8.24.2012

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

The world is a terrible place not to have a best friend.

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: May 11, 2004
Publisher: Speak
# of pages: 281
Genre: Contemporary

Scarlett was always the strong one.
Halley was always content to follow in her wake.

Then Scarlett's boyfriend died, and Scarlett learned she was pregnant.

Now Halley has to find the strength to take the lead and help Scarlett get through it.

Because true friendship is a promise you keep forever. 

"Read her once and fall in love." So says the blurb in the back of this book. But honestly, I don't think truer words have ever been spoken. Dessen is like, the YA writer of all YA writers, and if you read her novels and see all that she's accomplished and been recognized for you just pretty much can't refute that. Someone pointed out once that though she uses the same devices in her novels, she makes them work. You don't question it. You don't roll your eyes and say, "Here we go again." You just read and you go, "That was your typical Sarah Dessen novel, and damn, it was good."

Reading this novel is a lot like eating comfort food. You take the first bite and this sense of relief just floods over you. There's something entirely soothing about Scarlett and Halley's friendship in that way that they're completely willing to be there for each other, will sacrifice whatever to be there for one another no matter what the situation entails. As you read, there's no question about it how authentic and pure this friendship is -- and it's very comforting to read because you feel that close bond and tightness. It's lot like seeing a happy child laugh -- you laugh along with them because the joy is infectious. Seeing the loyalty and love between Scarlett and Halley, you can't help but feel that too and it makes you feel better. This is the kind of novel I'll read if I just don't feel good because like comfort food, I know it'll make me feel better.

Halley, the main character, changes so much throughout the course of this novel. And it's not the atypical POINT A to POINT B kind of way. She goes from Point A to Point B to Point C back to Point A. She becomes this slew of various people, changing and learning and figuring out what kind of person she is. The thing that never wavers is her loyalty and love but she sheds things like her naivety, her innocence and gains things like a backbone and independence. When Halley finally stood up for herself, oh man, I wanted to cheer because it is a very defining moment for her. I remember just rereading that portion because to have a character change that much and to see such a defining moment, it's something worth reading over again.

Everyone from Scarlett to Macum to even Micheal were are just so fleshed out and real. These characters are all real. And I don't mean real like I could imagine them wandering around town somewhere, I mean real as in they feel so real I could imagine what their reactions would be or what they would say to things outside the novel. They are just so insanely defined, but then again Sarah Dessen is known for her ability to over and over again create a cast of characters so well-developed that that's what makes you fall in love with her novels. Not only that, she is able to take real life feelings and situations and make them so simple that you feel she talking right to you. All the stuff tackled in here -- friendship, love, parents, identity -- it's so very well written which is where another reason as to why this novel is so comforting comes in.

I'll be honest: I didn't completely understand the depth of the title, Someone Like You. I just thought, "What does that really have to do with the book?" Then I read one single line and it just all fell in place for me: "Not people like us, Halley. Not people like us." Throughout the course of novel, statements like that would appear. Like, people like Halley don't have people like Macum Faulkner chasing after them. People like Halley and Scarlett don't have sex without saying "I love you" first.  They make it sound like if you're labeled a certain way, there are certain guidelines you have to follow and everyone knows who you are and the things you do because of them, which is bullshit. Just because you are a certain way, that doesn't restrict you from doing other things or finding love with people different than who you are. People change and become different people over time; they step outside of that "someone like me" perception and just become "me", doing whatever the hell they want. It really reminds me of a segment in the show, How I Met Your Mother. There are these dopplegangers of the gang around New York who are completely different from who they are. So Ted is talking to Robin, who has just gone through a break-up because she chose love over her career and it back-fired on her, and tells her, "We've all been searching for the five doppelgangers, right? Well eventually, over time, we all become our own doppelgangers. These completely different people who just happen to look like us. Five years ago? That girl was pretty great. But doppelganger Robin? She's amazing." This correlates really well with the novel. The exact same thing happens to Halley; she becomes doppelgangers of her herself as she learns how to be her own person outside. She is no longer Mom's-best-friend-Halley or Macum Faulkner's-Girlfriend-Halley. She just becomes Halley in the end.

One last thing I wanna point out is Halley describes herself as one of those pictures in a coloring book: black outline clearly defining the picture but it's empty inside, devoid of color. Over time, she has other people filling in that picture of her. Scarlett and Macum, they fill her with color. What bothered me was just that. Halley should be filling in the picture herself, not letting other people do it. But over time, she realizes she always did what people expected of her and acted in a certain way that the person wanted. She was perfect and followed ever single rule for her mother, she became reckless and free-falling with Macum. But in the end, Halley defines herself and it's no question that after the end, Halley is the one who will be filling in the picture, not other people. Have I mentioned how amazing the change Halley goes through in the novel is? Sarah Dessen knew her inside out.

