Mini Reviews: In Which I Am Disappointed


AKA: Ellie can't get her crap together enough to write full-on reviews for any of these books, so you get shortened versions of a bunch of reviews.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.


3/5 slightly judgmental cats

I'm not quite sure what to think of this book.

Everyone I know who's read it ADORED it. Like, this book was the BEST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO THEM. So I was expecting some kind of Harry Potter or Hunger Games level masterpiece, and instead.....I liked it. In fact, I really liked it. But I did not love it.

In terms of the representation and social problems addressed, this book was groundbreaking. I believe it tackled gender fluid issues in an honest yet respectful way, and it really deepened my understanding of the non-cis community, gender fluid people in particular. Furthermore, I appreciated how it showed that Sierra had plenty of problems of her own that caused her to act out in the way she did.

So was this book good? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did it effectively address important issues? Absolutely. But was it the book of the century? No.

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

The year is 1855. The Crimean War is raging. The incompetence of British commanders causes the fall of the English government. The Empire teeters. Amid this crisis comes opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, one of the most notorious and brilliant personalities of Victorian England. Along with his irrepressible daughter, Emily, and their Scotland Yard companions, Ryan and Becker, De Quincey finds himself confronted by an adversary who threatens the heart of the nation.

This killer targets members of the upper echelons of British society, leaving with each corpse the name of someone who previously attempted to kill Queen Victoria. The evidence indicates that the ultimate victim will be Victoria herself.







3/5 glamorous pups

I was gifted this book at a writer's workshop, and (after staring at that beautiful cover for an inordinately long period of time) I finished it several days later with mixed feelings.

One thing Mr. Morrell talked about a lot in his workshop was to limit descriptive imagery to just a few sentences here and there and restrict your dialogue tags to words like "said" and "asked", as opposed to "hissed" or "cried", for example. I disagree quite a bit with both of these ideas, and he definitely followed his own advice in this book. As intriguing as the plot and characters were, I found that the writing wasn't particularly engaging. It always felt like I was reading a book, not experiencing a book - I never felt sucked into the story. 

However, the clever plot and interesting characters were enough to salvage this story, and they're the reason I'm planning on reading the next book.

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...










2/5 cuddly angels
"JOHN GREEN!" everyone in the book community says, running about and flailing. "JOHN GREEN JOHN GREEN JOHN GREEN!"

"John Green?" I say, after reading this book, my introduction to the aforementioned apparent writing god. "John.....Green?"

I don't like romance novels, so instead of TFIOS I elected to start my John Green journey with Paper Towns. I can't say I'm glad I did.

This novel started off fast-paced, engaging, and real. The characters leapt out of the pages and talked to me, and I was sucked into the world of Margo and Q. But then, around the halfway mark, John Green must have forgotten what writing was, I honestly don't know. Because the pacing slowed to a crawl, the plot became repetitive, and the characters folded into one-dimensional versions of their past selves. I almost didn't finish the book - it took me one hour to get through the first half and three days to get through the second.

This book does not at all leave me eager to read more John Green, and I doubt I will, at least for a long while. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
 

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Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Have you been underwhelmed by any books recently? Comment below, and have a lovely day <3

Namarië,
Ellie

19 comments:

  1. Let me tell you, John Green is WAY overrated. But TFIOS is still really good, and I am not one for romance (although beware that it's overhyped). My favorite is Looking For Alaska and my least favorite Paper Towns, so I guess I would say you started off on the wrong foot for sure. And I DEFINITELY disagree with that writing workshop guy...

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    1. I was thinking of trying Looking for Alaska, but then I heard a bunch of reviews saying it had the same pacing problems as Paper Towns and I got scared away.
      Ikr!

