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booksonthebay

Books on the Bay

My name is Lynn, I'm a 24 year old law student and book-lover, proud Nook color owner.  You can find me at {booksonthebay.blogspot.com} as well!

{Warm Bodies by Issac Marion}

Warm Bodies: A Novel - Isaac Marion

Publisher's Description:

 

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

 

In this quaint not-quite-traditional Zombie love story, our lovable, but definitely dead, protagonist R, meets and falls in love with a young woman after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, and thus his memories. Easy to read, fun, light and full of hope and plenty of chuckling, I really enjoyed Warm Bodies. I think it'll translate nicely on to the screen as a lighthearted comedy (look for a movie review coming soon too!)

 

I love, love, loved R's voice. His inner monologue is much more extensive than what he's actually able to verbalize, but subtly gets better throughout the book as he gets his feelings and humanity back again. He still retains a few very human aspects - his love of music for example. 

 

I also really enjoyed the thought Marion put into the post-apocolyptic Zombie world. The little details like the city in a stadium, the zombie-land at the airport and the different factions and jobs people take after the Zombie-plyse are nice details that set this "zombie-novel" apart from others.

{The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling}

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling

Publisher's description:

 

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

 

I really didn't begin reading The Casual Vacancy expecting Harry Potter, or anything like Harry Potter. I didn't expect any magic or cute fantasy worlds. I didn't expect that the novel would be written for young adults and/or appropriate for children. I fully expected something deeper, richer, even darker (as I had been warned) from Rowling.

I did however, expect better storytelling, better developed characters and in general, better writing. I refuse to believe that J.K. Rowling is limited to the YA genre, but The Casual Vacancy doesn't inspire much confidence. 

It's almost as if Rowling turned around and said, what can I write about that is entirely the OPPOSITE of what I've been writing about? What will shock the world and make them realize I'm not just a children's writer? Let's make this a character study, then lets throw in rape, cutting, suicide, adultery, drug use, lying, child abuse, dying children, overtures of incest and poverty.

It was just... too much. I was so tired of trying to care about the characters that by the end of the book I would have been thrilled however it ended, no matter how miserable their predicaments It was exhausting even to try to enjoy the last section of the book. 

Biggest literary disappointment of 2012, hands down.   

{The Rook by Daniel O'Malley}

The Rook  - Daniel O'Malley

Publisher's Description:

 

"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. 

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. 

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

 

My Review:

 

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up The Rook. My brother bought the novel for me for Christmas and gave me a strange look when he handed it over "You know this was in the Sci-Fi section right?" I had no idea. The best thing about The Rook is that it's very difficult to categorize. It's not fantasy really, it's not science fiction, it's definitely not a young adult book like the cover might suggest.

 

I really enjoyed the structure of the book. As Myfanwy begins to discover who she is through the letters she has left herself, we are gradually introduced to her story, the world she lives in and the backstory of the plot. It becomes a very clever and compelling way to "information dump" knowledge about the world that O'Malley has created without overloading the actual text with unnecessary details and lengthy descriptive paragraphs. (The bane of fantasy novelists everywhere.)

 

The heart of the plot itself is an interesting concept. A super-secret agency within the United Kingdom that is responsible for taking care of the supernatural problems of the country. Many of the agents have their own supernatural powers, taken from their parents when young and trained for the agency their whole lives, making them particularly qualified for their jobs. 

 

Half sci-fi/supernatural/fantasy book and half government/spy book, the novel takes a number of really interesting twists and turns along the way. My biggest complaint is that it is long. Really long. Unnecessarily long. While it never felt "draggy" - it was not exactly concise either, and could have been edited down signficantly. But if you're not looking for a super quick read, it's very enjoyable.

{The Fault in Our Stars by John Green}

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

Publisher's Description:

 

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

 

My Review:

 

I really shouldn't write a review right now, right after I've finished the book and while I still have tears in my eyes. But I really want to. A book hasn't made me cry since the end of Harry Potter. I don't even know where to start with this one. When I first picked it up I had heard so many good things about it that I thought for sure it couldn't live up to the hype. I didn't want to like the book, I was fairly sure I would hate it. Surprise: I'm not a fan of Perks, and I really expected this to be Perks 2.0... but it wasn't. I loved it.

The characters are wonderful. They're developed and strange and real and flawed. The plot is so strange, parts of it are so surreal and parts of are it so trivially "cancer plot points" that it makes you stop and think, maybe this is what it's like. Maybe this is what Hazel and Augustus are dealing with. Some things stay so unapologetically normal and trite and predictable, while some things are wild and out of control and the strangest part is how they all come together without your permission.

John Green does an excellent job of keeping the teenagers teenagers, and the parents parents, the doctors doctors and the strage recluse the strange recluse. His language is powerful but accessible, sometimes quirky. I was often uncomfortable with his word choices (or maybe, Augustus's word choices) but that was part of what gave the book life. The Fault in Our Stars is not what you want it to be. It's not perfect, it is it's own story. But it is wonderful and I am very, very glad I read it.