Book Review – ‘What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

The type of diverse novel I’ve been longing to read. No hate. Just meetcute.

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 437

From Goodreads:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

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This was such an adorable story. Arthur and Ben are deliciously, awkwardly cute. A realistic things-don’t-always-go-right sort of thing.

What if it’s us’ is everything I expected it to be. Well written characters, a meet cute oozing innocence, awkwardness and angst. I may have rated it higher, but in comparison to ‘Simon vs the Homo Sapien Agenda’ this didn’t hit me as hard… or have as much comedy. So it just missed out on a perfect score. But that is not to say that is any less of a captivating read.

Four hundred pages and still ‘What if it’s us’ flew by. I was always eager to see where the next chapter would take me. The alternating perspectives between Arthur and Ben lead off on two different storylines that happened to intertwine more and more as the novel progressed without rehashing information as we head-jumped into each narrative. I will say that the writing style did not differ too greatly between each perspective – if it weren’t for chapter titles and references I would have difficulty discerning whose voice was whose. I’d love to have seen some idiosyncrasies, habits, common word usage and tone separate the two perspectives a little more.

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Arthur, the shorter college-bound nerd discovering his first love made me smile with his uncertainty in everything but love. His values in family and friendship. I think this is the first story where there is no bitchiness or bullying, so a surprisingly fun rom-com.

It felt like Ben had the biggest journey in this contemporary; discovering things about himself through introspection, friends, and of course, Arthur. He felt more like the stoic introvert that finally comes out of his shell.

It’s all about coming of age…

All of the secondary characters had their own stuff going on too: getting together, breaking up, fighting, and supporting each other. I really loved this aspect of ‘What if it’s us’ and really fleshed out the narrative.

It ends on the same note of the title as a question – like a true contemporary. One of hope that left me satisfied and hopeful myself.

The pacing is fairly steady. It’s not a fast read, but definitely does not feel like its dragging. The perfect timing for this type of genre.

Definitely recommend for lovers of stories of diversity, light romances, and New York City.

Overall feeling: A deliciously snuggy story

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

What If It's Us Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrap up – Blackbird Duology by Anna Carey

When there is no-one you can trust, people are trying to kill you, all you can do is rely on yourself… and survive!

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What a dynamic duology! I loved and devoured both of these books in quick succession. I would recommend reading these close together, or marathoning them, as ‘Blackbird’ ends on a cliff-hanger and if you get entranced as I was, you’ll be desperate to find out what happens next.

I will say that the whole memory loss/amnesia trope has been clubbed to death, especially in YA. However the majority of protagonists in this action/thriller genre tend to be male, so it was fantastic to read it from a female perspective. Especially since she is intelligent, resourceful, and follows her instincts. No fading wallflower or damsel in distress here.

One other note of contention that we never really get explained is how the protagonists get some of their spy-like survival skills. It was a bit of a reach for me to completely swallow this aspect.

But on the whole, I loved how quickly the series kicks off isolating the protagonist. The feeling of not being able to trust anyone is visceral and the writing style is punchy. Short chapters, so you can really power through these novels.

Once our protagonist begins to regain some of her memories, especially in ‘Deadfall,’ there were a lot of flashback scenes that pulled me from the narrative. I would have preferred different methods of revealing these memories to the reader though, because after three or four, to became too repetitive.

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There is a love triangle in here, but it does not devolve into an angsty mess. So I did not find myself rolling my eyes at this trope.

I have to say this is a solid four star rating across the board. The brief and punchy descriptive style of Anna Carey keeps the pace going from beginning to end and I was highly entertained and would happily recommend this to lovers of the YA genre. We get a decent amount of character development. The plot twists are pretty great and was completely satisfied with the pay-off upon completing the two novels. A fun cat-and-mouse type thriller.

