Did Not Finish, Post-Apocalyptic

Review: Stung

Cover of "Stung," featuring red text on a black background and a translucent image of a honeybee superimposed with an image of a syringe
Image from Bethany Wiggins

Title: Stung

Author: Bethany Wiggins

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Trigger Warnings: Death, blood/gore, alluded threat of rape

Back Cover:

Fiona doesn’t remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered-her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist-a black oval with five marks on either side-that she doesn’t remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she’s right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem-the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone–and on the wrong side of the wall . . .

Read to: Page 72

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book.

Okay, let’s back up. I wasn’t all that excited about reading this. I picked it up because I’d heard of it many, many years ago and it was on clearance for $1 at my local bookstore. Those are the only reasons. I finally started reading it because I ran out of library books a few days before my next library trip.

I really like the concept. You get quite a bit from the back cover, and even though I didn’t get too far into the book, the world was great. It was dark and gritty and violent and fascinating, the kind of place where even when you know it’s day you picture the sky full of black clouds. And I really like that kind of setting. It was shaping up to be a pretty solid post-apocalyptic world.

The part that I couldn’t get past was Fiona. And not really Fiona herself. It was that it’s made really clear that she’s in her late teens and has an obviously well-developed body, but she’s lost a big chunk of her memory and still thinks she’s 13. The first ally character she meets has her disguise her gender because “it’s unsafe to be a girl” – and the reader knows exactly why, especially when you see the rough and rowdy bands of men roaming around, but Fiona is still 13 in her head and has no idea. And even though her body is older, it felt really gross and creepy to me to hang rape threats over the head of a 13-year-old kid.

Also it felt kinda weird for me, a 20-year-old, to be inside the head of a 13-year-old. It never really bothered me when I read middle grade books, but for some reason this one felt like an invasion of privacy.

Honestly, that was my only problem with the book. Without that part, I don’t think I would have found it spectacular, but I think I would have enjoyed it. That one little detail just gave me an uneasy feeling, and I couldn’t keep reading.

The Stung series:

  1. Stung
  2. Cured
Did Not Finish, Post-Apocalyptic

Review: Firefight

Cover of "Firefight," featuring glowing gold text on a background of dark red torn apart to reveal a golden sky
Image from Brandon Sanderson

Title: Firefight

Series: The Reckoners #2

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Trigger Warnings: Death, blood/gore

Note: This review contains spoilers of the first Reckoners book, SteelheartDon’t read this review if you want to avoid mild spoilers.

Back cover: 

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers.

Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it’s the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David’s willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic – Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker and even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Review:

I read the first book in this series, Steelheart, as an ARC in 2013 and loved it. So it’s been several years since I read it. I honestly remember it pretty well, though, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to get back into book two – especially with how fantastic of a writer Brandon Sanderson is. I was actually really excited to pick this up.

Unfortunately, it kinda lost me. (And currently holds the record for only Brandon Sanderson book to ever do that.)

I actually did have a pretty easy time getting back into the world. And what a fantastic world. That’s one of the things I love about Brandon Sanderson – his worlds are A M A Z I N G. This series’ world is a dark post-apocalyptic thing where the world is ruled by cruel super-powered people, and focuses on an underground group of guerrilla warriors who are fighting them. And it is great. This book goes to a different city, so you get to explore a new city ruled by a new Epic and following new rules, and I loved the world just as much in this book as I did in the first.

There were a few details from Steelheart that I missed, but Firefight did a good job getting me back up to speed. So if you pick this up a long time (*cough*several years*cough*) after you read the first book, don’t worry, you won’t miss much.

The main reason I just couldn’t get into Firefight was David. Like the back cover said, his motivation has changed from vengeance to finding Firefight and getting answers. Except it’s mostly finding Firefight. So much of his motivation had become “oh my gosh I love her” that I couldn’t deal with it. It wasn’t so much the romance angle that rubbed me the wrong way as David’s inability to even consider anything bad about her. I just got so frustrated with the whole “blinded by love” aspect.

