Book Review: The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Book: The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Published February 2017 by Simon & Schuster|296 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sánchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts. 

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moisés—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

I really liked this book!  I really liked Margot, and how I can relate to wanting to fit in.  Not to the degree that Margot wants to fit in, and I never went as far as Margot did, nor can I see myself going to the lengths she did, but I can understand why she did what she did.  After seeing her friends, though, part of me wonders why she was friends with them, since she couldn’t really be herself when she was with them.  It seemed like she tried too hard, and she definitely needed to figure out who she was.  I think that’s pretty normal, though.  Sometimes I still feel like I’m trying to figure out who I am, and I’m a lot older than Margot.

I did like seeing her work at her dad’s store, and there are definitely some characters.  I think, though, her dad and brother were the most frustrating.  Her dad didn’t seem to care what her brother did, and I thought her dad and brother not wanting her to be around Moises was a little hypocritical.  Especially considering her dad had affairs with a lot of the girls at the store (and why they felt uncomfortable talking around her), and her brother dealing drugs.  Being concerned is fine, but it was hard for me to take them seriously, especially once I found out what I found out.  And their behavior for most of the book made a lot more sense at the end of the book.

I really liked seeing her at the supermarket, but at the same time, I really wish we saw more of her with her prep school friends and her with her old friends.  Or more with Moises and the community organizing.  I would have liked to see Margot navigate those friendships a little more, and I think it would provided some interesting context for what lead up to her working at the family store.  And also what happened with her friends (old and new) after the summer was over.  And the community organizing Moises was doing- things were clearly changing for the neighborhood, and I would have liked to see more of how different things were.

I really wish it were longer!  It felt really short, and I think adding in something with Moises and with her friends could have added something really special to it.

4 stars.  I really liked it, but I think it could have been longer, and gone more in depth with a few things.

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Audio Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Narrated by Justine Eyre

Book: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, narrated by Justine Eyre

Published March 2015 by Listening Library|Length: 10 hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

I really liked The Winner’s Crime.  I definitely liked it more than The Winner’s Curse, and I’ll definitely be listening to the last book in the trilogy because I want to see what happens next.

The Winner’s Crime picked up where The Winner’s Curse left off, and we see what’s been going on with Kestrel after the events of the first book.  We definitely get more of this world and the different cultures, which I really liked because it expands the world so much.  There’s a lot more to this world than the Valorians and the Harani, and I hope we see more of this world in the next book.

There is a little part of that’s worried we won’t, because of everything that happened with Kestrel, particularly towards the end of the book.  But if the series continues to be narrated by Kestrel and Arin, then maybe we will see more of the world they live in.

We really see Kestrel in a different way.  Dealing with the emperor and his son and everything else going on- she has more to worry about than her romance and flirtations with Arin, which wasn’t frustrating the way it was in the first book.  Partly because of everything Kestrel is dealing with in this book, but also because it does slip in the background in this book.  I’m still not a fan of Arin, and while I might end up liking him in the next book, I doubt that will change.

As much as I liked this one, it did move pretty slow.  I definitely took random breaks when I was listening to it, so I’d listen to it on my way to work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts for a couple of days.  Or I’d randomly listen to it on the way home from work, and then switch over to the radio or podcasts.

It also seemed more political and there was a lot more intrigue, which was nice.  Especially after the romance of the first book, which I wasn’t a big fan of.  It went in a different direction than I thought it would, and I feel like the next book is going to go in a completely different direction as well.  Hopefully in a good way.  It was an unexpected surprise in this book, but it was a good surprise, and it made a series I was unsure more interesting, and one I want to finish.

I’m definitely reminded of the Roman Empire, for some reason.  I don’t know why, but it has that feel to it. An Ember In The Ashes comes to mind as a possible read-alike, and I’m not sure why.  But it could be interesting to pair the two books together.

3 stars.  It’s almost 4 stars, but not quite.  It did move a little bit slower than I would have liked, but I did like it more than the previous book.

Book Review: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Book: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Published May 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux|325 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

This book was so cute!  I really loved Desi and how she needed steps to finding true love.  It kind of sounds like something I might have come up with in high school.  I loved Desi, and she’s full of awesome and amazingness, and I dare you to not like her, because it’s pretty damn hard not to.

