The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Book Review)

Want an example of how not to write a romance? Try this book.

TheUnlikelyHeroOfRoom13B

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .

Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down.

I think that Adam’s OCD was very well portrayed. It totally messed up his life, but it also didn’t totally define his character. Near the end of the book, you could really feel his downward spiral, and his desperation to get better. I felt sympathetic for him through about half of the story (more on the other half later).

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The mystery portion of the story felt well written. It didn’t take center stage in the story- it was definitely a subplot- but it was enough to keep the tension up, which was nice. I don’t remember ever feeling like the story was dragging too badly. Without the mystery, it definitely would have dragged.

The superhero codenames were such a cute idea, too! And it was an interesting concept, too- the ultimate fake it ’til you make it.

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Adam said some really icky stuff though??? Like, most of the time he was a total sweetheart but he was REALLY demeaning to girls (all girls except Robyn, of course) and he was somehow an elitist about mental illness? He would be like “I may have OCD, but at least I’m not anorexic, haha! Anorexics are the REAL crazies!!!” and it was really gross. Basically, he thought OCD was okay, but anyone who was anorexic or a hypochondriac or self harmed was “crazy”. He thought he was somehow better than everyone else in his support group.

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this was Adam basically

Robyn was totally cardboard, which is weird considering that she was one of the most major characters in the story. I just didn’t GET her character. I didn’t really see any motivation for her except being in love with Adam.

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This story should’ve been told in first person, and you could tell that the author felt the same way, at least subconsciously. It led to some really wacky storytelling. It was third person omnipotent most of the time, but there would be moments where she wrote things like “Adam must have nodded because…” which doesn’t make any sense??? It’s third person. There’s no “he may have nodded”. He either nodded or he didn’t nod. So… I don’t know. The voice felt weird and awkward, and it was confusing for the reader.

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Why was it even written in third person? Who knows?

I WAS NOT AT ALL SOLD ON THE LOVE STORY and it makes me really angry because it had so much potential for cuteness. It was bizarre. Adam was obsessed with Robyn, in a totally unhealthy way. Their relationship was not love, it was infatuation- mostly on Adam’s side. And so little characterization was given to Robyn that it was impossible to feel any chemistry between the two of them. I’ve heard people raving about how cute this story is, and just… no??? It’s not cute??? It’s creepy as heck and totally unbelievable and I just DON’T GET IT.

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It had potential to be a great story about struggling with mental illness but it was kind of ruined for me by a crappy instalove plot (not to mention Adam’s weird elitism).  So… my reaction to this one is basically “no”. I’m going to be generous and give it two stars for a good premise and some redeemable parts.

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2/5 stars

Recommended for: as I said- anyone who wants advice on how not to write romance

This Song Will Save Your Life (Book Review)

WOW TWO REVIEWS IN ONE MONTH. I must be on a roll or something (That was sarcasm, by the way. I call this a book blog but I almost never review anything).

Anyway, I’ve just joined a book club at my library, and we’re meeting on Saturday to discuss This Song Will Save Your Life, so I figured I would review it here first to get my thoughts sorted out a little. And let me tell you, this book was AMAZING. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to actually intelligently review the book or just sit there and flail my arms around. It was that good.

This is a spoiler free review!

ThisSongWillSaveYourLife

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

I love books about music! Playlist for the Dead, If I Stay, basically anything music related I am pretty much guaranteed to at least enjoy, if not love. So music in books is always a bonus for me. And not only was this one about music, but it had a bunch of little playlists at the end!!!

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Her family felt more realistic than a lot of families in YA. Elise’s parents weren’t just obstacles in the way of an epic romance or something – they cared for her, and they wanted to protect her as best they could. They tried their hardest to understand her, instead of grounding her the moment she did something wrong. They were reasonable, and I find that a lot of parents in YA aren’t.

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Also, the romance subplot felt really realistic. If you’re looking for a fluffy romance, this is most definitely not the book for you. The “love interest” (although that’s a questionable term when it comes to him) was a pretty horrible guy, and, although it wasn’t entirely clear, I think Elise realizes that in the end. She was sixteen. It would have been rather ridiculous if she had fallen in Love with a capital L, seeing as she’s so young. I enjoy YA romances now and then, yeah, but they also tend to seem pretty ridiculous most of the time (*cough* The Fault in Our Stars *cough*).

