Life L1k3

life like

Life L1k3 (Lifelike 1)

By: Jay Kristoff

Genre: Post Apocalyptic/Cyborgs

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

Bang Bang Review

It’s a post apocalyptic America where two tech companies rule. Eve must earn money for her cancer stricken grandfather by competing in Battle Bots style competitions and she’s pretty good.  During one battle, Eve accidentally displays something detrimental to her life and finds herself, her best friend Lemon Fresh, a life like named Ezekiel, and her grandfather on the run. Can’t say too much because of spoilers. Life likes are robots that look like humans but you probably already inferred that.

I love Kristoff’s adult fiction series Nevernight and book 2 in that series was my favorite read of 2017 but I cannot get into his YA fiction. I tried Illuminae three times and couldn’t do it and I won’t be finishing this series.

I was really enjoying it until about 30% in.  The world was gritty and depressing; the characters were interesting, especially Lemon Fresh; and the dialogue was strong and insightful.  This new world was easy to follow and there were several unpredictable plot twists and then enter the Kracken.  There’s a moment when they fall into a body of water, I’m assuming the Pacific Ocean, and enter a large Kraken-SERIOUSLY?!  This damn kraken was several chapters and I didn’t understand the point. It probably came back into the story but I was skipping around so much, I’m not sure if it did.

Then there was this dripping wet love bullshit between Eve and Ezekiel that I couldn’t get over it. I knew Kristoff was a better writer than that and there’s a viable explanation for it but there was so much of it, it bothered me so much that I began to skip over Eve and Ezekiel’s scenes.  I personally think Kristoff writes better sex scenes than romance but then again, I didn’t read Illuminae.

There are two stories happening simultaneously and the sub story, the pre robot uprising story, was by far the worst of the two.  It’s told in first person which almost always leads to info-dumping. It started off very strong because it contained mystery but once it got into the meat and bones, it was like a different author was writing it.  I thought the characters in the sub story were tropey and extremely eye-roll inducing.

Although I skipped through half of it, I feel like I read the important bits because I read the twists which were well done and it ended well.  Even though it seemed like I didn’t like it, I’m giving it this rating because the world was great, the writing was in true snarky Kristoff fashion and the themes were strong.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbombbomb

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Pride

pride

Pride

By Ibi Zoboi

Genre: Contemporary/Re-imagination of Pride and Prejudice

Publication Date: September 18, 2018

Bang Bang Review

Zuri is very proud of her neighborhood and her family and when a new black family moves into the mini mansion across the street, Zuri’s prejudices come out.

I have not read Pride and Prejudice so I had to ask my co-worker who has read P&P every year for many years to help me see the parallels.  With that being said, you don’t have to read P&P to enjoy or understand Pride; it stands alone.

So this book is basically about Zuri, a girl who is sheltered by her parents and RARELY leaves her neighborhood of Bushwick, NY.  When the Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri is forced to “leave” her neighborhood through these outsiders.  The Darcy boys are black but not black enough for Zuri because they don’t talk like her, dress like her, or listen to the same music as she does and she judges them.  However, when she first meets Darius Darcy and he turns his nose up at her, she is furious because he judged her.  This is the main plot and although it’s consistent with its originator, the pacing of Zoboi’s adaptation was an issue.

It’s becomes obvious pretty quickly that Zuri is a hypocrite and that’s fine but she’s completely unaware and has no inner monologue about it so we are forced to read the obvious and yell at this girl for being a hypocrite for 90% of the book.  She’s FINALLY called out on it but it comes way too late and it’s way too brief for effective character growth. Flawed characters are important but there has to be a flow to keep the reader going. At some point Zuri should have been called out by her sister and there was an opportunity but it didn’t happen. Because she’s living in her own world of hypocrisy, there’s no room for her to grow.  Zoboi makes Zuri grow but only in one aspect when there are two issues surrounding Zuri- her prejudice and her sheltered life.

