Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mind the Revolving Doors: The Misfortunes of a Semi-Super Hero

Via Pixabay
It all started when I got my cape stuck in the revolving doors at the Spandex Shopping Center in Randomville. At that point, I was already running late. All the super suits in my size had been sold out, and I’d needed to wait behind a line of indecisive shoppers just to place an order with a very grumpy saleslady. Then I’d needed to get my coffee fix, but the Java Junction was swarmed with rabid, flying termites when I got there. Obviously I’d had to save the day. Despite my best efforts, however, the termites had still ruined all the caffeinated drinks, so I was grumpy when the revolving doors decided to clash with me.

There I was, a semi-super hero with a penchant for rescuing confused baristas and lost poodles, struggling as my flowing blue cape (the one with the little sailboats on it—my other one was at the drycleaners) became trapped in the iron jaws of that infernal swinging contraption. I’m certain those things are specifically designed to murder people, since they spend all day swallowing customers whole and then spitting them out with lighter wallets and heavier bills. Clearly, I did not have the patience for this death machine.

I reached for my purse, ready to pull out my hand-dandy destroyo-matic, designed to demolish public menaces like obnoxiously ugly fountains, disgusting health-food drinks, and yes, revolving doors. (It said so on the label.) But then I realized I’d used it the other day on an extremely irritated yak. So, there I was, facing imminent destruction, staring into the cold maw of doom, moments away from being sucked into and pulverized by the inner workings of the door.

Like a puppy with a chew toy, it dragged me in circles, round and round, while all the semi-super villains I’d ever defeated gathered to press their grubby, money-laundering hands to the windows. After all, they were there to witness my downfall. Seizing the opportunity, hot dog carts and ice cream stands began to pop up out of nowhere, and it became rather a festive occasion as the villains stuffed their faces and toasted my demise with fizzy drinks. Off in the distance, a Yorkshire terrier whimpered at the dreadful spectacle, and a few pigeons hid their heads in shame. But there was no one, in that whole wide world, willing to come to my rescue.

Any moment now, and I would be just a memory, only a grease stain on the pavement—nothing more than a tragic legend and a painful warning. Mind the revolving doors.

As my elbows skidded across the ground, the events of my life zipped through my mind faster than really fast lightning, each more heart-wrenching than the last. It’s funny how the mind slows down when death speeds up. I saw it all like it was happening for the first time—the day I’d mistaken my hamster for my hairbrush and ended up with sawdust in my luxurious mane. The day I’d strangled an anaconda with my bare hands (don’t listen to the reporters when they claim I was wearing gloves). The time I’d spilled radioactive Kool-Aid on my favorite pair of stretchy super-pants—while I was wearing them. The time I’d saved Randomville from the threat of tourists by relocating all its historical sites to the middle of the nearest ocean.

Oh, I’d done so many things, had so many adventures. And yet I’d lived so little, and it seemed so wrong that there would be no more shenanigans, no more escapades to record in my soon-to-be-famous biography. No longer would I troll the streets, rescuing poor innocent civilians from terrors they’d never even known existed.

As I made my final rounds through the revolving doors—and likewise through my memory—becoming more and more entangled in my cape and in my sorrow, I pondered my existence and the meaning of my short stay on this planet.

Had I saved enough babies from over-affectionate relatives? Had I stolen enough ice cream cones from the rich to give to the poor? Had I donated enough used bubble gum to the needy? Had I told enough corny jokes, made enough of a fool of myself? Would it matter, in the end, if I could fit fifty-seven marshmallows in my mouth at one time? By doing so, I had proved myself irredeemably dangerous. But how much would that matter when it was all over?

With me gone, who would feed Killer (my pet sheep) or Cuddles (my pet wolverine) or Fido (my black mamba)? Who would see to it that the sign announcing my secret hideout would remain well-painted and unobscured by shrubbery? Who would continue my life’s work?

Who would care?

I was almost running out of questions by that time, so it was rather convenient when the store manager finally got around to switching off the revolving door. Fortunately, the only confirmed casualties that day were my cape and my pride (and possibly an ant or two), as well as my reputation. But there are worse battles to fight, and when they come, I will be ready.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami

Warning: As always, I try to stay relatively spoiler free. But it doesn’t hurt to proceed with caution.