      - Ellie

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  2. I haven't read any John Green simply because I don't want to be disappointed. I feel like with all the hype there's a lot of pressure to read his books, and love them, when the romance genre isn't totally 'my thing.' :)

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  3. I can't get into John Green. I just honestly CAN'T. The only times I've tolerated his writing is when he does collaborative stuff like Let It Snow. (And even then I can't really take his writing) Every time I see a The Fault In Our Stars quote, I cringe a little.
    I'm guilty of being one who adored The Symptoms of Being Human wHOOPS. Looking back on it a few months later, I probably wouldn't give it the full five stars I originally did, but I still very much enjoyed it. :3
    I'm currently reading Passenger by Alexander Bracken and so far I'm kind of underwhelmed with it. It's very... thick??? The writing style just isn't my thing, or engaging, really. :P
    Lovely post, Ellie! Mini reviews are always nice things to slap together in a hurry. ^-^
    xx a || not gary cooper

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    1. *AlexandRA Bracken. Stupid typos.

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    2. Yes! I like John Green as a person, and I think he has moments where his writing lives up to the hype, but overall he kind of evens out at just averagely talented.
      Different people enjoy different books to different degrees! Your review is what got me to read Symptoms, and I'm glad I picked it up.
      I heard Passenger was similar to The Girl from Everywhere - which I enjoyed for the most part - so I was tempted to pick it up (AND THAT COVER OMG). But then I read a ton of reviews just like your thoughts here and decided to pass.
      Thank you!

      - Ellie

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  4. I love these mini reviews! And I read Paper Towns, but I can't say that I loved it. I felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy, many parts of it didn't feel very realistic to me.
    Amy xx

    Little Moon Dragon

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  5. I feel that John Green picks up these great ideas and topics and he decides to write a story that teenagers will love, but I think the kind of teenagers he aims for are the teenagers who are. well. high? Cause like, it sounds like he's writing some great secret of the universe that everyone seems to connect to like "my thoughts are stars that I cannot fathom into constellations" the imagery is great but tbh, if that happened to me, I'd panic really bad cause if I think about it, it means I have no idea what I'm thinking?? Or my thinking is extremely distracted?
    But, like I said, the concept behind the book seems good, but the book itself seems like a vague cloud xD
    I read looking for Alaska and the concept in that book seems a little like this one; both main characters are trying to find a girl who has kept their life quite elusive. Between the two, I'd say I liked the execution of Look For Alaska better, but I love road trips, so that brings Paper Town to the same rank :p I did a review on Looking for Alaska on my blog too :)

    Here's the link http://the-emo-wolverine-writes.blogspot.com/2014/09/bookshelf-looking-for-alaska.html

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    1. I'll have to check out your review!
      YOU HAVE SUMMED UP MY THOUGHTS QUITE WELL. It seems like he is trying to make every novel into a great + historic commentary on the meaning of life that people will study in lit classes for generations to come. I understand if he genuinely feels the need to express these existential thoughts - I'm writing a novella right now where I'm using the work less as a story and more as a vehicle to write about some semi-existential stuff. But I'm doing that because I feel a need to write it and communicate these ideas about life that are important to me, not because I want to be the author of the next Great American Novel. :P Huh, I guess I didn't realize how strong my feelings were on this topic! I could probably write an essay on it XD

      - Ellie

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  6. If you're interested, I tagged you: http://4rmeddy.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-wisteria-writer-tag.html

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    1. Ahhh thank you so much! I've been wanting to do this tag for a while. Although if I do it, it'll probably be a while before I get it up, being as I schedule my posts at least a couple weeks in advance. But I'll definitely check it out! Thank you for tagging me <3

      - Ellie

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  7. I am yet to read symptoms of being human but its sounds pretty good. I am also generally unimpressed with John Green's books too.
    -Shannon

    http://most-likely-bored.blogspot.com

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    1. I think you'd enjoy it!
      We should start our own squad omg. I didn't know there were this many people who felt the same way!

      - Ellie

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  8. Paper Towns: I bought the book a year ago and planned to read it before the movie came out but I started and put it down. I can see why you put 2/5.
    Love these mini reviews.
    Eliza from The Bookish Universe

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    1. I almost put it down, tbh. Thank you!

      - Ellie

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  9. Definitely not a fan of John Green. TFIOS was okay but not AMAZING. For a romance novel, it was okay. I would like to finish Looking for Alaska, which I think is better than TFIOS.

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    1. Yeah - I read a few previews of it and didn't seem bad, but it wasn't great.

      - Ellie

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