Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Fall in love.
Damn the world.
Let go of your inhibitions.

15745753

This book! This bright big blob of a book!
Remember that first time you saw a boy not as a dirty, irritating piece of shit this mass of your favourite ice cream which you had to, just had to take a piece of ? The time when holding hands made you swoon and the mushy talks made you melt ? The first time you fell in “love” ? This book gives you that- brings back all the sweet, innocent and cheesy memories of that first time a boy made your heart jump and flip and go crazy in the tiny space of your chest !

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

The protagonists were so relatable. Reading about their insecurities, inhibitions and doubts was like reading a journal your fifteen year old self wrote. Despite being the victim of countless bullies at school and the daughter of some real shitty parents, never once did Eleanor made you think of a helpless girl looking out for prince charming to come to her rescue. She was smart, self- assured, brave, can stand her ground and the girl knows her comics well ! On the other hand, you have Park. He is such a typical teenager that his actions never really disappoint you. Because you relate to his inhibitions about helping the weird girl who is always bullied. These are teenagers to whom , as ridiculous as it may be, social status matters. Because it is after all high school which as we all know is no heaven.

Their story develops quite subtly amidst comics and books. The hand holding, kissing, making out- all of it is just so aptly done.

It also deals with child abuse, violence, neglect. Her dad is a -and I don’t have a politer word for it- a douchebag. And her mother? One of the worst mothers I’ve read so far. So obviously with such a setup there HAD to be a lot of angst and drama. The sneaking out of the house, the tiptoeing across halls, avoiding any place that’s not your room…it made you root for their love all the more. For the only upside of living with her mother and stepfather was being able to be close to Park.

The ending disappointed me though. It could have taken a better route. It felt unnecessarily poignant- Eleanor ignoring Park for an year.

Nevertheless, given the beautiful journey that was this story, I am willing to let go of the disappointing ending. And you Miss Rowell have got yourself another fan who is going to stalk every existing online profile for updates on your works. Word.

3-1/2 STARS

Book Review: You Against Me by Jenny Downham

8720917

I had this book sitting on my self for quite some time. And every time I saw it’s cover, I imagined it to be the trite love story which uses rape as a mere tool for the lead pair to come closer. Yes, I ignored the very enticing summary on the back page because in the recent months I have become cynical towards books which claim to be “different” but are rife with terribly over-used cliches. So naturally I kept You Against Me at a healthy distance away from myself, saving it for a time when my head would be depressed enough to not snarl in frustration at it. Well, as luck would have it, it turns out I wasn’t doing any favors to myself by keeping away from it. It wasn’t even remotely what I would call a “healthy” distance.

You Against Me by Jenny Downham is essentially the story of Ellie and Mikey wherein the former’s brother rapes the latter’s sister. How they fall in love and deal with the aforementioned issue forms the crux of the story.

The customary approach to address the issue of sexual assault has been to bring forth the incident through the eyes of the victim. That gives more intensity and power to the situation. But You Against Me takes a different line. The narration is through the point of view of the families of the victim and the perpetrator. How it is for the people at the fringes of the situation. Their blind faith and the instinct to protect their own. While Mikey wants to exact revenge on the boy who molested his sister, Ellie remains loyal to her brother and believes his version of the events without question.

The route taken by the author is chancy. But she handles it with perfection. Her characters are not exactly likeable and therein lies her excellence. Their shortcomings are believable, be it Mikey’s philandering ways or ELlie’s refusal to even consider listening to Karyn’s side of the story or her slut shaming tendencies. Downham’s prowess is such that there are times when you find yourself feeling a wee sorry for the accused.

The love story of the two main characters made for the weaker point of the book. Not in concept but in depiction. The reasons for their intense attraction are vague. The events that lead up to them falling for each other are unsatisfactory.

The mystery as regards the real events of the fateful night is gripping. An excellent depiction of the anger, confusion, anguish it is a must read for everyone. Because it is not just some star-crossed love story but a realistic and spot on depiction of rape and slut shaming.

