Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trends in Contemporary YA #2: Sister Stories

Trends in Contemporary YA is a feature I do every once in a while, and in each post, I talk about one trend in contemporary YA, whether or not I like it, and give some examples of books for this trend. You can check out some earlier posts in this feature here.

The links will take you to the Goodreads pages.

This week's topic is: sister stories!

There are loads and loads of YA books out there about sisters, especially ones told from the younger sister's point-of-view. There are also loads about the older sister dying, and it seems especially popular to have the younger, quieter sister tell the story of how she finds out the older, outgoing sister isn't as perfect as she'd always seemed. I really like these books, but I'd like to see some more books about other sibling relationships.

Here are some examples of sister stories I've read and loved:

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
(I know this one isn't technically YA, but I decided to include it anyways.)

And here are some sister books I haven't read but that look great:

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala
All These Lives by Sarah Wylie

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez
Waves by Sharon Dogar

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Irises by Francisco X. Stork

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley
Never Enough by Denise Jaden

What do you think of sister stories in YA? Have you had enough, or do you want more? If you've read any of the books I mentioned, what did you think?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Title: Split
Author: Swati Avasthi
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 9th 2010
Pages: 280
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret. He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret. At least so far. Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again?

 My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow. I just finished Split, and I'm having the hardest time organizing my thoughts. I am completely overwhelmed and in awe of this book. It's too amazing to put in words.

Honestly, I didn't love Split from the start. I can't even remember why, but I wasn't immediately sucked in by the story - maybe it's just because I've been super busy with school and it took me a while to read the novel. But, in a way, I like that I took my time with Split - it grew on me, and it made me fall in love with the story slowly - even while I wasn't reading, I found myself thinking about it constantly.

The idea for Split is great. I've read a few books dealing with domestic violence and abusive relationships, but Split is different, since it's about what happens after you make the choice to leave. I really liked that this book offers a new perspective, as it shows how deep the issue really is - even though Jace got out, he is still very much shaped by his father's abuse. I don't want to tell you too much about Jace's secret because of spoilers, but it's heartbreaking to see how hard his life is because of his dad, how it influences every relationship he'll ever have.

For the most part, the plot is fast-paced and thrilling. Split is a real page-turner - especially in the second half, I didn't want to put the book down; I needed to know what happens to these characters.

The writing is incredibly vivid - I felt like I was right there alongside Jace throughout the story, and I could imagine every situation perfectly. It makes the story even more real, raw, and heartbreaking.

Jace is an amazing character. I didn't always like him, but that's kind of the point - he's not supposed to be perfect; he's supposed to be real. And he is definitely real. There were times when I wanted to shake him, but really, I couldn't blame him for the way he acts. His thoughts are so complex and offer a whole new perspective on abuse, the long-term effects I'd never even thought about. Jace's voice is so real, I feel like I've known him forever.

Christian is a fascinating character, too. The relationship between him and Jace is one of the things I liked best about Split - the ups and downs are perfectly done. I would love to see what it's been like for him - his decision to leave the family, how he dealt with knowing Jace and their mom were left behind, how he built a life for himself, and what it's like for him when, years later, his younger brother shows up at his door. I would love to read another version of Split, written from his point of view.

I also loved Mirriam. She added a unique way of seeing things, and I love how she kept trying to get Jace and Christian to open up. Reading the story from her perspective would be interesting, too. Really, if it were up to me, Swati Avasthi would spend the rest of her life writing new versions of Split, from each character's point of view, and I would read every version.

The ending is perfect. Somehow, it broke my heart and put it back together again, at the same time. I wanted the happily-ever-after for each character, but it's just not realistic, so I'm glad the author went with this ending - the perfect tie between heartbreaking and hopeful.

There are so many more amazing things about Split that I can't even put in words. It's dark, raw, powerful and disturbing, in a good way, and it offers unique insight into the lives of abuse victims. Read it - you won't be disappointed.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bookish Anticipation #13

Bookish Anticipation is a feature I do every once in a while to spotlight future releases I'm excited for. You can check out more Bookish Anticipation posts here.

Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 11th 2012
Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.
When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing—winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love—seems beyond her reach.
But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn’t. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven’t even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 11th 2012
Seventeen-year-old Matt Foster thought that if he could only get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he'd be able to make sense of T.J.’s death. He wasn’t expecting T.J.’s personal effects to raise even more questions about his brother’s life. Now, even if it means pushing his dad over the edge ... even if it means losing his best friend ... even if it means getting expelled from school ... Matt will do whatever it takes to find out the truth about his brother’s past.