Rating: Four Stars—Great

I had some trouble rating this book. Unlike other novels, where the answer is obvious (like THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, which was clearly five stars), I wasn’t so sure on this one. There were bits I liked a lot, and bits I didn’t like as much. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to give BATTLE ROYALE three stars or five. So I settled on a compromise.

First of all, the premise. In the Republic of Greater East Asia, every year fifty junior high classes (of about 40 students each) are chosen at random and dumped into arenas where they are pitted together in a fight to the death. There can only be one survivor from each class. But when Shuya Nanahara’s class is chosen, he is determined to escape the Games, along with his friends.

Even though the narrative jumps back and forth between various viewpoints, essentially giving the reader a glimpse of what is going on with everyone else, these three get the most face time (and I can’t complain):

Shuya Nanahara. Shuya is a good kid—mature for his age and very smart. Sure, he makes typical mistakes, and he kills when he has to, but he reacts well given the circumstances. He doesn’t lose his head, and he doesn’t abandon his principles. Despite the bloodshed around him, he struggles to believe that his classmates—kids who have grown up together—would actually murder each other. Even when he accidentally takes a life, he doesn’t jump to justify it in the way that others do.

Noriko Nakagawa. Although she doesn’t play a major role, she adds a nice touch to the story because she feels somehow separate from the horror of the Games. While she is timid and gentle, she also does not panic.

Shogo Kawada. He is enigmatic and scary, but in a nice way. I would definitely want him as my ally, and he would make a formidable enemy.

Human Nature and Psychology. As Shuya, Noriko, and Shogo spend their time hiding and avoiding their fellow classmates, the others run around killing each other right and left. And I loved watching how human nature plays out. I mean, these are fifteen-year-olds, but that doesn’t stop them from shooting, stabbing, strangling, and otherwise maiming their peers. On an emotional and psychological level, I enjoyed seeing how the students deal with this whole situation. On the one hand, we have some who think that, if everyone would just calm down, they would all be willing to band together and escape the Games, no harm done. They can’t understand why their friends would murder each other in cold blood.
Then we have the slimy people you kind of hate enough to be happy when they die (almost)—the ones who plan to sit it out until only one other remains, and then to claim their victory as self-defense. (What makes it so compelling is that most every person tries to justify the blood on their hands. More than that, it’s interesting to see how many misunderstandings there are, how many people kill or are killed because of fear, how many people make unfortunate/stupid decisions.) And then, of course, we have the psychopaths and the sociopaths, the ones who don’t value human life, who actively hunt their fellows down, and who not only play the game, but enjoy it.

The Switching Viewpoints. Since I like to understand all the characters in a given story, I appreciated the chance to get a peek at most everyone’s motivations and desires. So many people become sympathetic characters, for however short a time, and that makes their deaths significant. They all have tangible lives before the Games—people and things they want to get back to. And I wanted them to survive, even though I knew they couldn’t.

Of course, there were some characters I didn’t sympathize with as much, and I wasn’t crushed when THEY died. But then again, you can’t exactly read this book with a marshmallow heart. Just to give you some perspective, 42 teens go in this arena. Only one is supposed to come out. Attachment is a luxury you can’t really afford.

So now for the stuff I didn’t like as much.

The Writing. I didn’t feel BATTLE ROYALE was that well-written, but I do want to be a little more forgiving because who knows how much artistry might have been lost in the translation from Japanese to English. And there’s style to take into account (BATTLE ROYALE felt a bit too anime for my taste, but that’s a personal thing). [Side Note: If you’re wondering, I bought the 2009 edition from Haikasoru, translated by Yuji Oniki. I’m told this is an improvement on the last version, but not as good as the next. I bought this one mainly for the cover, because I’m deep like that.] 

Repeated Information. I only needed Shuya’s and Shinji’s nicknames explained once, likewise I only needed to be told a single time that both Shuya and Shinji Mimura are stars in their track team or that Yoshitoki Kuninobu had told Shuya he had a crush on Noriko. I didn’t need to be reminded of each student’s seating number (there was a chart at the beginning of the book, anyway, so I could have referred to that if I’d needed to). Also, while backstory does make the characters relatable, repeated or irrelevant information does not serve to advance the plot as well (in my opinion). Overall, I felt the narrative could have been trimmed down a little, especially considering the book is 600 pages long.

