Mini Reviews #11: All of a Sudden, I Apparently Like Romances??


Not sure when that happened or how, but apparently it's true. Onto the reviews!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


4/5 cake addicts.
WELL, THIS WAS SURPRISINGLY ENJOYABLE.

This isn't usually the sort of book I'd like. Are there dragons? Curses? Dramatic battle scenes? Nope, so I didn't expect too much from it. However, I found it to be well-written through and through, and the characters were almost all super enjoyable. I loved seeing Violet's development throughout the story, and Theodore! Freaking! Finch!

However, there wasn't anything super stand-out about this book. Was it a good book? Yes. I might even say it was great. But it didn't strike me as being unique at all, and there was no "zing" that made it memorable. Plus, I was a bit confused as to why this book hasn't gotten a lot of crap for having the "love cures mental illness" trope? I see how Violet didn't "cure" Finch, but there's no indication to me that Finch didn't "cure" Violet. (This isn't necessarily something I'm upset about, I'm just confused about it.)

Overall, this was a great read I would definitely recommend to most people - just don't expect it to blow you away like happened to many who read it.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.


4/5 smol Smaugs.
THIS FREAKING BOOK.

This was one of the most heartrending, gorgeously-written, and unique books I read last year. Unlike the other books in this post, The Song of Achilles will likely remain in my memory for years to come. The writing, the characters, the story - EVERYTHING WILL BREAK YOUR HEART. FIND ALL THE TISSUE BOXES. TRUST ME, YOU'LL NEED THEM.

The only reason this book didn't get five stars is kind of a personal one, so it may not apply to you. (Also, it's a minor spoiler, so skip down to We Are the Ants if you don't want to read a spoiler.) There's a part in this book when Achilles is willing to let someone be raped because it will further his political ambitions. I do think this was a valid way of showing how far he'd fallen, and the other characters did react extremely negatively to this idea (especially Patroclus, who went to great lengths to prevent it from happening), so the plot aspect of it was all right. However, the issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape hit very close to home for me for reasons I'd rather not go into. This part of the book made me very uncomfortable, nauseous, and pretty sick, and I had to put it down for about a day. This cast a shadow over the rest of the book, and I was a little too on-alert for other sections like that to thoroughly enjoy it. This was just a personal thing, however, so the majority of you probably wouldn't suffer from it. It did really hamper my enjoyment of the book, though, and thus four stars.

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. 

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

4/5 preciously evil information brokers.
This was a recommendation from the lovely Adi, whose recs pretty much never lead me astray. After hemming and hawing for a solid few months over whether or not to read this, I finally gave in and checked it out from the library. And, as you can see by my rating, I definitely enjoyed it.

I love how the romances in this book were portrayed - there are abusive gay relationships and positive gay relationships, just as is the case in real life and just as is the case with straight relationships. Plus, the writing quality was A+, and this book actually made me pretty uncomfortable (which is a good thing in this case!). I mean, Henry doesn't have a good home life at all. What he goes through at home is so incredibly different from my own home life, and I've pretty much never been exposed to the kinds of experiences or situations he goes through. Yet there are likely way more people like him than there are like me, and I'll likely meet a ton once I get into the workforce and leave behind exclusive private schools. So I definitely think that that eye-opening factor of this book was really good for me.

Was this a good book? Yes. A great one? Yeah, I'd say so. Why only four stars? I actually don't know. Maybe it was just the genre - I'm usually not a fan of contemporary, and, like All the Bright Places, it lacked any memorable "zing". But I'm very stingy with my five-star ratings, so don't take the four stars on any of these books as discouragement from reading them!

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If you remember, I posted a survey about what books y'all want me to review last time I did a "Mini Reviews" post. The survey is currently updated HERE, so do go check it out and vote for the books you want to see reviews for next time!

You've done that? All right, then, let's chat! Have you read any of these books? Do you tend to be a fan of romances? Comment below, and remember that you are all very beautiful pickles. 

Namarië,
Ellie

11 comments:

  1. ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES YESSS YOU READ IT!! Ahh I love that book. And ohh-- I've been wanting to read We are the Ants for a while-- your review looks good. Great post as always Ellie :)

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    1. YESSS I DID. I was actually going to check out Holding Up the Universe from my library today, but it wASN'T CHECKED IN. *bitterness*

      Thank you!

      - Ellie

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  2. I really enjoyed All the Bright Places :) The Song of Achilles looks good!

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  3. I want to read the Song of Achilles so badly! Your review made me want to read it even more ♥
    Amy xx

    Little Moon Dragon

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  4. We Are the Ants has been on my TBR pile for awhile. And yes, I completely agree with you on All the Bright Places. While it's not a bad story, there isn't anything that just stands out. Some parts kind of felt like a washed out copy of TFIOS, but it's been awhile since I've read either novel.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. I haven't read TFIOS, so I can't compare it on that front, but from what I've heard I would agree with you. I hope you enjoy We Are the Ants!

      - Ellie

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  5. i've been meaning to read All the Bright Places for quite awhile now! and The Song of Achilles looks really good!

    great post, ellie!

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  6. All The Bright Places is my favourite book of ever! (Next to LOTR)
    It made me ugly cry for days. I think why I found it to be unique is bc I have a friend with bipolar, and I related to it. Plus the fact that it's based off of Jennifer's life :D
    I'm glad you liked it!

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