Three Mini Reviews: Warcross, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls, and Turtles All the Way Down

Hi friends! I have somehow not posted a book review since October. How did that happen on my book review blog? Ugh to all other commitments that take my time away – like teaching and writing and friends, etc. Anyway, here are some books I would recommend to pretty much anyone – especially anyone who likes YA books enough to still be reading this blog. So …

WarcrossWarcross by Marie Lu is set in a near future where pretty much all of society is dominated by a virtual reality game. Emika Chen would probably be amazing at Warcross, if she wasn’t so busy trying to pay off her dead father’s debts and keep a roof over her head as a hacker and digital bounty hunter. In a desperate situation, she accidentally hacks into the opening night of the official Warcross games. She expects legal trouble, but instead the game’s creator – the teenage and smoldering Hideo Tanaka – offers her a job. He will put her as a wildcard into the Warcross games if she will serve as his spy. I’m not *quite* finished with this book yet, but I feel VERY confident recommending it. The weaving in of Emika’s backstory is done masterfully. In books like this, I sometimes have trouble keeping track of all the different characters and technology in play. But from page one of Warcross, I’ve been riveted.

Gallery of Unfinished GirlsThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz is one of the more quiet young books from 2017 that I wished got a little more attention from the YA community. I interviewed Karcz in July when her book came out, but don’t think I’ve followed up with how much I enjoyed this debut. Filled with magical realism, the story follows Mercedes Monroe, a teenage artist with serious painter’s block. Her mom’s out of town taking care of her abuela, who’s in a coma, and she’s keeping a seriously big secret from her best friend Victoria. The answer to her artistic problems, seems to be a mysterious neighbor with an invitation to an enchanted empty condo building. In the building, Mercedes is able to do her best work – but it has to stay in the building. And eventually she has to decide what’s more important, her life outside the condo or the expression and invigoration she feels inside.

Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a book that, by contras, has gotten lots of attention. Deservedly so. I had ridiculously high expectations after The Fault in Our Stars  and this book surpassed every one of those expectations. Every. Single. One. This was a stay up way too late to finish this book in one sitting kind of read for me. Part mystery, part chronicle of the difficult internal life of a character struggling with OCD, and part celebration of complicated friendships – I LOVED THIS BOOK. In case you can’t tell. It felt so nuanced and hard and true about knocking down the often used tropes and misunderstandings about mental illness. And it had the tight, exceedingly clever language that I’ve loved in Green’s previous books. It also made me cry all the tears and feel all the feels and remember how powerful and immersive reading a book like this can be.

What are you all reading these days (not that I need to add to my TBR, lol)?

 

Legend: A Dystopian Romeo and Juliet (kind of)

There was nothing wrong with Legend. That’s not a huge endorsement of the book, or a compelling first sentence, but it is my primary feeling after finishing this debut novel by Marie Lu. The narrating characters have distinct voices and interesting back story. There is a clear, and at times compelling, plot. The dystopian American landscape is intricately imagined, if not a little cliched. What I can’t figure out is if nothing was wrong, why did it take me more than two thirds of the book to get into it?

I might be reading too many of these kinds of books, but the setting felt very familiar to me. Society where you’re whole life depends on the results on a test all citizens take at ten. Day, the first narrator in the book and a poor boy from the slums, failed the test and instead of being pushed to the margins of society (or worse!) he devotes his life to enacting criminal revenge of the Republic. June, the other narrator, is a privileged girl who scored the only perfect score in history. She is enveloped in the high ranks of this military state, with the supreme motivation of protecting the society she’s flourished in.

What could these two have in common? Aside from their backgrounds, almost everything. What happens when both of their motives for revenge collide pushing the two characters together and on opposing sides? My title should give you a clue to this.

As I said before, this novel didn’t thrill me. When it comes to this type of book, I liked The Hunger Games Series and even Divergent more. The end of the novel did manage to catch my interest though, so I do have some hope for the next books in the series.

For further reading and reviews: