Category Archives: Young Adult Fiction

Book review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness.

I have been waiting for years to read this book, and having at last read it I can honestly say, it was well worth the wait.


 This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The premise of it is absolutely inspired. Very original and very well executed.
Not only does the message resonate with me, and likely all other young-adult readers, but almost all of the smaller factors and themes do, too.

It reminded me a lot of Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being A Wallflower, in quite a few ways. Mostly through the characters, but also through the very essence of the book. In spite of this, the book itself was very unique.

Patrick Ness proves with this book that he is an innovative and beautiful writer, capable of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
He not only tackles many important issues relevant to modern society but also works through the smaller, day-to-day struggles of adolescence that almost everyone can relate to. And he does it so poetically.

Patrick’s writing is nothing short of astounding. It had me in stitches from laughter, it had me puzzled and curious, at times, it made me feel great empathy for the characters. Also, with the range of characters in the book, there is someone for almost everyone to relate to and or bond with.
His writing keeps to the story in a direct and economical way. His writing wasn’t overly flamboyant but was definitely not boring. It had a nice flow to it, and the story moved along at a good pace.
One thing I believed to be a flaw whilst reading the book was the predictability of it. However, what I thought I had solved, is actually pointed out toward the end of the book to have been known by everyone in the book bar the central protagonist. It was simply a classic case of the main character not noticing because he was too close to the puzzle to see the picture that was forming.
The writing is relatively simple, but not basic. I.e. it is easy to read but includes a lot of good literature. This works especially well, given the book’s target demographic.

Something else I enjoyed about this book is that, while it included romance, it did not overpower the story. It was also more romance being looked at, rather than romance happening.


As I have said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. Specifically to young-adult readers, as is intended, but also to anyone who wants a secondhand view on the struggles of adolescence or wants something to relate to or something to help them.
Very hard to fault.

4.4/5.0

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Book review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

It’s true that I did in fact see the movie before reading the book, but nevertheless, it was the story and the characters, not the visuals and the acting, that had a massive impact on my life. This book has great personal meaning to myself, as I can relate so much, to more the a few of the characters. Alongside that, even though the book falls under ‘teen fiction’, it has a certain fairy tale feeling to it, and it definitely has a sense of realism about it. Now don’t confuse yourself by thinking that by fairy tale, I mean flying people, and pixies, and mystical lands. No. I mean that, under all of the real world stuff, and the modern characters and settings, it is a very beautiful story, and is actually quite magical. Especially from the point of view of Charlie, the main character in the book.

I do owe a special thanks to Stephen Chbosky for writing this book, because it put so many things into perspective for me, and gave me characters, and feelings, and situations, that I can relate to on such a personal level.

Now, onto my actual thoughts on the book…

The book is written in a very original and inventive format, and offers the reader a perspective from the character that you don’t get with most books. It’s also quite strange how, even though the story revolves around a pretty ordinary life, and doesn’t have anything major happen in it, it is still so easy to perceive as a little nice story book, and not as a drama, with so much intensity and darkness to it – alongside all of the nice stuff as well. And it is so enjoyable, and will make you laugh, smile, cry, and have you feeling mass amounts of empathy and sympathy for the characters.

Naturally, as a teen drama, the book tackles many important issues that teens can relate to. The main ones being homosexuality, important life choices, past traumas and certain mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, and simply getting through school. I personally think it’s things like this which really give a book its essence, and is what really grabs with the audience’s attention.

That, in my not so humble opinion, is what makes this book so good, and I definitely consider it a masterpiece. You see, if you can’t relate to anything in a book then it’s just really just a bunch of words without meaning, and why would you even bother remembering just a bunch of random words? Although this books actual story is about Charlie, and the main theme of the book; I believe, is finding your place in society, I’d say the book is actually more of like a guide, or even maybe a kind of bible for everyday teenagers. It tackles so many things, and is so impossibly easy to relate with, that it’s hard to consider it just a regular novel.

Even – or rather especially – the way that it is written suggests that what I said is true. Getting to see the entire story from, not only Charlie’s point of view, but getting his own actual and personal thoughts on the situation, gives us so much more insight than just a simple story book.

My favourite character in the book is the Charlie’s English teacher, Mr.Anderson. I don’t think it’s anything in particular, maybe simply his outlook on life, and his love for English, or maybe his simplistic yet comforting lifestyle. Whatever it is, something about him gives me deep feelings towards his character, and I regard him as one of my all time favorites.

My overall thoughts on this book are that it is very original in its style of writing, it is scarily easy to relate to, and I think any teen having typical teenage stuff going on, would love this book. However, it is a very deep book, and requires a lot of attention and passion to truly appreciate it, and so I wouldn’t read this unless you do really do enjoy literature, or this style of book, or this genre, etc.

This book gets a 3.8/5 for its overall story and entertainment factors and so on, and it gets a 5/5 for me personally.

Book review: The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

The Fault In Our Stars – the masterpiece of 2014 – written by John Green, is one of the best books I have ever read. Though written primarily for a teenage demographic, I think this book is easily something that could appeal to a reader of any age. The way in which John Green writes is completely astounding, and captivates the reader from the very beginning. The book has such a sense of realism to it, that it’s often hard to believe that it is all a work of fiction. The characters; the settings; the relationships; the language; and even the metaphors – especially the metaphors! – capture your heart; and tear on every single nerve and string that comes with it. Your heart will pound, your blood will boil, your eyes will water, and you will be so thankful for it!

A lot of people consider this book just another love story, but it is so much more than that. To quote the book, “I will not tell you our love story, because-like all real love stories-it will die with us, as it should.” And yet people are still somehow naive enough to think that it is. This book is wasted on those people.

