“The Women in the Walls” Amy Lukavics | Spoiler-Free Review.

28367592

Rating: 1/5 stars

Trigger warnings: Self-harm, suicide

Overall Summary: Compelling and refreshing paranormal horror, but lacks depth and creativity

Hello fellow blog readers – it’s been a while. Today I wanted to review a book kindly sent to  me by the beautiful people over at Simon & Schuster, in exchange for an honest review. As you can see from my rating, this wasn’t a favourite for me. However, I’d like to share the aspects that I did enjoy concerning the novel, as well as the issues that I had with the story.

“Women in the Walls” by Amy Lukavics – Synopsis (as of Goodreads):

Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.  
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

So, starting off with aspects that I enjoyed about the book. I can definitely say that towards the beginning half of the book I was highly intrigued as to the progression of the plot and read on in anticipation. I found the overall premise of the story to be extremely appealing (and CREEPY), and it wasn’t until around halfway through the novel that I lost this interest. Also, this was a really quick read, so I’d definitely recommend Women in the Walls if you’re trying to fill up your readathon TBRs.

Another aspect that I admired with the book was the whole horror-esque genre. It is so very rarely that I come across YA novels that actually delve into the horror genre, and it was somewhat refreshing coming across a story that wasn’t afraid of some genuine gore. Let me give you a couple of illuminating examples:

  • People are killed and stuffed into walls
  • People are killed and served as food

Whilst I enjoyed the gore + creep factors of the story, I definitely feel as though it was far too grotesque. Perhaps some readers could like this, but personally even as a horror movie fan, the descriptions could go way overboard to the point where I felt physically sick and wondered at the sanity of the author(?)

One of the main issues that I had with Women in the Walls was its approach to self-harm and mental health as a whole. I would like to recommend that the print edition of the story should have some type of trigger warning for those initially picking up the book, as its detailing can be quite extensive and may affect some readers. As an avid reader of mental health YA, I feel the need to criticise the way in which the author approached self-harm. The protagonist’s acts of self-harm are thoroughly detailed, yet her motivations and mental struggles with the issue are never elaborated on, leaving this aspect detached from the overall arch of the story, whilst possibly offending audiences.

My primary issue with the story, however, remains the writing style. Though it was initially an aspect that I attempted to overlook, the blatant immaturity and lack of creativity in the text was cliche and made continuing with the book difficult, despite a somewhat intriguing plot-line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We All Looked Up” by Tommy Wallach | Spoiler-Free Review!

we-all-looked-up-book-cover

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Hello readers of Oh My Blog! Today I am going to be doing a review of “We All Looked Up” by Tommy Wallach – a book that I received a few months ago in the form of an ARC! This story follows a group of teenagers, and the book is told in each of their perspectives. It was one of those great books where the characters are all interconnected in some way or another, and in the end they all come together through these connections. In contemporary America, a large asteroid is seen orbiting up in space, and suddenly it’s slowly but steadily heading towards the planet of Earth. People start becoming the literal representations of YOLO, participating in things they would never usually do and putting their life on the line in ways they’d always been too afraid to do, as you do when you find out the world is going to end. I love the synopsis so much that I just need to have it written here because it’s so good.

Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels:

The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever.

But then we all looked up and everything changed. 

They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end.

Basically, I just really frickin liked this book and I think you should definitely pick up a copy! It was heart-wrenching, kinda terrifying and beautiful.

Personally, I feel like it gave off a real Perks of Being a Wallflower feel, with real, honest characters and an engaging and unique story. Going into this book I was wary, thinking that it might implement a lot of the classic “end of the world” clichés. Yes, this book did have certain clichés, but rather than lowering the book’s originality, the author used them to his advantage to make the book even better. Who knew clichés could actually be good?

The characters in this novel were very well written. After a couple of chapters in which I became familiar with the characters, I really connected to them. They were all just so realistic and believable, and even though I couldn’t directly link to some of the character’s stories or traits, I just really liked them. For example, though Andy was a pot-smoking, bad-behaved skater dude, he was possibly my favorite character. Side-note: Did anyone else picture him as Jesse from Breaking Bad? No? Just me? Not only that, but it was nice to see some nice, solid character development from nearly all of the characters. Character development in this type of teenage setting concerning is very crucial to constructing a believable Young Adult story.