Let’s talk about the unexplored growth which is in the title-prejudice.  I have been accused of not being black enough most of my life because all the way into college I had people tell me I talk like a white girl.  Because when I was ten my black friends called me “a lame” because I knew all the Madonna songs but didn’t know who New Edition was (I’ll admit, that was pretty bad that I did’t know who New Edition was but I changed that).  This still happens and although it’s not an earth shattering problem in the black community, it’s synonymous with identity and many black teens struggle with identity and being accepted.  Although there is a confrontation with Darius about him not being black enough, the payoff was minute considering how much Zuri judged him for it.  Not-being-black-enough is an unexplored topic in YA fiction and I just wished Zoboi had explored it more.

Now let’s talk about the explored growth- being sheltered.  I think Zoboi did a great job in describing Zuri’s block and neighbors and her pride in her community and culture. Zuri’s block is becoming gentrified which is happening all over the country and once again and unexplored topic in YA fiction.  Zuri shares a bedroom with her four sisters so she understandably wants space.  She has an older sister, Janae, who is coming home from college who unlike Zuri wants to travel and see the world rather than be home.  The sister could have been developed a lot better in this aspect. Janae could have been a source of conflict for wanting to leave or a source of envy but she played none of those roles.  Zoboi made a bit of a big deal about her homecoming but Janae didn’t drive the plot-missed opportunity.  At one point, Zuri goes on a college tour to DC and there’s little to no exposition on her experiences leaving the state or meeting other black people when once again, the book is about pride in her neighborhood and is essential to her growth.  She talks about wanting to leave to return and helping her neighborhood but there’s no inner monologue when being in the moment.

This is a romance and it was okay but Zuri felt uneven and I wasn’t invested in the romance. Zuri is a poet and she takes the time to think about her life so she can put her feelings into words.  People like this are insightful and posses many layers.  But Zuri only seems to like Darius because he’s really attractive which I find to be an attribute of a one dimensional character. Yes, she is a teen and teens are hormonal but she’s being set up as a girl who commands respect from boys when she walks down the street. She’s very aware  and proud of her reputation and she’s working very hard to go to college so that she can give back so when she’s met with a very intelligent and round character in Darius and all she sees is his face and body, it’s uneven.  Upon their first encounter, he’s a bit rude and he clearly doesn’t think she’s good enough for him.  He’s short with her and gives her stink eyes but she’s enamored-WHAT?!  She constantly criticizes him for not being hood enough for her but she thinks about him a lot but all we have to go on is his appearance.  I just feel like someone who is insightful like her would look past his appearance and see something else that she finds attractive.  She does eventually say what that is and it’s valid but it’s like 50% in and a bit too late for me.

Finally, I had an issue with the writing and the pacing. It’s almost like I can see Zoboi writing this book and saying to herself, “How can I create conflict with Zuri and Darius? I know, I’ll invite her to his parent’s cocktail party where they are all fish out of water.” Zoboi did this several times where there were BRIEF events that were only meant to be a means to an end.  That aforementioned cocktail party lasted two pages when there was an opportunity to grow Darius’ parents or life before Bushwick. Darius conveniently shows up while Zuri is visiting DC and she conveniently has a conflict at his snobby grandmother’s house. There were several instances where the events in the story weren’t organic but obvious plot devices.  As far as the pacing, one example is her college visit.  Janae tells Zuri she bought her a bus ticket to visit a college and in the very next paragraph she’s on the bus.

I appreciate the culture in the story, Zuri is half Dominican and half Haitia, and I think this was done well.  I liked the love portrayed between Zuri’s parents. However, Pride could be a better critical read if the characters were better developed. Ainsley and Janae were flat and could have played a larger role in Zuri’s development.  Her best friend could also have played a larger role in the story’s theme. The pacing of Zuri’s development relied too much on bashing the reader over the head with her prejudices.  If she was called out earlier by her sister or her friend the pacing would be better and she would have more time to grow.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 1/2

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotic

strange fascinations

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotic

By David Arnold

Genre: Contemporary

Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Bang Bang Review

OMG, where to begin.