I really liked the relationship she had with her father, and it was nice to such such a great parent-child relationship. I know parents who aren’t around a lot are a big part of YA, so it was nice to see Desi’s dad and how involved he was in her life.

I haven’t watched any K-dramas, so I am completely clueless about it would parallel them…especially since they are her guide to find love.  It kind of makes me want to watch them, just to get a sense of the stories, and how they influenced her guide to getting a guy.  The author does have a bunch of recommendations at the end of the book, so maybe those will be a good place to start…assuming I actually sit down to watch one of them.

Back to the book, though.  As much as I loved Desi, I kind of hated how she thought she was different than Luca’s ex. In her own way, it was a little bit manipulative, plus the whole blowing off her college interview for him kind of bugged me too.  But also in line with your typical rom-com…so…I guess I have mixed feelings about it.  She makes some questionable decisions, but there is something very endearing about her, hence the mixed feelings.

4 stars.  It is a cute book, and even though I wasn’t a big fan of some of Desi’s decisions, I still really liked the story and I especially liked her relationship with her dad.

Book Review: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Book: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Published February 2014 by HarperTeen|256 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Mind Games #2

Genre: YA Thriller

This explosive sequel to Mind Games, which New York Timesbestselling author Holly Black called “a brutal, exciting gem of a book,” is a lightning-fast, wickedly smart tale of two sisters trapped in a web of deceit—perfect for fans of Sara Shepard’s Lying Game series.

For years, Annie and Fia have been in an endless battle for survival against the Keane Foundation. Now the sisters have found allies who can help them escape. But Annie’s visions of the future and Fia’s flawless instincts can’t always tell them who to trust. The sisters can only rely on each other—and even their extraordinary gifts may not be enough to save them.

I really liked Perfect Lies.  After reading Now I Rise, I really wanted to revisit this series for some reason.

One thing I was really unsure about was the time-line.  It’s very much like the first book, where you have not only Fia and Annie narrating, but it jumps around as far as time goes.  It was the main problem I had with the first book, which I also re-read recently.  I did expect it, though, so that definitely helped.  It didn’t bother me as much as it did in the first book, and I definitely found myself paying attention more, because you’re seeing all of these different moments that lead up to the end.

It’s a very intricate story, and I really liked all of the little details.  It feels like one of those books that has to be really well-plotted, because I don’t think it would work as well if it wasn’t.

I really liked Annie and Fia’s relationship, and they really are great characters.  They’ve really changed, and I really liked Annie is this book.  She did everything she could for Fia and she really did try to destroy the Keane Foundation in the best way she could.  And Fia really changed as well.  She’s a lot less stable in this one, and she felt a little more…unhinged…in this one.  I don’t know if it’s because everything was catching up with her, or what was going on, but she is definitely not the Fia we see in the first book.  Or maybe it was always there, but the events of the first book really highlighted it and brought it out?

The ending was pretty open-ended, which was interesting.  I liked it, because it does make me wonder how the school will be and if Fia and Annie are okay.  But at the same time, I don’t want to wonder what happens, because I want to KNOW what happens.  I know there will be no third book, since this is a duology, but part of me wants more, because I really wanted more from the ending.  It would have made for an interesting 2nd book in a trilogy.

4 stars.  It took a little bit of time to get used to the time line but it was a pretty interesting mystery, and I really liked Annie and Fia.

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Book: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published January 2017 by Flatiron Books|416 books

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Caraval #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

How far would you go to save your sister?

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval interested me when I first heard about it because it reminded me of The Night Circus.  There is a very Night Circus feel to the book, and I was reminded of The Crown’s Game as well.

The idea behind Caraval, and how it came to be is really interesting.  There were a few different variations about how it started, and even now, I’m having a hard time figuring out which variation is the true story.  I did like the connection to Scarlett’s family, and I wonder if it goes deeper than we know.  And if there’s more to it than what we saw in the book.  Especially with he ending.  It makes me wonder if there’s more to it then I initially thought. Was Caraval the reason why their mother left when they were little, or was it something else?  Will we learn what happens to their mother in the next book?  Because the ending made me feel like there’s a lot going on with their mom than I ever thought.

