Monday, May 18, 2015

Mini Reviews | The Raven Boys~Maggie Stiefvater, Just Listen~Sarah Dessen, and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour~Morgan Matson

I decided to do something a bit different today and combine the reviews for three of my recent reads into one post. These will be short reviews with some of my thoughts about these novels.

Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA Paranoraml/Fantasy
Length: 416 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: September 2012
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I love Maggie Stiefvater's writing. I'm a huge fan of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and the companion novel Sinner. Her writing is just beautiful and is what got me hooked on her stuff. For some reason it took me years to pick up this book (and just in time to complete the first three before the final one comes out later this year!), but I'm really glad that I did. 

This is an extremely character driven story and I love that. Blue is the daughter of a psychic and has been surrounded by the paranormal her entire life. She knows, through psychic visions, that if she ever kisses her true love, he will die. How exactly is a question she doesn't want answered. So Blue avoids guys, not wanting to fall in love and doom her love to an early death. That gets complicated when she sees Gansey's spirit, warning her that he will be dead within a year. And she would only be able to see him if he were her true love or she were the one who killed him, which, I guess, would kind of be one and the same with Blue. 

Blue's life gets mixed up with the raven boys: Gansey, Adam, Noah, and Ronan. Their paths cross somewhat unexpectedly and together they embark on a quest to awaken the ley line (a line of power that runs through their town). Much of the novel is spent in the development of these characters and them getting to know each other. It could be rather slow at times, but was overall very interesting. Gansey is brilliant, rich, and ambitious. He just doesn't know how to act around other people without them thinking they are his playthings. Adam is a poor genius who goes to their prestigious school on scholarship, hoping to escape his abusive household. Ronan has a troubled past that seems to be steeped around the death of his father, which is somewhat of a mystery. He's rough, but one of the more intriguing characters for me. Noah is quiet and nearly invisible. His history is shrouded in dark events and twisted people. 

There is not a single character that I did not enjoy in this story. The story alternates between the characters, giving you insight into each of them as the story progresses, and I loved that style. It's all told in third person and Blue is the main focus a majority of the time, but the rest of the cast gets a good share of attention. I am really excited to dive into the next book and see where the story is headed. This one had a very satisfactory ending, but there are definitely many loose ends that need answers. 

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 383 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: April 2006
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is my sixth novel by Sarah Dessen and probably my second favorite. What I love about Dessen is that she throws you right into the story and hits you with some really tough material. It can be painful, but it's worth it.

Annabel, the main character, is was one of the most relatable characters I've read in a Dessen novel so far. She struggles with confidence, self worth, all of the things that teenage girls are known for having issues with, Annabel has them. After her best friend Sophie ditches her and she becomes an outcast, Annabel is trying to deal with the fallout while figuring out exactly what happened that night and how she will ever be able to live with it. 

Owen is a reformed bad boy who never goes anywhere without his ipod and earphones around his neck. Owen and Annabel form an unlikely friendship and his honesty (a requirement from his Anger Management) helps Annabel realize that it's ok to open up. It's better to face things face on than to have them haunt you. But she's afraid of hurting the people around her, including herself. 
My favorite part of this novel was probably Owen. He was so real and genuine. His love of music was intriguing and his honesty was beautiful. Hearing about who had been and how he was dealing with the changes he was making in his life was inspiring. And watching Annabel grow as she learned from him was really nice. They brought out the best in each other. 
Annabel's family and their issues was a nice touch in the novel as well. The sisters, Kirsten and Whitney, both had their own issues but I appreciated how much they all supported each other and how much they all grew as the story progressed. It was a really nice read. Some of the things that Annabel did or didn't do frustrated me at times, but overall I really liked it. 

Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: YA Contemorary
Length: 344 Pages (Paperback)
Release: May 2010
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This novel really makes me want to take a road trip. The playlists, state facts, and pictures were excellent touches. It really lets the reader feel like they're a part of the road trip experience. 

Amy was a likable and easy to relate with character. She was dealing with the recent death of her father after an accident she felt responsible for and felt that her family had shut her out. 
Roger is the son of her mom's friend and is enlisted to travel cross country from California to Connecticut with Amy. The two decide to deviate from the given itinerary and detour to several cities and sights both on the way and out of the way. A four day trip extends as the two embark on quests to find something they've lost. 
The relationship building between Amy and Roger was really nice. I like how they were kind of awkward around each other at first but soon came to understand and support each other, even when the other had goals they didn't necessarily agree with. Their adventures were fun and heartbreaking in nearly equal measure. Watching them start to care about each other for real and not just as one person cares about the concerns of a stranger was great. 
The only thing that really kept me from giving this a full five star rating was the end. The last bit of the novel felt too rushed at points. Amy and Roger's relationship was kind of launched into overdrive and felt too fast for me at the end. I also think that some of the revelations could have been spaced apart more, instead of being concentrated toward the end of the story. But overall it was a really good read.  

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