Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This was my first venture into Neil Gaiman’s writing, and I have to say I was definitely impressed. More than impressed, even. The book is basically about Nobody, a young boy whose family is murdered one night by a man called Jack. Fortunately, he manages to toddle away and off to the local graveyard, where he is raised and educated by a bunch of ghosts. That is until the man called Jack wants to finish the job…
I love the premise; it’s just so unique (though it borrows ideas from The Jungle Book) and really cleverly exploited as Gaiman creates this entire world of the dead, full of the mysterious Sleer, Hounds of God and a horrific realm known as Ghulheim, populated by terrifying creatures, whilst ‘our’ world lives side-by-side in blissful ignorance.
The story is pretty gothic and gruesome but Gaiman is such a master storyteller it feels like you’re reading a classic, and the comic parts are laugh-out-loud funny. It deals with real-life issues too, like growing up, love and loss, whilst being charming enough to captivate young and old alike. The illustrations from Chris Riddell are beautiful too and help to bring the vivid world to life.
The only thing I found I didn’t like in this book, and it is just a small thing really, was the lack of detail given about certain characters, like Silas, though it does give them an air of mystery. Also, the chapters in the book are quite ‘episodic’ and the story doesn’t fully flow until the latter half of the book, but they are immensely enjoyable nonetheless.
The writing is simply exquisite, the plot magnificent with flawless narrative & unpredictable twists and the characters near-perfect. I cannot wait to see this on the big screen (please don’t muck it up movie-makers!) and couldn’t recommend it enough!
[SYNOPSIS: Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy - an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family…]

Gone by Michael Grant

Wow is all I can say about this book. I mean really, WOW! It’s an incredible read. You are drawn in right from the moment you read the blurb and I’m still eagerly anticipating the sequels (there are 6 books in this series and, whilst that may sound very drawn out, with each book presumably more terrible than the prior, it most certainly is not! The story is cleverly continued throughout the books and each one is equally, if not more so, gripping as new threats loom and you also connect even more so with the characters, who are excellently developed throughout. The sequels are Hunger and Lies, with the fourth, Plague, coming out sometime in April of this year; the final two haven’t been given a date yet, but I’m sure they’ll be epic!)
The book centres on Sam Temple, a 14 year old ordinary surfer dude, who lives in the town of San Perdido, a town where one minute everything is fine and the next, all of the adults have disappeared.  Chaos ensues as everyone panics, rules are abandoned and human nature turns against itself, which isn’t helped by the dangerous powers that some children develop, not to mention the fact that on your 15th birthday, you too disappear…
Whilst Sam is undoubtedly the main character, the book is written in 3rd person and switches between different people’s points of view, providing more of an insight into their thoughts and lives and also keeping the pace up; which is excellently maintained throughout and you will probably find yourself reading through the night, eager to find out what happens next. The characters are so well developed you find yourself hating some with a passion and loving others immensely and even choosing which side you are on, though each character is undeniably interesting in their own way.
This book also has a bit of everything about it – twists, turns, fantasy, romance, action, violence, suspense, frightening parts, is strangely realistic and thought-provoking, has quite dark bits (beware this is NOT for young kids or the easily disturbed) and a strong original plot.
Suspense and brilliant, captivating writing keeps you turning the pages, and the continued story arc keeps you buying the sequels. I really cannot put down in words how much I enjoyed this book and the sequels, so I would advise you to read it to find out for yourselves – you won’t regret it!
 [SYNOPSIS: In a flash, your life can change forever... Something bizarre has happened in the town of San Perdido. In a flash, everyone over the age of fourteen has disappeared. Poof. Gone. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help. Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating.  A strange impenetrable force field encircles the town. As the stranded kids struggle to survive on their own, they discover that some of them are developing new talents — unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers — that grow stronger by the day. And unfortunately, not all the kids with these new-found powers are good… It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.]

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

It’s a little difficult to talk about this book without spoiling it, but I will try my best because it really is worth a read – I would even say it was one of the best books I have read and definitely of 2010.

It starts off bluntly by saying (and this isn’t a spoiler because it’s the very first sentence!) 'I didn’t go to Alice’s funeral', which makes the rest of the book even more gripping as you yearn to discover how Katherine, the protagonist, can say such a thing with such callousness. The story is basically split into three parts – before the death of Katherine’s sister, Katherine’s friendship with Alice and when Katherine is looking back on events – a kind of past, present and future type-thing.