I loved the entire concept of this story. Asteroid coming towards Earth and everyone goes kind of insane and acts like they’d never usually act? Count me in. Though this story was predictable reading the blurb, the actual book had so much more depth than I originally thought it would have, particularly in terms of the characters and some of the major plot events towards the end of the novel. Though I was expecting a great book, so much of this story I just wasn’t anticipating and it was very refreshing in a YA novel. I honestly feel like this book would be great as a movie adaptation – I’m already visualising some kind of Perks and Easy A hybrid.

BASICALLY? I LOVED IT. YOU’LL LOVE IT.

“The Remedy” by Suzanne Young | Spoiler-Free Review!

9781481437653-wTag_email_thumb[1]

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

I recently finished reading “The Remedy” by Suzanne Young, a prequel to “The Program”. “The Program” is one of my favorites, but I personally think this book was even better. The novel follows a teenage closer named Quinlan. In this only slightly futuristic world  very similar to our own, closers are employed to help assist with grief. When certain families are having difficulty dealing with the loss of a loved one, a closer will step in to aid them. Closers skillfully imitate the person who passed away, by mimicking their voices, and wearing wigs and contacts. The closer then stays with the family for a few days, taking on the role of their lost relative. This process is designed to give the family closure over their lost loved one, and to minimise the levels of depression. In “The Program”, depression is known as an international epidemic. However, in this prequel, this is only hinted at in foreshadowing. One day, Quinlan receives an unusual mission – she must stay with a family particularly struggling with grief for two weeks, which is longer than any closer should be in character. Quinlan takes on the task, but soon struggles to differentiate between her and the character she plays. In this thrilling tale, Quinlan must soothe the family’s grief, and hide her impending panic when she realises that the character she plays mysteriously committed suicide, a fact covered up by the government. I absolutely adored this story – I’d give it a 5 out of 5 stars and honestly, I had no issues with the novel. None at all; something incredibly rare for an honest reviewer. I was already loving the story on its own but then plot twist after PLOT TWIST hit me, making the story even more flawless. I definitely recommend “The Remedy”, whether you want to read it before or after “The Program”. Though there is slight foreshadowing, I don’t think it’s really necessary to read the other book before reading this one. If you want mind-blowing plot twists and a crazy cliffhanger, all wrapped up in an electrifying dystopian, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s like this book has a flawlessness checklist – and hell yeah it ticked all the boxes.

1. Characterisation – Quinlan is such a realistic and relatable character, so relatable that it felt like I was feeling all of the pain that she was feeling! So yeah – basically a lot of feels.

2.The Creep Factor – So I’m not sure if you got it from that synopsis, but the idea of closers is weird. Like really weird. You want someone to dress up as your dead child? Apparently the government has it covered. Not only is that weird,  but when Quinlan starts discovering things about the suicide victim she is playing, the book gets kind of dark and disturbing. In a good way.

3.Writing – Suzanne Young wrote this book flawlessly. While I had some issues with “The Program“, within this novel I found none. Her writing immediately drew us to care about Quinlan’s welfare, and soon it was as if I was the closer, having to differentiate between the character and myself.

4.Romance – The romance in this book was so frustrating…in a good way. On one side, Quinlan has her gorgeous moody ex, but they have a history. On the other side, Quinlan’s character had a boyfriend whom she encounters. Seeing his dead girlfriend in the form of a closer definitely triggers some of his emotions. So there was a kind-of love triangle, but not really. Either way, I loved it.

I could continue on with the checklist, but it’s not necessary – Suzanne Young did it all. I could write some sentence with a lot of pretty adjectives, but instead I’ll just say this:

READ IT.

“Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale” by Donna Jo Napoli | Spoiler-Free Review!

