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February 2018
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My First Short Story! – The Pink Sweater

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Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 5 stars

Lena has escaped. She’s in the Wilds. She is free. There is only one downside: Alex is dead.
We follow along Lena’s journey past the fence and into the Wilds through two perspectives: “Then”: Days after escaping and leaving Alex behind, Lena wakes up in a dark and dingy room. She was rescued by some Invalids that live out in the wilds, Raven, Tack, and multiple others. She builds a new life with them, learning their ways and learning a few things about herself too. She learns what it’s like to live outside of the comforts of the city, or the regulation she grew up with and grew accustomed to. She learns what it is like to be attacked by the government, their bombs ruining everything you own.
“Now” is her other new life, in which she lives like Alex did, pretending to be cured in the city. Lena spends her time trying to blend in, attending DFA (Deliria-Free America) meetings in hopes of getting information. At a DFA rally, Lena’s job is to keep an eye on Julian Fineman, whose father is the founder of the DFA. Julian is quite important himself, too. And after the rally is interrupted by the Scavengers (Invalids who are, more or less, just like Lena and Raven and all of the others, but they want destruction, not revolution) Lena finds herself a lot closer to Julian Fineman than she would have ever predicted.
I was beyond excited to start reading this book. Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen in the next installment of Lena’s story. Every page brought something new along with it, and every chapter was a new adventure. I loved the new character additions, especially Raven. There are moments when her motifs are questioned, but her tough and spunky personality makes up for it. I also enjoyed Julian a lot, and I think there is so much more to him than he revealed to Lena. And although I loved the two alternating chapters, “then” and “now,” there never really was a part where “then” and “now” connected. It was never told how Lena got from “then” to “now,” which I was hoping for.
Remember how Delirium ended with a super dramatic cliffhanger? Expect no different from Pandemonium. This cliffhanger left me yelling and desperately wanting the next book. According to Oliver, the third book in the trilogy, called Requiem, is already written and is set to be published some time in 2013. I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

My Rating: 2 stars

I may be biased, because I did not finish reading this book, but honestly, this novel was not as great as I thought it was going to be. I had read so many good reviews and heard so many good things about this novel, so I guess I started it with high expectations. It is about a peculiar and unique nine-year-old-boy, named Oskar, who’s father had died in the tragedy in New York City on September 11th, 2001. Later, Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet that was encased in an envelope with the word “Black” on it. Oskar is convinced “Black” is a person, most likely a person’s last name, so he sets out on a journey around New York and contacts everyone with the last name Black to see if they have any clue what the key is for.
At first, I was intrigued by Oskar himself. He is a very smart and quirky nine-year-old boy, and the writing style of this story is very realistic; it seemed as if I was inside a nine-year-old’s head. The thoughts were quick, fast-paced, and out of this world. Oskar is brilliant and thought of a lot of things that really made me think. He is the main reason I kept on wanting to read. I couldn’t wait to see what he thought of or did next. The characters are definitely a strong point in this book, at first. But after a while,( for me, at least) all of the eccentric habits and stories and characters seem to fade away and the story becomes dull and boring. The plot didn’t pull its part. It was extremely drawn out and incredibly pointless. I understand that searching through every person with the last name Black would definitely be a long process, but I don’t think it was suitable for an entire plotline of a novel. I mean, the only reason I would have kept reading would be to find out what the key is for. But I really just can’t keep reading this book. I don’t know why, but it just lost its appeal. I have been carrying it around for weeks, hoping that I will find the motivation to pick it up and read it again, but I just can’t. I have heard that the movie is not like the book at all, so I’m not too sure if I’ll even bother watching it. I will honestly say that I probably will end up finishing it at some point in time, and I will definitely make sure that I write a new review when that time comes.

“The Casual Vacancy”

I know I am very behind on this, but on Thursday, J.K. Rowling announced the title of her new novel for adults, called “The Casual Vacancy” and a brief synopsis of the book.

“When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?”

The Casual Vacancy sounds like an excellent novel, and I really can’t wait to see what J.K. Rowling’s mind has been working on since the end of Harry Potter. Although I am extremely excited for this novel to be released, I can’t help but think of how bizarre this all is. I don’t know, I guess it is still strange for me to think of J.K. Rowling writing anything besides Harry Potter. I mean, all the actors have moved on with their lives and has new careers, and I was sad about that, but now that J.K. Rowling has officially moved on, everything is different. Harry Potter is really over, but I think a new adventure is in store for us all.