Target Audience. The novel may be about fifteen-year-olds, but I’m thinking the target audience should be a bit higher. Of course, maybe I’ve forgotten what it was like to be fifteen. So many of the students are gang members, prostitutes, druggies, etc… Oh, those poor little darlings. Perhaps Japan is a rougher place, perhaps I am merely naïve, or perhaps this was just for the sake of the story? I’m open to any of these options. But I spent the whole book half-wondering if the students should have been a couple of years older, although that would have detracted from the LORD OF THE FLIES vibe (which I kind of sort of loved). Also, there’s some sexual content and some strong language, which made it a little more uncomfortable, considering these are fifteen-year-olds (did I mention they’re fifteen?). (Actually, Shogo is sixteen, but that’s beside the point.)

Overall, despite its pulp fiction feel, BATTLE ROYALE shares a powerful message about the uglier parts of human nature. And though, I feel, it could have been strengthened in some places, it was still haunting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Excerpts

Via Pixabay
A few weeks ago, I posted a couple excerpts from my current work in progress (DSS, YA Fantasy), and since you lovely people didn’t seem to hate them, I figured I’d share a bit more. But, like last time, I won’t actually be sharing anything too spoilery, though you’re welcome to guess what the story’s about. Also, I’ve replaced all the made-up names with their initials because I’d rather not share those just yet.
† † †
I stand and step away from him. Which is a mistake. Now I have a clear line of vision; I can see the tombstone guarding my father’s unturned grave. And a lump tightens in my throat at the sight of wilted flowers covering the unbroken earth, the ones I put there the morning I killed Titus.
† † †
While a handful of people pile kindling in preparation for a massive bonfire, others lug armfuls of wood from every conceivable direction. Already a haphazard stack of logs rises to greet the dimming sky as the stars begin to make their appearance. High on its throne, the brightly glowing moon oversees the entire operation. Waiting off to the side, I watch the workers, studying their faces and the way they carry themselves, chins lifted, backs held straight, steps light and airy—spurning the earth.

Half-shrouded in the thickening shadows, two figures sit apart—S in deep conversation with a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jude. Something very like a grin illuminates S’s face. Or perhaps the weird light simply softens her expression, bending an ugly smirk back into the shape of a lovely smile. Whatever it is, for an instant or two, she looks almost beautiful—almost happy. But then she glances over, and her features become a slate of sharply-chalked lines when her eyes meet mine.

“The boy over there—that’s V, my son,” A says, and I jump a little, surprised I didn’t hear her approach. As she seats herself beside me, she hands me a woolen blanket and wraps another around her shoulders. Across the way, the bonfire flares to life, filling the air with the chorus of popping sap and jumping sparks. More and more people arrive to clutter the gloom. Even with the brilliant flames, the landscape seems shrouded and indistinct, as though there is some element to this setting that can never be truly seen—brought to light only by the darkness, and but dimly. I shiver at the thought, though I don’t fully know why.

“Thank you,” I whisper before too many passing moments etch into A’s mind the impression that I am rude and ungrateful. Hypnotized by the swaying shadows, I watch as the others begin to dance, beating their feet to the rhythm of the music. Colorful skirts snap and billow in the freshening wind, and I follow the whirl of motion until my eyes glaze over. “Do you do this every night?” I ask, turning to study A. “Are you always celebrating?” For some reason, the question feels very important, as though I need—more than anything else—to hear the answer.

“Most nights,” A chuckles, gazing fondly at the dancers.

“And what about work?”

She purses her lips. “Of course we have a few trades. But we live on fertile volcanic soil, and all our food grows wild. We need only to mill it and bake it and eat it; we’ve never had to fight for it.” She gives a pained laugh. “So we do nothing but feast and dance and philosophize about meaningless notions. At least we’re alive.”

† † †
“You’re very confident about your opinions,” I observe, trying to hide how much Jude’s words have shaken me.

“I always am,” he smirks. “But you know I’m right. And I know you fear the thought of living among humans.”

“They couldn’t hurt me,” I snap.

“Yes, but they could hate you, and that’s worse. Look,” he leans in close and fixes me with his gaze, “I know I’m offering you danger, but I’m also offering you peace.”

“And what if I say no?”

“I wouldn’t force you to come.” He scoots back to the fire and warms his hands. “But how long do you think you’ll last out there…on your own?”