9781442494961_p0_v1_s300x

Rating: 4/5 stars

Hello readers of Oh My Blog! Today I have another spoiler-free review for you all, this time on Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale” by Donna Jo Napoli. The novel is an enthralling, realistic historical fiction piece set in the Viking Age of Europe, somewhere around 900 A.D. The story begins in Ireland, following the story of Melkorka – an Irish princess of a wealthy kingdom. However, due to negative negotiations with Viking raiders, Melkorka is forced to leave her home for a short amount of time in her parents’ attempt to keep her safe. Unfortunately, on the road to the place in which she would reside, she is taken captive on a nearby marauding ship, and is soon forced into an unfamiliar world of cruelty and slavery. In order to hide her Gaelic voice, Melkorka decides to become mute, quickly becoming of interest to her captors. This spellbinding novel follows her captivating and shockingly honest tale in a story of struggle, pain and desperation.

Due to the trade of slaves, Melkorka is introduced to many different companions in this story. Despite occasional confusion, I really enjoyed the wide selection of characters available in the novel. I really admire stories with lots of different characters, whether that be The Simpsons or Harry Potter. In terms of the main character, I loved Melkorka as the protagonist. At first, she irritated me as she was basically the generic “princess type”…haughtiness and prejudice included. However, throughout the course of the story, she shows extensive character development and transforms from a spoiled princess into a hardworking protagonist, determined to survive. I ended up strongly admiring her character and became really invested in her welfare, as you do in an intense story of adventure and survival. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books with protagonists in which I simply can’t connect with, so it was refreshing to have Melkorka as a model leading character.

I throughly enjoyed the context and setting of this novel. The wonderful thing about historical fiction is subconsciously learning new things about past time periods. Going into this story, I really didn’t have any knowledge of the time period featuring the barbarous Vikings – other than the first episode of the TV series Vikings – and I found it interesting learning about this certain area of European history. I even ended up researching a bit about the Viking Age after reading this novel and experiencing the Vikings’ raids on Ireland through an Irish person’s perspective. The writing in Hush flawlessly introduced all of these new things to me, leaving me intrigued for more tales from this bloodthirsty and gory time period.

In terms of the layout, I really enjoyed the writing in this story. To be honest, it took a few chapters for me to get used to the author’s writing – it’s quite different to most Young Adult novels. However, I have read stories with similar writing styles before, such as Wise Child and Juniper by Monica Furlong, and I soon found myself slipping back into familiarity. I must say it isn’t my favourite style of writing, but I felt it was appropriate for the story at-hand. The telling of the story could easily be ruined by over dramatising certain scenes, but the author carefully kept the story emotional enough for the audience to feel fear and anticipation, but not too sappy that we became irritated with the characters or storyline.

Despite the constant changing setting in this novel, I think it’s fair to say that not much happened plot-wise. I never felt as if the story was dull or slow, but I feel like the novel had such potential to bring in stronger themes of adventure and mystery, and other classic survival aspects. But man, did this book give me a giant whack in the feels. The narration removes all chance of hope or happiness, and literally only leaves a strong feeling of desperation and sadness. Though this story may follow a princess, this book is no fairy tale – there’s no prince or a classic happily ever after. This princess goes through harsh brutality that is rare in a Young Adult book, which is very enticing.

All in all, I thought it was a very good book which expressed the harsh realities and outcomes of  a slave in a context which heavily focuses on Vikings and their effect on European history, and was beautifully conveyed through honest writing that did not exclude the brutality of the protagonist’s story. Despite the lack of a detailed plot, I still really enjoyed the novel and would give it a 4 star rating. I would definitely recommend it to all who enjoy adventure and historical fiction, though it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted or those in need of a happy ending.

 

“Akarnae” by Lynette Noni! (Spoiler-free Review)