(Side note: If you don't How I Met Your Mother, I would highly recommend you do. In fact, you aren't allowed back if you don't. The show is so insightful, funny, amazing, and also has Neil Patrick Harris. You can't argue against Neil Patrick Harris. He is Neil Patrick Harris.)

Someone Like You covers a lot of things from friendship to loss to love to especially identity. It has characters who breathe, live, love, and will make you feel like you knew them for a long time. Scarlett and Halley's friendship will reach out, wrap you around, and make you feel so much better than when you started this novel. Sarah Dessen is one of the most well-respected and beloved YA authors for a reason and if you haven't read one of her novels yet, well, what are you waiting for?

8.21.2012

Teaser Tuesday (#1)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 
I've always loved this meme. We always read reviews on people's thoughts about the book and blah, blah, blah so it's nice to see some of the content inside and make that decision of "Do I want to read it or not?"

My Teaser Tuesdays will work a little differently. The actual Teaser Tuesday, like today's, will work the same in which a share "teaser" sentences from my current read, however every other Tuesday (so it'll switch every week) I'll going to post up a passage of whatever writing I'm working on. This is so I have some sort of encouragement to keep writing so I have stuff to put up and for you guys to read so hopefully you learn more about me and how my mind works. I think writers definitely incorporate a lot of who they are and their beliefs in their writing, so when you read it you get this small understanding of who they are. Not that I'm saying you get to know who they are entirely and accurately, but it is there.

Today's teaser is a passage from my current read, My Soul to Steal by the magnificent Rachel Vincent. Remember, next week's will be a writing passage from me and then it switches every week.

Enough of my rambling, here's today's teaser:



   "If he'd been human, the damage would have been irreversible. Part of it might be, anyway. But if it wasn't, Nash was still the first and only guy outside of my family who'd ever loved me. And I couldn't turn my back on him if there was even a possibility of getting that Nash back. 
   I still wanted Nash. I still needed to feel his hand in mine. I wanted to see him smile like he had before and know that I was the only thing he craved. I wanted to feel him behind me and know he had my back, whether we faced bitchy cousins or evil, soul-stealing hellions." 

--pg. 90, My Soul to Steal by Rachel Vincent




Damn it's hard to find a non-spoilery passage in this book. There's just so much going on! One of the few series that rips out my heart and stakes it to the ground. The first book, My Soul to Take, is nothing short of amazing. I'm not a total fan of supernatural/paranormal books but I love, love, love this series. 

8.17.2012

Book Blog Love (#1)

There are a lot of book blogs out there. A lot. And among the teeming mass of blogs, we all have our favorites. The ones always left open through a frenzy of tab opening and closing, the one whose web address our browser has the most visits to, and the ones we only wish we could be like. (Because like authors, bloggers can be rockstars too.)

As a semi-beginner to book blogging, there are a few that I frequently visit and look up to. Ones whose reviews make me speechless by their articulacy and ones who come up with such entertaining and original posts, I'm in awe of their creativity.

So, I wanna share with you guys these three blogs in hopes you fall in love with them too, and meanwhile, leave me with links to your favorite blogs too! I'm always looking for more to read and give love too.

Z&M's Uncreatively Titled Blog
Zoey is a friend of mine I met at the now deceased site, Inkpop. (RIP Inkpop, you were unnecessarily killed.) She's a brilliant writer who has tons of great original content on her site as well as very honest reviews. When her blog grew to a overwhelming size, which is well-deserved, she found Megan who helps her with maintaining the site. Their blog is really fun to read. And if you're a lover of unicorns, you will fit in very well here. ;)

Belle's Bookshelf
Belle's blog is one of the first I ever followed and to this day, I love reading it. If you love everything popular culture and cute bookish buys, Belle's is the site for you with features like Mag Mondays, where she features beautiful covers featuring beautiful people, and Bookish Buys, which is self-explanatory. You'll browse her blog for hours, I guarantee. She also writes out well-written posts about some of the more controversial topics in the book blogging world. Another plus: her reviews include her own personal casting so pretty pictures of pretty people are definitely aplenty at her blog.

happy owl books
Meagan is another former inkpopper who is one of the most articulate people to ever exist. Seriously! Just go to her blog and read her reviews and you'll know exactly what I mean. Her reviews are incredibly well-written and in-depth. You can pretty much always trust her reviews to be right. I mean, there really is nothing more to say other than read her reviews.  And, you know, follow her blog.