4 Stars

Book Review : Everyday by David Levithan

images

So you are one of those people who practice people watching, you know, the activity ( inactivity actually) wherein you sit/stand/stand-on-a-leg/ whatever-position-you feel-most-comfortable- in and observe ( stare at, actually) people. The preferred positions are mostly parks, cafes, metro trains/stations or even a public toilet if you take your ‘analysis’ really seriously ( or you are a real creep !). The intention could be anything ranging from passing your time to imagining their lives or what goes on in their heads. Okay, before you jump to any conclusions let me make it clear that it isn’t a psychological analysis of why people do this. Nor is it about my dreams to read people’s mind. This is totally what the header claims it to be- a book review of everyday aka my thought about it. And weirdly enough while reading the first few pages, people watching is what danced in my mind. For the protagonist is a soul-hopper ho has no physical body of his own. He’s just a soul/spirit who wakes up in a different body everyday, living their lives for the day and departs. But no, this book isn’t about people watching at all. Just a crazy thought i had while reading the novel (and i took the idea of explaining your thoughts while writing reviews quite seriously).

So on to the real thing then. Everyday is about A, a soul/spirit who visits/possesses a new body everyday having no body of his own. It during one of these visits that he comes across a girl, Rhi, and instantly falls for her. How he struggles to be in a relationship with her while hopping in different bodies makes up the story.

The concept is brilliant. The synopsis in itself is a sure shot way to make you pick up the book for it’s intriguing, rare and never done before. It’s an another gem to the ya genre. Besides being a romance novel, David Levithan raises interesting and deep questions about what actually defines you. And herein lies the biggest weakness of the novel. The primary focus of the novel is fixed upon the romance part of the story while it completely wastes the immense scope which the theme of the novel provides. There were no answers, conclusions or solutions to the questions raised. Maybe, given the audience that the novel caters to, the author didn’t want to delve in too deep into the philosophical part of the story.

All through the story i felt that the author was trying to shove his ideologies down our throats. He was preachy and there wasn’t any subtlety there with regard to that.

The subplot involved a boy named Nathan, who after having been possessed by A starts to suspect that he was possessed by the devil. Going public with his suspicions he is instantly backed up a slew of christians. This stereotypical and honestly over exaggerated image of the the Evangelicals was one of the weaker points of the book. Their actions lacks a definition and therefore makes their portrayal appear ignorant. Besides, I was expecting Nathan’s subplot to answer the questions raised by the author. I surmised Nathan to assist A understand his ‘condition’ better and maybe find a solution for his troubles.

In totality, Everyday makes for a very sweet, heartwarming and pretty engaging despite its flaws. And David Levithan’s writing is beautiful, lyrical and very beautiful.

                                                                               4 STARS

Book Review: Vain by Fisher Amelie

17254225

 

The story here revolves around Sophie Price- super rich, flawless in her beauty, mean to the extreme and absolutely unapologetic about it. She is the kind of girl who’ll make out with her ‘ best friend’s’ boyfriend and call her a whiny bitch if she complains, who shamelessly uses guys to further her vanity. She is the one every girl wants to be and every guy lusts after. Her life takes a one eighty degree after an eventful dinner with her father’s business client. An event that opens her drug  hazed eyes to the real world. To a place that is unimaginable to her. To a place far removed from her own crystal enshrined palace.  The story takes us through her journey toward retribution and realization of what really matters. And obviously along the way she finds her one true love.

 

It’s different- i’ll give it that. The heroine is refreshingly selfish, self- centered, snobbish and a complete bitch . I haven’t till yet read a book about such a loathsome character so it was new to me. And I liked the change. It was especially fun to read about her wealthy ways. Her exclusive hairdressers to her offensively expensive wardrobe. But there’s a reason to her detestable ways. And predictably it’s her self-centered parents who don’t give a hoot to their only daughter. The story was good. I specially liked the fact that the author took an unconventional root to bring about a change in Sophie. Yes it did have the fabled hot, lust-worthy hero but he isn’t given the center stage here. Instead it’,s a very humbling journey to an African orphanage that brings about the epiphany for Sophie.