Pursing my lips, I study the fire and try to reason with myself. All my life, my father had warned me never to cross the Z River into D, never to linger too long in the badlands, never to cave to curiosity. The people there will hurt you, he’d say. They’re not as nice as I am. So stay here with me, where you’re safe.

Thing is though, he wasn’t safe. D spilled over anyway and took him out from under our noses. And I realize it’s a long shot, but the thought that Father might still be alive in the shrouded country beyond the badlands is a very powerful idea. After all, we never found the body, despite the search parties’ efforts. If I knew for certain, if I knew for sure that he survived, I would stop at nothing to save him. Besides, I murdered someone. Revenge or not, I can’t shake the feeling that that was wrong. Maybe rescuing Jude’s brother might ease the guilt of taking a life. I would do anything to get rid of that guilt, my constant companion. But I am young, and I hate the thought of dying.

“Fine,” I whisper, and the word is just a breath on the wind. “I’ll go with you.”
† † †
When I look down, I find my hands are trembling, so I busy myself scooping tea leaves into the cups, filling the bottoms with just enough but not too much, the way Father taught me. A breath catches in my throat, sounding suspiciously like a strangled sob, and I shake myself, digging my fingernails into the counter, ignoring the puckered look of concern on Jude’s face. I can’t escape it—I just can’t escape it, can I? Everywhere I go, everything I see, every thought that passes through my mind—Father has left his fingerprint on them all, on the entire spinning, burning world. There is nothing I can do that is not tainted with him. And no matter how far I flee, no matter how fast I go, I can never outrun his memory. Maybe I don’t want to. But oh, there are these moments—these moments like this when I would give almost anything just to loosen the knot in my throat, the tightness in my chest, and the ache in my soul. Moments like these when I would nearly be willing to trade what is most precious to me—my memory of him, his existence—for even an instant without pain.

† † †
I smile, though I realize his words are hollow, meant only to reassure me. Behind me, the kettle begins to shriek and complain at the boiling water sloshing around in its belly, and I seize this chance to turn my back on Jude’s intense face, his piercing eyes. Wrapping my hands in the threadbare cloths he dropped on the floor, I retrieve the kettle and settle it down on the counter, waiting a moment for my skin to cool before I pour the heated liquid into the tea cups. Even though I move quickly, I still manage to burn myself.

“Come, let’s go outside and take care of that,” Jude says, eyeing the red mark on my palm.  

I cock my ear, listening for any noises in the other room that might clue me in to what our host is doing. But all I hear is silence. Perhaps he is sleeping?

The door bangs shut behind us, loud on its hinges, and I grit my teeth as we make our way around to the back of the house and across the sparse lawn. Jude works the pump a full minute before even a thin stream of water begins to trickle from the mouth. Grateful at least for this much, I hold my hands under the lukewarm stream, hot from the metal throat it must pass through in order to reach me. Still, it soothes the angry skin, and I smile.

“Do you miss your brother much?” I ask. I’m not sure where the question came from, or why it chose this moment to surface, to voice itself against my will. But once I’ve spoken, I do not wish the words back.

His eyes widen as he tears his gaze from the ground near his feet, and his jaw clenches. “Of course,” he says, and he sounds so matter-of-fact. “You think I’d be here if I didn’t?”

Pursing my lips, I shrug, attempting to size him up, to read him and all his secrets. No matter how hard I try, I can never seem to understand people, to look past their acted fronts to their hidden motives. And it strikes me as odd that Jude would wait six months—that long—before setting out to search for his beloved brother on the spur of the moment. Somehow he does not strike me as the type to do that.
† † †

“Annoying, isn’t it?” Titus sneers, and I turn to find him stoking the fire, digging up cherry coals from beneath the ashes where they rested, sheltered through the night.

“I wouldn’t know,” I frown, facing the jungle once more, tucking my knees up close to my chest and hugging my legs. The air feels chillier with him awake. Though dawn traces the sky, stronger than ever, the draining darkness holds no more splendor than a funeral, and hope fades away with the wind. Summoning my remaining courage, I stand and stretch the stiffness from my cold muscles, watching as he coaxes the flames into existence. “What are you doing?” I ask, since I had expected him to be antsy to leave.