Blackbird’ was optioned by Lionsgate back in March 2015, but there has been no news since the announcement. I can see how this would have appeal to the public as an action/thriller, especially since there have not been a lot of releases in this genre of late, so I guess we will have to wait and see if it comes to fruition, and what type of Hollywood treatment it gets. But it is certainly a film I’d be interested in seeing. But in digging further into the screenwriter attached to the project, Daniel Mackey (of ‘Aim High’ fame,) he hasn’t been involved in anything listed on the regular movie production sites since 2015. Plus ‘Blackbird’ is no longer listed on Lionsgate’s website as movies in development, so while it is optioned, at this point in time it is not being actively worked on. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

Blackbird’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/book-review-blackbird-1-blackbird-by-anna-carey/

Deadfall’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/book-review-deadfall-2-blackbird-by-anna-carey/

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Deadfall’ (#2 Blackbird) by Anna Carey

Move over Hannah, the Gallagher Girls, Spy Kids and Barely Lethal, there’s a new girl in town.

Deadfall (#2 Blackbird) Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Mystery, Thriller

No. of pages: 256

From Goodreads:

A week ago, you woke up in Los Angeles with no memory of who you are. The only thing you knew: people are trying to kill you. You put your trust in Ben, but he betrayed you and broke your heart. Now you’ve escaped to New York City with a boy named Rafe, who says he remembers you from before. But the two of you are not safe. The same people who are after you are tailing Rafe as well. As the chase heats up, your memory starts to return, but your past cannot save you from the terrifying circumstances of your present, or the fact that one wrong move could end this game forever.

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Again, like the debut of this duology ‘Blackbird,’ I was gripped from page to page. This is one action thriller that keeps your attention.

I was still wondering where all this instinctive training exhibited by our protagonist Sunny/Lena came from. Combat, lock picking, pickpocketing. They are skills that take ages to master, so that aspect of the story pulled me a little from the narrative – like please – Sunny/Lena has to fail at something. Believeability suffered by our protagonist miraculously having all these awesome skills in her arsenal. It was fun reading about, but felt like either another novel in this series was needed to explore this aspect, or a bit more care was needed in the existing two books to explain it away sufficiently.

I think because of all the action and pacing, some emotional connection between the characters was sacrificed. I was invested in their story, their survival, but not so much their relationships. I didn’t care for the characters themselves either. I felt like I needed more emotional development, some more backstory and a chance to see bonds develop further before the novel ended. Consequently, as with a few of the plot twists (which I did not see coming) left me with acceptance, rather than some emotional reaction.

There is a little bit of character development – but it’s mainly from the amnesia fading and the characters getting some of their old lives back – this story is more a survival, cat-and-mouse chase than anything else, so don’t expect paragraphs of naval gazing, wondering about their place in the universe.

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I did happen to roll my eyes at the Sunny/Lena-Ben-Rafe love triangle. Though it was handled intelligently and didn’t turn into a big angsty mess, I am starting to find this trope overdone in YA.

The best way I can sum up the main cast would be: Ben is a great redemption story. Rafe was a faithful golden retriever, Sunny/Lena was never-say-die….

We get a lot more flashbacks, and brief flashes of alternative character perspectives dispersed throughout the narrative, and while giving pertinent plot points to the story, left the book feeling a bit messy and all over the place. I would rather a few poignant flashbacks and leave out the other points of view entirely to keep the narratives strength and remain connected to Sunny/Lena.

But you definitely get a pay-off at the end. I love how it was all resolved. Anna Carey can shape a great tale, and I am eager to purchase her dystopian Eve trilogy.

Carey’s writing style is fairly brief and punchy, she doesn’t dwell on the superfluous and pushes the story forward with bare needed description and facts, and short chapters. I devoured this book in a matter of hours.

Overall it was engaging, entertaining, and intelligent and definitely one of the better YA novels I’ve read recently – I highly recommend this to be read shortly after the debut ‘Blackbird.’

I know ‘Blackbird’ was optioned for a movie by Lionsgate back in 2015, but there has been no news on its development since the initial announcement, but it’s certainly a movie I’d like to see. 🙂

Overall feeling: Love me some teen super-spy action!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘November 9’ by Collen Hoover

Trashy tropes and shenanigans.