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Of course, there are a ton more that I love but if I gave you that entire list, this post would be a mile long. Hope you guys enjoy these blogs, and don't forget to leave me with your favorites too.

8.15.2012

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

My touch is lethal. My touch is power.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
# of pages: 338
Genre: Sci-fi / Romance
The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

First thing: stunning writing. It just blew me away. Mafi's words just flow and there's this particular rhythm you can't find anywhere else. I could search all day for the right kind of words to describe her creative writing style, but it's better if you just experience it for yourself. Here's a portion I marked that particularly struck me:
"The air is crisp and cool. A refreshing bath of tangible nothing that stings my eyes and snaps at my skin. The sun is high today, blinding as it reflects the small patches of snow keeping the earth frozen. My eyes are pressed down by the weight of the bright light and I can't see through more than two slits, but the warm rays wash over my body like a jacket fitted to my form, like the hug of something greater than human."
And there's a hundred more lines like that which paint a picture so vivid, it makes you awestruck. Sometimes though I found myself lost in all the borderline flowery language. There's just too much going on. Too many verbs. Too many metaphors. Too many odd allusions that leave you scratching your head, wondering what it's suppose to mean.

The one thing about this book that a lot of people were talking about was the use of strike-through. Normally, the only type of font format allowed in novels are italics. You never see words bolded or underlined, never mind strike-through. But damn, Mafi makes it work. The strike-through doesn't distract. It adds depth to the plot and Juliette herself. They are the secret truths of Shatter Me's universe and the secret thoughts of Juliette's head. Juliette is scared and angry and sad and there's so much she wants to say that she has to bury deep, deep, deep inside of her and all those striked-out words represent her anger, her sadness, her guilt, and everything else in-between. They also show her perceptiveness because she has learned to see through other people when others would not do so for her. Tahereh Mafi has introduced a very innovative writing technique and I'm excited to see more of it.

Another technique I thought really brought me into Juliette's head was the sparse use of commas and periods. While technically they're run-on sentences, I say that they further emphasize the paranoia and frenzy Juliette has come to known due to her isolation. It brings you further inside her head, making your realize just how much the Reestablishment has warped her mind.

Speaking of Juliette, her romance with Adam was intense. Their relationship falters, stops, and back-tracks but once it becomes established, man it's intense. For some, it could probably borderline insta-romance, but the history Juliette & Adam have pre-Reestablishment may salvage that thought. While I'm not in-love with the pair, it would slightly pain my heart if anything happened to them. And for whatever reason, I kept picturing Adam Levine as Adam. Look, they have the same name and everything.

Juliette's relationship with Warner is far more interesting, however. The struggle for power between the two is fiery. Warner just keeps trying to push her over the edge so she can fully embrace this power she so desperately does not want. It's captivating to read Juliette struggle so much with this power and then to have this powerful person goad her into it through threats and fear. Juliette's relationship with both Warner and Adam are representations of the choices she has when it comes to her power. The gentle choice, Adam, tells her she is not a monster and that she has the power, with her touch, to help people. She is a loving, caring person. But then the other choice, Warner, tells her that her power is a weapon she can use to bring people to their knees before her. She can command people, get all the things she desires because it is clearly better to be feared than loved. Both of these boys tell her two different things, two different ways she can control her fate, and go so much more beyond than just a simple relationship: it's the two different lives Juliette could have depending on how she chooses to embrace her power.

I'm afraid to say after I finished the book, I was left with far too many questions. I know it's a trilogy but there were just so many things buzzing in my head that just did not make sense. Like where in the hell did the Reestablishment come from? How did it start? Whose in charge anyway? There's just a lot of blanks in this universe that weren't filled in. Another is Juliette's power. It was never specifically explained and while we were shown it, there's still far too many blanks to paint a clear picture of what it is. If anything, her power reminds of of my favorite X-Men's, Rogue. There are just far too many important portions of the book that weren't properly explained or explained at all which unfortunately bothered me more than I wanted it to. There's a section in the book that perfectly described certain factors in the book: "She can't touch anyone except for you." "Right." "That seems awfully convenient." But I suppose a lot of things in YA are awfully convenient, aren't they?

Shatter Me is a complicated, intricate, and thrilling read. While you may become susceptible to several holes in the plot, its painfully complex characters with humanities so apparent and Mafi's striking and innovative writing will swallow you whole.