“You’ll see,” he murmurs, licking his bottom lip in concentration. I study his hands, brown and calloused, and wonder if he ever feels guilty about the blood that stains them. If he avoids looking at them. For the past few weeks, that’s exactly what I’ve done. And again I ask myself, does he regret murdering my father? Deep down in the softest parts of his soul, does he care? Not that it makes any difference.

“Why did you kill him?” I ask, and my voice is steadier than I had expected. In fact, it is almost icy. And I suffer a twinge of sorrow at the realization that I can maintain such a calm façade. I should be pacing, ranting, screaming. I miss Father so much, I tell myself. Yet I wonder if my actions imply otherwise.

He glances up, eyebrows raised. Is it my question that surprises him, or my tone? “I thought I answered that ages ago,” he smirks. “Why are you bringing it up now?”

     And there it is again, that almost unbearable urge to hit him. Somehow I manage to knot my clenched fists behind my back, to check the fiery words that will do me no good.
† † †

Blinking slowly, Titus rocks back on the balls of his feet, rests his forearms on his knees, and frowns at me. “What does it matter? He’s dead.”

“Is he?” I ask, and this time I choke a little. Not much, but he notices. His eyes glint.

“So you still think there’s some way of saving him? Touching, but he couldn’t get any deader if he tried.”

This time I do take a swing at him, knuckles aimed at his face, nails slicing into my palm. But long before bone can connect with bone, he snatches my wrist from the air and wrenches it down sharply, twisting my arm behind me. Just like old times…

† † † 
“You’re growing up,” she says, and I flinch a little. It’s true. I have gotten so much older in this short time, in this brief span of hours and days that stretches from the moment I first heard of Father’s disappearance until today. That is grief’s greatest crime—the way it ages people’s minds and hearts. The way it takes us further and further from the ones we love.

I wish I could fully remember what it was like to be a child, to be happy and carefree, innocent and safe. Now all I know is this pain, this constant backdrop to my new existence.

“Yes, I am growing up,” I agree.
† † †

All excerpts copyright © Elizabeth Brooks


Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Warning: As always, I try to stay relatively spoiler free. But it doesn’t hurt to proceed with caution.  

Rating: Four Stars—Great


Okay, can we just pause for a moment to admire that gorgeous cover? When I first picked up LIFE AS WE KNEW IT in the library eons and eons ago, the cover was what initially drew me in. I imagine this is what love feels like.

Like I said, I first read this ages ago, probably pretty soon after it came out, and it was only in recent times that I remembered the title. Thanks to my scatterbrainedness (yes, that is totally a word), I wasted years trying to figure out what this glorious book was called and who the author was and how I could get my greedy hands on a copy of my own. Imagine my triumph, then, when I found this in Barnes & Noble. (I bought it and devoured it within moments.)

So enough about me—let’s talk about LIFE AS WE KNEW IT.

The Premise. When astronomers predict that an asteroid will hit the moon, most everyone is excited to witness the event. However, what astronomers fail to predict is that the asteroid will knock the moon much closer to earth, thus drastically altering life all over the globe. Tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions—caused by the increased gravitational pull—scar the earth. And as winter begins to fall, Miranda and her family struggle to survive in the face of starvation. (In other words, you need to read this book. You know, if you want.)

Now for the good stuff. The juicy details. The reasons why I would steal this book from a baby if I had to (aside from that fact that it features the moon, which is reason enough on its own, let me tell you).

The characters. Hmm, I had mixed feelings about them, but the fact that I didn’t like them all the time made them feel more real.

First off, we have sixteen-year-old Miranda who records the story through a series of diary entries, which makes the book feel homey and cozy. (Mainly I just like the thought of reading someone’s journal, even if it is made up. But I digress.)

My favorite character, Matt, is soft-spoken and kind (for the most part), and Miranda thinks of him as her hero. How sweet is that? (They’re siblings, in case you were wondering.) But even though I really liked him, sometimes I also hated him a little, which is great because I don’t like it when authors create cotton-candy characters.

We don’t get to know Miranda’s younger brother, Jonny, very well, but we do get to watch him grow both emotionally and physically. And while he doesn’t have a huge part, he still feels like one of the highlights of the story.

Kooky and loveable, Mrs. Nesbitt lives next door to Miranda’s family. With her dry sense of humor and her slightly morbid outlook, she adds the perfect touch of semi-crazy. I mean, it’s the end of the world, so she buys a bunch of gourmet food.