I consider myself to be an intelligent person who can usually understand books but I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THIS BOOK WAS TRYING TO DO.

First of all the MC Noah is not the most likable character and I think he is supposed to be.  He’s written as this insightful deep thinker but he comes across pretentious asshole who doesn’t have time to be bothered with petty high school problems because his brain is full of Thoreau.  And then there were chapters all about him and how he thinks-OH GOODY, THERE’S MORE TO READ ABOUT THIS ANNOYING BOY. His best friends are trying too hard to be cheeky and cool but they fall flat.  Among the three serious conversations they have, they rest of it is just stupid observances and dumb pop culture debates.

This book is in the category of teens-don’t-talk-like-that.  I mean all of them “talk like that” including his twelve year old sister.  It says she’s in the eighth grade but her behavior is that of a fifth grader but then they say she’s twelve.  I work with teens everyday and an eighth grader is thirteen/fourteen.  This girl did not behave like the was about to go to high school.

The only good bit was the story Philip told about his brother.  I would have rather read that book.

I know this sounds bad but I feel like Arnold is trying to write like John Green.  He seemed to be trying too hard with this book.  Arnold is a talented writer and he has a lot to say; I just wish he would pick one topic and tell that story.  I just found this book meandering and boring and all about a MC that I didn’t like.  I honestly don’t know any teens who could stick with it.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb

April Wrap up

Sadly, there were no bangs in April.

Please click on the book covers for full reviews.

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Interesting setting but the story was too familiar

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


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Elementary writing; poor character development; awful pacing

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb


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High school problems-No bueno

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 1/4


grim lovelies

Plot moves too quickly and there’s not enough world building to connect to any of the characters.

Bang Bang Rating: DNF


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My co-worker and I have a challenge to recommend one book to each other.  Her recommendation was the first three volumes of Saga. I’ve read the first two and I like it so far.  Simple yet complex plot, great characters, and humorous.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


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The plot was a bit obscure and meandering but I really liked it a lot and I plan to finish but these books are so LONG and I really want to finish Game of Thrones this year.  I might do this first because I don’t want to forget what happens.  I watch GOT so there’s no threat of forgetting.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/2

Did you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?



May TBR

Leah on the Offbeat

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Leah on the Offbeat (Simon Book 2)

By Becky Albertalli

Genre: Contemporary/Coming of Age

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

Bang Bang Review

Firstly, I didn’t know this was a book 2 to Simon until I saw it on the cover. I figured the characters would be the same but I just thought it was a standalone.

Secondly, I’ll skip the plot synopsis because you don’t need that.

Thirdly, this will be the last book I read by Alberalli and here’s why:

I’m WAY over 18 years old and Albertalli’s books are not written for me.  Most YA contemporary are written for teens, you say.  Yes, but there are a lot of YA contemporary books that contain themes that transcend age and I think Simon did just that.  It discussed love and acceptance and friendship where as Offbeat discussed high school problems-prom and where will I go to college? I could give two shits about those things as I’m no longer in high school and therefore cannot relate.

I had an issue with the love interest because it seemed to come out of left field.  I didn’t see any hints in Simon but if I’m wrong, please correct me.

The whole Morgan is a racist thing was forced tension and took me out of the story.  I don’t think Morgan was racist; I think she said something racially insensitive and took too long to apologize.  In The Hate U Give, Star’s friend repeatedly said racially insensitive comments over time and she tried to justify her behavior.  Morgan said one thing and now all of a sudden she’s racist.  Many of us have said insensitive things; that doesn’t make us the worst name you can call a person. Anyway, it was forced and pointless to the plot.