Speaking of Scarlett’s mom, she is mentioned, but I didn’t really think about her until the end of the book. What does she have to do with Tella and what she may have done in this book?  It’s clear something happened with Tella, but we never see what it is, since the book is mostly focused on Scarlett finding her.

I am really curious about Tella, and what’s in store for her.  I’m curious about Scarlett as well, but again…the ending makes me wonder about how things are going to turn out for Tella.  I’m really hoping the next book focuses on her, because I have the feeling there is more to her story than what we get into this book.  I need to know more!

I thought the world-building was interesting.  I wish we got more of it, because it didn’t seem like enough to me. We got a good enough sense of what Caraval is, and it really does seem like a carnival-type game.  There’s something Night Circus-esque about the island and all of the shops places.

There are very dreamy descriptions, which I really liked, but even though I got a good enough sense of the world, I wanted more of the history.  I wanted more about Legend and Scarlett’s family and their mom, and I felt like we got just enough of the world to know what was going on.  But it seemed pretty bare in comparison to what it could have been.  Still, I thought the idea of Caraval was interesting, and I think there’s a lot more to it than what we saw in this book.

4 stars.  I really liked, and I think it’s a pretty good read-alike for The Night Circus.  I wish we had a little bit more of Caraval and the island, but overall, I really liked how everything was described.

Book Review: Tell Me Something True by Katherine Owen

Book: Tell Me Something True by Katherine Owen

Published December 2015 by Smashwords|428 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Truth In Lies #3

Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE

The star ballerina finally marries the major league baseball player and the truth about Linc and Tally—his being her air and she being his water—becomes clear after the couple finally realize that their love is all that matters.

But that was the first day. The day they said, “I do.” The day the demons seemed to leave them alone, at least, for a little while.

Nevertheless, there were other days, when all the lies of the past and their ways of coping with their fears caught up to them.

And, this is that story.

“If you believe in fairy tales and happy endings,
and you want to stop right here and bask in the wonderment and joy of it all, please do.
If you want to know the rest of our story,
you need to take a deep breath
and tell yourself that everything will be okay,
that everything works out,
and life happens,
and in the end
love is all you need.
Someone has to tell you these things,
just like someone had to tell me.
All I know is that the truth never dies,
and it does set you free, whether you want it to or not.
And in the end? All you have is love.
Love is all there is.”
~ Talia Landon Presley

Man, I really needed to read this book right now.  For whatever reason, I never got around to reading it, even though I loved the first two books in the series.  It was definitely an emotional roller-coaster, with things being great for Tally and Linc for a while.  Until things weren’t okay.  We are talking about Tally and Linc, after all.

I’m not going into spoilers, but there was one particular moment I didn’t see coming.  It was so unexpected, and how much more can two people go through?  They did make it through, of course, and I’m glad their got their HEA.

Things are never easy for them, and their relationship was really put to the test in this book.  In ways that we didn’t see in the previous two books.  Everything they’ve done- every lie they’ve told, every secret they’ve kept really caught up with them, and there was a point where I thought they wouldn’t make it.

My opinion of Linc really changed in this book.  Yes, both he and Tally have issues, and in particular, Tally has a lot of things to work through, but it doesn’t mean that the things Linc did are okay.  He has his own issues he needs to work on, and even though he blames Tally for a lot of things, I think he’s equally to blame.  It does seem like they’re off to a fresh start, though, at the end of the book, so it seems like they managed to work things out just enough that they seem okay.

Tally and Linc are one of those couples who go through a lot and either don’t make it as a couple…or they do.  I’m glad they do, but they’ve had a rocky past that they haven’t completely dealt with.  Part of me was the tiniest bit frustrated that they had to go through so much, and that they still did the same thing of not communicating and spending time with people they shouldn’t, and jumping to conclusions.  But at the same time, they did realize that they had a lot of things that they needed to work on, and that they needed to make themselves better.  My heart broke for them, especially Tally.

