Friday, August 17, 2012

40. An Abundance Of Katherines

Book#40: An Abundance Of Katherines
Author: John Green
Published: September 21, 2006
227 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He's also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin's on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin's hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

There's just something about John Green that makes me want more. I wish he already had a vast collection of books so I could continue to read his wonderful words and playful plots. He captured my heart with Looking For Alaska (and broke it all at once) His prose describes the teenage mind perfectly. The range of emotions they feel, the way everything matters the most in the world and the way they love without defeat. Alaska Young put a spell on me, then Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns made me follow her into an abyss. There are no words for how I feel about Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters from That Fault In Our Stars (i.e. they are perfection) And now Colin Singleton, a teenage ex-prodigy that has a thing for girls named Katherine (yet it is Lindsey Lee Wells that takes my heart in this one)

What Green does best is that every book has a completely different feel to it even though the themes are mainly the same. Every book is about teenagers trying to find out who they are and where they belong, but not one is the same. Yes Margo was similar to Alaska, but they still both had unique goals and perpsectives. What I love about ABOK is that you see brand new characters (Green's third novel) Colin and his best friend Hassan are unlike any guys he's written. Colin was a child prodigy and his favourite thing is to anagram words. He can do math like it's nobody's business and he remembers everything he reads or sees. Hassan is a swearing Muslim who's main goal in life is to watch TV and make sure Colin doesn't get his heart broken by another Katherine. When Katherine 19 breaks Colin's heart, Hassan decides it calls for a road trip. The boys end up in a small town in Tennessee where Colin tries to perfect his theorem of predicting relationships. There they meet Lindsey Lee Wells and with the help of her mom, land summer jobs that teach all them more than they ever thought it could. 

One of my favourite parts of this book was the use of footnotes. I'm a sucker for footnotes. It connects me with what I'm reading and gives me more insight into certain character's minds. Whenever Hassan said something in Muslim, it was translated below. Whenever Colin said a random fact that Hassan could care less about, the fact was identified and told in full in the footnotes. Green added a hilarious touch throughout the book, promising no more math than putting math in, or stating a fact to give us some dramatic irony. If I could figure out how to put footnotes in this post, I would, because that's how much I love them.

The experiences in the book are unique yet exactly the type of things teenagers end up going through. The random road trip, falling in love, finding out that you are not who you thought you were, these are all themes that we know and love and Green takes them to a whole other level. His words jump off the page and you become one of Colin's friends, sitting beside him in the car, crying with him over another Katherine and hoping he ends up with a Lindsey instead. John Green can write as many books as his heart desires because please, oh please, I need more!

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”

“What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?” 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

39. The Sea Of Monsters

Book #39: The Sea Of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: April 1, 2006
279 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson is finding his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson, a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any normal friends. But things don't stay quiet for long. 

Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders that protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia. Only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: The Bermuda Triangle.

Together with his friends, Percy must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family, one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.

There's nothing else to say right but this: Riordan has created a perfect retelling of greek myths that gets the attention of both children and adults alike. Percy Jackson is the perfect hero. He has his flaws, but he will do whatever it takes to save the ones he loves. His heroism takes centre stage once again in the second book of the five book series. The Sea Of Monsters explores even more myths than the first one, introducing us to cyclopes, sirens and other deadly foes. Upon returning to Camp Half-Blood after a year away at school, Percy finds it in rough shape. The magic keeping out enemies is dwindling as the tree protecting the camp has been poisoned. The only thing that can save the camp is The Golden Fleece, and Percy has discovered it near where his friend Grover has been captured.

Everything he knows is tested. He questions his relationship with his father, Poseidon, once he discovers a hard truth about one of his friends. He travels with her good friend, Annabeth, her wisdom and strength holding him together. The adventures they go on keep the book rom being dull. Each adventure tests a different skill that each of the demigods posess. Annabeth is tempted by sirens, Tyson is played against his own kind, and Percy discovers new powers in the sea. The story flows perfectly, each line bringing a piece of the puzzle together with a hint of sarcasm or humour.

I've fallen in love with these charcters. I already hold them close to my heart and I have only read two of the books so far. I can't wait to read more about their adventures and manoeuvring through the madness that is the United States behind the mist. The world Riordan has created continues to wow me and I can't wait to see what else he has in mind for Percy and his friends. I'm sure friendships will be tested and new enemies will join the ranks, and I can't wait to see Percy succeed in the end.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

38. Under The Never Sky

Book #38: Under The Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Published: February 7, 2012
376 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

I love finding new dystopians to add to my ever expanding collection. I give them high expectations, hoping for The Hunger Games or Divergent qualities. Under The Never Sky shows promise at being one of my favourites, but I think I'll need to read all three of them to know for sure.

I immediately fell in love with the premise. It not only felt dystopian, with the outside world constantly in danger from Aether storms, but there was also a great sci-fi element added. Those who could afford to live inside, live in pods where they can go into realms and live as though there is no danger out of the walls. They don't really know what's happening outside. They've been taught that anyone who lives out there is a Savage, dangerous and uneducated. Aria never expects to meet one. She lives her life comfortably, singing operas in realms and living any life she wants. But when her mom goes missing and she takes a chance at getting information, she ends up outside alone with nowhere to hide. Desperate to find cover from the Aether, she decides that she will find her way back home to save her mom. But when Perry comes into the picture, a Savage that proves everything she knows about them is wrong, they may just have to pair up in order to get the answers to all their questions.

Romance is the central theme here and I'm a sucker for it. Surrounded by danger, cannibals and the storm, Aria and Perry find a way to trust each other. Away from the ones they love, they find new ways to live, to love. The story is told from two different point of views, both third person, but both with distinct descriptions. You see how alike Aria and Perry are and that the only thing that separates them are the walls built around the pods. The Savages have developed in the the ways no one in the pods ever could. Heightened senses give them the ability to survive in the wilderness. Perry can see well in the dark and also read people's emotions. You soon realize that being an Outsider is much more complicated than living in the pods. There are tribes and rules and Aria does not fit into any of it. 

I think I would have connected with both Aria and Perry more if it had been written in first person. I'm forever a fan of this viewpoint because it leaves room to show emotions and thoughts that no one would see save for the narrator. Rossi does a good job with this even in third person, but I think it would have been much stronger told through the eyes of both Aria and Perry. They are both so different, raised in separate ways and born to different rules. They think different and see the world in their own ways. The viewpoints would have both been strong and stand all. I know there would be no doubt as to who was talking, so I wish this had been brought into the story. 

Death looms around every corner. I wanted to know what Aria and Perry would run into next and how well they would prove against it. Aria is fierce even though she's lived in a cage. Rossi does not tell us why the Aether came or how the pods came to be, but somehow it doesn't really matter. She sets the mood, sets the pace, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. A true Romeo and Juliet tale, this book will leave you wanting more.

“There are other things I'd rather do when I'm alone with you."
Time to step off the edge. "Then do them.” 

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