November 9 Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: N/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 310

From Goodreads:

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

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I loved reading this book. The Drama! I was hooked from the first line.

I think this book is great in illustrating that we are all fallible. Everyone makes assumptions, mistakes, and it is how we recover from these that defines our character.

All the characters are great: fully realised, they jump from the page, warts and all! You get clear character development from the cast too, so by the end you feel like you’ve gone through a journey, and it has changed you.

I really liked our protagonist, Fallon – her insecurities can translate to any girl with aspects of her body that she does not like. It was also great to see her get over her wallowing and deciding to make something of her career. That get-up-and-go attitude really resonated with me, and I instantly became invested in her story. That and the hilarious and sassy conversation with her father at the start of the book had me hooked.

As for the worst: I found Fallon’s love interest Ben to be a little long-winded, a little whiny, and a little over-expository. But I loved his character. I think the failings I had with his personality is another reason I deducted half a mark… Though he is tenacious, altruistic, and incredibly romantic. After finishing ‘November 9’ I decided his good traits outweighed the bad.

November 9’ is an easy read with some great wit. I did get a little annoyed and the small amount of swearing – and Ben calling Fallon ‘babe’ – but that is just a pet hate of mine and I didn’t let is sway my rating. Colleen Hoover weaves angst and tension in there as seamlessly as she always does, and one of the elements in her writing style that always has me coming back for more.

I would have rated this higher if something about the story didn’t creep me out a little. But that’s all personal. And I won’t discuss it here because I don’t want to spoil your reading experience with giving away the best part of the plot.

The discussion of ‘insta-love’ and other bookish elements was a great touch, using them as an underlying theme had me cheering. The pacing is well done too, even though it takes place over many years, you don’t get bogged down with too many irrelevant aspects not important to the main storyline.

I will say I did not see, or remotely guess the plot twist. I revelled in the drama. For me the ending was sweet, if a bit meh… but that is my personal taste given the situation, not the writing, how everything was brought to culmination. Again all of the issues I had with ‘November 9’ stem from my own reactions to the situations faced by Fallon. Another great title from CoHo herself and something I’d recommend to all faithful fans and lovers of contemporary romance.

Overall reaction: Messy people make for a great read.

November 9 Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

November 9 Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Last Star’ by Rick Yancey

An ending to the trilogy – executed like a belly-flop.

The Last Star Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 338

From Goodreads:

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

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I was really excited to read the final chapter in the Fifth Wave trilogy. Notoriously the last books in a series are where you get the bang for your buck; and considering that the second instalment was a little *bleh* I was looking forward to a momentous culmination reminiscent of its debut. But this book was underwhelming, I kinda liked it, but it lacked punch.

There was a lot of head jumping. To the point where it became confusing. Especially towards the end with the introduction of new characters. It was hard to connect with the narrative because of the constant changing of POV. Much more so than its predecessors combined. It sucked the emotion out of what could have been a satisfyingly gut wrenching book. I mean we are in the death throes of an alien invasion, don’t know who to trust, who’s the enemy – it’s high stakes drama. And it left me feeling yeah, okay… umm nice?

With a lot of the “alieness” about the invasion still feeling unsubstantiated and irrelevant; because it’s an alien, there are no human rules to attribute to the way we were invaded… All those answers I was hoping to get – well they were explained, but just not as astounding as I wanted them to be. This is the final book, the climax right? There was all this hype, all this desperate clamour for survival and then *plink* – where was the big splash?

Again, ‘The Last Star’ fell victim to the issues I had with ‘The Infinite Sea.’ We start the trilogy off with Cassie, connecting with her plight and personal story, and then in the last two books we get very little of her POV. Really disappointing. Why set up a precedence in the first novel and not follow it through? I got very frustrated.

The story is still interesting, and I enjoyed the plot, but it lacked the soul and desperation I was craving. Introducing new characters so late in the series, and not having them built up and established in previous volumes made it hard to care about them at all. It left me feeling a little cheated. I put a lot of investment in Cassie and was dished up with so many other characters… grrr.