Yes! The book does involve a love story. And yes! It is an immense love story at that! It will have often have you with your face in your hands, or an inch from the page, but something that is constant throughout the entire novel, is that you won’t be able to hold back even the slightest emotion. They will pour out of you as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. But this is the very base of the book, the foundation of John Green’s metaphor filled castle that is The Fault in Our Stars.

There are so many different themes, and messages, and reasons, and meanings behind this book that it would take another book to write about them all. I will just write about a few things. The ones I think are the most important.

The way I see it, the main story here isn’t the almost perfect love story between Hazel and Augustus, and it isn’t death and grief, it’s not even how we deal with the grief, this books main reason for even existing, the core of the architecture of John Green’s castle, is ‘infinity’. Now that may not make much sense to certain readers without a little context to go with it – so allow me to elaborate.

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.” This quote is the easiest way to explain my point about infinity. You see, most people tend to think that infinity means forever and always, until the end of time, and maybe more, and they’re right; however, they are also wrong. You see, some infinities are bigger than others, and so one person’s infinity could be just another day in the life of someone else. What the book is saying, in both obvious and obscure ways, is that you need to make your infinity count, and do what YOU want, because oblivion is inevitable, the end is coming.

This leads onto what I think is the second most important thing in this book, which is how people deal with their grief. The most suitable quote to go with this statement is also one of my favorite quotes of all time; simply due to the sheer truth behind it. “Grief doesn’t change you, Hazel. It reveals you.” There is an uncountable amount of references to grief in this book, and they are 90% of the time to do with dealing with it. I don’t want to do the books job for it, so if you wish to find out how it does this, or simply read it in more detail, go read the book.

I could talk so much more about the meanings, and themes, etcetera, however, as I’ve already said, I would write far too much, so I shall leave them there.

This book is in my top three favorite books that I have ever read, and I wouldn’t change a single part of it. The characters grab your heart, and don’t let go – even when they are gone. The comedy will have you literally rolling on the floor laughing, and the language will have you both perplexed and curious, but something that is extremely interesting, is that even when you don’t understand a word or a sentence, it’s written in such a way that it can still have an impact on you, and you just feel that you know what it means.

I give this book a 5/5, and would recommend it to anyone who reads, no matter how old they are, and no matter what genre they like.

This book is definitely worth time from your infinity.

Joshua Nathan Hart – Age 17.

 

Book review: The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ was both recommended and given to me by my older sister, who received this book as part of World Book Night. She said that it was the best book she had ever read, and to this day, it remains her favourite book. This gave me high expectations for this book – expectations which were not even nearly reached.

This particular book needs to be looked at from both an entertainment, and a literate point of view. The reason for this is because, although I was told it was “the best book ever”, I personally found it very boring, and it took me months to finish just the first half of the book, as I would soon lose interest after reading a chapter or so, and then wouldn’t pick it up again for a very long time, having said that: I do need to credit the end of the book, as it did make a drastic jump, from dead-boring, to emotional and interesting. It also had good messages and themes to it, and managed to talk about serious issues and topics without having to tone them down, and it did so while remaining suitable for all readers. That is an impressive feat.

Reviewing this book gives me so many different aspects to look at, one of which is the very original way in which the story is actually written. Unlike most books which either follow the main character, or are written as a diary, this book is written as a narrated piece by Death himself, who is reading from the book of a young girl. This allowed Markus to explore many new paths when telling his story, and enabled snippets of humour and footnotes, that wouldn’t have been possible from a regular point of view.

There are many possible reasons that Zusak wrote the book through the eyes of Death, and I have my thoughts on the matter… Using the view of Death allows for things like textures and colours to be used as metaphors that both explain the theme of the story, and amplify it. It also allows the reader to see such things in a sort of poetic manner, and so it can be perceived in more than just the typical, bleak, depressing way.

The colours of the sky in particular coincide with this theory, as the colours are used to match the mood of the characters, or of Death himself. It is a good example of pathetic fallacy, something that is far too easily overlooked by a lot of readers and authors.

There is of course, more than one contributing factor towards the entertaining – or not so entertaining – side of this book.

The main problem that I found with this book is that, it is supposed to come across as a sort of story book that consists of one linear story based around Liesel Meminger; this however, is not the case. It actually appears as just a jumble of short stories, that are constantly switched back and forth, and don’t really have any links that could allow one to consider them part of a singular plot. This lead to me quickly losing interest in the book, as there was no consistency whatsoever. Towards the end of the book on the other hand, the book starts to revolve around the survival of Liesel, around the times of the bombings.

I read through the last 200 pages or so in a matter of days; not because it was interesting, but because I simply wanted to finish it.

The use of Death of a storyteller, the constant, and obvious pathetic fallacy, and the very theme of death, does not go to waste. *SPOILER ALEART!* as basically everyone dies at the end of the story, the message does not go unnoticed, and the emotions do start to come out.

Because of some of the reasons I have already mentioned, and some that I have not yet got to, from a literary point of view, this is one of the best books I have ever read. It is essentially a story, inside a bunch of stories, inside a big story, inside a book. I find this rather astounding, as it sounds as though the story should collapse in on itself due to the sheer weight of the book – metaphorically speaking.

This book gives perspective on things that are, and should be important in life, and gives quite a few life messages to its readers.

Overall the book is slow paced, boring, and is not well structured. However, it is very poetic in the language that it uses; it is well written; and it does get many good points across.

I cannot say I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good story book or something with a good plot, though, I can say that it is a good time filler, and could be good to someone who enjoys reading slowly. And I would definitely recommend it to any English students, teachers, or anyone who enjoys grand pieces of literature and language.

The message behind this book is: ‘No one can escape death. You can avoid him for a little while, and you can even get close to him and make a narrow escape, but no matter how fast and far you run, he will catch you. He is the sky above you.’

Joshua Nathan Hart – Age 17.