J.K. Rowling’s new and upcoming novel, “The Casual Vacancy” is supposedly set to be released September 27th, 2012. The book is already available for pre-order on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.

The Hunger Games

My Rating: 3 stars

I walked into the theater with very high (very unrealistic) expectations for this movie. I guess had these high expectations because, well, the Hunger Games books themselves are one of the best young adult novels ever written, I expected its movie to be as mind-blowing as the book. Now, don’t me wrong, I didn’t hate the movie, but I didn’t love it either. It just didn’t feel right to me. Something just didn’t click. Maybe it was just because it was my first time seeing it. I don’t know.
First off, I’m going to say this now. I am completely and totally obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. I think they did an amazing, fantastic, perfect job of playing Katniss and Peeta. I don’t think anyone else could have done it better. They literally did too perfect for words.
Okay, so the first half of the movie almost bored me to tears. I understand that the beginning of the movie is supposed to be tense, because of the Reaping, and somewhat awkward while Katniss and Peeta first meet and spend time together on the way to the Capitol, I just feel it could have been expressed differently. First of all, the way Katniss receives the Mockingjay pin was altered. In the book, the pin is given to her by the Mayor’s daughter, who comes up again in the second book, I believe. In my opinion, that exchange showed the alliance of the higher class and the lower class. In the movie, though, Katniss bought the pin and gave it to her sister, Prim, to “keep her safe” during the Reaping. Prim gave Katniss the pin back right before she left for the Capitol. I thought that was one of the moments in the whole story that shouldn’t be changed because the pin is Katniss’ symbol throughout the whole series.
I loved Prim, though. Prim is played by Willow Shields and I really thought she did a fantastic job. She captured Prim’s emotions very well. I thought Katniss’ relationship was Gale wasn’t emphasized enough. Just from watching the movie, I would have never guessed they were so close they were practically siblings. He randomly showed up while she was trying to hunt. The fact that they spent most of their time hunting together was not shown. It just looked like he stalked her in the woods. I wasn’t too pleased with Liam Hemsworth. Although Gale is very important in the second and third book, I don’t understand why the media made him seem super important in this movie…
I wasn’t too crazy about Effie, though. She was outwardly weird and strange, but that stopped after her appearance. In my mind, I imagined an Effie who was quirky beyond her wardrobe. Haymitch’s appearance is definitely not what I pictured. I thought he would have been a lot older, a lot more disheveled-looking, with a beer belly and long, unruly hair. Woody Harrelson had Haymitch’s personality perfect, though.
One of the things I was stoked to see on the big screen was Katniss’ big moment, when she’s first named “the Girl on Fire.” I was deeply disappointed, though. Katniss and Peeta’s entrance/parade outfits were not as awesome as I expected them to be. I imagined fire all over their bodies, engulfing them. In the movie, fire was simply trailing behind them off of their shoulders and backs. It just wasn’t as climatic as the actors in the movie made it seem either. Everyone was staring in awe at something that wasn’t really that great. I loved Cinna, Katniss’ stylist, though. I thought he was one of the best actors in the whole movie. Cinna was always one of my favorite characters, too.
The movie started getting good right before the tributes were to be sent to the Games. All of the action and violence and suspense made everything better, of course. The Cornucopia wasn’t exactly how I pictured (I think everyone was a little confused with this one…) I had, in fact, pictured a literal cornucopia, where in the movie its depicted as a shiny metal version. Anyway, I thought the rest of the movie was great. The fighting was intense and all of the actors who played the more prominent tributes were fantastic. I was really surprised to see Isabelle Fuhrman, who was in the Orphan, as Clove. She was great though! Amandala Stenberg, who was Rue, did a fantastic job. I really loved her and Katniss together. Not only is she an adorable girl, she’s a great actor. I thought the way the area was portrayed on the screen was fantastic. Almost exactly how I pictured it to be.
Throughout the games, the point of view is changed to the control room, which I thought was very interesting. I liked how is showed how everything works, how with a click of a button, the area in which the tributes are fighting can be altered. It added a new way of viewing things, for me at least. Also, there is commentary by Caesar Flickerman and another talkshow host, which I thought was completely pointless. At one point, they were explaining how deadly tracker jackers were, and it was pretty obvious they were only there for the people who had not read the books. Although I see the point of them being there, I didn’t like it though. On the other hand, I absolutely love Stanly Tucci, who played Caesar. He really is a fantastic actor and I think he doesn’t get enough recognition. He really was exactly how I pictured Caesar to be. Bold, loud, obnoxious and glamorous.
As for the ending of the movie, I wasn’t too pleased either. I’m pretty sure that when Katniss and Peeta are on their way back to District 12, they’re supposed to get in a small fight and end up somewhat ticked off at each other. They start off the second book still pretty angry with each other. In the movie, they’re holding hands and smiling, saying how they “don’t want to forget.” The focus is then on President Snow (who reminded me of Santa Claus), ominously glaring at them smiling on the television. He definitely isn’t too pleased with them. He turns, and walks angrily up the stairs. Fade to black.
Looking at the movie as a whole, I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it. Maybe I need to see it again…