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It’s not a bad book, the writing is still top notch, the story line is complex and interwoven through all the characters, though it failed to tug at my heart strings. It felt stale. This series had a character-driven start, and a plot-driven end.

I found in last few chapters there was a lot of repetition, killing the pace and pulling me from the narrative. I really think all that changing of perspective did a massive disservice to this book.

And ultimately, I did not particularly enjoy the ending. So while all of the tools of great novel writing were there – it failed to get me emotionally invested. So, it’s a lack-lustre review from me, and not something I would not recommend. Read the first book, see the movie. But the rest you can skip. You won’t be missing much.

Overall feeling: well, that happened…

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Chase’ by Dean Koontz

Psychological Stalker from the ‘70’s – still has good bones.

Chase Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Horror, Thriller

No. of pages: 244

From Goodreads:

Ben Chase is a war hero with bitter memories. Vietnam left him with a hard drinking habit, a mental breakdown–and massive guilt.

So who will believe him when he swears a psychopath is out to get him? When society is sick, the mad are sane–and persecution is a killer’s game…   

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Chase’ has a slight air of misogyny and sexism, popular for its time – written in 1972 – and felt like it was influenced by detective novels and early Stephen King. Many characters felt stereotyped and had a level of stupidity. Nowadays, Koontz’s characters are much more complex, and objectification handled intelligently. But in revisiting Koontz’s early works, it still stood up to giving me the hee-bee-gee-bees.

Chase’ was published under another name (K.R. Dwyer) when it was initially released.

Ben Chase is a medically discharged soldier tackling PTSD who happened across, and intervened in a murder at a local make-out/lookout point. Consequently, the killer gets away, and his attentions are turned onto Chase himself. The murderer, calling himself ‘The Judge’ chooses his victims who he deems worthy of being judged and executed… now ‘The Judge’ has found Chase worthy of death from his past discretions.

There is play on whether Chase is imagining much of this predicament due to his mental condition, but I think it wasn’t utilised enough in the story line and could have been executed better.

Introduction of Glenda, a love interest for Chase, humanised our protagonist and made the book immensely more enjoyable. I was beginning to dislike Chase somewhat and found him difficult to relate to (though I am not the demographic for this novel) and wish she’d been introduced earlier to soften the rough edges, bringing some emotion in earlier to the plot line.

Maybe because I’ve read widely in this genre for the past 30 years, and a considerable number of Koontz’s later books, the plot was very predictable. It also failed to give me that shiver that I get from many of his titles. But for its lack in scare tactics, it makes up for in pacing – things amped up after the half way mark and I really started to enjoy ‘Chase.

I can see precursors of elements that appear in his later novels, many of which are favourites (and have been turned into films) and how much Koontz has grown as a storyteller.

I’d only recommend this for hard core Dean Koontz fans – the story is a little dated and generic. There are far more enjoyable titles in his current catalogue. But I have to admit I revelled in the nostalgia, it reminded me of the television and movies of the early 80’s

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Spoilers:

A couple of points that I found distasteful, was the message that homosexuals are evil and paedophiles – a trend of the time before realising its discriminatory nature. And I’m not sure about the justified homicide angle, it was dark and trite. But that’s just me and my opinion…

Overall feeling: Rotary Telephone, Cathode ray tube, records, old and obsolete but still enjoyable.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ by Holly Black

The double edged sword of having Fae folk as neighbours.. it can only be delicious and terrifying.

The Darkest Part of the Forest Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Fantasy

No. of pages: 336

From Goodreads:

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough? 

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I bought this after reading ‘The Coldest Girl in Coldtown’ – Holly Black’s writing is fun, dark, and she’s great at developing a character; so I was expecting all of that in ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ and was not disappointed.

I’m not big on fantasy, but the setting of this novel was in a modern day urban locale, with a small town sharing a forest with Fae Folk. They’ve reached a sort-of pact, and know all of the Fariy Lore. So, I found it easy to relate to the story, and wasn’t distracted by lengthy world building.

