Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

 

Thirteen Reasons Why

This is the book I have seen in Waterstones a million times, always picked up, always read the blurb and then put it back down. Until I went to buy ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ and realised if I bought this book I’d get it half price. Well, I can’t resist a bargain and I’d been interested in the book for a while, I just hadn’t read it.

Clay Jensen returns home and finds a strange package with his name on it. Inside there are several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and first love, who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself and that Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

It didn’t take me long to get sucked into this book. I’m so glad I had it on a quiet day at work because it really helped pass the day. It’s one of those books that makes you want to keep reading so you can find out what’s going to happen next, which is strange considering when we start reading the book all the events have already taken place.

Clay and Hannah are two characters that I really liked, especially Hannah. At times she was slightly irritating but also honest, interesting and you spend the whole time just hoping that things are going to turn out differently even though you know they won’t because she’s already dead. I think Hannah Baker is definitely near the top of the list of my ‘favourite book characters’.

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What I liked about this was that it wasn’t just the tapes and Hannah’s story. We also had Clay, his relationships, his side of the story and his own memories going along Hannah’s. And it was never thrown in your face either, there was never so much going on that you couldn’t follow what was happening. Okay, sometimes the story would switch back to Clay when you were extremely interested in what Hannah had to say but that was to build suspense and it worked really well.

If this wasn’t good enough, on the back of the book is a website where you can go to listen to the tapes in person which I thought was absolutely awesome (hannahsreasons.blogspot.com) which I only started listening to after finishing the book. I wasn’t too sure about her voice at first but now I like it. I can imagine it really is Hannah.

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Now as you probably already know I hate romance and you can clearly see from the blurb that this book has romance (just like every other YA book…). But honestly, the romance didn’t annoy me. The relationship between Clay and Hannah was quite small and didn’t make me cringe in any way which was definitely something I enjoyed. I did get a tiny bit annoyed when we finally reached Clay’s tape but you’ll have to read it to understand. Then you can see whether or not you agree with me.

Overall, this is probably the best book I’ve read this summer and I’d recommend it to any of you. Seriously, buy your own copy or borrow a copy from the library or whatever. You won’t regret reading this book.

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Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Okay, so I picked this book up in Waterstones shortly after being paid and after reading the first page I decided it was probably going to be worth reading. The story begins with the main character Laurel writing a letter to Kurt Cobain for a class assignment, the class assignment being to write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chose Kurt Cobain because he died young, just like her sister May did. Soon, Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse etc. Her entire story is told through letters to the dead.

The idea of her story being revealed through letters to the dead was an interesting approach and if the story had just been written the normal way it definitely wouldn’t have been as engaging. Stephen Chbosky is mentioned in the acknowledgments as supporting the writing of this novel which is probably why this story gives off a massive ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ vibe. This is not necessarily a bad thing because I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, but it does follow a very similar storyline.

This book was good, but again with the unnecessary romance? Laurel’s love interest was extremely irritating and annoying that I struggled to understand why Laurel thought he was so amazing. This is a boy who dumped her simply because she couldn’t talk about her past to him. Even though I’m pretty sure that by this point he hadn’t exactly been one hundred percent honest with her either? It was also clear that if it weren’t for May’s death, the two of them would never have ended up together.

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The main thing I enjoyed about this book was the mystery throughout the entire book – what happened to May? How did she die? What happened that could be so bad that Laurel couldn’t even write it in her letters? Once finding this out though the book suddenly grew a bit dull and a lot less interesting than it originally was.

One thing I did love though were the characters Natalie and Hannah, and their complicated relationship. They were both in love but many things were keeping them apart from one another. Something you will find with this book is that every character had a massive unsolvable problem. It does make this a very stressful read to be slapped in the face with everyone’s sadness. This also makes the whole idea seem a little less realistic. How many problems can be shoved into one book?

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Something else you should prepare for is that we learn pretty much nothing about Laurel but we do learn a lot about May. I think this is relatively important to the story though for reasons that you’d need to read the book to understand.

Overall, I guess I would recommend this book to you guys simply so you can find out what happened to May because that’ll grip you throughout. Be prepared to have Laurel and Sky’s forced relationship and the growing problems of every character thrown in your face though.