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

My Rating: 5 stars
When I think of classic novels, the first thing the comes to mind is one of those boring, musty books that students are forced to read in English class that barely seems like it is even written in English. I was highly mistaken.
The Catcher in the Rye, a title very commonly heard, follows seventeen-year-old narrator and protagonist, Holden Caulfield through the unique writing style of J.D. Salinger. Holden addresses the reader directly from a mental hospital in southern California, wanting to describe a series of events that took place over a two-day period the previous December. The whole story is a long flashback; Holden first starts off with recounting his life at Pencey Prep, an exclusive, all-boys school in Pennsylvania. He has been expelled for failing four out of the five subjects he was studying that semester, which was everything except English.
After a brawl with his older roommate, Holden decides to not wait until Christmas break, which is only a few days away, to return back home. He packs up his things and catches a train to New York City. Over the next two days, Holden’s adventures around the city include an encounter with a prostitute, a date with a previous girlfriend and many visits to various bars in attempt to pick up women and drink alcohol. Throughout the novel, Holden reminisces on memories and tells stories about his family members, mostly about his siblings, D.B., Allie, and Phoebe.
Towards the end of his story, Holden explains the only thing he wants to do in his life: “…I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye…Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye…I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” This “catcher in the rye” is an analogy for Holden, who admires qualities in kids, like innocence, kindness, spontaneity, and generosity, that he struggles to find in adults. Falling off the edge of this “crazy cliff” represents the transition from childhood into the evils of the adult world, which is something Holden strongly criticizes. Ironically, later in the novel, Holden’s younger sister, Phoebe, becomes his “catcher”, while he takes the role of the “fallen.”
Over the years, The Catcher in the Rye has sparked much controversy, drawing out different opinions about not only the morals of the story, but of Holden as a character. And not all reception of this book has been positive. After reading various reviews and opinions of the book online, I have come to the conclusion that many people criticize Holden. They seem to view him as a rebellious, ignorant jerk. He is accused of being a poor role model; frequently using vulgar language, encouraging acts of rebellion, and promoting drinking, lying, and promiscuity. I think that’s the point, though. Holden is not supposed to be a role model. He’s supposed to be this annoying, whiny, jerk of a teenager. He is actually quite an accurate representation of not only teenagers during that time but us as humans in general.
I think one of the reasons many seem to dislike him immediately is because Holden is, in fact, too much like us. But he does not show the good, moral side of humans. He smokes a lot. He drinks alcohol underage. He curses like a sailor and rebels against the law. Holden represents the more rough side of humans, the parts of us that give into our vices and lie and rebel, the parts that we might not be too proud to accept and acknowledge. I do not think those who claim to hate Holden actually hate him. I think they are afraid of being him.
I, personally, love Holden. I think the fact that at some points while I was reading, I couldn’t stand him, and the other half of the time I wish he was my best friend is awesome. If everyone loved Holden, that would be boring. Disliking him might not be a bad thing. I think that’s what characters in a book are supposed to do, that’s what Holden is supposed to do. He is the main character because Salinger seemed to want to create controversy amongst his readers.
Holden actually reminds me a lot of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie is the opposite of Holden, though. He represents the more innocent and confused side of us. Although The Catcher in the Rye was written quite some time before Perks, Charlie and Holden are actually very similar. They are both teenagers struggling to find their place in the world. Both of their stories have themes of loneliness, depression and alienation.
What makes The Catcher in the Rye such a fantastic novel is its timelessness and its ability to cause so much controversy. It not only captures the essence of the time period, but also provokes emotion and conflict in its readers about beliefs and morals that are still prominent currently.