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: October 2nd 2012

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the pain meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.
The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.

Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: August 7th 2012

Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.
On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.
Lyrical and moving prose from an original voice whose writing Judy Blume calls “luminous” deftly depicts the nuanced conflicts of early motherhood and the search for identity.

Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: July 24th 2012
It’s my turn to run a Campus News crew, and I’ve put together a team that can break stories wide open. And Washington Irving High has a truly great one to cover, if only we can find a lead.
A secret society has formed in our school. It announced its presence with pranks: underwear on the flag pole, a toilet in the hallway, cryptic notes. A circle of silence keeps the society a mystery. No one knows its members, agenda, or initiation secrets—until a student lands in the hospital under strange circumstances.
I will blow this story wide open and stop others from being hurt…or worse. And while my ex, Jagger, might want to help, I don’t trust him yet. (And, no, not because of our past together. That is not important to this story.)
But whether you find me, Valerie Gaines, reporting in front of the camera, or a victim in the top story of the newscast…be sure to watch Campus News at 9:00 a.m. this Friday morning.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 18th 2012
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their reasons for being there (which involve T.J., the school's most eligible bachelor) and look forward to three glorious days of boys, booze and fun-filled luxury. But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.
Suddenly people are dying, and with a storm raging, the teens are cut off the from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez

Release date: October 16th 2012
Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly's thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands them both in serious trouble.
Amelia's not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to…but the situation is even worse than either of them realizes. Amelia has no choice but to give up everything--her friends, her future, her dream--in order to cover for Charly’s huge mistake. Amelia doesn't understand how her sister could have done this to them both. What she doesn't know is that Charly is hiding a terrible secret—one with the potential to change everything.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: July 31st 2012

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: October 9th 2012
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility.
As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: November 21st 2011
Pages: 356
Genre: YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.

First sentence:
I can't break up with Graham today, even though I told my friends I'd do it the next time I saw him.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was really, really excited to read The Future of Us. I loved Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, and I'd heard great things about Carolyn Mackler. And this idea is so awesome - unique and fascinating. But I ended up feeling pretty underwhelmed about the whole novel.

I still love the idea. Discovering yourself on Facebook fifteen years into the future is one of the most intriguing hooks I could imagine. It's fun to wonder what I would do if I found my future self on Facebook. While the plot is predictable, I really liked reading about how Josh and Emma handle the situation, how their decisions in the present affect their future, and all of that. I liked the plot, and I still think the unique premise is what makes this book worth reading.

The rest of the novel, though, didn't really work for me. My main problem are the main characters. They're just so... bland. I couldn't connect with neither Emma nor Josh because I felt both lacked personality - there's nothing that makes them special or memorable. I wanted them to have some kind of quirks or interests to make them stand out, but they're pretty boring. I didn't build up a relationship towards Emma or Josh, and I didn't particularly care what happened to them. And characters are what's most important to me in a book, so that kept me from enjoying The Future of Us as much as I wanted to.

I actually liked the secondary characters in the beginning - I think if I were to discover everyone I know on Facebook in the future, I would want to know what happens to all those people. I was disappointed that we didn't get to see all that much about other people. Josh and Emma almost only look at their own profiles and futures instead of the ones of their friends, and they say it would be wrong to look at their friends' profiles, but really, I don't see the difference to wanting to change their own futures. I would have liked to see them discovering more about all of the people they know. The same goes for the real-life secondary characters. I liked reading about Kellan and Tylor in the beginning, but don't think we got to know enough about their story.

I've heard a lot of people say what they loved most about this book are all the 90s-references, but since I was born in 94, I didn't get a lot of that. And while I can't blame the book for that, I still think it's kind of strange how much the story relies on references that their main target audience, being YA, probably won't get. Maybe it would have appealed to me more if I were older.

I'm also a little concerned about the timelessness of The Future of Us. The descriptions of Facebook are accurate for the time the book was published, but Facebook is already different, with the Timeline and all of that. Two years from now, the Facebook in The Future of Us will be completely different from the real one.