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ALL OF THE CHARACTERS WERE SO FLESHED OUT. And, I mean, sorry for the all caps, but this makes me excited because I love well developed characters. This wasn’t just a story about Elise. It was a story about Elise and the people around her who helped shape who she was as a person. For example, Elise’s two friends, Sally and Chava, at first seemed to be two super shallow, giggly gossip girls with overprotective parents. Elise assumed that they only hung out with her because they weren’t popular enough to have any other friends. In the end, though, you see that Sally and Chava really did care about Elise. Elise had plenty of friends- she just wasn’t able to see that.

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I felt that Elise was a really relatable protagonist. It wasn’t just her misfit status, or her hatred of pop music, or the way she would immerse herself in all-encompassing projects (although those are all traits that I share with her). She just felt… real. She didn’t act like a character in a book who was just acting to further the plot, she reacted in ways that a real person would. This was very much a character driven novel. The plot was there, yeah, but characters who really made the story.

Most of my problems with this book are just minor things. Like… I liked Elise’s character, yeah, but some parts of her arc didn’t make sense to me. Like, how did she learn to be a master DJ in two weeks while also keeping up with school and spending the entire night at a dance club once a week? Also, Mel, the gay bouncer for the dance club, was a bit of a cliche, but then, I did enjoy his protective father/daughter kind of relationship with Elise. And I didn’t get how Elise got away with walking all night, alone, especially considering that her parents knew she was suicidal and she had said herself that they kept a close watch on her.

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I love this book. I’ve read mixed reviews of it, but man, was this one good. It’s made it onto my shelf of Favorite Books (that I don’t actually own), right up there next to The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

5

Four out of five stars

Recommended to: indie music fans, people who liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, anyone who enjoys character driven novels

Afterworlds (Book Review)

THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING AND EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO READ IT AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY.

This is a spoiler free review!

Afterworlds

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately. Well, okay, a major writing slump. It’s been almost impossible for me to get any motivation to write, even just a short blog post. But Afterworlds gave me that extra motivation I needed! It’s partly a contemporary story about the life of a writer and partly that writer’s paranormal novel. So it was basically just looking at authors and saying “Hey, look, this is what you can achieve!”

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The whole idea of two stories being told in one book kind of weirded me out at first. It seemed like it would be really confusing. But it actually worked really well! There were a lot of parallels between the two worlds, but they’re still very, very different, and it was really easy to keep track of each more-or-less separate story.

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It was a pretty diverse book, too. The main character was a queer person of color, and I felt as though the representation was very well handled. Darcy’s race and sexuality affected her, but it wasn’t like her whole life revolved around being a queer person of color, either. Afterworlds handled some tricky subjects like cultural appropriation and coming out quite well, without making itself into a “problem book”.

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Unfortunately, this book wasn’t exactly perfect.

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Lizzie’s story felt suuuuuuper cliched, and at a few points, it did get kind of boring, especially when compared to the AMAZING first chapter. But I think that proves one of the points that the story overall was trying to make- your first novel may have a great concept, and a great plot, and great characters, but it’s not going to be perfect, because it’s your first novel, and writing takes practice.

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Some of the secondary characters in both stories felt a bit cardboard and two dimensional, too, like Lizzie’s friend (I don’t remember her name) and Yamaraj (the death god who Lizzie falls in love with). But Darcy, Imogen, and Lizzie all felt very well developed, so I didn’t really mind!

So, I mean, overall…

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Critically, it’s a little rough at some points, but I still LOVED this book. Recommended to any writer who’s finding themself in a bit of a slump.

4

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended to: any writers, and YA fans who want to know a little more about the craft

My Favorite LGBT+ Books

The US now has marriage equality- even Texas!!! The fight isn’t over yet- we have a long way to go before we reach true equality. But this is such a huge step, and a cause for celebration!

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So, I’ve decided to compile my top ten books (and comics) starring LGBT+ protagonists to celebrate. There should be something for everyone on this list, whether you like fantasy, contemporary, or anything in between!

Hero

1. Hero by Perry Moore was actually one of the first LGBT+ books I read. It wasn’t really one of the best books that I’ve read, but it stuck with me, because, I mean, even if it’s not perfect, it’s really good. It was partly about the gay protagonist having to grow up with his extremely conservative dad, and partly a really funny parody of superhero stereotypes, so it has a really nice blend of seriousness and comedy.