Crossed by Ally Condie

My Rating: 5 stars

In the sequel to Matched by Allie Condie, Cassia and Ky’s story continues. Both are trying to find a way to be reunited with each other after they were both separated by the Society. Ky was sent to the Outer Provinces to his sure death. Cassia discovers that Ky escaped to the mysterious yet dangers canyons, she follows in pursuit of this wild frontier. On this journey, she encounters elements of an unknown life that is so different from the one she is used to. Not only has Cassia sacrificed everything for Ky, but she is also in search of a rebellion, called the Rising. And even though Xander is back in the Society, he still manages to throw some surprises her way. The game changes and when paths cross, things become more twisted than ever.
I was so excited to finally read the sequel to Matched. I was so curious to see what Ally Condie would do with this book. Once I started reading, I was hooked. Its plotline was superb. There was constant mystery, plot twists, new settings and characters, and has an action-packed, quick pace. So many secrets are unveiled. I really like the new characters – Indie, Vick, Eli and Hunter – that were introduced. And some of the characters (old and new) turn out to not be who I expected. Most of the story takes place in the Carving – a place kind of like the Grand Canyon in the Outer Provinces beyond the Society. I thought it was great to see what life was like outside of the Society utopia.
Cassia has such a big character development from the first book to this one. Just the way she thinks, speaks, acts, and describes things is so different from where she started out in Matched. It’s interesting to watch how much she changes as she learns new things about the Rising and the Society. In Matched, she was one of the brain-washed Citizens ready to live the rest of her life following the Society’s rules and not really living a true life. Now, her eyes are unveiled and she sees past the “perfect” façade of the Society.
This book is written from both Cassia and Ky’s point of view. At first, I thought I wouldn’t like it, like I did with other books that were written this way, but I honestly liked it a lot. I loved getting a glimpse into Ky’s mind, considering we didn’t learn much about him from the first novel. He talks a lot about the mysteries of his childhood and parents. He’s such an interesting character. I think the changes of the point of view is what kept the book so fast paced and addicting.
The third book in this series, Reached, has been confirmed for publication in November of 2012. I’m so excited to read what happens next in both Cassia and Ky’s story!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the post-apocalyptic world of the country of Panem, where the countries of North America once existed, a highly advanced metropolis, the Capitol, holds absolute power over the poorer districts of the nation. The former thirteenth district had acted out in rebellion, so the Hunger Games, an annual event, was created as a punishment. The Hunger Games requires two tributes: one boy and one girl, aged twelve to eighteen, from each of the twelve remaining districts surrounding the Capitol to compete in a televised. They fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol. The contestants are chosen randomly against the potential contestants’ will. The last boy or girl alive wins.
The story follows sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen from District 12 who volunteers to take her sister’s place in the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. She leaves behind her widowed mother, her little sister, Primrose, and her best friend, Gale. Also chosen from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son who had secretly helped Katniss’s family in the past when they were starving. Katniss and Peeta quickly assume the role of “star-crossed lovers” in subtle hopes of altering the rules of the game. Katniss cleverly plays along with the manipulative tricks of the Hunger Games; she relies on her well-practiced hunting and survival skills and openly expresses her disgust towards the Capitol, and never once lets them have complete control over her. She makes some friends and allies along the way, although in the end, it all comes down to one simple choice made by “the Girl on Fire.”
I have been a fan of The Hunger Games for quite a long time. I read it around the time the second book in the trilogy was published in 2009. I will admit, at first I did not think I would enjoy this novel. I had never read any futuristic/post-apocalyptic books before, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But after I finished the book in less than a few days, my opinion changed. And now, almost three years later, I can say that The Hunger Games novels hold a special place in my heart.
While exploring very prevalent issues such as poverty, starvation, oppression, and war, The Hunger Games also develops an abundance of strong main characters. I think Katniss and Peeta should be viewed as role models. Katniss is tough, clever, and rebellious. She doesn’t let the Capitol control her and fights for what she thinks is right. Peeta is loyal, trustworthy and strong. He always stands by Katniss’s side, yet knows how to think and fight for himself too. Both of their personalities go greatly together and create wonderful main characters.
This whole series definitely appeals to a wide variety of readers. I think anyone of any age or gender will enjoy this book. It is fast paced and addictive, has a futuristic element, violence, fighting and action, yet also contains a little romance. It is the perfect mix. The journey of reading The Hunger Games is a poignant one. It is filled with disbelief, joy, anger, and suspense – all within 384 pages.
Furthermore, I am very pleased with who was chosen to play Katniss, Peeta and Gale for the movie. When I first heard rumors that a movie was in the process of production, I couldn’t picture who could possibly play any of the characters from this novel. Now, though, I think Jennifer Lawrence (also in X-Men: First Class) looks exactly how I had pictured Katniss while reading the book. And at first, I didn’t really like Josh Hutcherson for the role of Peeta. He had been in movies like The Bridge to Terabithia, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Zathura. But after watching the trailer a couple times and seeing some movie clips on TV, I think he will do the character justice. Gale is played by Liam Hemsworth, who was in The Last Song along with Miley Cyrus. Other characters include Woody Harrelson as Hatmitch Abernathy, Willow Shields as Primrose, and Amandla Stenberg as Rue.
The action-packed Hunger Games trilogy is completed with the books Catching Fire and Mockingjay, which are just as good as the first one. The Hunger Games movie is in theaters on March 23.