That’s really the main things I have to say about Firefight. The plot was pretty much the same as the previous book – kill an Epic to save the city – just in a different city and with some new characters. The world was fantastic, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters this time around. (Although admittedly, this may have been a little different if I’d have read this directly after Steelheart.) It wasn’t a bad book by any stretch of the imagination, it just wasn’t for me.

The Reckoners Series:

  1. Steelheart
  2. Firefight
  3. Calamity
Did Not Finish, Fantasy

Did Not Finish: The Young Elites

Cover of "The Young Elites," featuring the title on a background of storm clouds. The "T" in the word "Elites" is replaced with a sword.
Image from Marie Lu

Title: The Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Fantasy

Trigger Warnings: Parental abuse (physical and emotional)

Back cover: 

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

Read to: CD 6 of 8 (I “read” this as an audiobook)

Review:

I really enjoyed Marie Lu’s Legend, and The Young Elites has been on my reading list for a while. I finally picked it up because I was looking for audiobooks to listen to on my commute to work and it was part of my library’s small selection. And also because special abilities + vengeance = a dark fantasy that should be right up my alley.

As you might have guessed, I wasn’t the hugest fan. But there were really a lot of good things about this book, and what made me give up on it was actually relatively minor. So let’s start with what was good about it.

  • The world was fantastic. It felt like a fantasy southern Europe (like Spain or Italy) with Renaissance elements, and it was just plain beautiful.
  • The minor characters were pretty cool. Each was unique and had their own personalities and quirks, and there were those great characters you love to hate. (And there was even a bisexual male sex worker who was a major member of the Dagger Society and no one looked down on him for his sex work, which I thought was the coolest thing.)
  • The plot is barely touched on in the back cover, but it was not at all what I expected and it was great. (I’m not giving away any spoilers.)

All the main elements were solid and I enjoyed them. But like I said, it was minor details that I took issue with. Such as the fact that Teren is mentioned in the back cover like he’s going to be a major character and he’s really glossed over. I think he got three (very short) chapters in the entirety of what I read, and there were some interesting things going on with him, but the book doesn’t spend enough time with him to flesh it out and make it anything more than a confusing distraction from Adelina.

The romance was another minor detail that bothered me. It started off slow enough that I could look past it, but it was starting to pick up when I stopped. It was just so aggressively … trope-y? I’m not really sure how to describe it, but there was a bit of a love triangle even though it was obvious which guy was the “real” love interest and it had the whole we-both-like-each-other-but-we’re-not-going-to-say-anything-and-pretend-nothing-is-happening-even-though-it’s-obvious thing going on

The beginning is also very flashback-heavy with Adelina remembering life with her abusive father, and that was … it was hard. It was hard to read and hard to think about, and if you’ve experienced any sort of abuse it’s probably not going to be good for you.

There was one main issue that finally made me stop, though. Adelina is put in a position where she has to choose between the Dagger Society and her sister (it’s more complicated, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers). And there’s a huge running theme of her moral dilemma – should she tell the Daggers and ask for their help or just betray them? Several times she gets close to telling Enzo and chickens out. But then she’s presented with a perfect opportunity where they wouldn’t even suspect she’s been dealing with this for a while and she STILL DOESN’T TAKE IT. And that’s where I stopped. Being put in a bad position is one thing, actively making your situation worse because you don’t take the opportunities that smack you over the head is a completely different (and endlessly frustrating) thing.

I looked at the Goodreads reviews for this book, and there’s a lot of them that have nothing but good things to say about The Young Elites. And I can see why. There’s a lot of good things in here. It’s dark and poetic and has a solid world and a great plot. It just wasn’t the book for me.