akarnae-9781921997501_hr

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Hello readers of Oh My Blog! Today I’ll be discussing the first book in the Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni – Akarnae. I was kindly sent this book by the lovely people at Simon & Schuster in exchange for a completely honest review. The story follows 16-year-old Alex Jennings. The novel originally focuses on Alex arriving at a new school, forced to attend boarding school as due to travelling plans, she cannot communicate with her parents for eight months. However, she is amazed when instead of walking into the principal’s office, she walks through a doorway and finds herself instead trapped at an entirely different school in the mystical world of Medora, a magical fantasy world. Despite the fact that she is eager to immediately escape from Medora and return to her own world, only the principal of the Medoran school can help her. Unfortunately that singular source of assistance is unavailable – the principal is missing. Alex is forced to wait for the principal, unaware of when he will return. As she waits, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with magical gifts, and has to come to terms with this strange new world so similar, yet so completely different to her own.
Overall, I would rate this book a 4.5/5 stars. It was an entirely unique and interesting plot and world, and despite its similarities to many other stories, it still managed to be unlike any book I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed the world-building, which helped to make up for some of my issues with the characterisation in this story. Unfortunately, it took me half of the book to become immersed in the world and plot, which often occurs in fantasy reads due to very different and often other-worldly settings. However, once I was past the half-way point, I absolutely LOVED the book! I would definitely recommend it to all fantasy lovers, and to all lovers of a classic, fairytale-like story.

Medora is described as a truly unique world, and I really admired the detail in which the author described it. Wondrous oddities are mentioned – whether it be the strange animal species or perhaps the mysterious Library itself. The whole book gave off an Alice and Wonderland-esque feel, with a good dash of favourites like Narnia. Yes, it took time to accept and enjoy the random and often confusing feel of Medora and its inhabitants, but honestly, you just have to roll with it. If Alice can go down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, and Alex can open the doors into Medora, then we as readers can definitely accept Akarnae’s odd, yet awesome, story. As soon as I allowed myself to be carried along with the story, as opposed to trying to apply logic to clearly and purposeful randomness, I came to really enjoy it. That was one of the elements of the book that really increased my curiosity – the complete insanity and randomness of the plot, that I eventually came to enjoy.

The vastness, variety and imagination of the world really caught me by surprise. I did not expect the amount of detail that went into this book; the specific history and events in Medora. Things such as the extraordinary Library, magical healing potions and other mind-boggling details worked to create a truly unforgettable and remarkable world.

However, despite an amazingly planned-out setting and story-line, I found that I did not enjoy the characterisation in this book. While the characters were more than names on paper, they weren’t engaging or relatable in any sense, which was one of the main factors that increased my difficulty when beginning this book. While I did adore some characters like Darrius and Fletcher, and I definitely liked all of the characters, my main issue was with Alex. Frankly, her perspective was too young and vague for her age – I mean, I’m only a year younger than her and I don’t think like that. The characters not only lacked depth, but also created relationships much too quickly to be very realistic. Though there is no romantic endeavours in this story, erasing any chance of Insta-Love, there was definitely Insta-Friendship. I feel like the main character bonded too quickly with her newfound friends, though it has been implied that Alex does not really have many attachments in the real world.

Overall, a story that I absolutely loved for the most part, excluding my issues with the childish and vague characters. Akarnae was highly original and engaging, and I will definitely be picking up the rest of the books in the series as they release!

“NEED” by Joelle Charbonneau | Spoiler-Free Review!

20550148

 

Hello blog readers! Today I’m excitedly reviewing “NEED” by Joelle Charbonneau! An ARC was kindly sent to me by HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review, so here I am! NEED is a new teen thriller set to be released this November, and has apparently been optioned for film, which I find really exciting as the entire time, I was picturing this book on television! The book follows the story of the teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School, at which a mysterious social networking site is becoming increasingly popular. The site, “NEED”, promises to grant their every need and requirement; type in what you need, do what they ask  to have your request approved, and poof, you have a brand new iPhone or your own private gym. The website originally asks for simple actions in return, asking the user to invite their friends to the website, but as it quickly gains popularity in the high school, new members are no longer a priority. NEED begins to show its darker side, instead making often violent and aggressive crimes a requirement. It constantly asks the question: “what do you need?”  In this eerie and mysterious Young Adult thriller, we see just how far the teens at Nottawa High School will go for what they need, and are forced to constantly reevaluate where the line between need and want blurs.

Personally, I loved this book, and gave it a 4.5 star rating. It provided a very original and frightening concept of social media. In society we are constantly told that social networking can be very dangerous and that we should be careful when approaching these websites. The book took this fear that we are aware of and combined it with a great fantasy tale – a website that can give you anything you ask for – to create a chilling story highlighting the treacherous and scary side of the Internet. Throughout the entire book, people’s boundaries are being pushed to the  point of instances such as murder and betrayal, and it kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat the entire time. I ended up finishing this book within a couple of hours; I was that captivated and invested in the story.

