironic how Addie’s ability is termed as Divergence. Think of Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and so on—these are good books presenting another parallel universe. And they’re good and interesting because other than having a good plot, characters, and so on, they also tell the world they’re living in, which are definitely foreign to us Norm readers. And that is what makes it more interesting. All in all, I only wished that West had written more about the world and system of these Para people, because, yeah, that would be cool and make the book more inviting. And also maybe, they find out that the system is totally screwed up and decided to break it all over—kind of like Divergent. That will be cooler.

Character – Addison Coleman – or Addie for short. Her directly latching on the one guy she met as an attempt to find a new best friend is kind of desperate. And yet, in the end, he’s the one that in the end became her love interest–the friendship here doesn’t ring true. And also the part in Split Second where she remembered the other path in her earlier Search in which she found out that she had been in love with Trevor, and then afterwards decided that there’s a hole in her chest that wouldn’t be complete unless Trevor is hers again. Laila is not helping, as she immediately suggests project ‘Get Trevor Back’, which again sounds desperate. The cover of Pivot Point might influence my judgment, but when I imagined what Addie would look like, I think of Taylor Swift and her blond hair. And yet TS herself made a career out of singing love songs inspired by her past relationships with boys.

Laila –Addie’s supposed best friend. I imagined her to be this sassy black woman with curves she’s proud of and great black hair. She’s boy crazy and a total flirt. She also has a rough home life, so maybe that also played a part in her character with all the toughness in her and also her motive. But I kind of doubt her relationship with Connor because it was like really physical from the start—she used her looks to get him to do what she wanted, but then uses him to be able to advance her ability.

Trevor – he’s named like Neville’s toad in Harry Potter. Overall in Pivot Pivot where he’s just in a Search, I thought, hey, maybe he could be the one added next to my book crush list. But then Split Second came out–not so much. He’s cool in Pivot Point because you can see his personality more. He appeared first as a friend who has no clue on Addie’s past. But then in Split Second, he knew that Addie went to Lincoln High and suspected that she also has these Para abilities. It made his motive look more like he’s suspicious of her abilities and fell for her more because of it, too, not because of her true personality. Their relationship also seemed more rushed in the second book. Anyways, have you ever downloaded the Episode game from Google PlayStore or any other device that has it? Check out the story Georgia and the male love interest. That is what I imagined Trevor would look like.

Connor Bradshaw – he’s Healer with Norm secrets. Add Grandpa and Healer is probably the ability I would like to have if I was in Addie’s Para world. He’s brooding and stuff. I couldn’t think of any people looking like him, but I imagined he would have that dark, gangster look who rides a motorbike like it’s their job.

Duke Rivers – Meh. Don’t really care much about him.

So overall, I think this book actually presents some good promises like the parallel community they lived in, but in the end was ruined by the over-romantic physical relationships and not being really convincing ending. Conclusion: a light read, but not really anything special.

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