 

But there are some disappointments as well. I felt the story was too fast paced and the author just skimmed over certain parts that had a lot of potential to be developed more. Also the cringe-worthy happy ending. Why did Ian’s mother suddenly break out the truth to him when she so vehemently wanted otherwise ? Or how did Sophie’s father undergo a change of his heart so quickly ?

 

All in all, it was a quick and easy read . A different plot line but hastily written it seems.

3 stars.

 

 

Book Review : Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

meb
Summary :
“They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life–steady boyfriend, close family–who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. Will has always lived a huge life–big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel–and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy–but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common–a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? “

Okay so here’s a situation : you see a book, grimace a little at its tacky cover, declare it as a typical mindless out-of-the-world chick lit but pick it up anyways because you are in mood for trashy novels. Emphasis on the word trashy here. Fast forward a few hours. You are sitting at the metro station, missing train after train and knowing full well about a certain class that you are supposed to attend. But you don’t pay attention. Not even to the fact that you have just 5 minutes left to leave the station else you’ll be bound to pay a hefty fine. But these things are trivial for you. You are busy wiping tears from your eyes and can’t suppress a sigh every now and then. A kind faced lady with a green bag and a concerned look on her face comes over to you and asks about the tragedy you are facing. Hearing the word tragedy you gasp in horror and look at her with incredulity because you can’t imagine a situation any less tragic than this. This is one of those rarest of the rare moments of your life wherein your satisfaction knows no bounds. It’s like you have seen the sun after months of depressing rain. It’s like you have finally managed the top grade after repeatedly dismal results. Yes, it is one of those moments where, had you been in a movie, you would have whooped with joy and waltzed with strangers. Because it is after so many months that you’ve finally come across a book that has blown you over. A novel with so blatantly real characters that you wouldn’t be surprised to find one of them walking past you albeit with a different physicality. They have flaws. And even these flaws are extremely realistic that they sometimes remind you of real people in your life. It’s a love story with not a trace of corny romance where the two individuals move beyond drooling over the other’s hot body. Their relationship us what a healthy relationship should be. Where one helps the other grow. And all this without a trace of banality or boredom creeping in.

 
But you can’t say all this to the green bag lady. Instead you just smile and point at the book with the hope that one day she’ll realise. As you turn back to the novel you realise with a sudden bout of philosophical insight that this is the kind of fairy tale that can happen in real life. That you would prefer this over a knight in a shining armor.

P.S. The novel in the girl’s hand, dear reader, in case you hadn’t realized is Me Before You. And this girl could very well be you if you plan on reading it in future.

Book Review : Slammed by Colleen Hoover

sl

Sweet romance, that’s what it is. This book is the first that I have read under the promising theme of student-teacher romance. So naturally I had really high hopes. After a few pages in, i was relieved to realise that it might just do that.

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope  .Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

When the story starts you expect Layken to be wiser and more mature than her age but with the story’s progression you realize that she is your typical teenager. She lets her anger get the better of her most of the times and “falls in love” after a single date. The latter is so typical in ya books nowadays that it doesn’t piss me off anymore. Her sense of responsibility towards her brother is heart warming. I was quite disappointed to see that her character undergoes no development in the story. And then comes Will. He’s the star of the show no doubt. Sensible, polite, funny and mature, you can’t help liking him. Oh and did i mention that he writes poetry ? And speaking of poetry, though i did like the poems, i could not quite picturise the slam performances. Next in the list of characters who needs special mention is Eddie, Lake’s best friend. I loved Eddie. One thing you can count upon in ya novels, no matter how terrific or horrific the plot, is the presence of ultra cool best friends of the protagonists. More often than not, they are the ones more likable than the lead pair.

One thing that really put me off was the totally irrelevant tragedy at the end. As if what they both were already facing was not enough. Sentimentality is good,  but it went overboard towards the end.