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2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth was amaaaaazing and I’m so glad that I finally read it (many thanks to everyone who recommended it to me!). It’s a fantastic contemporary coming-of-age story about a lesbian girl growing up in the Midwest. Also, isn’t the cover just sooo pretty? I’m not usually a fan of covers with photos on them- I prefer artwork, especially the minimalist ones- but this one is really pretty and perfect for the story.

Ash

3. Ash by Malinda Lo is one of my favorite books ever. It’s basically a lesbian retelling of Cinderella, and I loved it, especially considering that LGBT+ fantasy is pretty sparse. Like, I’ve found plenty of good queer contemporary stories, but hardly anything in the way of fantasy??? Anyway. Ash is amazing and 5/5 would recommend!

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4. Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis is AMAZING and LET ME TELL YOU WHY. It’s an epic fantasy with tons of people of color- I don’t think any of the main characters are white- and the main character is bisexual (and bisexual characters are ridiculously hard to find. And excellent representation aside, the world was just beautiful, and the way the magic in this world worked was so interesting. So, basically, this is one of my favorite books of all time.

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5. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley was another ABSOLUTELY AMAZING book that EVERYONE needs to read RIGHT NOW. Like, if I had to pick a single favorite book, it would probably be this one. It’s a fantastic story that does a really amazing job at discussing race, sexuality, and gender inequality. And the CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT oh my god. Each of the main characters grows so much over the course of the story and just GO READ IT NOW okay?

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6. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz is another great book. You know how I was mentioning how hard it is to find bisexual characters in books? Well, Not Otherwise Specified is a really good story about growing up, falling in (and out of) love, and never quite feeling like you fit in, starring a very clearly bisexual protagonist.

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7. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a really cute, fluffy book. It does a really good job of blending serious themes with humor and general cuteness, which is something that I really appreciate in books. Unlike a lot of the other books on this list which are either about characters who are already out (like Not Otherwise Specified) or are unable to come out (like Hero and Cameron Post), Simon is mostly about Simon’s coming out. It’s a really heartfelt, realistic book, and I’d definitely recommend it.

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8. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is absolutely glorious. It’s, like, a feminist take on The Lord of the Flies. There are a lot of main characters, but a good amount of them are queer, and they’re all really diverse. It makes a lot of serious points but it manages to be SUPER funny and sarcastic while it does so. If you’re into comedy and/or social justice, I would definitely highly recommend this one.

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9. The Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen is one of my all time favorite comics. While it admittedly doesn’t have the best plot, it does have really well developed, three dimensional characters, and not one of them is straight! Tommy, Billy, and Miss America are, like, super gay, Noh-Varr, Kid Loki, and Prodigy are bisxual, and Kate is most likely bisexual as well.

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10. The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon is another of my favorite comics, and the world in which it takes place was intentionally created to be very, very queer. The main character, The Girl, has no romantic interest, and in the way of side characters, there are quite a few LGBT+ characters, like the runaway robots Red and Blue (in the picture above), the rebel assassin Korse, and the freedom fighter Party Poison.

What are some of your favorite LGBT+ books?

Vanishing Girls (Review)

A good book, sure. But kind of a disappointment based on the expectations I had going in. Just think “the off brand version of We Were Liars“.

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This is a spoiler free review!

VanishingGirls

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

“Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on.” — E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.

First off, I do not understand why anyone would call this book a “thriller”. The pacing was sooooo slow at the beginning, and it didn’t really feel even close to a thriller until the very end. Most of the book just felt like buildup to the very last few pages, instead of a story of its own. It was more like a reaaaaally long prologue than a story. I went in expecting and edge of your seat, heart racing, maybe a little creepy kind of book. But that’s not what it was. And I feel like that’s what causes a lot of my disappointment about this one. It was made out to be something that it’s not.

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The plot twist at the end was really confusing, too. It’s hard to discuss without spoiling it, so I’m just going to stick with saying that it didn’t makes sense. Over the several pages during which it was explained, I was totally lost and had no idea what was going on.  It totally erased what happened over the last several hundred pages- even more so than We Were Liars did- and didn’t accomplish much aside from leaving me feeling confused and lost.Really

But on to the things that I did like.

I really enjoyed the little letters, news articles, and stuff. I love epistolary novels!! Diaries, letters, websites, I don’t care. Just give me more epistolary novels. And, while Vanishing Girls wasn’t exactly an epistolary novel, it did have some epistolary bits that I really enjoyed.

