Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dystopian Discussion: Part One

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily recommend every book I discuss.

I could be wrong, but it seems that when dystopian literature is mentioned, the first example that comes to mind for many people would be THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. Even almost seven years after its publication, I still find it stocked in the highly selective Walmart book sections. But there are so many other dystopian novels out there, the market has become flooded, and publishers are less willing to buy these works unless they stand out above the rest. Let’s face it—it’s a small subgenre with only a limited amount of room to breathe—even the most creative specimen is going to share traits with its fellows. So the goal, for writers, is to give their work a fresh twist that makes it unique.

In THE HUNGER GAMES, every year the government mandates that twenty-four kids (a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts) must be forced to fight to death in an arena until one survivor remains. These Hunger Games are televised for all to see—both to entertain those in the free capitol, and to intimidate those who live in the oppressed districts (in order to prevent another uprising).

I have heard and seen many people speak of THE HUNGER GAMES as though it is the end all be all of dystopian literature. I agree that it is a remarkable piece, and I have read it multiple times. I’m desperately in love with the feel of it, especially the arena itself. However, staunch supporters of the HUNGER GAMES trilogy who claim that Veronica Roth borrowed from the series when she wrote DIVERGENT, INSURGENT, and ALLEGIANT, might want to pause and think before complaining too loudly. Because, unfortunately for Suzanne Collins, fans of Koushun Takami’s BATTLE ROYALE may have the same thing to say about THE HUNGER GAMES. And rightly so.
While BATTLE ROYALE is much gorier (and I’m going on summaries here, like this one, because I haven’t read the book yet), and while it is set in Japan rather than North America, the basic premises are shockingly similar. After all, BATTLE ROYALE centers around a bunch of school children forced to fight to the death in an arena—a fight that is eventually televised in order to intimidate those who might have considered rebelling. Sound familiar?

Now, Collins claims she had never heard of BATTLE ROYALE before she turned in her own story to the publishers, and I know that it is very easy to rip off another writer’s work without realizing it. After all, we’re swimming in a vat of idea stew, and there’s more than one chunk of potato floating in here with us, so let’s not hit each other over the head with our soup spoons until we find the facts. Personally, I have no opinion on whether Collins is being perfectly forthright or not, because it really isn’t any of my business, and I’m not sure we’ll ever know for certain either way. I’m only mentioning this because it annoys me when people call DIVERGENT a rip-off and act as if THE HUNGER GAMES is the last word in dystopian originality.

Speaking of DIVERGENT.

In the world of Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT, we don’t have the Big Mean Government breathing down everyone’s necks. Instead, we have a system devised by flawed individuals in an attempt to fix the human race. By splitting society into five factions, each based on an important virtue, people believe they can maintain peace and harmony. Unfortunately, human nature has begun to exert itself.

What I like about DIVERGENT is that, while it’s based in a dystopian setting, that isn’t the main point. Boiled down, the story is really just about a girl trying to find her place and discover who she is. And I appreciate Roth’s originality in not succumbing to the Big Brother theme. While I enjoy novels that delve into the repercussions of a Socialistic construct, I dislike the tunnel vision of so limited a focus. There are hundreds of ways for us go wrong, and Socialism is only one of them.

Another set that came out around the same time as the DIVERGENT trilogy is the LEGEND trilogy by Marie Lu.
LEGEND centers around a boy accused of murder and the girl assigned to track him down. Both are horrendously smart, and both are on different sides of the law. Though I felt the LEGEND trilogy shared too many themes with some of its forebears regarding the construct of the government itself, I appreciated the whole LES MISERABLES vibe I got from the first book, as well as the inclusion of the plague (because I like stories that feature some sort of plague). Also, I expected the sequels to leap onto the “let’s take down the government” train that seems to wend its way through many dystopian novels (see what I did there?). But instead, Lu threw me when she took a different direction altogether (but I won’t tell you what happens because that would ruin the surprise). So, while I would only give that trilogy three stars over all for various reasons I won’t go into for lack of space, I wouldn’t say LEGEND was a cheap knock off.