The Young Elites series:

  1. The Young Elites
  2. The Rose Society
  3. The Midnight Star
Did Not Finish, Steampunk

Review: The Friday Society

Cover of "The Friday Society," featuring three girls dressed in steampunk clothes and holding steampunk weapons
Image from Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society

Author: Adrienne Kress

Genre: Steampunk

Trigger Warnings: Death, mild sexual harassment

Back Cover:

Set in London at the turn of the last century, the novel follows the stories of three intelligent and very talented young women, all of whom are assistants to very powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, combat instruction assistant; and Nellie, a magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder – and the crimes they believe may be connected to it – without calling too much attention to themselves.

Told with Adrienne Kress’s sharp wit and a great deal of irreverence, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike – well, relatively ladylike – heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Read to: Page 115

Review:

I grabbed this from the library mainly because steampunk, but also because of the badass girl trio. I wasn’t too enthused with the romance angle, but I hoped it would be overlook-able.

I honestly put it down because it was just plain boring.

The story alternates perspectives between the three girls, and the only girl I was really interested in was Michiko. She had a really cool backstory, and I think I would have enjoyed a book just about her. Cora and Nellie were practically interchangeable, their main difference being the skills they obtained by working for different men. And when the three girls got together, Michiko didn’t speak much English, so it was basically Cora and Nellie with a background Michiko.

(The irony to me here is that the back cover described the characters as “unforgettable,” and even after spending 115 pages with these girls, I still had to look up their names to write this review.)

I honesty could have forgiven all of that if the steampunk world was good. And honestly, the way the book is written, it seems to be trying to put quite a bit of emphasis on the world. But there wasn’t a world to speak of. It was set in London, and there were steam-powered carriages that didn’t need horses – and that’s all we get. When it’s set, or even that it’s steampunk at all, is completely left to the imagination, which is not what I want when I pick up a steampunk book.

I can’t even really comment on the plot, because I couldn’t find one. By page 115, there were two dead bodies, and instead of even really being bothered by this, the girls are in Nellie’s bedroom playing truth or dare.

I think one of the biggest things that bothered me, though, was the assistant aspect. These girls are supposed to be badass, but the only reason they’re even remotely interesting is because of their connection to different men. And the raging feminist in me got really, really upset about that because these girls (especially Michiko) had the potential to be great on their own, but there’s so much focus on their Important Male Benefactor that it seems like they’d be nothing without their men.

In short, I was disappointed and mildly irritated and The Friday Society was bland and boring.

Did Not Finish, Paranormal

Did Not Finish: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater, reviewed at JalynEly.com
Image from Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Paranormal

Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.

Read to: Page 362 (chapter 51)

Reason for stopping: Lost interest

Review:

This may be the most abrupt turnaround in my opinion in reading history. If you remember (and if you don’t, click here), I loved the first book, The Raven Boys. So much that I went so far to call it my favorite book – and I don’t have favorite books.

It’s really strange – while I was reading The Dream Thieves, I was interested in the story. But at one point, I put it down and then realized I wasn’t super thrilled about picking it back up again. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the story, but it wasn’t begging me to read on. And if I hadn’t recently decided to make some changes to my reading habits, I probably would have finished it.

But anyway.

Ronan, I think, was the main character. I really enjoyed him in The Raven Boys, where he was important, but not majorly important, if that makes sense. He’s a dark, broken guy fighting a lot of demons (sometimes more literally than others). But I think he made a better slightly-less-main character. As the main character, his inner darkness was a little too much for me.

One of the hopes I had for this book was that Blue would get to be a more important character. But that really hadn’t happened by the time I put The Dream Thieves down. It still felt like her main purpose of the story was to add a threat to Gainsey’s life (if she kisses her true love, he’ll die) and to give the raven boys a connection to her psychic family.

Gainsey was my absolute favorite character last book. He was the quirkiest character, and probably not exactly sane, but he had a deep love for his friends and I loved him. I still loved him in The Dream Thieves, but he didn’t get as much page time as he did last book, and that disappointed me.