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The relationship between Dara and Nick was also really cool. They were so different, but also so alike, and I really enjoyed that. They were really well fleshed out. The secondary characters left quite a bit to be desired (I want to know more about their mom!) but Dara and Nick at least were interesting, flawed characters. They were both far from perfect, but I still felt really sympathetic for them- and I can say from experience that writing characters like that is definitely not easy! The two of them felt like such cliches at first- Dara was the bad girl and Nick was the good girl. But there was really so much more to it than that.

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So, I mean, in the end, I feel like I would have liked this book waaaay better if I had just expected something different. Read this book. It’s good- not amazing, but good. It has its problems, and the ending is kind of weird when compared to the rest of the story. So don’t go in looking for an “alarming and uplifting psychological thriller”. Look for a slow moving story about two sisters and their journey to forgive each other.

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Three stars out of five. Read it before you read We Were Liars and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

My Summer To-Do List

Summer is here, and I am totally ready for it. Despite the gruelingly hot summer weather where I live and my hatred for shorts (why is it impossible to find girl’s shorts at a reasonable length?!), I’m still really excited for this summer. I’ve been working on a ton of different lists of different things I’d like to achieve- reading lists, craft lists, music lists. If you can think of it, I probably have a list for it.

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Anyway, here are my goals for this summer. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for yourself!

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Reading

This summer, I’d really like to branch out a little more in terms of what I’m reading, and also focus more on LGBT+ books, especially nonfiction. I tried to keep that in mind while creating my reading list, and in the end came up with a very diverse list, ranging from OCD, The Dude, and Me to 1984. I’ve also found some really interesting looking nonfiction, like a book about psychology (it’s aimed toward teens but not patronizing, which is nice) and some really cool books about the riot girl movement.

I’ve also signed up for the teen summer reading program at my library! I did it last year too, but joined late and was only able to participate in one of the activities. This year, it’s superhero themed, so I’m really excited (and a little nervous, admittedly, but I’m always nervous about meeting  new people, so that’s nothing new). I know I haven’t been posting about it as much lately, but I’m still a massive Marvel fan!

Music

I’d like to learn a little bit more about my ukulele and teach myself a few more songs. As of yet I only know one, so it’ll be fun to learn some more.

I’m also going to start doing some extra chores to earn money for a guitar, because, I mean, the main reason I’m teaching myself ukulele is to get practice for when I have a guitar (I’ve heard that the ukulele makes good practice because the chords are very similar- same shapes, different names). Wish me luck!

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Also, I’m going to keep working on my flute, and hopefully start private voice lessons.

In terms of listening to music (as opposed to playing it), I’d like to branch out a little more. I really do have a pretty wide range of musical tastes, but lately I’ve been sticking pretty closely to my favorite bands and not really trying to find anything new. So this summer I’m going to be enlisting Pandora’s help in finding new music, especially some more punk rock. I’ve listened to a little teeny bit of the Ramones and Joan Jett, but that’s about it.

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Art

I’d like to work on my drawing skills a little, but I don’t really have anything in particular in mind aside from… well, draw more!

My mom found a really cool website called DIY that basically lets you work toward different badges, and it has a lot of cool project ideas that I’m going to try. If you want to see my progress/ what activities I’ve done so far, just check out my profile!

Writing

I don’t have a whole lot of writing-specific goals, but I would like to post more frequently on this blog and try to finish a short story I’ve been working on.

What are you working on/ looking forward to this summer? Do you have any book or music recommendations for me?

Mila 2.0 and Beta (Double Review!)

I’m so sorry for disappearing for such a long time! Some things came up, and I kinda needed a break from blogging anyway. And unfortunately, I’m SUPER busy in May, so posting will probably be pretty irregular until summer.

But anyway, to make up for all of that, I’m doing a super special double review! I did a lot of reading over my break- and, coincidentally, two of the books I read most recently were about cyborgs. So I’m going to be reviewing them together. Enjoy! The reviews are both totally spoiler free, so don’t worry if you haven’t read the book(s) yet.

MILA 2.0

MILA

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity-style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.

Mila 2.0 was a quick read, despite its length. I finished it in about a day, and although it wasn’t really the sort of book that sits in my head for days and makes me wish for more, I did enjoy it.

