3.31.2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Or maybe it's not a miracle.
Maybe this is just life.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Publishing Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
# of pages:368
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Just One Day, #1

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When sheltered American good girl Allyson firt encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem at an underground performance of Twelfth Night, there's an undeniable spark. So when fate brings them together a second time, Allysont akes an uncharacteristic leap, changes course, and follows Willem to Paris. After just one day together, the spark bursts into a flame. . . until Allyon wakes up after a whirlwind day shocked to discover that Willem is gone.
A life upended in one day turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions, and maybe even true love.
You should know that I read this book two months ago, therefore any sort of coherent or eloquent train of thought is gone. Long gone. Just bits and pieces here. I just put off the review because of laziness, really.

What I do remember is being disappointed. I mean, you all know of my undying, overly professed love of Where She Went and this is where most of the disappointment stems from. Yes, I kept making comparisons while reading. Yes, that is completely and totally unfair which means anything I say about this book is biased, but hear me out anyway.

I loved the second half of this book far more than the first half, which odd to say the least. You'd think the best part would be Allyson and Willem's one day together, which was romantic and all, but Allyson's self-discovery was far more interesting to me. because that feeling of loss, uncertainty I think if so familiar to all of us at some point or another. But like Allyson, you learn it's all about stepping outside of who you are and what makes you comfortable in order to actually figure it all out. Forman has that feeling of loss of identity and uncomfortableness down perfectly. She keys in on everything Allyson is feeling and is, so you connect with it fast. If anything, Just One Day proves how insanely well Forman knows her characters which is why her work is always so well-received.

 Despite connecting with it so well, I was disappointed. I wish I could precisely pin down why but alas, it escapes me. Totally have got it now! What bothered me was how obsessed Allyson got over Willem. In their one day together, she got irrationally jealous over other girls that talked to him, touched him, looked at him. Which was kind of insane to me. Plus, Willem serves no other purpose in the book other than being the guy who shows Allyson what's wrong with her life and makes her wanna shake things up. In other words: The Manic Pixie Person. You're all familiar with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, yes? (If not, just look at any role Zooey Deschenal plays. Seriously.) That's the role I felt Willem fulfilled here. Nothing more, nothing less.

Obviously we'll get to read a lot more on Willem in Just One Year and his story, yes, but I was just hoping for more in here. My bet's on that Forman will deliver on Just One Year but for now, I am disappointed. Not by the writing because I will never, ever be disappointed by Gayle Forman's writing, but the content. Hopefully things turn around in the next one.

3.03.2013

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han + Siobhan Vivian

Big girls don't cry...
They get even.
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han + Siobhan Vivian
Publishing Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
# of pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Burn for Burn, #1

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Postcard-perfect Jar Island is the kind of place where nobody locks their doors at night, where parents can sleep easy, knowing their daughters are tucked away safe and sound in their beds.
   But bad things can happen, even to good girls, and sometimes teh only way to make things right is to do something wrong.
   Lillia used to trust boys, but not anymore. Not after what happened this summer. And she'll be damned if she lets the same thing happen to her sister.
   Kat is through with being called a freak. She's over the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes made at her expense. It all goes back to one person -- her ex-best friend -- and Kat's ready to make her pay.
   Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. Now that she's back, he's gonna be in trouble... 'cause she's coming after him.
   Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they've each had a taste. 

What to say, what to say. I enjoyed this far more than I originally thought and got through it rather quickly. Actually, I read during loading screens in a video game I was playing and actually paused it a few times so I could finish reading scenes here and there. The content of the book is captivating. I mean, who doesn't like a good revenge story? It's something every person wants at some point but only few ever have to balls to go through with so to read about three girls coming together to dish it out hooks you like a decently written CW drama. Speaking of which, heard this was possibly going to be developed into a TV show (because we totally need more dramas based off of YA novels). Don't know about you, but I'd watch it.

Despite the insane popularity of her Summer series, I've never read Jenny Han. I've heard Siobhan Vivian in passing. But man, these two are in sync. Despite being written by two authors, you can barely tell who wrote what in Burn for Burn. Now the fact that I've never read either of their books comes into play here, obviously, but generally you can generally pick up an author's style well into the first one-quarter of the book. Nope, not here. It's written super smooth and you just fly by the pages because it's hard not to wanna know what happens next.

The general aspect of girls wanting revenge is written well  and as I've said several times before, it's seriously entertaining. But it's also really shallow. I could just not care less about what really happened to these girls, except maybe Mary.
   Kat, at first, I really liked but later she just becomes so grating in the way that she's all action before thought. I'm trying to think of a way to put how I feel about her character into words but my brain is not cooperating. Kat's brash, for all the right reasons, but all her actions are done with no thought as to the consequences of them. It's kind of like that person you meet who is all daring and doesn't give a fuck and you almost wish you were more like them, but then it just becomes too much and you wonder where her head is at, you know?
   Lillia grated on my nerves the most. The reasons behind her wanting revenge just made me rage. I mean all she had to do was have one conversation, one, and then all her reasons for wanting revenge would've been thrown out the window. Her blind assumptions just- argh, no. I get her wanting to watch out for her sister's interests, believe me, I know, I have a little sister I'd give my life for, but one conversation. With someone she calls her best friend, no less. I get she doesn't trust boys because of what happened but it just didn't seem like enough. Seriously, one conversation. And it also grated on me how easily she was willing to just turn on someone she calls her best friend to help Kat. She had no hesitance at all to thrust the knife in her "best friend's" back. I couldn't tell at all if she actually cared for her or not.
   And Mary. Poor, sweet, slightly innocent Mary. Her motivations, I get. One hundred percent. And she deserved to get that revenge, she really did. She was the most interesting for sure because she was the only one that actually changed throughout the novel and was most affected (effected? Gotta work on that. It's affected because it's a verb in this sentence. Thanks for that nifty trick, Jackson Pearce.) by the whole revenge plot. The only thing I had issues with on her part was the seriously vague paranormal crap that was weaved into her story line. It just wasn't necessary at all. The novel is far better off kept pure contemporary without all that thrown in.

Phew, that's a large chunk of text. This is a purely character driven novel. I mean, I believe very strongly that novels are fueled by their characters. The choices they make are the ones that create the plot but with Burn for Burn, you really need to get into the characters because they are literally everything in this novel. Everything rides on the choices these girls make and their motivations. If you don't dig deep into the characters here, well then everything is just really empty and void of meaning. I just wish the motivations weren't so thinly veiled with two of them.

The secondary characters are all a real shallow lot but at least it's with a purpose. We all have had our Rennie's and our Reeve's; I sure as hell have. But the important thing is that they feel fleshed out which, for the most part, they are. One thing, I am seriously in love with name Reeve now. Like I would consider naming my future child that. Gotta love books for introducing you to cool names like that, huh?

There are two more books coming out but I almost kind of wish this was left as a stand-alone. The ending, though open and left with questions, could really stand on its on own. In my opinion, it works better that way. With all the mystery and wondering. Just the tone of the ending matched perfectly with the rest of the novel. I don't always think complete closure works well. We want it, but some things are left better open and this is one of them. Not to say I won't pick up the next book. Because I will.