The book examines how that often on social media, the things we do don’t feel “real”, and can therefore lead to extensive amounts of rudeness and hate, and overall things that people may not say face-to-face, but won’t lose a night of sleep by saying so over the Internet. NEED brings a three dimensional aspect to this belief, as though the teens believe that the acts that they are completing to fulfil their requirements “aren’t real”, they result in very real prizes as well as very real consequences. The characters are forced to evaluate what is real and what is not, and I was never quite sure what they were capable of. This book has a very mysterious quality to it, as we as readers are kept in the dark the majority of the time with the overall arc of the story, adding to the creepy and thrilling atmosphere.

While overall, I was not very impressed or attached to the characters, I felt that it was not essential to the story. The book was so fast-paced that it left next to no room for character development or believable relationships, and whereas this would irritate me in other books, it didn’t faze me this time around. Personally, I think the story was better-off without the major focus on the characters, and instead focused on the cinema-like quality of the story.

To conclude, this was an incredibly engaging and fast-paced story with an original and captivating premise. I highly recommend this book, and you should definitely pick up your own copy this November, as I believe that once it releases, it will do very well in the Young Adult genre!

“Promise of Shadows” (Justina Ireland) | Spoiler-Free Review!

9781442444645_p0_v3_s260x420

Rating: 3.8 stars

Overall thoughts: Action-packed, original story, but lacks depth to the characters and world.

Hello there blog-readers! Today I’ll be reviewing “Promise of Shadows” by Justina Ireland, which was kindly sent to me by Simon & Schuster AU. This will be a spoiler-free review, so you don’t have to worry about being spoiled! My overall rating for this book was 3.8 stars, which is kind of a low rating for me. While I loved the premise of the story, the plot and the basis of the world and characters, there were certain aspects that simply left me uninterested and irritated. All in all, it was a fairly average book, but with a gripping and promising premise. However, notice that I say “average” instead of “bad”. Average, in my opinion, means that there will be a good portion of people out there who will enjoy it, while there will be others who did not enjoy it so much. Therefore, I still recommend that you pick up a copy of Promise of Shadows, to create your own opinion. As always, I only share my own and I think this story is very versatile.

The story follows an 18 year old “girl” named Zephyr Mourning. You may be wondering why I wrote “girl”. Well, that’s because Zephyr is actually a harpy. If you’re not accustomed with Greek mythology, it means that  she has a woman’s head and body, but with bird’s wings and claws. Zephyr lives in a world in a world centred around Greek mythology, giving off a Percy Jackson and the Olympians feel. Since personally I love Greek mythology, it was an interesting perspective seeing from a harpy’s point of view. In this book, the gods are called Æthereals, and use æther (the power of light) and erebos (the power of darkness) to fuel each of their godly powers, which was a very interesting concept, portraying that the gods needed a source to power their magic. I loved the portrayal of the gods, as while they were loyal to old mythology, the author made a new twist and made them seem more human.

The book begins in Tartarus (who knows, maybe Percabeth was there at the time), which is Hell in the Greek mythology world. Zephyr has been sent to Tartarus as punishment for slaying a god in revenge, as he killed her sister. She is nicknamed “The Godslayer” (I know, awesome right?!) Since it was practically impossible to kill this god, the Æthereals become suspicious of Zephyr, and it quickly becomes apparent that she has a dangerous secret…

So basically, I loved the world and the plot line, however, the characters and romance severely irritated me. This book exemplified a strong case of “InstaLove”, the main protagonist immediately falling in love with the main male. That is something that really put me off this book, despite my love for the plot and setting. I definitely would have brought my rating up to 4 stars had it not been for the romance as well as the lack of description apparent in this entire book.

Overall, my thoughts are that this is a book that you should definitely pick up, because there seems to be very mixed reviews for it, meaning that there’s a chance you may love it. It has an awesome plot and storyline, and the foundation for an awesome book, complete with Greek mythology and badass characters, as well as epic action sequences. The downside is the rest of the story…romance, character depth, etc. Nevertheless, this is an original and promising story, that had it been made into a series, could have been improved to a 5 star rating. Though I probably wouldn’t recommend it, I definitely suggest that Greek mythology/fantasy/assassin lovers check this out 🙂

The Year of the Rat (Clare Furniss) – Spoiler Free Review!