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On the good side, this book is totally action packed. I really do enjoy a good thriller on occasion, and Mila 2.0 was definitely satisfying. There was always tension and a question or two left unanswered- it was one of those un-put-downable books.

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I also found the characters to be pretty interesting. They weren’t amazing or anything, but most of them had their own hopes, dreams, and motivations. Mila’s worries about her android side were very realistic and not brushed over. And the fight scenes were very well written- I can’t speak for how realistic they were, but they kept me at the edge of my seat and interested in seeing what would happen next, without being overly graphic.

The book had a very good balance of Mila’s internal thoughts and worries balanced with super intense fight scenes and car chases. It was well paced, and I almost never felt like things were moving too quickly or too slowly.

But I said “almost” for a reason. The beginning of this book was admittedly not very interesting. At all. Mila was very whiny and angsty. It was all for a good reason, yet I didn’t feel like I understood her or her backstory enough to really care.

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And, as the cherry on top, the first several characters had a very irritating cast. Mila’s mom was the stereotypical absent parent that pops up a lot in YA, and her friends were totally irritating. I didn’t really see and form of friendship between Mila and Kaylee, yet Mila insisted that Kaylee helped her and was a good friend. And then all of that supposed friendship when- guess what- a boy entered the scene.

Now, I don’t have anything against romance (when it’s well done), but I absolutely hate it when authors neglect friendship in lieu of romance. Which is exactly what happened in Mila 2.0.

Also, I didn’t really understand what was going on with the romance. The book leads you to believe that Mila and Hunter (the boy who she and Kaylee fight over) are going to get together in the first couple of chapters, but then Hunter is totally forgotten about for the rest of the book and another possible love interest is introduced later on.

And, finally, there was no real ending or closure. I’m going to avoid any spoilers, but it felt like a lead in to the next book in the series, not its own self contained story.

3

Recommended for: fans of thrillers and faster books with an interesting plot (even if characters are sometimes neglected), people who are in a reading slump and what to get out of it.

Beta

Beta

Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.

Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island’s workers-soulless clones like Elysia-are immune to.

At first, Elysia’s life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island’s flawless exterior, there is an under­current of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care-so why are overpowering sensations cloud­ing Elysia’s mind?

If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi­ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she’s always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.

The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, Beta is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a cor­rupted world. Praise for Beta: “A terrific premise that is equally well executed…Readers can only hope [the sequel] will be as thrilling as this series kickoff.”–Los Angles Times

Beta was an interesting book. I’ve wanted to read it for a while now, and I was really looking forward to it. But unfortunately, it didn’t really satisfy my high hopes.

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On the positive side, the worldbuilding was very well done. Although the central setting of the book- a private island resort for wealthy elites- was absolutely boring, the world overall was really interesting and I never really felt like I didn’t know enough to understand what was going on. Cohn knows how to build up a futuristic world without confusing readers, that much can be said for her. The setting was lush and intricate and very well explained.

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The plot also had a lot of potential to include some really fabulous commentary on artificial intelligence, classism, free will, and protecting the earth.

And that’s about where the good points come to an end.

This book had a lot of potential, as I just mentioned. But it did not follow through. At all.

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The downside to having an emotionless android as your narrator- in first person point of view, may I add- is rather obvious, I would think. Elysia is boring. She’s one of the dullest protagonists I’ve ever read about, and the rest of the characters were all cardboard caricatures as well. I didn’t care about anyone in this story. They were all so one dimensional.

And that potential political commentary I mentioned? Hahaha nope. It’s brought up a couple of times, but never really developed.

The book is really slow, too. On one hand, we get a lot of detail- but on the other hand, we don’t really figure out what the plot is until the book is almost over.

And the instalove. Oh, god, the instalove.

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Elysia falls in love with a similarly cardboard boy. It doesn’t work out and, five pages, maybe ten before the book ends, she meets another guy and decides that he’s, like, her second choice. What?!

But all this aside, the book was remarkably problematic. It emphasized the themes of free will, and then threw all that out the window with an ending in which the main character is forced to stay with a boy she doesn’t love and carry an unwanted pregnancy, even though it threatens her health. Oh, and did I mention that she’s only seventeen years old?

So, yeah. Good plot that’s ruined by flat characters and a blatantly pro-life ending (even after tons of discussion about the importance of making your own choices).

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Recommended for: people who want to learn more about world building. That’s it. Read it for the intriguing world and don’t expect interesting characters or a well done plot.