Leah was a far better character in Simon.  She was insightful and witty and relatable. In her own book, we are stuck in her head all day and it’s full of tropey teen angst and bitchiness-what did she mean when she said that? Why did he look at me like that? UGH- TEEN PROBLEMS! Leah didn’t like her mother’s new boyfriend-how many times have we read this trope.  Leah’s attitude about this situation seemed out of character. Leah is supposed to be a cool chick but her attitude about the new boyfriend was that of a basic chick and once again-TEEN PROBLEMS! Albertalli offered no new insight on a teen dealing with her mom moving on.

Just like The Upside of the Unrequited, this book was not written for me and I couldn’t pull any relatable themes for a person my age.  There were too many characters to connect with any of them and the more round characters displayed no nuance-this includes Leah. Albertalli isn’t adding anything new to the coming of age narrative.  I do think teens will like it and I will recommend it to teens but not to adults.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbomb 1/4

Devils Unto Dust

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Devils Unto Dust

By: Emma Berquist

Genre: Paranormal/Zombies

Publication Date: April 10, 2018

Bang Bang Review

After a virus killed her mother, Will is left to take care of her three younger siblings. Will’s father, a gambler and drunk, stole money from a zombie hunter and the hunter threatens to hurt her siblings if Will doesn’t return the money. Will hires two hunters to help her travel to find her father. Simple plot? Yes but there are a whole bunch of ways to screw it up.

Let’s begin by saying that this book is 500 freakin’ pages with a whole bunch of short chapters.

Devils began well enough with a teen girl who is left to care for her family in a zombie/virus infested world. There’s some initial tension build up but that fades pretty quickly as there’s little to no world building or nuanced characters.  We don’t learn what year it is until midway through and that’s not neccessarily a problem but it would have helped to picture the world since the author didn’t.  I hate when new worlds are told in first person! In some books such as Dread Nation, the world is info-dumped-no bueno.  In this book, we’re barely told anything.

Another problem with 1st person POV is that if the main character dies, the story abruptly ends.  At one point, Will gets sick and the author tries to create an intensity of her impeding death but we know she’s not going to die because SHE’S TELLING THE STORY!  Some authors have killed the 1st person POV but it’s at the end of the story not the middle.

The writing was elementary. There were several instances in the book where Will and her fourteen year old brother argue like children and not people who have had to grow up really quickly because their parents left.  “She started it.” Yes, this is a sentence uttered in this book a couple of times. There were pages of these pointless and juvenile arguing and it became comical and humor was not the intention of the author.  There was no substance to any of their conversations.  When characters are placed in a situation of dire circumstance, they often have strong opinions of life and love and death but none of that happens in this book.

If you are looking for a good book about the meaning of life and family and hopes and dreams with meaning and insightful dialogue and strong and special characters, this ain’t it. I don’t read a lot of zombie books but I’d recommend In the After by Demitria Lunetta or reread The 5th Wave.

Bang Bang Rating bombbomb

March Wrap Up-Any Bangs?

Hell NO!

March was a slow month for new pubs and my reading reflects it also. I didn’t feel like reading much so there’s that. As always, please click the cover or title for a full review (not all titles have reviews).

Because of my podcast with Roulette Reader, I try to only read books published in the month we are currently in.

Here’s our March best and worst podcast 

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Basic writing and weak character development.  This got picked up by Netflix-SERIOUSLY?

Bang Bang Rating bombbomb


Dance of Thieves_FINAL 9.18

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

A little sluggish in the middle but great character development and story.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbombbomb


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The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

Cavallaro is a good writer I just wish she would focus.

Bang Bang Rating: DNF


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The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien

Unpopular Opinion Time-Lots of info-dumping. I’ll watch the movies but I won’t finish the books.

Bang Bang Rating: I’m not rating it-LOL


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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Nothing new to see here folks but I liked the characters.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbomb 3/4


April TBR

I’ve decided to start some adult fantasy and Robin Hobb came highly recommended. If I like it, I’ll read book two this month.  Roulette Reader and I have a challenge where I’m making her read a book and vice versa.  She recommended Saga, the first three volumes.