 Maybe I just had too high expectations for The Future of Us - I was expecting epic awesomeness, and while what I got is a cute story with a unique premise, it's nowhere near epic. The novel is too plot-driven for me, and the characters fall short, which didn't work for me, since I prefer character-driven novels. Whatever the reason, I felt very underwhelmed reading The Future of Us.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Judging Books by Their Covers #2: Candy

Judging Books by Their Covers is a feature I do every once in a while to showcase some book covers. Each post, I choose one category and some book covers that fit into that category, and talk about whether or not I like those covers. You can read some earlier posts in this feature here.

The links will take you to the Goodreads pages.

Today's category is: candy!

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy
Ex-Mas by Kate Brian

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
Love? Maybe by Heather Hepler

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles
The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Covers with candy seem very popular lately, especially candy-hearts. But I don't mind - I love books covers with candy! They always look delicious. The prettiest, in my opinion, is Bittersweet, but I like See You at Harry's best because of the connection to the actual story.

What do you think of book covers with candy? Which of these covers is your favorite?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Title: Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
Author: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 28th 2007
Pages: 230
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
NAOMI AND ELY ARE BEST FRIENDS. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine - until Bruce. Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But Ely kissed Bruce even though he is boring. The result: a rift of universal proportions and the potential end of "Naomi and Ely: the institution." Can these best friends come back together again?
First sentence:
I lie all the time.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I loved Nick & Norah and Dash & Lily, so I had high hopes for Naomi & Ely. And while the style and plot are similar to Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's other collaborations, I just didn't like it as much as those two.

The way that Naomi & Ely is written is something I haven't read before - instead of some words, there are symbols. I don't know how to explain it - there's a picture of a heart when they want to say love, there are smileys, there are pictures of walls, trees, lots of things. Not, like, big pictures, just a little symbol right in the middle of the sentence. On the first five pages or so, I loved that idea, and though it was cute, but that didn't last long. It got annoying really quickly. Luckily, they only used those pictures in Naomi's chapters and not in the whole novel.

The previous Cohn/Levithan-collaborations I've read have been written from alternating perspectives of the two main characters. In this book, however, we don't only get to read from the main characters' points-of-view, but from lots of secondary characters, too - Bruce the First, a guy who has a crush on Naomi; Bruce the Second, Naomi's boyfriend who then starts going out with Ely; girl-Robin and guy-Robin, two friends of Naomi and Ely's; Gabriel the doorman who has a thing for Naomi; Kellie, Bruce the First's sister; and those are just the ones I can think of right now. For me, those are just too many different points-of-view - since there's so many, the authors couldn't give each of them a distinctive voice, it was hard to distinguish whom you were reading about, and it got confusing, especially because there's two Bruces and two Robins. I like the idea of showing so many different kinds of love, but the POVs were just too many for me.

What made it so hard for me to enjoy this novel is that I couldn't connect with the characters. It's partly that there's so many of them, but it's also the characters themselves - I just didn't like most of them. Naomi and Ely are both so full of themselves - I wanted to shake them and tell them to get over themselves and deal with their problems. I liked reading about their shared past, their families, and how close they were growing up - that part is adorable - but I couldn't stand the present Naomi and Ely. 

I liked girl-Robin and Kellie - those are the only somewhat sympathetic characters. The rest of the secondary characters are just as annoying as Naomi and Ely - Gabriel is cocky without really having anything to be cocky about; Bruce the First is plain pathetic; guy-Robin is a total ass; and Bruce the Second is okay for the most part but makes a stupid and injustified decision that made me dislike him, too.

Then there's the swearing. I had this problem with Nick & Norah, and I had it again with Naomi & Ely - there are way, way too many swear words. I don't have a problem with cursing in general, and it's not like I mind if a book uses a curse word every once in a while, but it's just too much in these books. They say 'fuck' on every page, for no apparent reason, so much so that it bothered me while reading, even though I'm not usually sensitive about that kind of thing.

Despite all of that, I actually did like the main story - it was nice to see how Naomi and Ely's relationship evolves over the course of the novel, and I liked seeing them figure out what role they play in the other one's life.

This book was really, really disappointing for me. Too many points-of-view and not very likeable characters made it hard for me to enjoy Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List, which is sad, since I really did like the authors' other collaborations. If you haven't read anything by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, I'd recommend starting with Dash & Lily's Book of Dares or Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist instead of this one.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox #51

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where you can talk about the books you bought or received this week.


