Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

January 8, 2012 Review 4

*I’m posting out of order as I have to still put the finishing touches on the October’s Creepy Read reviews, and I had this one all ready to go. Hopefully the rest will be up soon! 

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkins
Published:
September 2011
Format:
Hardcover
Pages:
452
Genre(s):
YA, fantasy, paranormal 

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. 

It can.  She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
— Cover Critique —
The cover is beautiful, in its own mysterious way. It doesn’t tell you a lot about the book, which is good. But as you read the book it begins to take on more meaning. I think I would probably pick up this book based on the cover alone. 

— Expectations —

Let’s just say they were high. For months I had been hearing rave reviews on the book blogosphere. It seems everyone loves this book. I expected I would immediately fall in love with this book too. 

— Review —


Ahh, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I feel like this was the IT book of 2011. Every blogger I know has gushed about this book. I feel like I’m betraying the sisterhood of book bloggers or something when I saw I didn’t love it… I mean I liked it, and I think it was a great debut but I didn’t go all fangirl over it. And here’s why. 

I do like how the book is so mysterious. The back cover doesn’t tell you much about the plot, and neither can I without giving away the surprises that make The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer what it is. I think the pacing was OK, but there were some parts where it just got really repetitive, especially when Mara is thinking she is going crazy. But I do think that Michelle Hodkins was successful in balancing out the crazy with humour and disposition. 

My review wouldn’t be complete without a mentioning of the infamous Noah Shaw. See, this is where it kind of falls apart for me. I’m completely on the fence about Noah. This is probably akin to committing heresy, but I felt that at times, I was reading Twilight. As a feminist, I feel that Noah could be too controlling and demanding (although, I did appreciate Mara standing up to him on a few occasions). His attitude irked me. Other times it turned me to goo. I had a hard time reconciling those two reactions to Noah, and it reflects in my rating. I think that Hodkins did an excellent job of portraying Mara’s life as a teenager, and someone who is suffering from anxiety. For the most part the humour was LOL-worthy (at times, a tad too overly sexual – like I eye rolled!). Oh, and the ending? THAT caught me off guard. Overall, I would recommend this book as a good read, and I think I will likely be picking up book #2 when it is released. 



.5



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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

January 5, 2012 Review 4


Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 
Author: Ransom Riggs
Published:
June 2011
Format:
Hardocver
Pages:
352
Genre(s):
YA, fantasy, mystery 




A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

— Cover Critique —

I really like the cover. It isn’t pretty, but the mix of fonts, the black and white and the creepy photograph of the levitating girl makes it unique and fun.

— Expectations —

I was so excited for this book. I loved the idea of using vintage photography to tell a story, and did you see that book trailer? That 100% sold it to me. It gave me chills (and still does)! I showed it to my best friend, my grandma… and my best friend ended up getting me the book for my birthday because she knew I wanted to dive right into the creepy mystery of the Peculiars


— Review —

I found this book left much to be desired in terms of an original plot, and pacing, but yet, it still delivered a fairly interesting read. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children starts out quickly, right from the get-go introducing the reader to the likable character of Jacob, who has a great sense of humour. The story pulls you in and has you turning the pages quickly, but just as quickly as it starts – about a hundred pages in, most, if not all the secrets and plot is revealed! While I still stayed up late reading the book  it was because I thought more was coming, but it never really did. The second part of the novel was definitely a letdown for me as little new information is revealed and the pace slowed considerably. However, the time-travelling component did interest me for its historical aspects, but it wasn’t enough to make the plot shine as much as the first half of the novel did.


Jacob is a well-written teenage character, with lots of witty dialogue, angst and curiosity. However, the other character that takes up most of the story is Emma, who I highly disliked. I can’t exactly put my finger on why exactly, but she irked me. I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Emma and Jacob and their relationship felt forced and creepy (I can’t explain without giving a spoiler, but let’s just say there is some serious history between them!). The other Peculiars were appropriately quirky and I enjoyed them much more than I did Emma’s character.


The real redeeming factor for me was Riggs’ creative use of the historical photographs interspersed throughout the book. Although the writing didn’t give me the heebie-geebies some of the photographs certainly did! It was interesting learning a bit more of the backstory through the characters portrayed, especially through Jacob’s eyes.


Overall, I felt that this book didn’t deliver anything truly unique (there have been many Xmen comparisons made) aside from the creepy photographs, and that the book summary hyped up and misrepresented the book, which is more fantasy than creepy thriller.  Despite its many shortcomings, I think that if you approach this book without expectations of being scared, you may enjoy it a little more than I did.


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Review: The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson

January 3, 2012 Review 10


Title: The Name of the Star
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published:
September 2011
Format:
E-book
Pages:
372
Genre(s):
YA, paranormal, mystery


The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

— Cover Critique —

The cover is pretty – I like the sort of antique feel it has, and the ghosted image of “Jack the Ripper” over one of the victims is creepy. I know other bloggers have mentioned that they think “Jack” looks too much like Abraham Lincoln, but I didn’t get that a lot. Other reviewers were confused about the girl because she didn’t match the description of Rory. I believe it is actually supposed to be the victim found in the garden, if I recall correctly, according to her description.

— Expectations —

Ok, I have to admit something. I only read about half the description of the book (which was enough to draw me in!), and so I really had no clue it involved ghosts! I was only expecting a creepy thriller, and trust me, I was feeling the goosebumps in some parts, but what I got was so much more than just a mystery novel! 


— Review —

I didn’t realize going into the book that this was the first book in what will be the Shades of London series, but let me say that I am so ecstatic that it is! Johnson has crafted an intriguing story by mixing bits of London and Ripper history with humour, romance, fantasy and suspense. I have always had a thing for London, and boarding schools just seem so exciting, so I felt that it was the perfect setting. 

The star (excuse the pun!) of the book isn’t the creepy plot, but the characters, which speaks to Maureen Johnson’s talent. Prior to picking up The Name of the Star I had never read any of her work. But from reading some other reviews, it seems that great characterization is what she is known for. This holds true in her latest work, as I quickly became enthralled with Rory Deveaux, the main character. She is quirky (with her intense love for Cheez Whiz!), smart, a little shy, and hilarious! I haven’t met such a likable character in a long time. Her insights into London life were entertaining, and she helped drive the plot and exposition wonderfully. I also really enjoyed her roommate Jazza as well, and I hope we get to see her in the next book. 

As for the next book, my hopes are that we delve into the history of ghosts even further, that Rory can somehow stay in boarding school, and that we get to see some of the beloved characters from the first book. I can’t wait and will definitely read book #2!


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October’s Creepy Reads

December 30, 2011 Discussion Post 2

Fact: I LOVE Halloween! Always have, always will. Ok, so it may not just be Halloween that I love, but October in general: the crunch of leaves, the crisp autumn air, cute pumpkins, the cheesy movie specials, and the beautiful colours. So in the celebration of Halloween, throughout the month of October I read creepy or supernatural themed books. What did I read?


*Clicking on the covers will take you the book’s Goodreads page
Reviews all to come, so stay tuned! It was really fun, maybe I should do this every holiday? 


Did you read any Halloween-specific books for October (or Christmas!)? What book has caused you to shiver out of fear lately?

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