The writing style has an omnipresent eye, bucking the trend of a first person narrative, as we follow brother and sister, Ben and Hazel, both who are fascinated (as are much of the town of Farifold) with a beautiful boy in a glass coffin, Snow White-style.

The Darkest Part of the Forest Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleHazel is warrior child from the get go, she wild and brazen and not afraid of the folk. Imaginary games of being a huntress, dispatching the bad Fae becomes a real life duty for Hazel. It’s her secret double life outside of being a regular fun-loving school student.

Likewise, her brother Ben assists in Hazel quests using his ability to entrance all with music, like a Pied Piper, a gift bestowed on him by the Fae. Ben is compassionate and tortured, like every true artist. Having Ben identify as gay only added delicious layers to his story.

Jack is Ben’s best friend (and Changeling – a fairy youngling, replacing a human child and left for the family to raise, however the ruse was discovered and the human baby recovered, though Ben was kept as a punishment. Looking completely human and identical to human baby Carter, he was raised as a part of the family.) Jack loves without discrimination and has a foot in both worlds. Of course, Hazel would have a crush on him. I loved the way his character developed in this story most of all.

Severin the horned prince in the glass coffin – and Ben’s love interest still manages to be in the centre of the storyline even though he is asleep. The stories everyone makes up about who he is, and how he came to be entombed in a magical glass box is fascinating.

A surprisingly fast read that is paced well. ‘The Darkest Part of the Forest’ always kept me interested and engaged. The story dealt out some surprises, but overall, fairly predictable – though that did not detract from my enjoyment. With such a rich array of characters and a fantastical world juxtaposing over our own, it ticked all the poxes for me as an enjoyable weekend read. I think the only thing that could have made it better was a heavier dose of darkness and menacing tension – then I would be completely satisfied. Though having said that it would have lost that innocent lyrical tone befitting the Fae so well.

Loved the physical presentation of the hardback copy. Deckled edges, mat and embossed dust jacket and beautiful typesetting throughout the interior. And did I mention the stunning cover art?

Overall feeling: One word – Cute.

The Darkest Part of the Forest Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Infinite Sea’ by Rick Yancey

This sci-fi dystopian adventure is slowly roping me in.

The Infinite Sea Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 320

From Goodreads:

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

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I took a long time to build up to reading ‘The Infinite Sea’ after many of my friends gave this a less than stellar review. In hindsight I can understand why they did, but I also loved the story. But at least, for the middle book in a trilogy it didn’t feel like it was treading water.

I managed to get plenty of surprises. I did not guess many of the plot twists either, so that’s a wonderful thing. Either Yancey’s writing style is better in this book, or I noticed it more. Some of his descriptions, dialogue and snippets of expression were truly brilliant.

What did bother me – and in a major way – was the jumping around with the narrative. So many points of view, picking up different parts of the story. ‘The Infinite Sea’ felt more like a collection of novellas in the same universe than and actual book. In a way I felt cheated. In ‘The Fifth Wave’ we get a big chunk of Cassie, and smaller parts from Evan, Ben and Sam, This second book was proportionally different and even introduced more characters voices. As much as I loved the story – this style of jumping into so many different character heads just killed it for me. I really think Rick Yancey should have adopted an omnipresent narrative style like Stephen King to tell this trilogy and it would have been executed so much better.

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There is a lot of action. It starts off with a bang, and ends with one. So pacing is not an issue. Contrastingly, there were a few moments that I found boring as cast branched off in backstory or storytelling, but on the whole it’s an engaging read.

I’m definitely curious for the final book ‘The Last Star.’ The sci-fi element has got me hooked and I am really interested to see where it all goes. I have so many questions about the invasion that didn’t make sense in the first book, and getting a hint to a possible explanation has me hungry to find out the truth. Please, please, let there be an explanation in the final novel.