The death of Katherine's sister is the mystery that drives the first half of the book along - Katherine is secretive about it, wishing to put it behind her and continue with her life; even going as far as creating a sort-of-new identity for herself and moving away as far as she is able to. It is here that she meets the charming and beautiful Alice, who draws even the reader in, though it is clear that something is not quite right with her delightful persona, and it is their friendship and nature of Alice that drives the latter half of the book to its heartbreaking climax.

The story works well as it gradually releases titbits of information, still keeping the reader in suspense until the last few pages when all is fully revealed. It’s quite a unique little book, gripping from start to finish, and deals with the dark content expertly. I really liked the realistic (if a little unlikely) plot and I think that the book was so effective because you can totally picture the characters portrayed in the novel as they and the book itself were so well written.

I think a little more detail could have been given on some events, particularly Katherine’s life before the death of her sister, but the book is still at a good length and easily devourable in several hours because believe me, you will not want to put this page-turner down.

I genuinely think that this book has everything in it – well-developed characters, uniqueness, mystery, romance, a twist that is hard to see coming and an incredible plot that draws you in from the very first page - a fab debut!
[SYNOPSIS: So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed? Following a horrific tragedy that leaves her once perfect family devastated, Katherine Patterson moves to a new city, starts at a new school, and looks forward to a new life of quiet anonymity. But when Katherine meets the gregarious and beautiful Alice her resolution to live a solitary life becomes difficult. Katherine is unable to resist the flattering attention that Alice pays her and is so charmed by Alice’s contagious enthusiasm that the two girls soon become firm friends. But being friends with Alice is complicated – and as Katherine gets to know her better she discovers that although Alice can be charming and generous she can also be selfish and egocentric. Sometimes, even, Alice is cruel. And when Katherine starts to wonder if Alice is really the kind of person she wants as a friend, she discovers something else about Alice – she doesn’t like being cast off.]


Well, I've just realised I never did an introductory post, so here it is!
This blog is mainly about reviewing the books I've read (mainly in the YA genre, but I'm quite happy to read anything), especially for MyKindaBook (by the way, you should totally check out their website: who are pretty awesome! It'll probably have some of my ramblings as well and maybe some other stuff :)
You should know that I am pretty bad at updating, especially with my GCSE exams coming up, but I'm trying my best to improve. I also ramble and use too much punctuation and too many smilies as my posts just feel empty without them! :)
So, back to the reviews, which generally consist of my own little summary of the book, the cover, my review (in which I will try to be as honest as possible and include my criticisms as well as positive parts and my overall thoughts), rating and the official blurb (I do love that word!) on the end.
I hope you enjoy reading  my blog :)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

Exodus is set in the year 2099, when the Earth has all but drowned and only a few islands remain habitable. Mara is confined to her fast-disappearing island home of Wing, which is ravaged by fierce storms and an ever-dwindling supply of food, and where every night she escapes into a virtual world known as the Weave. One night, she discovers ‘proof’ of the mythical Sky Cities – entire cities that rose into the sky and kept their inhabitants safe from the flooded world below – and sets about convincing everyone of their existence, keeping secret the fact that she only discovered their existence from a talking fox, who may or may not be an enemy… She convinces the community to set sail on a terrifyingly dangerous journey to find these Sky Cities; but what will they find there?

I really wasn’t sure about this book at first – the blurb made it sound a teensy bit corny and when I started reading it, there wasn’t much of a story (in fact, the story doesn’t really kick off until about 75 pages to the end) and the present tense in which it is written takes a bit of getting used to – but I was intrigued by this incredibly detailed future that Bertagna had created and was interested to know what would happen when the story did kick off; and boy, am I glad I did! Not to say that there was no story before the ‘pick up the pace’ point – the book was beautifully written throughout and those pages were quite vital to the plot of the story, as well as essential in making connections with the characters in the book.

The characters are all really well developed and you genuinely care about them when horrible things happen to them. You also really feel for them and their situation – after all, the book in set just 90 years away, in a world that struggles to survive because of extreme flooding; a world that is frighteningly likely to happen and it could be our great-grandchildren that live in the nightmare-world, making it an eye-opening, powerful read.

An exceedingly beautifully written and thought-provoking read. I cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy!
 [SYNOPSIS: Mara's island home is drowning as the ice caps melt and Earth loses its land to the ocean. But one night, in the ruined virtual world of the Weave, Mara meets the mysterious Fox - a fiery-eyed boy who tells her of sky cities that rise from the sea. Mara sets sail on a daring journey to find a new life for herself and her friends - instead she discovers a love that threatens to tear her apart...]
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