And then we have Miranda’s mom. I’ll admit, I don’t like her nearly as much, and I’ll explain why later.

Despite their flaws, the family behaves in a believable way. They don’t spend all their time moping around, neither do they pass their days singing Kumbaya and painting flowers. Though they clearly love each other, they also fight like cats and dogs, and they struggle with very natural, very understandable emotions—fear at their prospects, anger at their loss, annoyance at being cooped up in close quarters for so long. Honestly, I felt like the fifth member of the family, silent but present, and I cared about what happened to them.

The atmosphere. Some books are easy to put down. I’ll read bits and pieces when I can find the time, but I can shut the cover on the story and leave it behind without a fuss. But LIFE AS WE KNEW IT had staying power. Even when I set it aside to do other things, it hung over my mind like a heavy fog, and I couldn’t shake it off. I had to keep reminding myself that the moon was in its proper spot and that I didn’t need to worry about starving to death.

Also, more specifically, I loved the grocery shopping scene near the beginning of the book where Miranda and the others are stocking up so they can hunker down. As they stuffed their carts with various essentials, running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to figure out what they’d need, I felt that tingling in my spine I get when I’m battening down the hatches and preparing for a thunderstorm. Which happens to be one of the coziest, most delicious feelings ever. Even if the rest of the book were awful, which it isn’t, I would buy it just for that scene.

But I did have a few issues with this book.

Running Water. Okay, maybe I overlooked something, but Miranda’s family has running water long after the electricity has gone out. Now, maybe it’s not this way for everyone, but I know in my house, we don’t have running water without power.  

Miranda’s Mother. Ughhh, Laura got on my nerves. Sure, she was realistic and believable and I liked that. But sometimes I felt she was over the top. Often her arguments with Miranda turn into screaming matches, and on several occasions Laura tells Miranda to get out of her sight, or something along those lines. Um, not okay. I would have appreciated it if Laura had owned up to at least some of the times she acted like she hated her daughter, but aside from a few symptoms of remorse, she never out and out apologizes.

The Reverend. When we meet the Reverend, it becomes pretty clear that he’s been eating plenty because starving members of his congregation have given him food. Furthermore, when a woman hangs herself, he refuses to bury her next to her daughter because he doesn’t want to soil the daughter’s grave with the mother’s “impure remains”. Humph. Suicide is unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s anyone’s place to condemn those who take such drastic measures.

Megan. Megan, who is a little bit better than the Reverend, is still frustrating. She spends too much time trying to be a goody-two-shoes and too little time admitting that, like it or not, she is an imperfect human being just like everyone else.

The Chocolate Chip Scene. Grrr, this scene. So Miranda comes into the pantry and sees all the food they have stockpiled. Right away she gets angry because her mother has had them all on starvation diets (to conserve food, of course, but Miranda isn’t thinking straight), so she breaks into the bag of chocolate chips. When her mother catches her, she orders Miranda to eat the entire bag and then screams at her that she had been saving those chocolate chips for Matt’s birthday and now he won’t get to enjoy his favorite cookies. *sad face* But you only need about half a standard bag of chocolate chips to make a decent-sized batch of cookies, and Miranda had only eaten about a third before her mother caught her. Instead of making Miranda eat the rest, and thus depriving Matt even more, Laura could have saved the remainder and still made plenty of cookies. Problem solved.

In Conclusion. There were bits that annoyed me, but I am still very glad I found this book again, and I’ll probably reread it a bunch of times before I’m dead and gone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Unpopular Opinions Tag

The lovely Cait @ Paperfury has nominated me for the Unpopular Opinions Tag, and I’m excited to finally work it into my schedule. Thank you, Cait! (Edit: Opal @ Opal Swirls has also tagged me for this. Thank you, Opal!) As we all know, I do enjoy being contrary. Also, this one is especially nice because it doesn’t come with rules (which is fine, since I probably wouldn’t have followed them anyway). So, without any further ado, here are the categories.

A Popular Book or Series I Disliked

Well, I’m going to echo Cait here and say THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher. The concept had potential, but the message was awful. Our main character has left behind a series of thirteen tapes explaining her reasons for killing herself. In the end, though, these tapes really just amount to emotional abuse, and yet, while reading the book, I almost felt like I couldn’t admit that because this girl committed suicide and it would be cruel of me to speak ill of her. But it’s true. Her reasons for killing herself are not overwhelming—I wouldn’t look at her life and think, “Oh, the poor dear.” Honestly, of all the bullies in the book, she was the worst. And I felt that the story was really just saying, “Hey, if someone does something that bothers you, you should kill yourself and then tell them it’s they’re fault so they’ll be sorry.” Ummm…...