But now let’s look at Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER and Ally Condie’s MATCHED.
In THE GIVER, we have a different sort of dystopian construct, one I find even more delightfully disturbing than the Roman-inspired gladiator-style fights of THE HUNGER GAMES and the Big Brother style government of LEGEND and the faction system of DIVERGENT. In the GIVER, the evil of tyranny is masked as kindness. In blatant dystopian governments, it’s all out there; you know, for the most part, who your enemy is. But at first the characters of THE GIVER don’t even know they have an enemy. In fact, from the outside looking in, this close-knit society could be viewed as a virtual paradise. Until you look closer, that is. Rather than rebellions and massacres, we’re dealing with things like euthanasia, emotional control, etc. While the higher ups are always watching, people don’t necessarily live in fear since they have been led to believe this is for their own good. (Also, they can’t see color, so now you know you HAVE to read the book. See, I can be very persuasive.)

Unfortunately, it would seem Ally Condie decided to paint a strikingly similar portrait when she wrote MATCHED. While the idea of arranged marriages as a way of life is interesting, it’s hardly original. Aside from the love-triangle, MATCHED uses multiple themes from THE GIVER, it would seem, including euthanasia and constant surveillance—not to mention, the bad guys appear nice, and the society looks the picture of perfection. (Too much happy!) There are other parallels, I realize, and other reasons why MATCHED didn’t feel fresh and exciting, but I’ll get into them later when I actually review the book.


So there you have it. I’ve covered the first five books/trilogies on my list, and next week I’ll discuss the next bunch (plus, if all goes well, I’d like to share a few more thoughts concerning dystopian literature in general). Also, just as a heads up, I can’t promise anything but I expect to be a little less busy starting in late July/early August, and I hope to write a bunch of book reviews during that time (my regular content won’t change; you’ll just get to read my yammering more often).
All book photos from Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

777 Challenge

Announcement: If, after reading this post, you want to see more of my tiresome ramblings, I left a one-star book review on Goodreads, so you’re free to check that out.

A few days ago, the lovely Heather of Sometimes I’m a Story tagged me for the 777 Challenge. The rules are as follows:

Go to page seven of your current work-in-progress, scroll down to line seven, and share the next seven lines in a blog post. Once finished, tag seven bloggers to do this on their own blog.

I’m going to tweak these rules a teeny bit (bet you didn’t see that coming). In order to give you a proper snippet, I’d like to include a little more than I’m supposed to, which means you get a bit more context (hopefully).

As for this work in progress, I’m not going to tell you much about it. What I will say, though, is that it’s the first book in a Fantasy trilogy (I have the next two books drafted, but not edited yet). If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember me mentioning DSS. As I’ve said before, DSS does not stand for “Dumb Stupid Story”, but I won’t tell you what the working title is right now, because I am guaranteed to change it. Basically, last November I decided to resurrect that story, so I wrote/rewrote it and its sequels from the ground up, keeping only the elements, characters, and plot points I liked. (And I hope to be mostly finished with edits for DSS #1 by the end of the summer, if all goes well.)

So, without further ado, here is my snippet, in all its melodramatic glory:



“I don’t have a choice,” I snap, and I wish she could understand the conflict in my soul. I wish she could save me from what I must do. “If I don’t avenge my father, I’ll be ostracized. Like Thaddeus when he failed to defend his sister’s honor. Do you want an outcast for a daughter?”
“This is madness.” Mother catches the wall to support herself, and I am so tempted to break. But one of us has to be strong. Her pale hands form white-knuckled fists at her sides. “Your father wouldn’t want you to throw your life away on a fool’s errand. If you wish to prove your love for him, you’ll do what he’d tell you to do…if he were here.”
“But he isn’t here,” I say, though my throat feels full of sand. I climb another step. “And I would be a traitor if I let his murderer live unpunished.”
(DSS, copyright © Elizabeth Brooks)


And since I’m super busy this week and I don’t have time to write a proper post (sorry), here is another (longer) snippet starting on page 77 (you know, to fit with the theme): 