I loved the playlist included at the end of the book, which seemed really fitting because each chapter title was a song title.  I don’t know a lot of the songs, but the ones I do know really fit, especially for the chapters they were the title for.  And each chapter had a poem at the beginning, which I also really liked because somehow, they seemed to fit each chapter.  While I don’t normally go for poetry, I liked the ones in the book enough to check out the person who wrote them.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and even though it was an emotional roller-coaster that had me sobbing by the end of it, it was worth seeing how things turned out for Linc and Tally.

Book Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Book: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Published January 2013 by Disney Worldwide Publishing|324 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: The Archived #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous-it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hardwon redemption.

I’m starting to think that Victoria Schwab’s books aren’t for me.  I read This Savage Song last year, and thought things were more confusing than they really needed to be.  I felt that way about The Archived, which is disappointing, because things really picked up towards the end, and it really is a cool idea.

I just wish things weren’t so confusing for most of the book.  I really like the idea that the dead are in this archives, and are basically copies of themselves.  But the concept of the Archives and Keepers and territories is so poorly explained that by the time I was interested in what was going on, it was too late.

For one thing, I kept confusing her grandpa (Da) and her dad.  Also: her dad is mentioned in the beginning of the book, which is when we see him, and then he just disappears, never to be seen again.  We see her mom quite a bit, though, so at least she has one parent who’s there.  I couldn’t quite figure out what happened to him, and I was never quite sure if he was dead or alive.  Especially with the flashbacks of how she became a Keeper.  Which was in a different font to make it obvious it was different than the rest of the novel.

What is explained about this world is never explained in a way that actually makes sense.  The timeline was weird, and there were these time jumps that didn’t make a lot of sense.  In fact, they made things more confusing because I felt like I had to keep track of more things.  I didn’t understand how everything fit, and I couldn’t picture this world at all.

The characters weren’t particularly interesting either.  I didn’t really care what happened to Mac or Wes, and I thought they were really bland.  Things did get a little more interesting towards the end of the book, but at that point, I no longer cared.  I also wondered why The Archived hadn’t been like that since the beginning.

1 star.  The book was too confusing and poorly explained to care what happened.  It’s sad, since the idea is cool, but it didn’t work for me at all.

Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Book: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published February 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books|436 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Wintersong #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-Telling

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

I loved this book!  Wintersong was one of the books I was looking forward to reading, but I’m just now getting around to it.

I was reminded of a few books when I was reading Wintersong.  If you like the Iron Fey series, this is the book for you!  It has a similar feel to the Iron Fey series, so they’re pretty good read-alikes for each other.  I’d describe it as Hades & Persphone meets The Iron Fey meets Caraval (which I read after Wintersong but I’m still going with it because this review is obviously being written after reading both books).

I felt very much like I was in a fairy-tale, particularly a German fairy-tale.  I loved the idea of the Goblin King, and how people ended up in the Underground.  It’s such a vivid book and I really felt like I was in their world.  I really didn’t want the book to come to an end, because it meant leaving Liesl’s world, and I didn’t want to do that.  At least there’s a sequel, so there will be more to this story.  Which is good, considering the way Wintersong ended.  It’s going to be a long wait until the sequel comes out.

Liesl is such a great character- she is more courageous than she knows, and she would do anything for her sister- even agreeing to marry the Goblin King to keep her sister safe.  I think being Underground and around the Goblin King ended up being a good thing for her- she learns a lot about herself, and I feel like she becomes more confident in herself as she worked on her music.  She’s a character I can really relate to- taking care of everyone, and feeling like she isn’t good enough, even though she is, and she just needs to believe in herself.

There’s something very dreamlike about this book, and it’s very magical.  There’s something dark and…nostalgic isn’t necessarily the word I’m looking for, but…maybe lament and looking for something lost and/or forgotten?  This book is downright beautiful and poetic, and if you haven’t read it, trust me when I say that you really need to read it!

5 stars.  I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations and the hype!  This book is dark and beautiful and amazing!

Book Review: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Book: American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Published December 2008 by Square Fish|233 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

 

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

I really liked American Born Chinese!  After reading his Boxers And Saints series, I knew I wanted to read this book, since I’ve heard a lot of really good things about it.