17696973

Hello readers of my blog! I understand its been a good while (AN ENTIRE MONTH) since I’ve posted on my blog and I apologise…holiday season you know! Anyway, today I am back with a spoiler-free book review of “The Year of the Rat” by Clare Furniss, kindly sent to me by Simon & Schuster. This story follows a girl named Pearl, and the course of the book is centred around her journey as she deals with her mother’s abrupt death upon the birth of her second daughter. I rated this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, as I did have quite a few problems with it, though I was very hooked. Towards the beginning, Pearl is burdened with grief over her mother’s sudden death, which occurs around Pearl’s half-sister’s birth. I was immediately hooked from the first page, already liking the writing style, even though I hadn’t been too excited based on the cover and the title. However, also from the beginning of this story, I could already tell that it wasn’t going to be the most original of stories. Maybe I’m too critical, or maybe I’ve just read too many stories like this recently, but I found myself disappointed in the unoriginality of the book, comparing it to works such as If I Stay and We Were Liars. Whereas those stories had left me so engaged in the original and heartbreaking premises, The Year of the Rat did not have any long-lasting impact on me whatsoever. Not only was the cliche-ness an issue, but I just couldn’t connect to the majority of the characters, therefore meaning that I could not become fully invested in the story. I liked characters such as Pearl’s father, her best friend Molly as well as her grandmother, but I felt like all of the characters left just a little bit too much to the imagination. While the raw emotions were portrayed effectively, I still feel as if the characters’ surfaces were displayed without going too much into depth. However, I loved how this book had such strong female protagonists. Granny, Stella, Pearl and even FISH-FINGER BURNER were all such strong characters. It was nice having such reliable characters, though I did feel there was a certain lack of character development. The Year of the Rat, though a very quick read, seemed quite slow at times and didn’t seem to have a complete arc However, the writing and the varying dynamics between different characters was superb. For example, the relationship and romance within the book was extremely subtle, and while it was often very confusing at times, I liked how it wasn’t a main aspect of the plot. Also, I guess in a way it contributes to the “strong women” theme apparent in this book, highlighting that Pearl didn’t need a love-interest to pull her from her grief, and instead used other methods to cope. Additionally, this was a very realistic story in many ways, whether it be Pearl’s reaction to the passing of her mother and her grieving process, or the actions that this process resulted in, such as her often unreasonable and cruel actions. All in all, though this may have seemed like a negative review, I really did enjoy the book, the pros being the basis of the characters as well as the captivating and emotional writing, the cons being the lack of a strong story-arc, originality and character development. But I would definitely recommend this book, but please brace yourself for the feels, because there certainly are a lot of them.

The Program (Suzanne Young) – Spoiler-Free Review!

11366397

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

So, I was lucky enough to be send a review copy of The Program by Suzanne Young from Simon & Schuster Australia, which is the first book in a duology I believe. For a basic synopsis, the story follows a girl named Sloane (SOMEONE TELL ME HOW TO PRONOUNCE THIS), who lives in a world in which suicide has become an international epidemic. In order to attempt to control these outbreaks of teen suicides, schools take on an experiment called “The Program”. In this program, the infected subject is taken away and returned six weeks later with basically no previous memories. To avoid being “flagged” as depressed, Sloane is forced to hide her problems, her tears and any other emotions that aren’t focused on happiness and well-being.

This book was ridiculously captivating, and I literally read the entire thing in one sitting. I rated it 4.5/5 stars, and the only reason it didn’t quite reach 5 stars is because I found the first 100 pages of the book to be quite slow, and I wasn’t entirely hooked during that time. I assume that because this is a dystopian(maybe?), there is a bit of world-building, which may have contributed to the overall slowness seen in the beginning of the novel.