The earth lies scorched and ruined; the air hangs charred and stale. Fanned from the wreckage by the fickle wind, thick plumes of ash drift upward to color the silver sky. Already the events of last night feel like only a faded memory—the tavern a dim illusion. My heart tightens as I resist the urge to drop to my knees and cradle my head in my hands. Instead, I stand there, swaying, trying to figure out if I am hearing ghosts or if Jude is simply trying to get my attention. Suddenly the line between strength and frailty feels so horribly blurred. A thousand unnamed thoughts dart through my hollow frame, and I understand none of them.
Through the haze obscuring my senses, I vaguely notice when Jude laces his fingers with mine. Somehow I draw the strength to take a step forward, then another and another—to pantomime the motion of walking, to pretend I am still breathing. All around us the skeletons of burnt-out houses rise to scrape the thickened clouds. And the wind plays its own sighing rhythms through the frames of blackened board.
Warm debris crunches beneath our feet as we tread the rubble-strewn road, and my lungs constrict within my chest. All those houses, all those shops, all those familiar places—gone, completely and irrevocably destroyed. My mind refuses to accept it.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Jude asks, tightening his grip.
“Yeah,” I nod, surprised at the solidity in my voice.
In the distance, through a shroud of shifting grey, I catch a glimpse of something else, just a peek. Trembling in anticipation, I tug Jude forward, breaking into a run when walking proves too slow. Down twisting streets lined with rows of charcoal trees and firewood cottages like fence posts, I fly from numbness, all the while steeling myself for what I will find when I arrive. Then I round a corner and see it, still standing, still holding its unburned face above the earth—my home, no longer obscured by the rising ash. Even as I approach the door, I struggle to believe my eyes. The building sits in a circle of unspoiled ground, untouched—unscathed—by the flames. With my back to the ruins behind, I could easily convince myself that the devastation was merely a nightmare, but the twin windows on the front are broken in and the red dust on the threshold is marred by large footprints. Clawed footprints.
When I push the door open, the hinges complain, rebuking me for disturbing their slumber, but the interior is painfully silent. Nothing stirs; no one is home. And then I notice the thick streaks of soot on the floor and the marks of boots in the gummy ash. Torn and besmeared with grime, the lace curtains hang limp above the shattered windowpanes, and glass lies sprinkled every which way as though a faery exploded in a shower of sparkling shards.
Sucking in deep, measured breaths, I tiptoe to my room, unwilling to know what lies ahead yet unwilling to stop. Just as I had expected, my belongings are strewn everywhere, my bed sheets torn, my clothing shredded.
(DSS, copyright © Elizabeth Brooks)

(Cue dramatic music.)


And there you have it. (Also, I’m dying to know what you think this story is about, because I doubt you’ll be able to guess it from my samples. But I’d still love to see you try.)

I’m not going to tag anyone for this, even though I’m supposed to, but if you want to do your own post, let me know and I’ll link to it. Or, if you’d like to share your snippet/snippets in the comments section, feel free to do that too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to be an Eccentric Writer

Announcement: Cait’s blogoversary (blogaversary? blogversary?) giveaway is still open, and she’s also offering another giveaway on her site, so you should go check that out (you know, if you want). To top it off, Sierra’s blogoversary giveaway is still in full swing as well. In other words, today is your lucky day.

From the outside, it may seem like writers sit around all day penning novels from dawn till dusk, taking breaks only for sophisticated activities such as book signings, photo shoots, meals, galas, and shopping trips. Spectators view us as normal people—or, better yet, as celebrities with brilliant lives. In reality though, most writers teeter on the brink of insanity, and were you to spy on them, you might find your writer at their laptop, in their pajamas, snacking shamelessly. And anyway, why would you be stalking them? That’s just creepy.

So, since we’ve debunked the notion that writers are glamorous creatures, it’s time we move on to something that isn’t mythical: writers are interesting people. This might not mean we’re good at dinner conversation, and we might find our mental interactions with our fictional friends far more amusing than small talk with other human beings. But it’s all part of the job description.

As a writer, it’s your duty to be a little eccentric. So without further ado, here is a list of ten suggestions for cultivating that slightly crazed persona.

Number One: It’s helpful to have a hobby. Some writers like photography (if taking hundreds of selfies counts, then yes, I am also into photography). We like origami, martial arts, knitting, baking, and what-have-you. But while these are all wonderful activities, they are also the fodder of normal people. We need something that sets us apart. Gardening, for instance, is fun—but it’s much more writerly when, instead of vegetables, you grow hemlock and deadly nightshade and other varieties of poisonous plants. There are two benefits to this. Firstly, you can better describe these plants should you choose to include them in your novels. And secondly, if other people catch wind of what you grow in your special garden, you’re sure to enjoy a lot of peace and quiet since few will feel inclined to bother you. Just don’t eat your produce, whatever you do.

