Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey Review

The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey Review
I went into this one with high hopes – most of which were, sadly, dashed. It has so many rave reviews and recommendations from bloggers I trust, so I went out and bought it in my local bookshop for my birthday. And I liked it at the start, I really did. It had lots of cool astute little observations that made me think, ‘Hm, why didn’t I notice that before?’ and like the author more for it.
Unfortunately, it mostly went downhill from there. It just wasn’t as ... brilliant as I was expecting it to be. The prose was easily functional, and very pretty at times, and I felt sure that The 5th Wave would become one of my favourite things, but some of the big story-wide things just weren’t right.
The thing is, it’s difficult to discern exactly what I didn’t like about it. I really enjoyed some of the character’s POVs (although main character Cassie became annoying with her fixation on Ben Parish in the middle of a bloody apocalypse), like Zombie (hint: not an actual Zombie. Zombies do not feature in this novel, thankfully) and Sammy. Many reviewers were annoyed by Sammy’s point-of-view sections (he’s five, so he sees things pretty simply) but I found them very sweet and quite endearing actually. If only Cassie’s sections had endeared me to her a bit more. I adored the front cover. I loved the imagination behind each of the four/five waves (although I preferred the first three; the details behind the last two were too sketchy to really get any satisfaction from).
I think the way the plot was executed was what let the book, and me, down. It’s such an interesting and tantalising (although not entirely original) premise, but the way it plays out – well, let’s just say that it took me about a week to read. That long a time means a book is certainly not keeping me gripped to the page. It dragged in the middle. A lot. She was wandering and being shot and having to spend weeks recuperating and it wasn’t skipped over. Instead we read about every excruciating detail – all of which were just intended to set up and carry through an utterly ridiculous, fake, non-swoonworthy relationship that just stank of plot tropes.
Lest I go off on a rant about YA romance, I’ll just pull myself back and state the facts.
1.       That romance was creepy, simple as. Just stalkerish – first there was the whole changing-her-clothes-while-she-sleeps thing, and then there was the standing outside the bathroom door for no apparent reason other than to ensure her safety. To ensure that she doesn’t trip and die in the bath, just like Edward and a certain brunette Mary Sue with a name that rhymes with Shmella.
2.       It was just terribly contrived. Yes, obviously they were desperate in this big bad apocalyptic world to find some companionship, but it was just annoying to see them do it that way. Also, Evan, when she says no to a kiss that means no, okay? Not that you paid any attention to that in the book.
3.       I don’t intend to spoil this for anyone planning to read the book, but that ‘plot twist’ was a) predictable and b) tiresome. Just don’t, Mr. Yancey. Please don’t.
Okay, onto some good things. I really liked some of the one-liners in here. Cassie is supposedly the witty one, but I actually really liked Zombie and Ringer’s lines – their military training gives rise to plenty of dramatic and hugely cinematic lines and scenes. Cassie gets some good ones in too, though – take the well written one with them carrying the world on their shoulders - but that’s mainly because she has about half the narrative.
I went into this after being told by a fellow blogger that is was a standalone. Nope. It’s the first in a trilogy... which does explain the ending I despised. There were no answers. Nothing got resolved – in fact, everything just got turned upside down all over again. Not exactly the reward I wanted after getting through hundreds of pages. Also, whoever made the dust jacket: please don’t compare it to Ender’s Game.
3.5   stars for the good bits.
P.S. Bear in mind that these were my personal opinions. This book has had phenomenal success, and there are plenty of great bits in it – there were just more that weren’t to my taste.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