Slammed in five:

Forbidden romance (student-teacher)

Sweet

Sad

Dramatic

Gushing fan girl stuff

Book Review : Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

 

m

After days ( months really) of gorging ya novels, i finally sought to give the genre a break and switch to reading something more serious. It’s hard, you know. YA is addictive atuff. It’s quick to read, easy to relate to and works wonders for depression (well there you go! my secret  antidote for depression). After laboriously going through my to-read list, i finally got my hands on Moloka’i. It’s running theme, about the plight of leprosy patients in the late nineteenth century, promised to enrich with knowledge of the events which i was sadly unaware of. Yes, i  am quite ashamed to admit that i knew nothing about leprosy camps or about the history of the disease. And thus enlightenment came in the form of this novel by Alan Brennert. It was informative, very much so, and very well researched. 

The story is about  a young girl, Rachael, who is taken from her family and sent to the Molokai leper colony in the 1890’s. She’s one of the youngest inhabitants of the colony. She spends most of her life there until a cure for leprosy is discovered. The novel takes us through her life and how she experiences loneliness, seperation and desperation on having been taken away from her family, finding friendship and solace in fellow  and growing up to become a woman of extreme tolerance. 

The novel as i mentioned previously is abundant on knowledge and takes us through an era when scientific discoveries were abundant and orthodoxy was at its peak. It gives a very detailed and sometimes exhausting description of the islands which sometimes breaks the pace of narration. The story in itself is quite interesting and there are parts where your heart goes out to the characters and their predicament. It’s heart wrenching at places. The residents share close friendship with each other and you can’t help but sigh in delight at their camaraderie. 

It’s a sentimental novel full of heart wrenching moments but it’s not perfect. Some of the tragedies seem forced and work as mere incidents to pile on to the sentimentality. Read to know more about historical events that many of us don’t pay attention to. But nothing spectacular here.

Book Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Image Alchemists, Witches, Vampires, Vampire Hunters- you have it all in this latest addition to the bloodlines series. There’s loads of drama, revelations and there’s the much anticipated Adrian-Sydney romance.

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch–a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood–or else she might be next

. A lot happens in this novel. While reading  you’ll always be kept on your toes where the plot is concerned. It’s fast paced. A bit too fast paced I would say, for before you absorb the events of one chapter, the next chapter unfolds and with it comes the next plot twist. It seems like Mead is in a frantic rush to tell it all and in as few words as possible. And yes, we do get a lot of Sydrian in this.

One thing that really unnerved me was Sydney’s character development. True it takes a positive curve. But rather than the gradual approach of the previous two books, this one takes the hasty route almost to the point that Sydney doesn’t appear like herself. She now performs magic with an ease that is quite unbelievable given her disfavour and reservations regarding this issue. Yes, we still have her guilty rants but somehow they don’t strike the point.

Adrian’s still Adrian. Funny, sarcastic, quick-witted and SO endearing. Jilted yet again by Sydney, your heart goes out to him. But unlike the time when Rose left him, he takes it all without the much expected brooding. This time around he’s hopeful. And though he’s comparatively subdued in the first few chapters, his vibrant comes back in full-swing very quickly.

Another complaint : dearth of Eddie, Jill and  Angeline. I have come to adore Angeline ever since she was introduced in the second and i was quite looking forward to seeing more of her here. Though the book is seriously deprived of her, she does manage to get involved in some serious drama. Jill is as usual not deprived of the other gender’s attentions. One goes, another follows. Not that there’s any problem with that but there’s so much scope as regards her character. A lot more can be done with her. But like in the previous novels she has yet again been burdened with the same cliched story, albeit a lot more tamped down.

Review in five :   No love triangle.                         
Sydrian fans’s  haven.
                                       
Rapid plot development.
                                       
The Eddie-Jill-Angeline dearth.
                                     
 A climax shocker ( a Mead trademark).
                         