Number Two: It’s important to carry on loud conversations with your computer, not only in the safety of your own home but also in public. Reprimand Microsoft Word when it insists that your grammar is incorrect or that the word you have chosen is not actually in the dictionary. Scold your wayward characters when they behave in a dissatisfactory manner. And don’t be afraid to cackle manically when killing off your little darlings. This is an especially good strategy for those times when others around you won’t leave you alone. Believe me, one evil laugh, and they should give you a wide berth. Unless they call the police.

Number Three: Have an interesting pet. I’m sorry to say it (not really), but dogs and cats are both commonplace and boring. Some—more appropriate—alternatives include Madagascar hissing cockroaches, pythons, spitting cobras, red squirrels, rabid wolverines, Tasmanian devils, moose, martins, emus, ravens, owls, octopuses (octopi?), and bush babies. Personally, I have a pet rat named Twinkletoes (Twinkie for short) who likes to sit on my shoulder and critique my work.

Number Four: Cultivate a disturbing Google search history. Many writers like to kill off their characters right and left, and in order to make this more interesting, we need to find lots of creative ways for these characters to die. This Google history should be enough to get you incarcerated if you ever come under suspicion. Some searches I’ve seen other writers use include: How long does it take a human body to burn up? (A while.) Is it possible to kill a person with a pressure washer? (The answer is yes.) And, which stab wounds are lethal/not lethal? (Some fascinating factoids there.)

Number Five: Have frequent conversations about the different ways you have chosen to kill your characters. Bonus points if you do this in public. There’s nothing like giving a lengthy, gory description of a glorious death scene, only to have people look at you in horror because they think you’re a mass murderer.

Number Six: Disregard normal sleep and meal schedules. Forget to eat at appointed times. Forgo rest for days. (If only the caffeine patch were an actual invention.) And don’t forget to snack like it’s the end of the world. (Also, if you want bonus points, you could try developing a mild case of paranoia.)

Number Seven: Take long showers—take obscenely long showers. There’s nothing like standing under a stream of boiling water to get the ideas flowing. Buy waterproof paper and make copious notes on your book. Bonus points if you figure out a way to use your laptop in there without electrocuting yourself.  

Number Eight: Be a super critical reader, to the point where you annoy all your friends. Tear apart the works of other writers and figure out why some stuff succeeds and other stuff doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to find fault with even your favorite books. Just generally make yourself a nuisance. And when you go into book stores, make sure you fawn over the shelves and stroke the covers and talk to the novels until you get kicked out for being creepy.

Number Nine: Correct everyone’s grammar. It doesn’t matter that grammatical errors seem to spontaneously generate while your .docx file cools in your hard drive, you always have free license to wield that grammar handbook like a strange and deadly sword. Bonus points if you get caught vandalizing a sign—and by vandalizing, I mean correcting the sign’s grammar and punctuation.

Number Ten: Shun all forms of society. This last one is a looser suggestion than the others, as I have learned the disturbing news that there are some writers who need interaction in order to thrive. (GASP!) However, writers are mysterious beings, and they are far more interesting when they only show their faces four times during any given year. (Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.)


There you have it, my ten suggestions for cultivating the eccentric writer persona. Now it’s your turn. Do you have any tips and tricks up your sleeve? Any thoughts to add to my list? Feel free to let me know.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Announcement: If you haven’t already checked out Cait’s lovely blog, Paper Fury, she’s got some great content—and her giveaway is still open, so you should totally head over there (you know, if you want). Also, Sierra at Yearning to Read is now celebrating her darling blog’s fifth birthday, and I might cry if you don’t visit it. (Plus, there’s a giveaway.)

Now on to the reviews, and just so we’re on the same page, here’s my rating system:

One Star—Ick
Two Stars—Meh

Three Stars—Good

Four Stars—Great

Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)





First off, I want to thank Karen Bao for giving me a free copy of her book as well as Literary Rambles for hosting said giveaway! (Also, I read this book right after it came out in February, so I’m a little late in reviewing. *sheepish face*)


Rating: Four out of Five Stars—Great


Okay, can I just say—the cover is gorgeous. I mean, look at it. Initially I thought it seemed like she’s running on the ground with the rising moon as a backdrop. When I studied it more closely, though, I found she actually appears to be running around the curve of the moon itself. Very interesting. For whatever reason, I’m certain this has some deep, philosophical meaning pertaining to the story. But now you’re probably all looking at me like I’ve finally cracked, so I’m going to move on to discussing the book itself before you start breaking out the strait jacket.