I liked Adam last book, but he got on my nerves this time around. He was bitter, angry, far too proud, and did something hugely important at the end of The Raven Boys that was messing up his head (I don’t even remember what, which kind of hampered my understanding of some parts). Sometimes he seemed so “woe is me” that I just wanted to scream at him, “get over yourself! You have friends who would be there for you if you opened your eyes and saw that!”

Yeah, plot … it’s actually really similar to The Raven Boys. All these characters want to find Glendower – and this time, somebody is opposing them for unknown reasons. But the characters themselves and their interactions with each other were the main plot. This is exactly what I loved about The Raven Boys, but since I didn’t love the characters as much in The Dream Thieves, it didn’t work as well.

I had two main problems with this book. One was language – Ronan swears a lot. This fits his character really well, but as a matter of personal opinion, I don’t like swearing. The other issue was with Blue’s psychic family. I’m all for psychic powers, but Blue’s family uses tarot cards, scrying pools, and other occult-ish feeling rituals and habits.

This is one of those weird sort of books to review.  It’s not like I hated it, or even that it didn’t hold my interest. It just wasn’t fascinating. And I think a lot of the reason I didn’t like it is I’ve changed. If I’d have read it in quick succession with The Raven Boys, I would probably be singing its praises right now.

So if you loved The Raven Boys, I’m sure you’ll love this one just as much. It just wasn’t the book for me.

The Raven Cycle:

  1. The Raven Boys
  2. The Dream Thieves
  3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (October 21, 2014)
  4. Untitled (2015)

Report Card

For more on my grading system, click here.

THE DREAM THIEVES scored a 2.9 (C)

Did Not Finish, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Review: Blaze by Laurie Crompton

Blaze book cover
Image from Laurie Boyle Crompton

Title: Blaze, or Love in the Time of Supervillains

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Genre: Romance

Blaze is tired of spending her life on the sidelines. All she wants is for Mark the Soccer Stud to notice her. Not as Josh’s weird sister who drives a turd-brown minivan. And not as that nerdy girl who draws comics. What she gets is her very own arch-nemesis. Mark may have humiliated Blaze supervillian-style, but what he doesn’t know is geek girls always get revenge.

I seem to be reading a lot of what-possessed-me-to-pick-this-up books lately. I’m pretty sure I picked this one up on originality alone. A romance gone bad, the hurt girl gets revenge, and comic books? Sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, I didn’t even finish it.

Blaze was okay. Her moral standards were a little lax, which was my biggest problem with her. Other than that, though, she was responsible and kinda lonely and generally a good character.

Besides being incredibly handsome, Mark (Blaze’s love interest) was a mystery – and not in a good way. He felt very underdeveloped. And besides the fact that he was handsome, I don’t know why Blaze liked him so much (of course, that could have been the only reason).

What really made me put the book down was the plot. The back cover promised me a romance gone wrong and revenge. By the 100-page mark, Blaze and Mark had kissed for the first time. The romance part was just starting, and honestly, I was bored. The first 100 pages was Blaze pining after Mark, and that frustrated me. If it took 100 pages for the plot on the back cover to start, there was no way I’d suffer through this to get to the revenge.

I’m honestly not sure how much of this was me and how much was the book. I’m not a huge romance fan, which might have had something to do with it. Who knows, maybe you’ll like it more than me. But I am not a fan.

Did Not Finish, Historical

Review: The Walking Drum

The Walking Drum book cover
Image from Shonari

Title: The Walking Drum

Author: Louis L’Amour

Genre: Historical

Back Cover:

Warrior, lover, and scholar, Mathurin Kerbouchard is a daring seeker of knowledge and fortune bound on a journey of enormous challenge, danger and revenge. Across Europe, the Russian steppes and through the Byzantine wonder of Constantinople, gateway to Asia, Kerbouchard is thrust into the heart of the treacheries, passions, violence and dazzling wonders of a magnificent time. From castle to slave gallery, from sword-racked battlefields to a princess’s secret chamber, and ultimately, to the impregnable fortress of the Valley of Assassins, Kerbouchard is on a powerful adventure through an ancient world.