Review: Revived by Cat Patrick

Revived Cat Patrick

I want to start this review on a positive note by saying that Cat Patrick comes up with some incredible, completely original ideas that are interesting and gripping to read about. Which is why after reading ‘Forgotten’, I decided to give ‘Revived’ a try. I may have hated London and Luke’s relationship but the overall story was still pretty amazing. I was certain ‘Revived’ would be the same. And I was right. Kind of.

This story is about Daisy West, a girl who has died five times and each time has been revived and with each revival comes a new name, a new town and a completely new life. The book starts with her dying and being relocated to a new town. A promising start and I soon got sucked into the story.

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I guess I should’ve known from the blurb what was coming next – “This time I won’t let myself die. This time, I’ve found a love that I can’t let go. This time, I’m going to make my life my own.” Now after reading a grand total of two books written by Cat Patrick I have come to my own conclusion that while her books are fantastically thought out with a decent plot and original ideas, I cannot stand the way she writes romance.

After cringing through ‘Forgotten’ over London and Luke’s relationship, I was then slapped in the face with Daisy and Matt’s awful romance. The whole thing feels really out of place and unnecessary. The two meet because Daisy becomes friends with a girl in her school named Audrey. When Daisy goes back to Audrey’s house, she’s introduced to her brother Matt. Suddenly a relationship blossoms, of course. Considering everything else that is going on in their lives, it seems a bit pointless and completely fake. After not knowing each other for very long, the two of them are suddenly very dependent on each other and it gets increasingly annoying to read about.

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Pushing the entire romance aside, we are just about left with the original plot which is interesting and gripping from the beginning. I also really liked Megan, Daisy’s transgender friend from childhood and another member of the revival program. Audrey was also another favourite character and I really enjoyed reading about her. If it weren’t for Matt, I think this would have been one of my favourite books.

This is the kind of book I would recommend to someone but with a warning. However, my friend did ship London and Luke in ‘Forgotten’ so maybe it’s just my weird hatred for romance novels. It’s not the sort of book I would read again but it is a book that I think about quite often. There is one part that will make you sob but that is all I can say!

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay Gayle Forman

Me and my friend decided to go to the cinema to watch ‘The Fault in our Stars’ – I wanted to get out of the house to avoid my step-dad because my Mum was away for a couple of days and my friend loves watching movies. Now everyone knows the best part of any trip to the cinema is watching the trailers for other films. That was how I found out about ‘if I stay’. The film trailer starring Chloe Grace Moretz. I’m kind of a massive Chloe fan and when I spotted the book in WHSmith, I remembered the trailer and decided to give it a read. I’m so glad I did.

The story follows Mia’s point of a view, a girl who got into a terrible car accident with her family and wakes up out of her body and soon becomes faced with a difficult choice; should she leave or should she stay? The story switches between present and past throughout but this doesn’t get confusing and makes for a much more interesting read.

First of all, I love Mia’s character. She’s realistic, likeable and genuine. Saying that though, she’s the kind of girl you love to read about but if you knew here in person, you’d probably find her a tiny bit annoying. Then there’s her relationship with her boyfriend Adam – again with the romance – but this isn’t the ridiculous “oh I’ve known you for two seconds and I’m in love with you” kind of romance. It’s the kind of romance that doesn’t make you roll your eyes every time they talk to each other, even if there is the cliché ‘you’re a shy girl and I’m an outgoing guy, stop hiding yourself from other people, I can teach you so much’ thing going on.

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Also, as much as I loved the book in general, the ‘play me like your cello’ scene was really weird and creepy. Definitely not something I enjoyed.

This book is intended to be emotional and I guess it could be but it didn’t hit me as hard as I’d have liked it to. This could be because I accidentally read a spoiler (again, goddammit) and ruined what is probably the most emotional part but either way, I still don’t think it had the impact it wanted to create. Or maybe I’m just an emotionless bitch.

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I’m glad the book was written the way it was (switching between past and present) because if we had all her past memories and then the car crash, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. It’s harder to read about her past experiences knowing what’s happened to her in the future. Knowing that everything she knows now will soon change uncontrollably. That’s probably my favourite thing about ‘If I Stay’, and probably what upset me the most.

I would recommend this book to someone who likes moving stories with a hint of romance and a slight ‘chick flick’ vibe. It was a good book, but it wasn’t absolutely amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film though!