Right away I fell in love with the setting. I mean, if a novel features anything even remotely related to the moon, it gets bumped pretty high on my list of Cool Things. Unfortunately for Karen Bao, she’s trying to break into a genre that started to cool down a while ago—the dystopian market is already so flooded, you have to write something pretty spectacular (like DIVERGENT) for it to stand out. However, while Bao may not find herself hurtling toward the same level of fame that Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins enjoy, I do believe she included some fresher elements that might appeal to jaded dystopian addicts.
In the lunar environment (people living on the moon!!!! *cue ecstatic hyperventilating*) the prying, claustrophobic government seems almost logical. Because the terrain is unforgiving, and because the colonies require constant supervision, it makes sense that that those in charge would have to encroach on personal privacy to a certain extent. After all, even one little mishap could kill everyone, so it’s essential to keep an eye on everything. However, somewhere along the line, this supervision has gone beyond the realm of reasonable. Now Phaet and her friends and family have to cover the listening devices implanted in their hands just to have a personal conversation (because Big Brother is totally listening in *nods*). So because I see the progression from a benign use of power to a malignant abuse, the world of DOVE ARISING feels more believable than some other dystopian novels.

On top of that, I appreciated Phaet’s introspective personality. Now, I realize that others don’t share this sentiment—some found her steady internal dialogue and not-so-steady outward expression annoying. Maybe this is an introvert vs. extravert issue, because I’m, like, 70% introverted, and Phaet is basically my hero.

But, I did have a few issues with this book. For one, despite her signature silence (I don’t even think she speaks until about fifty pages in, but I didn’t exactly take notes), Phaet still sounds a lot like Tris. She is relatively humorless, practical, brave, and just generally Tris-ish. When she joins Dauntless—I mean, the militia—in order to avoid becoming Factionless—I mean, homeless—her instruction is divided into stages. Initiates—I mean, recruits—are given a ranking system. The higher their final rank, the better the job they get. Phaet is even attacked during this training by some of the recruits she has bested. Oh, and I won’t mention the cute, mysterious guy who helps train her, because I don’t want to spoil the WHOLE story for you. But you see—there are definitely some DIVERGENT parallels there. (To be fair though, this takes place on the moon, so Bao still has that unique aspect going for her. And this book features an explosion or two, plus no trains. So it’s totally original—ignore everything else I said.)

Also, as for Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES, the loss of Phaet’s father has greatly affected her personality and the way she views the world. And is it just me, or does it seem like Phaet’s best friend Umbriel is going to be Gale 2.0 by the end of the trilogy?

Because Phaet is so reserved and uncommunicative, the plot lacked emotional punch, though that’s not to say nothing interesting/sad/scary/I-can’t-tell-you-because-it-would-ruin-everything happens. On the whole, though, I didn’t feel I could connect with her as well as I could with other protagonists. And about half the time I wanted to yell at Phaet and everyone else to just COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER ALREADY BECAUSE THEN YOU WON’T HAVE SO MANY STUPID MISUNDERSTANDINGS!!! Seriously, Phaet, sometimes you make me want to lick a cheese grater. But I do wonder if some of Phaet’s emotionlessness comes from her inability to process the grief in her past and the uncertainty in her present, so I will give her some slack on that. It’s not exactly easy to be yourself in a Socialistic environment.

To summarize, I felt the book lagged a bit in the middle and leaned—perhaps a little too heavily—on its forebears. Yet despite its weaknesses, its fresh twist left me more satisfied than disappointed, and I look forward to reading the final two books in the trilogy whenever they come out. And, considering Karen Bao began DOVE ARISING, her debut novel, when she was seventeen (or so I’m told), she is definitely an author to watch.





Thank you to Donna Galanti for giving me a free copy of her book and to Literary Rambles for hosting said giveaway! I received this book in the mail on Friday and finished it on Saturday, so I’m pretty proud of myself for getting to the review so quickly. Does this mean I get a gold sticker?