I had heard about this book before and I was very intrigued by the idea of suicide as a contagious disease. Also, I had heard great ratings for it, so I definitely went into this book with high expectations, which isn’t always the right way to approach something. When first venturing into this novel, I liked the idea and how it was panning out, but I felt like the world was flimsy and that not enough background and history was provided for it to be a reliable plot line. Obviously, these feelings changed dramatically as the story went along, though I still believe that there should have been more world-building incorporated to truly flesh-out the epidemic and its effect.

Characters, characters, characters….Okay, so I liked these characters. I cared about what would happen to them (marginally), but the only character I really connected with and truly cared about was Realm. Obviously, he was set out as trustworthy and reliable for reasons that became apparent later on, but compared to the other characters, he just had so much more life. However, this could have to do with the fact that Sloane and the others had to hide their darker emotions for fear of being flagged. Either that or they were just bland. It’s not that I minded them; they were perfect representations of the effect that the epidemic was having on its victims. Just my opinion, but a little more life in them would have helped.

Excluding the first 150 pages, I LOVED the plot in this story. It was thrilling and emotionally moving, sometimes even a little bit frightening. I mean, ROGER. The story moved along so beautifully that I found myself frantically flipping the pages until it was past midnight. The fear and anticipation in this novel felt so ridiculously real, almost as if it were our world today. The world Young created is not too far a stretch from our own, and that in a dystopian (still not sure if it is?) or a thriller novel is very integral in making the story real and therefore more frightening. Ever wonder why they put “based on a true story” at the beginning of horror movies? Yeah, that’s why. You begin to connect to the story, which builds up the fear, and that is exactly what The Program did.

Overall, this was an incredible book and I am very much looking forward to reading the next book (The Treatment), hopefully soon. I definitely highly recommend it, except that I would warn readers of a trigger warning, because reading about suicide (even if fictionalised) can be difficult, especially if you have known someone who has experienced it. But moving away from that dark note, The Program was absolutely thrilling and vivid to the point of frightening. AMAZING book. Gold star for you Suzanne Young.

I Was Here (Gayle Forman) Spoiler-Free Review!

I-Was-Here

Rating: A strong 5 stars

“Thought-provoking, heartbreaking, beautiful.” ~ My one-sentence review 🙂

I was sent an ARC of Gayle Forman’s upcoming book I Was Here. Before I say anything even remotely intelligent, guys…the feels. This book was an absolute roller coaster of emotions, and now I can see why everyone seems to love Gayle Forman’s books. When I read If I Stay, I was completely unimpressed (don’t hate me), but this book was an incredible whirlwind of a story, and I am so eager to try out her other books such as Just One Day. 

For a brief synopsis of the book…

The story follows an 18 year old girl named Cody Reynolds, who is having to deal with her best friend’s suicide. But as Cody tries to put her life back together and attempt to discover the motives behind her friend’s suicide, she is faced with her own personal difficulties. She not only begins to notice her co-dependent relationship that she had with her friend, but also family and romance issues lead to a thrilling expedition of self-discovery.

Okay I know what you’re thinking.

a) that sounds amazing

b) that sounds ridiculously depressing

I think this book is a combination of both of those statements. Compared to other YA novels that deal with teen suicide, this book was not as depressing as it could have been and I am thankful for that. Generally, I cannot read books concerning suicide because of that reason, but I Was Here balanced these difficult issues so well with the self-discovery part of the story. The characters were believable and relatable. The romance was breathtaking and heartbreaking, strong and fragile. It was one of the most powerful novels I have ever read, and I only have Gayle Forman to thank for creating such a beautiful story.

The main character, Cody, handles the situation in such a way that is both believable as well as admirable. She works through her issues, but also often takes time to mourn. The other side characters in this book were also such great additions to the story, and as heart wrenching as it all was, the story drew me in so much that I wanted to be apart of that world. My heart broke reading about Cody’s relationship with her family, and the discomfort between her mother and herself.

This novel was beautiful, tear-jerking, heartbreaking and wonderful. Definitely one of the best contemporaries I have ever read and I do not say that lightly. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is ready to tackle an in-depth contemporary, for something out of the ordinary and thought-provoking. This is a book that will be staying with me for a long time, and a book that my thoughts will constantly come back to. A short read, but a ridiculously good novel. I am looking forward to reading more of Gayle Forman’s work.