King Dork - Frank Portman Discussion

Hello! I wanted to start another type of book post, one that’s a little less formal than my reviews. I’ll call it a book discussion and probably do it for books that aren’t recent and aren’t being promoted. Maybe I’ll even do some of these in tandem with my proper reviews, exploring a certain issue within them ... and feel free to join in in the comments, I’ll take whatever you say into account!
This particular specimen came from a shelf in my room reserved for books I felt ...meh about, the ones that I feel deserve a re-read if I’m ever in the mood for them. That’s what happened with this book. It did move up the ratings chart on the second reading (because I could actually understand a lot of it now that I couldn’t at eleven or twelve) from two stars to three point five.
So. King Dork is basically a big mystery involving this teenage boy’s dead father, Catcher in the Rye, lots of giving out about high school and, well, teenage angst all over the place. Not a love triangle in sight – wait. There was one, actually, and it ormed a pretty big part of the story. It just wasn’t a carbon copy of all the other YA ones, and that made it less annoying.
To be quite honest, I didn’t really care about the plot that much (I’m seeing a pattern here). I was much more interested in the really cool substories and funny little details. Yes, I wanted the mystery the whole thing was building up to to be solved. Obviously – the author certainly spent so much narrative time on it, it really had to be the major theme.
One subplot that I found distasteful at twelve but well, interesting (hey, it’s good to know how the male psyche works) now was the one with King Dork’s (admittedly limited) interactions with girls. But believe me, he really should’ve been older in that book. As a 14-year-old (!) he went WAY too far. Just ... go with it, you’ll enjoy the book more.
Then there was my favourite part, his ‘band’. He and his best friend Sam Hellerman are in a ‘band’ together – they make up a new one all the time and devise a band name, album names and covers. The only thing they don’t do is actually write/play songs. Uh oh. I must say though, some of those names were hilarious – they’re even included all together in a handy section in the back! Here are a few great examples, all quotes from pgs. 327 – 331 of King Dork.
Some Delicious Sky, aka SDS
Treble and Vocals: Squealie
Thick Bottom and Industrial Arts: Sambidextrous

Green Sabbath
GUITAR: Monsignor Eco-Druid
FIRST ALBUM: Our Drummer is Kind of Full of Himself
Balls Deep
GUITAR: Comrade Gal-hammer
I like how you can remember the story of the book from seeing a band time, each representing a point in King Dork’s life (there are 23 over the course of the story).
There were loads of funny little things that popped up around the place. Like teachers mispronouncing things (a theme that’s carried through to the mispronounced glossary at the end to comic effect) and so, so much Catcher in the Rye in different forms. Another bonus for King Dork is that it was very light reading – fairly big text and spaced pages, great for a break between heavier books. And the glowing recommendation from John Green can’t hurt.
I do have one gripe that dropped it 1.5 stars in my mind. The mystery isn’t solved! Threads start to come together and it all looks really promising and then in the end it’s utterly inconclusive. What a pity.
Still, quite an enjoyable read, if not very tasteful because it so very realistically portrays a teenage boy’s mind. Just go into it for fun, if you go into it at all.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

I finished my novel!

I know, so late. But I have a good excuse (two actually, but the other one's for another post.)

I finished the first draft of my novel on the 27th of August! It's 100,000 words (400 pages) long, and I wrote it during the summer after my Junior Cert (and during it. Whoops. Wonder what effect that had on my results coming out on Wednesday?). I must say, I'm very proud of it - I've always wanted to write a novel. Besides, it makes me feel good that I accomplished my goal for the summer (write 90,000+ words in 90 days).

I have to wait six weeks now to get some distance from it before I can start the second draft and editing and stuff. Not sure how that's going to go - my perfectionism will no doubt make things more difficult than they have to be.

I'll probably have a post detailing how I wrote it up sometime, but for now I just want to give a shoutout to the Sweeneys for being so supportive when I finished it. Guys, you're awesome.

It's funny, because for the vast majority of it (i.e. up to about 93,000 words) I was very strict with myself about writing 1,000 words a day (or a multiple of that, but never an odd number). Towards the end I was just so elated and desperate to get it done that I wrote around 3,670 words on the second-last day and 1,666 on the last. Both numbers I wouldn't normally put up with, but look - I got it done, didn't I? Oh yeah! and wow, it was emotional when I was typing THE END.

Then again, I haven't actually celebrated finishing it, and it seems like something that ought to be celebrated. any ideas? :)