I know that a movie adaptation for ‘The Infinite Sea’ is still up in the air, and honestly, after reading the book, I’m not entirely sure it would work given that Cassie is absent for over half the book. I’m not sure how that would go down with audiences… but who knows what Hollywood magic they will perform. I mean look at ‘New Moon’ from the Twilight Saga – they still got a lot of Edward onto the screen where in the book he was only present for a few chapters… food for thought.

Overall feeling: Too many voices.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 5th Wave – Book Review

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, dystopia

No. of pages: 457

From Goodreads:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

The Fifth Wave combined many aspects I love, (and many I dislike) but enabled to keep me hooked until the last page. Rick Yancey brings the realism of survival at the feet of an alien invasion in bright, bloody and disparaging technicolour.

I know this book is currently in pre-production for a film staring Chloe Grace Mortez, one of my favourite young actors, and I’m hoping that some of the failings in the novel don’t make it to the screen – if they are able to ignore the large plot and scientific shortcomings it has the potential to outshine the novel ten-fold. Let’s hope it sticks to the original content and doesn’t stray into being too much like ‘Bodysnatchers.’

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 09The story itself was highly entertaining, I love battles against the odds, and science fiction, so combining both of these ensured this title was in my library. The main character, Cassie Sullivan reacted to the events described in the novel in such a raw and organic way, it was easy to put myself in her place. Instead of being the big superhero, Cassie’s survival skill kicked in, tuning into that pre-evolutionary instinct to run and hide. It was this aspect that kept me reading. If she had immediately turned into a super soldier I would have discarded the book right then and there.

The alien invasion and military angle throughout the book made less sense. The premise of ‘waves’ from a technologically advanced species; especially after reading about some of their advancements (space travel, teleportation, biological warfare), a passive invasion, even on the pretence of being careful not to damage the Earth’s ecosystem was untenable. It is quite possible that from the unreliable and adolescent point of view of Cassie’s that the real circumstances were not so – but this fact is never made clear. In addition, the conspiracy and military actions were also far fetched for such a superior civilization. For me, these facts had the aliens looking stupid – almost juvenile. Granted the premise for the story is ingenious – conquering in waves – but its execution pathetic.

The other aspect that had me cringing, and as much as I liked Cassie, she came across as fickle in the face of the world ending with boy problems. It wasn’t handled well at all. With people dying around her, her family struggling to live, and hiding in a crumbling town, her woes that Ben Parish, the cute boy at school was just as important had me gagging. If Rick understood girls at all, he should have played with her vulnerabilities in relation to her wanting to feel beautiful, and for things to go back to normal when dealing with these feelings to avoid the sudden change of focus. It felt cold and unnecessary in the beginning of her story.

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 02Other than that, the characters felt real and well-rounded. You could see motivations other than survival in different hues within the cast. The helplessness of human efforts, despair, self-sacrifice, came shining through. The graphic descriptions and action did not shy away from violence or impact of losing a loved one in the throws of war as things that occur daily adding a vulnerability and realism in Cassie’s world.

About two-thirds into the novel there is a change in point of view to Ben Parish (a.k.a. Zombie), which I felt was left too late in the story. You’ve invested a lot in Cassie and her plight, and then – yoink! Normally a change in storytellers play off each other, which this did to a degree – but I felt it cheated by using it as a tool to fill the reader in on important information on the invasion rather than develop Cassie’s character further.

The pacing of the novel was enthralling, granted there were a few spots where I put the book down because it was losing me, but overall I kept at it and completed the entire story in a few days. Rick Yancey’s style is pleasant to read, and certainly adds to Cassie’s inner machinations.

It reminded me a lot of the television series ‘Falling Skies’ and if you enjoyed watching that, then this is a book for you.

Judging The Fifth Wave solely on its storytelling, I’d have to reward it with four kisses rather than fall into a philosophical debate on advanced technology and civilizations. I’ve yet to read the next in the series, but will definitely give it a go, hoping that ‘The Infinite Sea’ uses the maturity Cassie has achieved to shed some light on the problems overlooked here.

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