Review:

I had not planned on reading this book. Louis L’Amour writes westerns, after all. But my dad told me that The Walking Drum wasn’t a western, and he liked it. My father and I have similar tastes in some books, so I decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up finishing it.

Mathurin Kerbouchard wasn’t exactly a bad main character. He was brave and daring and chivalrous, and loved to learn. My main problem with him was his problem with women.

It seemed that every five chapters or so, Kerbouchard fell “in love” with a new woman. They were together for a few chapters. Then they separated for one reason or another. Next thing I know, he’s come across another woman.

And for the most part, it seemed his romances were the main plot. Sure, I knew he wanted to find his father and get revenge on the guy who killed his mother. But he got his revenge before the halfway point, and at page 250, where I gave up, his quest for his father had just started in earnest. Page 250 was just over halfway through the book.

One thing I did like was the historical details. For the most part, they were worked into the story so it didn’t feel like the author was mentioning facts for the sake of mentioning facts. And they were actually interesting. I’d never really thought about this time period – I believe it was second-century Europe – before.

But overall, The Walking Drum was a super-long book with hardly any plot. I am not a fan.

Did Not Finish, Suspense/Thriller

Review: House

House book cover
Image from The Random Reads of a Brown Girl

Title: House

Author: Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti

Genre: Thriller

Back Cover:

When a strange accident leaves Jack and Stephanie stranded on a back road in Alabama, they seek shelter in the eerie Wayside Inn.  Also at the Wayside Inn are Stewart and Betty and their son, Pete, who run the place, and Randy and Leslie, victims of a similar accident and also stranded.  The four of them are victims of some backwoods pranksters, but they’re safe.  Or so they think.  They are in the middle of a killer’s game, and it becomes dreadfully clear when a tin can is tossed in with rules scratched on it.  Rule number two: He will kill everyone who comes to his house.  Rule number three: One dead body might persuade him to let rule number two slide.  One house, seven players, three rules.  Game ends at dawn.

Review:

This is one of those books I had the intention of picking up … sometime.  I’d enjoyed Frank Peretti’s Veritas Project books, and also Ted Dekker’s Skin, so I figured a book by them together would be good.  I finally ended up reading it when my mom wanted to know if she would like it.

And I didn’t even end up finishing House.

My absolute one and only problem was with the characters.  I hated them all.  Randy was a reckless hothead.  Leslie was a wimp.  Stephanie was a selfish brat.  Jack couldn’t take responsibility for his actions.  And the other three were certifiably insane.  Jack was the only character I even mildly didn’t mind, but I didn’t like him enough to finish the book.

House‘s main bad guy, I guess you would call him, was a very Dekker-esque psycho with delusions that he killed God, and he can kill anyone else who comes to this house.  The house itself was disturbing and had a mind of its own, and would rearrange itself to prevent escape.  The whole story had a creepy atmosphere – in my opinion, it’s more horror than anything.  Which automatically makes it something that I’m not going to be a huge fan of.

Honestly, even though I’m not a huge fan of horror and psychos aren’t really up my alley, but the house itself would have been enough to keep me reading – if I had liked any of the characters.  But, like I mentioned before, there wasn’t a one of them I wanted to spend a whole book with, let alone a book whose plot isn’t exactly the kind of thing I go for.

My main problem with House was me, not the book.  It strikes me as something that people who like horror/thriller books would enjoy.  It just wasn’t my thing.