We see three different stories in this graphic novel- Jin, Danny, and The Monkey King.  I really liked The Monkey King’s story, and I also really liked Jin’s.  I felt so bad for Jin when we first meet him in American Born Chinese, and how his classmates and teachers made assumptions about him.  I also loved the story of The Monkey King, and I really want to know more about that story, because I really liked it.

Danny’s story was my least favorite of the three.  I still liked it, but…I’m not sure what it is about his story, but it just didn’t appeal to me the way the others did.  I wasn’t sure how Danny fit into the book at first, because he seemed really entitled and I wasn’t sure why his story was included for most of the book.  It did become clear at the end, and I honestly didn’t see it coming.  Now that I think about it, I might re-read it, because knowing how all three stories connect would definitely help me see Danny’s story in a completely different way.

One of my favorite things was how it all tied together, and I really liked how the book was about liking yourself and being true to yourself, no matter what.  And I loved how well-plotted the book had to be, because everything was so detailed and thought out so well for everything to work together so well.  I can’t imagine American Born Chinese being told in any other format, and I think, if it were told more traditionally (i.e., a novel) it would lose something. Somehow, it works beautifully as a graphic novel.  I think the illustrations are what really bring the book to life.

4 stars.  Unfortunately, my initial dislike of Danny’s story is what is lowering my rating of the book.  Even though his story made more sense at the end of the book, it didn’t work for me at the beginning.  Still, American Born Chinese is a great read because it’s a really good starting point for talking about a lot of different issues.

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Book: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Published April 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

I loved When We Collided!  I randomly picked it up at the library because the cover caught my eye, and I am so glad I did.  It’s been a while since I’ve really, truly loved a book the way I loved When We Collided.  The Hate U Give is probably the closest, at least of the books I’ve read, but otherwise it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt so excited and emotional about a book.

Vivi is bipolar, but at first, she’s very much this vibrant, colorful person.  It is isn’t until later on that we learn she’s bipolar and not taking her medication for a good portion of the book.  Even though I’m not bipolar, I have struggled with depression, and I found it was so easy to relate to Vivi.  I loved her as a character, and she is this bright, vivid character, and she, in this book, was a living, breathing person.  I feel like I don’t say that very often about characters.

As a book about a girl who is bipolar, this is an amazing book.  Emery Lord did an amazing job at capturing every single thought and emotion Vivi had, and there were times where I really felt like I knew what Vivi was experiencing and dealing with.  She is over-the-top and difficult and annoying, but I still felt for her.  You really see Vivi’s state of mind when she is and isn’t on medication, her illness isn’t manipulative at all, and I loved the way Vivi described things.

I think Vivi’s half of the book- which was so vibrant and full of life- made Jonah’s half a little bit hard.  His chapters were more dull by comparison, mostly because anyone would look dull and lifeless and lackluster next to Vivi.  He was compelling, to a degree, but not the way that Vivi’s chapters were compelling.

His story felt more tired somehow- he’s an older brother, taking care of his younger sibling after the unexpected death of his father, and a mother who has checked out emotionally.  Jonah’s story felt a little overdone, but I did really like that he realized he needed to tell someone what was going on with his mom, instead of trying to pretend like everything was fine and under control.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he and his older siblings did what they could for the younger ones, but I’m not the biggest fan of the older sibling(s) taking care of the younger ones because of dead/absent parents trope.

And I wasn’t into the romance at all.  I know their lives collided because of everything going on with both of them, but…it is most definitely a case of insta-love, so keep that in mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, but sometimes, it’s okay.  This was not one of those times, unfortunately.  Their relationship worked, in its own way, with it being summer and particularly with Vivi, so the ending wasn’t that surprising.  But I felt like there was nothing between them- there didn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry, and there’s no build-up because insta-love.

I really would have been fine without the romance, and it didn’t really fit.  It didn’t take away from the rest of the book, and overall, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED When We Collided.  I just don’t know that the romance fit- it definitely didn’t work for me, because I liked both Vivi and Jonah, but not as a couple.

5 stars.  I don’t know that I did this book justice, but I thought it was completely amazing.  After finishing it, I literally hugged this book for, like, at least 5 minutes.