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

My Rating: 5 stars

The Night Bookmobile tells the story of a young woman who encounters a mysterious disappearing library on wheels. She is wandering the streets after a fight with her boyfriend and is drawn to the Bookmobile because of the loud music flooding from its open windows. This library in particular only contains every book that she has ever read. After seeing her history spread out over the shelves and meeting the odd Mr. Openshaw, the Bookmobile becomes an obsession. She embarks on a journey to find the Bookmobile again and longs to be reunited with her own collection of books and memories.
This is the first graphic novel I have ever read and I did not pick this out myself, my English teacher suggested that I read this. (Thanks, Mr. Porter!) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But before I knew it, I was completely engrossed in the story that was written and drawn out on the pages in front of me. I don’t want to give the plot away because I think the element of mystery and surprise is really what made this book so good. Also, the art what went along with the story was beautiful and very well done. I personally love the main character, Lexi. She’s very curious and somewhat adventurous, and her love for books is infinite and very relatable. I love the idea of the bookmobile. They’re such a great idea, I wish they were still around. A library on wheels is just so enticing.
Also, this graphic novel was written by the author of “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, Audrey Niffenegger. Although I have not read any of her other books, I think it’s great that she is such a diverse author. Over all, it only took me about fifteen to twenty minutes to read the whole thing, so if you find time, you should definitely pick up a copy and read it!