Did Not Finish, Paranormal

Review: Shiver

Shiver book cover
Image from Other Worlds

Title:  Shiver

Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1

Author:  Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  Paranormal

Back Cover:

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house.  One yellow-eyed wolf – her wolf – watches back.  Sam has lived two lives.  As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves.  And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace … until now.  For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance, but once spoken, it cannot be denied.  Sam must fight to stay human – and Grace must fight to keep him – even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

Review:

I had not planned on reading this book, because of both the romance plot (I don’t mind romance, but I rarely like a straight romance book) and the fact that werewolves are second only to vampires on my list of least favorite paranormal creature.

But after the awesomeness that was The Raven Boys proved that the fantastic The Scorpio Races wasn’t just a fluke, I decided I’d be up for trying something else by Maggie Stiefvater.

Unfortunately, it was exactly what I was afraid it would be.  I gave it a hundred pages, and then I gave up.

There were some interesting takes on werewolves, sure.  I liked the unique idea that the change from werewolf to human is affected by temperature, not the full moon.  But Sam the werewolf himself was pretty bland.  I expected him to have some sort of personality quirk or something, what with him being a wolf most of the year, but he didn’t.  In fact, he didn’t have much of a personality at all.

Grace was a pretty “vanilla” character, too – not really unique, not really interesting.  At the beginning, what came across most was that she was obsessed with wolves, and by the hundred-page mark, she was…obsessed with wolves.  Sam seemed to think she had a personality, but try as I might, I couldn’t find one.

Overall, though, my major problem with Shiver was the insta-love.  Grace knows Sam only as “her” yellow-eyed wolf, and Sam has never talked to her before, then they finally meet and all the sudden they’re kissing and sharing the same bed (no sex, thankfully) and completely and totally in love.  Even if I get over how boring they are as characters, I still find it completely impossible that they’re so in love after meeting for the first time (with Sam as a human) earlier that day.

I really, really wanted to like this book.  Everything else I’ve read by Maggie Stiefvater was amazing.  But as much as I wanted to enjoy Shiver, I couldn’t.  With bland characters falling in love way too fast, and no major conflict in the first hundred pages, I couldn’t make myself care.

I’m sure there’s somebody out there who loves not only Shiver, but the next two books in the series (Linger and Forever).  Unfortunately, Shiver just didn’t cut it for me.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series:

  1. Shiver
  2. Linger
  3. Forever
  4. Sinner
Adventure, Did Not Finish

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet book cover
Image from KPBS

Title:  The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

Author:  Reif Larsen

Genre:  Adventure

Back Cover:

When genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives a phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, a wild cross-country adventure beings.  T.S. sets out alone from his family’s Montana ranch, hopping a freight train with a plan to hobo it east to Washington D.C.  What follows is nothing short of extraordinary, as T.S. maps, charts, and illustrates his adventure – including mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the pleasures of McDonald’s, and a family secret accidentally included in his luggage.  But through it all, a nagging doubt lingers in T.S.’s mind.  What will happen when the director of the Smithsonian finds out their Baird Award recipient is only twelve years old?

Review:

I must be feeling nostalgic or something, because I seem to be doing an awful lot of rereads lately.  Anyway, I loved this story when I was twelve-ish, so I decided to read it again and see if it still had the same appeal.

The short answer: No.

I gave it a hundred pages, and then I stopped.  It wasn’t that I hated the book, I just got kind of bored.  Possibly, it was because this was a reread and I knew what would happen – not the details, mind you, but the general scheme of things.

But I think my biggest problem was with T.S. himself.  It’s not that I didn’t like him – he was naive, but sweet.  My problem was that he was a twelve-year-old boy, and acted it.  I know it sounds mean, but I just felt like I’d outgrown him.  His pre-teen observations and imagination that appealed to me at twelve just didn’t have the same appeal at sixteen.

He also had a habit of going off on random rabbit trails, including notes and diagrams and maps of really random things in the book’s margins.  These side notes were one of the reasons I’d originally loved this book so much.  This time around, I just found them annoying.

This is the kind of book that’s better for younger readers.  Like I said, I absolutely loved this book as a pre-teen.  It just isn’t the greatest for older readers.