Book Review Round-Up is a new feature where I talk about several of the books I’ve been reading lately.
Book #1: Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
What It’s About: “You forget. You forget you don’t really exist here, that this isn’t your home.”
Since emigrating from Bangladesh, fourteen-year-old Nadira and her family have been living in New York City on expired visas, hoping to realize their dream of becoming legal U.S. citizens. But after 9/11, everything changes. Suddenly being Muslim means you are dangerous — a suspected terrorist.
When Nadira’s father is arrested and detained at the U.S.-Canadian border, Nadira and her older sister, Aisha, are told to carry on as if everything is the same. The teachers at Flushing High don’t ask any questions, but Aisha falls apart. Nothing matters to her anymore — not even college.
It’s up to Nadira to be the strong one and bring her family back together again.
What I Thought: Even though Ask Me No Questions was just okay for me, I’m still really glad I read it. This book really got me thinking about so many things- like what it’s like to be an illegal immigrant, and a Muslim in a post-9/11 world, and what happens when there’s a huge possibility of being deported. While it’s not an issue I pay a lot of attention to, it does seem like most of the focus is on those who are coming from Central America, particularly Mexico, but I do think a lot of it is because it’s not something I pay attention to, and also partly because I live in San Diego, which does border part of Mexico.
As much as I appreciate how much it made me think, I really wish we saw more of their life before seeking asylum in Canada. I know we got random glimpses of it through flashbacks (which were really confusing because they randomly appeared with no warning) but I think it really would have shed more light on what it was like for them coming to the U.S. and what they had to go through to become U.S. citizens.
Rating: 2 stars. I definitely had some issues with Ask Me No Questions, but I still feel like it’s a really important book to read! It definitely got me thinking about so many things.
Book #2: Adaptation by Malinda Lo
What It’s About: Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.
Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.
Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.
Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.
What I Thought: I really liked Adaptation! I read it for a brand new book club I’m a part of, and I liked it a lot more than Huntress (which I really need to re-read because I totally read it at the wrong time). Anyway, the idea that birds are causing these plane crashes, and no one knows what’s going on, but we finally learn what happens as Reese gets more and more caught up in what happened. The whole thing with Amber was interesting, even when things go wrong, but I still really liked their relationship. And I also really liked her relationship with David- they did go through some really bizarre things together, and it makes sense that it bring them closer together. I was surprised by the possibility of a love triangle, but it really doesn’t feel gimmicky at all, which is a nice change from most of the love triangles out there. And as much as I love romance, I also liked that it wasn’t central to the plot (even though Reese does try to figure out who she is, in the midst of all of the craziness).
There is something sort of sci-fi-ish about the book, and it’s a distant future that has so many possibilities to it, some of which could go very, very wrong. And that’s what drew me in, the hint of things I can’t even begin to imagine in terms of science and technology and medicine. It made the book super-interesting, and it really makes me want to read the sequel!
Rating: 4 stars. I didn’t completely love it (and I find the idea of a minor being allowed to sign a non-disclosure agreement to be really hard to believe) but it’s still a really great read.
Book #3: Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
What It’s About: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.
Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.
Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.
Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
What I Thought: I’m glad I finally read Throne Of Glass! It’s one of those books I feel like everyone has read except for me, but I’m glad I read it! I liked this super-secret competition to become the King’s Champion, and I liked seeing her as an underdog, going up against men who clearly underestimate her. I really liked Celaena and thought she was pretty sassy.
But there were some things I wasn’t sure about. Like, why did the king decide to get rid of magic? It was mentioned, but never explained. And I really wish we saw more of Celaena’s life before going to the castle, because it was hard to see her as this really bad-ass famous assassin that everyone’s terrified of. We only get the briefest of glimpses of her life before, and I wish we had more of it, because I felt like I needed more back story for her. I also felt like training was too easy for her, and she bounced back way too quickly after a year of hard labor in a salt mine.
Still, I really liked the story, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.
Rating: 4 stars. I really liked it, but felt like a few things were really odd and hard to overlook.