When You Open Your Eyes by Cecily Conway
(Amazon | Goodreads)
Tessa is in love with Lucien, the son of a European diplomat. He's French and sexy and artistic. With him, she realizes how naive and American she is, and just how alive she can feel.
But Tessa’s father forbids her to see Lucien. So they meet in secret, which makes their relationship feel all the more exciting.
The harder Tessa falls for Lucien, the more volatile he becomes. Suddenly it’s not just their relationship that’s breaking the rules—Lucien knows no boundaries. And Tessa must figure out how far she’ll go for Lucien…before there is no turning back.

I haven't heard all that much about this one, but it sounds great, right up my alley!

We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
(Amazon | Goodreads)
It's been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college-- only, their relationship hasn't exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It's time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever.
This series is so cute and fun, and I'm excited to read the last installment!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
(Amazon | Goodreads)
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
I can't believe I've never read an A.S. King book. I've heard so many amazing things about her books, especially this one, so I hope I'll like it as much as everyone else did!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Character This or That with Vee from Slide (Slide Blog Tour)

Today we have Vee from Slide by Jill Hathaway here for a This or That interview! This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for Slide. You can find out more about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops of the blog tour if you'd like to know more about Slide!

Summer or winter?
Vanilla or chocolate?
Cats or dogs?
Day or night?
Coffee or tea?
Movies or TV shows?
Movies... scaaaaaary movies.
Outdoors or indoors?
Superpower: Being invisible or being able to fly?
Being invisible is too much like sliding, which I hate most of the time. I think being able to fly would rock.
Being in a crowd or being alone?
Being alone with my music.
Being able to change the past or living with your mistakes?
If only I could change the past. If only.

Thank you, Hannah!!!

Thanks for the interview answers, Jill!

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the tour, and keep your eye out for Slide, which has already been released!

Slide by Jill Hathaway

(Amazon | Goodreads)
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Title: Never Eighteen
Author: Megan Bostic
Publisher: HMH Children's Books
Release date: January 17th 2012
Pages: 204
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.
Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will. It’s probably hopeless. But he has to try.
First sentence:
I had the dream again.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I made a mistake reading Never Eighteen so shortly after reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Both have MCs with cancer, and with just a week in between reading the two books, I couldn't help but compare. And while Never Eighteen is an okay book, it just can't live up to how amazing The Fault in Our Stars is.

I couldn't really connect to Austin. We jump right into the action, and immediately go on Austin's journey with him. I think I would have preferred a longer introduction, to first read about Austin's life in general before starting the actual story. The way it is, I never felt like I really got to know Austin. There's a lot of dialogue and not all that much description, and I would have liked to know more about Austin's thoughts and emotions. Even though we have a first-person narrative, I don't feel the reader really got to be inside his head, to understand him as a person. I just didn't get him - his personality, his emotions, or his motivations. And since I couldn't connect with Austin, I couldn't really get into the story - I didn't cry once, and it's usually guaranteed I'll cry like a baby while reading a book dealing with a topic like this.

I also found it kind of strange how strong, how heroic the portrayal of Austin is towards the end. This may just be because The Fault in Our Stars - I don't want to get into it to much, but there's a scene in that book addressing critically how cancer kids are portrayed as heroes - but it doesn't seem realistic how strong Austin is. He doesn't break down or cry once, and he doesn't seem scared of dying at all. I know I can't really judge that because, well, if he can handle dying so well, that's good, but I just don't know how realistic it is that he's always only thinking of how this will affect the poeple close to him and never once worries about what will happen to him when he dies.

I really liked the idea of Austin going around talking to people about their issues, trying to make them see they've only got one life and should make the best of it. But the whole thing just isn't fleshed-out enough for me. We get to see each of the people Austin tries to help once, some of them twice, and there's just a few pages for each character. I just wanted there to be more. All of those characters are interesting, have interesting issues I would have liked known more about, but we don't stay long enough with any of them to really find out about their lives and issues.

One thing I liked is the family's story. I liked reading about his parents and what Austin does to help them. Their story is interesting and I like how it fits together in the end.

The romance aspect is okay. I liked the way Kaylee and Austin interact, for the most part, but that whole storyline is too predictable and overused. If I had know more about the characters, their past and their relationship, I might have liked it better, but the way it is, that storyline isn't fleshed-out enough for me, either.

I really like the idea of Never Eighteen, but I found the execution lacking. I just wanted more - more depth to Austin's character, more time spent getting to know each of the secondary characters, more feeling, more everything. Like I said, though, my disappointment might have something to do with just having read The Fault in Our Stars, since Never Eighteen pales in comparison.

If you've read this book, what did you think?
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