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

My Rating: 4 stars

On New Year’s Eve, four very different people, named Martin, Maureen, Jess, and JJ, meet at a very odd place: on top of a fifteen-story building. They are all up on top of that building all for different reasons, but one common purpose. None of them thought they would run into anyone else, although this building was known as a local suicide-jumpers’ favorite. A Long Way Down isn’t really about suicide, it is more about what happens when you don’t kill yourself…told through the eyes of four diverse people.
I feel as though my summary of this novel did not do it justice, although I honestly did not want to give a lot of the book’s plot away. Like I said before, this book is not just about suicide. It’s about opening your eyes and just seeing how great life is, how many opportunities there are, how things can and will change eventually for the better, no matter how terrible everything is at this moment. This great bit of wisdom is taught to the readers through Martin, Maureen, Jess, and JJ, whom are (as I previously stressed) very, very different people. They remind me of the characters from The Breakfast Club, they’re so unlike each other, and it is almost shocking that they actually acknowledge each other, but they are connected by one specific situation. All the characters are from different age groups (ranging from 18 to around 50) and live in totally opposite lifestyles.
The one thing I really admire about Hornby is his ability to make his characters unique and have their own writing style. In my opinion, having a story told by more than one narrator is very difficult. It can get confusing for the reader. Though, in this book, each character has their own distinctive voice and writing style. I found it very easy to decipher whose section I was reading just by the way they talked, described things and told their story. Hornby creates such strong, defined and realistic characters. It really is difficult believing that they are in fact fictional, and not someone you know in real life. Also, Hornby has a very exceptional way of writing himself. He is able to combine such a serious topic (in this case, suicide) and add humor to it, too. I love the sarcasm that just flooded out of some of the characters, especially Jess.
I think there was only one aspect of this novel that I wasn’t too crazy about. I have mixed feelings about the ending of this novel. I will not give away any of the details, but it ended in a kind of open way. I guess its purpose was to leave the story up to the reader. They could imagine however they wanted it to end, whether it is a happy, joyful ending or a sad, tragic ending. Sometimes I like these types of endings. I like leaving things up to the reader’s imagination; it gets them thinking. Although in this situation, I would have preferred a solid ending. I don’t want to guess what will happen next. But on the other hand, I kind of understand why Hornby ended the novel this way. While reading, the ending was something I was very curious about. I wanted to know how it was going to end because I personally could not have thought how it would end. While the plot had its surprises and kept me captivated, it just didn’t seem like a story that had a set-in-stone ending.
Overall, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is a great book with fantastic main characters that will generate lots of different opinions from its readers, which is something that makes it so great.

“Bad Books”

Besides a dog, a book can be man’s best friend. Books provide an escape from reality, a break from our thoughts and our everyday lives. We read books to our children, before we go to bed, during lunch breaks and on the beach. But what is the purpose of a book? What makes a book worth reading? What makes it a “good book?”
Novels are not only a source of entertainment, like movies or television shows, they also are a way for us to learn. The purpose of a book is to more or less teach a lesson, have a purpose or moral and show emotion. I think the best books out there are the ones that have an overall message for its readers. A good book has relatable characters that accompany you along the journey of discovering this moral or lesson. This journey, the plot, takes many twists and turns and surprises you along the way. Not one element of a novel should be expected or predicted.
When characters in a novel are more realistic, they are more relatable. I love feeling like I’m in the book along with them, experiencing what they are experiencing and feeling the emotions that they are feeling. When finished a book, one should know the characters like they are their closest friends, not like they are just a person formed out of words printed on paper. The reader should feel happy or sad for them while reading their story. Books like Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini offer an insight into their main characters’ minds, which helps build them up as such realistic characters.
Plots of a book should be totally unique, complex and completely unexpected. One should never be able to predict the ending of a book. The plot should twist and turn and go in a direction that one would have never thought of themselves, a direction that is utterly unanticipated. This creates the novel to be more enjoyable than a story lacking any surprises. For example, what made Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters and Fight Club such great novels were their surprise endings and plot twists that kept their readers surprised and on the edge of their seats.
I personally love discovering a beneficial moral or lesson while reading a novel or book series. I feel that when a book teaches something valuable to its readers, no matter the age, it is an exceptional book. After all, the main reason children are read fairytales and fables at such a young age is to teach them life lessons and have them actually learn something while still enjoying a fictional story. This should be the same for adult and young adult novels; for example, the ever-popular Harry Potter books, which encase great life lessons and morals – like love and true friendship – in a magical fictional world.
There is one type of book that I cannot stand, and that is the romance novel. I don’t think there is anything more boring than reading a book about a cliché “loser” guy or girl chasing after someone who is “out of their league”, as some teenage romance novels go. And while books like Dear John by Nicholas Sparks and This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen may be entertaining, could you tell me one thing you have learned? As for books that go against the cliché, the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is the perfect example. It consists of action and adventure and has a little romance in there, too, which is the perfect mix, in my opinion.
I love books that make you think: what would I do if I was in that character’s situation? Would I make the same choice that they did? I love books that teach me something, whether about history or even something about myself. I love books that go against the cliché and the stereotypes. I love books that are inspirational.
So, while you are reading, keep in mind that what may seem like just small details that the author whipped together is actually what helps determine between a “good” book and a “bad” book.