We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – book review

We Were Liars || E. Lockhart || Contemporary || 227 pages || Delacorte Press || 3.89 on Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

RATING: [5/5] – I’ve read nothing like it before and, if I’m being totally honest, it deserves it’s own scale.

RECOMMEND TO: Anyone who wants a different kind of contemporary with a bit of mystery and unforgettable storyline altogether.

This book is a really quick read with only 225 pages so most can easily read it in a few hours. I think it’s definitely a unique read and I really recommend it. That’s all I want to say because it is so much better to go into this book without knowing anything. All you need to know is that is was quite fabulous and I hope everybody gets the chance to read it.

THE REST OF THIS REVIEW IS GOING TO BE SPOILER FULL

Let me first comment on the writing style. I think most people would agree that E. Lockhart’s writing style is absolutely captivating. It’s so smooth and the way she personifies emotions is absolutely stunning. She is definitely very bold and very vivid with her writing which was really wonderful and it worked really with the beautiful summery setting.

The whole novel held this sense of mystery which kept me asking questions all the way through. The story in itself had so many gaps the reader could fill in for themselves. Where they ghosts of hallucinations? Did the mother know about Candace seeing the others or did she just let her daughter roam free on the island by herself? That is no longer something that the author can decide and is totally up to the reader to choose how they want to interpret the story. It’s rare for me to like a book that doesn’t give me a definite ending and a conclusion but because of the theorizing that I can still do with this novel with other people, I’m very satisfied with how things played out.

Something that I don’t stumble upon very often are the theme of power in a contemporary novel. It’s more of a fantasy and dystopain topic, especially in YA, so to see it done in such a beautiful way was really refreshing. And the best thing was that it felt so real. Because we know that the power hungry aren’t only in alternate universes and real life villains aren’t as obvious to spot. I thought that what E. Lockhart did with that theme was brilliant and I hope I get to see more of this in the future books I read.

Overall, I have to say this story is one of my 2014 favourites and I am so glad I picked it up. It’s a definite re-read for me sometime, perhaps before the movie or maybe even before that, because I really want to go back and really appreciate all the little parts and elements that make this story so unbelievably good. After all, it’s all in the details for me.

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I Was Here by Gayle Forman – book review

I Was Here || Gayle Forman || Contemporary || 288 pages || Viking Juvenile 

Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.
 
When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I received a free review copy from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Going into this book, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew this story was about a girl that was asked to pack her dead best friend’s things from her room and that it was about her dealing with the grief but I wasn’t sure what direction it would take as I couldn’t exactly imagine her packing up items into boxes for the entirety of the novel. However, I was a massive fan of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and although I knew that this would be quite a different story, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I’m glad to say I was hooked from the get-go.

This book has quite a fast pace which wasn’t something I expected because I always associate Gayle Forman with these emotional, slow burning stories. Although this book definitely tugged at my heartstrings and got me teary eyed at some points, it was also quite the page turner. The story of Cody had more of a goal, something to travel towards, and so the plot was pushing at the pace more than in If I Stay. I found myself flying through the novel to get to the end.

The romance is very in the background which I really liked. During some parts at the beginning, I thought: ‘This is it. They’re going to make out because they’re grieving emotional and the suicide is going to be romanticized.’ And that is not what happened. Their relationship is slow to grow and it kind of sneaked up one me. Not in the way that I don’t see it coming, but it the way that I don’t realise how much I was rooting for them until the story was over. The romance is not dramatic, but subtle and that is what makes it so refreshing.

I also really enjoyed the character of Cody. I found her voice to be very believable and I felt like I connected with her quickly. She’s very real in the sense that she’s not the richest and she has to work for what she wants but what made me really love her character was that she had her own struggles too. The book did a good job of illustrating that the earth doesn’t just stop spinning because someone important has been ripped away from you. Cody has her plate filled when Meg dies so it was nice to see that it’s just as much a story about Cody as it is about why Meg wanted to die.

However, I don’t believe this book was as amazing as If I Stay, partly because I don’t think the writing style wasn’t as beautiful. I was on the lookout for those gorgeous metaphors and fantastic phrases that would play on my mind for weeks and months and make me think about the book long after the last page. Although there were still in there, there weren’t nearly as many. I’m not sure if this is an unintentional side effect of having a more mature storyline or because the was more plot and events involved and so although, it did feel like a Gayle Forman novel, it felt slightly diluted compared to If I Stay.

RATING: [4/5] – I save my fifth star for my absolute favourites and I feel like this book was almost there, but not quite.

RECOMMEND TO: Fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and anyone looking for a fast read that’s not entirely focused on the romance.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – book review

Wonder || R. J. Palacio || Middle Grade || 315 pages || Corgi Childrens || 4.42 on Goodreads

You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.
But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.
Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

I wouldn’t say there is a lot of hype about this book at the moment as much as there used to be, but this is definitely one of those books that people point out and say, ‘That book is amazing.’ I have not heard a single negative thing going into this book so, naturally, my expectations were high. I wasn’t left disappointed.

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Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser – book review

Pieces of Us || Margie Gelbwasser  || Contemporary || 336 pages || Flux || 3.56 on Goodreads

Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.

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