Rating: Three out of Five Stars—Good


Now, let me just say, I really, REALLY, wanted to give this book four stars. After all, I don’t like tearing apart a fellow writer’s work. I know how it feels to receive criticism. And Donna asked me to review her book, so I feel like a monster giving her three stars after she sent me a sweet card and everything. Excuse me while I retreat to the Corner of Shame. So I want to preface this by telling you that I did enjoy JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, and I know that if I were in the intended Middle Grade age range, I would be quicker to give it four stars. After all, I don’t read much MG, so I may not be the best judge of this genre. But before I tell you why I’m giving it three stars, let me start with what I liked about the book.

Even though Joshua doesn’t leap off the page like many memorable MG characters do (and seriously, it’s important for MG characters to have a strong, unique voice), he is still an admirable protagonist. While he makes hasty/stupid decisions from time to time (though seriously, would we have any books if characters didn’t?), he has a good heart. On a number of occasions, he risks his welfare, his happiness, and even his life for others without considering—even for a moment—the consequences of his actions. Granted, not many twelve-year olds actually think they’re going to die if they do something dangerous. But I don’t want to undermine how genuinely unselfish Joshua is. Like, I think my cold, dark heart shed a few tears.

He isn’t arrogant, even when he has reason to be, and he doesn’t call attention to himself or assume that he’s the best. Instead, he puts others first like the gentleman he is. And while he disobeys his grandfather by taking the Lightning Orb, his reasons are almost honorable enough to justify his actions (not that I advocate disobeying your guardians, and the end never justifies the means). But hey, tell a twelve-year-old not to touch the mysterious, glowing thing, and what do you expect them to do?

Also, I loved the mood and the setting. I loved the feel of the story and the color scheme (my color scheme for letters and numbers applies to stories as well—don’t laugh). I’m almost certain that, if I were younger and less hard-hearted, I would have been swept along with the plot. It wasn’t as predictable as I expected coming in, and the supporting cast was interesting—to say the least. I could never quite figure out Leandro, Hekate was a delightfully icky villain (don’t even get me started on Cronag, the Child Collector), and I fell head-over-heels for Charlie. He speaks French—am I swooning? (No, because he’s like, thirteen, and that would be totally inappropriate.)

So here are the reasons I chose to give only three stars when I wanted to give four. I understand that, with children’s stories, authors are expected to use a simpler writing style. After all, it might be a little much to ask an eleven-year-old to read CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (great book, by the way). So maybe my judgement is a little unfair—please forgive me. But be that as it may, I felt the writing lacked some of the artistry I’ve enjoyed in various other MG novels (like Stefan Bachmann’s THE PECULIAR and THE WHATNOT, J.M. Barrie’s PETER PAN, and Cornelia Funke’s INKHEART). That’s not to say there wasn’t any at all—Galanti included some great similes and some vivid word pictures. Her descriptions appealed to all five senses (though maybe she dwelt too much on how things smelled—my nose was starting to hurt). And she avoided the dreadful, book-killing info dump. (Not to mention, art is very subjective—so this is just my opinion, folks.)

But on the whole, I felt that her sentence structures tended toward the weaker side, and her grammar needed shoring up in places. (Slap me if I sound too much like a pretentious little snob. I assure you, I’ve only read, like, five grammar books.) It’s one thing to use commonly accepted grammatical errors in dialogue, especially when children are speaking. They wouldn’t sound like real kids if they talked like they’d just come home from prep school (unless, of course, you’re writing about characters who just came home from prep school, in which case, knock yourself out). But I’m a little less forgiving of grammatical errors embedded in the narrative itself. After all, kids learn English usage and grammar through reading as much as schooling, if not more. They’ll pick these things up without even realizing it. And there’s a fine line between striving for authenticity and setting a bad example. That, more than anything, is why I chose three stars instead of four. (Now excuse me while I go hide in the corner, because I’m sure there have been grammatical errors in my blog before.)  

To summarize, because of grosser elements (like descriptively stinky people and snot), JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD may appeal more to boys than girls—or at least, that’s the impression I got. While it doesn’t have the same humor and breadth, it may still appeal to fans of PERCY JACKSON AND THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Not everyone will love it, but I don’t think it was a waste of time, and I look forward to reading the sequel, JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM.


What about you? Have you read either of these books, and if so, what did you think? What are your criteria when you rate books? Do you read grammar books for fun? Have you found grammatical errors in my blog before?