Book Review : Easy by Tammara Webber

Image

The first thing that I noticed and was intensely relieved for its existence in Easy by Tammara Webber is that it offers a relief from the typical extremely overrated mary sue heroines dominating the scene. Instead Jacqueline is a very regular, very real character who can be related to. And not just Jacqueline but all the characters behaved like college going students. So here we have a story which talks about college going people with characters who do come across as such.
Just one problem though. Jacqueline’s attitude after nearly getting raped by an acquaintance doesn’t seem to behave as one who has been subjected to such a heinous crime. I was expecting her to be more vigilant and extra careful about her activities and movements after the incident.
Also the fact that the author, along with offering to us a college romance, ties it up with very serious issues that have and are plaguing the society today, makes this novel a refreshing read. I loved the way it was executed and developed with the narration and the development Jacqueline underwent through the course of the novel. The romance is well developed and there is going to be more than one moment that you are going to smile widely and sort of swoon
All in all, Easy makes for an interesting and refreshing read and is bound to strike a cord with you.
P.S. You are going to LOVE Erin, Jacqueline’s roommate cum best friend. How I wish we had been given more of her in the book

Book Review: How To Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

howtobeanamericanhousewife_

 

The one thing bout being an absolute book lover is that no matter what the circumstances, no matter how busy you are you always have time to read a book. I, being one big crazy book reader, have a thousand instances to justify this with  the latest happening  just this past week . So i had my exams and the for last one,  scheduled to be 7th December, we were very blessedly given 2 preparation leaves. So seeing the time at hand(which was for the studying not recreation, i reminded myself continuously in hopes of planting enough guilt to actually start studying) and the excitement because of nearing the end of exams which consisted of reckless daydreaming, i grabbed a novel to start the exams-getting-over celebration a bit early seeing as i couldn’t really go out and party. So i started to sift through my enormous to-read pile of books which, no matter how big a reader you are, never fails to overwhelm you with its enormousness. After a while i settled on How To Be An American Housewife, being in mood for some chick-lit. I completed it in about 7 hours with substantial bouts of revision for the upcoming exam( see i did not totally forget about it ! ).

SUMMARY

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn’t been what she’d expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways.

 

Our heroine, Shoko, is a Japanese girl living with her parents and two younger siblings. She is described to be beautiful, bright, tomboyish and strong. Shoko has a fierce desire to study further and move out of her dainty little village to big places where she can fulfill her desires. Instead, circumstances drive her to marry an American GI and move to America.

Though I pretty much liked Shoko and her undaunted spirit, the one thing that irked me was that despite being shown as a strong-willed , she slogs away her years in America playing a good homemaker to her family. For  a girl who has dreamed big since childhood, who has come up as being the brightest amongst all the kids back in her native land, coming to America should have been a dream come true. The opportunities it presented, the scope of growth for a girl such as Shoko are huge.  And  being the go-getter she is, i had expected her to make use of these  opportunities to her level best. Another thing hat was quite honestly unbelievable and ridiculous was the way Shoko spoke english despite living in America for 50 years with all-english speaking people and no one to converse in her native Japanese with. This compiled with her relatives speaking flawless english in Japan deepens the snag.

Next I’ll move on to Sue, Shoko’s daughter, mother of a teenaged girl and a divorcee. Her character was etched out well and I kept on wanting to know what choices she’ll make and how her character will develop with the story. Her insecurities with respect to her mother are quite relatable.

The story is narrated from the point of view of both Shoko and Sue. However, the development of the other characters is quite dissatisfying and leaves a lot to be desired. For example Shoko’s husband Charlie and her son Mike. There was a lot of scope for them in the story, like Charlie’s feelings when he first brought his Japanese wife to America and the social alienation they had to suffer. The time between Shoko’s move to America and the present day has not been developed at all. If it had, it could have made for  an interesting read to see shoko’s struggle in a new country, learning new language and culture.

The narration is interspersed with excerpts from a fictional guide to become an amreican housewife. That i found new and interesting.

 

All in all, the novel is a quick read and keeps you interested but you wish you had been given more.