A Popular (or Unpopular) Book/Series Most People Hate But I Love

Wait for it.

Wait for it.


Like I’ve said before (multiple times), I read so many negative reviews about it, I just knew I had to buy it and read it for myself. And then, of course, I fell in love.

A Love Triangle Where the Main Character Ends Up With the Wrong Person

*gleefully rubs hands together* I’ve been waiting for this one.

For starters, we have MATCHED by Ally Condie. If you’ve read my review, then you’ll know I had some serious problems with the love triangle. I so, so, so, so wanted Cassia to just ditch Ky and choose Xander. So, obviously, that did not happen. *pouts*


Next up, LEGEND by Marie Lu. I wasn’t a huge fan of June, and I wasn’t convinced by her romance with Day. I don’t care how you slice it, I won’t listen. Day and Tess are clearly much more compatible. Now please excuse me while I go sulk.

And finally, DOVE ARISING by Karen Bao. Okay, so there isn’t any romance in the book, really. But it seems pretty evident that there will be something between Wes and Phaet, which is dumb because Umbriel and Phaet are perfect for each other.

A Popular Genre I Don’t Usually Read

Hmm. It’s a bit of a toss-up. I don’t read much Fantasy anymore, mainly because I got so into it I burnt myself out. And I don’t read much Contemporary either, but I have been getting into it a bit more lately. I just don’t find it as interesting. But, most of all, I’m not into Romance. My cold Vulcan heart can’t stomach it (with a few exceptions, of course).  

A Character Everyone Likes But I Don’t

*cue maniacal laughter*

Gale Hawthorn from the HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Yeah, I said it. He’s self-centered, blind to Katniss’s emotional needs, and often downright cruel. While she’s running around getting traumatized, he’s running around whining about Katniss and Peeta. Get some perspective, Gale. Poor, darling Katniss has been through TWO STINKING HUNGER GAMES, and it’s a safe bet sorting out which guy she’s going to date isn’t very high on her list of priorities. So give her a break and stop sulking.

A Popular Author I Haven’t Been Able To Get Into


John Green. I read the first few chapters of three of his books, and I just wasn’t all that interested. I’m sorry. PAPER TOWNS and LOOKING FOR ALASKA seemed to have the exact same tone, and I just didn’t feel myself pulled in. (Although, someday I may read AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES because that one does sound a little more intriguing.)

A Popular Trope/Cliché I am Sick and Tired of Reading

So many teens in YA are irresponsible and (slightly) dumb. Not all teens are like that. When I was a young-un, I went to bed at 9:00 on school nights because I WANTED to. I never went to parties, and I didn’t sit around whining about boys or playing vicious pranks on my supposed friends. In fact, I rarely ever got in trouble. (But, I’ll admit, people like me don’t make for interesting stories. We just sit around and do responsible things all day. Lame.)

Too many short female protagonists. I mean, I’m 5’7” on a good day, and if I didn’t feel tall enough already, YA is there to point out that I am FREAKISHLY tall. To make matters worse, while these dainty, little heroines go about their adventures, the tall, mean girls make their lives miserable. I think I’m going to develop a complex.

A Popular Series I Just Don’t Feel Like Reading

The ANGELFALL series by Susan Ee. Nope, I’m just not hugely interested in books about angels.


A Show/Movie Adaptation I Preferred Over the Book


THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner. The book was good, plotwise, but I felt the movie took the story and smoothed over some of the weaknesses. Also, while I could imagine the maze while reading the novel, I enjoyed actually seeing it on the screen.

A Popular Style of Book Cover I Dislike (this question was added by the infamous Cait)

Covers with shirtless men. Like, excuse me, but I ain’t reading that in public. Also, covers with people kissing. Just, ew. (This is me being very grown up and mature.) But in all seriousness, I don’t read much romance, so if there are people kissing on the cover, it won’t catch my fancy.


And there you have it, all my unpopular opinions. Feel free to disagree with me, but be forewarned, if you get tiffy I might throw stale coffee at your face.