Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Blabber

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

YA Contemporary
459 pages
Paperback
Read April 2-4, 2019
Minorly spoilery blabber

Whether I end up liking or disliking a YA book, I tend to always fly through them. This one was no exception. I buzzed through this book in two and a half days. An adult fantasy of similar size would at least take a week, maybe more. So already, this book has that going for it.

I knew that this book is basically one of the most hyped in the online book community, and reading the synopsis, I can see why. The character is very relatable – young woman going to college, unsure of herself, writes fanfiction, is generally nerdy. I understand how this book could be the love of so many people. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype for me.

I didn’t hate it, I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

So, overview of the book: As mentioned, it follows a young woman, Cath, as she goes to college with her twin sister Wren. Cath is basically a homebody who wants nothing to change and Wren is dying for the opposite. As the book goes, Cath meets her roommate, a boy, has some family drama and writes fanfiction.

My opinions: The thing that kept me from rating this book higher was Cath herself. She has social anxiety and likes things to be just as they are. Now, I’m not knocking social anxiety by any means. It occasionally flares up for me, a lot of my friends have it to an extent, etc. It’s not the anxiety that makes me dislike Cath so much. It’s how she deals with it.

Basically any time a character would act in a way that made Cath anxious or unhappy, like her sister rooming with someone else instead of her, yada yada, Cath would become controlling. She would berate the other person for doing something that she was uncomfortable doing herself. She would basically give them a guilt trip of ‘How dare you not be anxious/upset/angry about this when I am’ and it really bugged me. I mean if she’s anxious, fine, but guilting other people for not being anxious is a no-no. My above example is just one of many times she did this, and by the end, I didn’t really like her at all because of it.

Also, she wrote this fanfiction throughout the book, which at first was great. I wrote fanfiction when I was a teen too, and it was neat to get back into the mindset of planning one, participating in a fandom, etc. But then it got a bit dull: the fanfiction was written in the book – like pages and pages were literally the fic she was writing, and it was for a book that was made up in the Fangirl universe. I didn’t understand the point of it, really. I know there is a book called ‘Carry On’ also by the author that is set in the world the made up book is about, but from reading the fanfiction in the first book, I really have no interest in it. It didn’t grip me at all, and I was skimming those sections by the end, because shocker, they had nothing to do with the plot. I mean sure, I could see inklings of themes matching the ‘real world’ situation but they weren’t strong enough to warrant so much filler.

Another thing I disliked in the book is the overall message of ‘therapy/medication is a joke’, which I didn’t appreciate. The main character as mentioned has social anxiety, and her dad I’m pretty sure is bipolar, though I don’t think they label him as such. But throughout the book, Cath in particular kept mentioning how ‘they were in therapy when they were little and it sucked’ and now the whole family is against the idea. The dad in particular, from some of his behaviors throughout the book, should have been in therapy. Cath mentioned in passing how he’d randomly stop taking his meds and everyone seemed to be fine with that. Like ‘oh, Dad’s being Dad again’, not ‘He’s probably on a restricted substance and going cold turkey is a bad idea’. Like, none of it was even mentioned in a way that could suggest it’s something you shouldn’t do without medical supervision, and it really, really bugged me.

I did mention above though that I did like this book overall. I did. The main things I liked where the side characters: Levi, Reagan and Wren. All three of them were really cool, and honestly a lot more patient with Cath’s habit of trying to guilt or control the actions of others than I would have been. Levi, the love interest in the book, is a sweet pea. He’s so soft and pleasant. Reagan seems like a person I could relate to a lot more than Cath was, and Wren just seemed like a teenage girl who wanted to break out of her shell. Mind you she ended up going a bit too far, but that was called out and dealt with, the one thing that the family did health-wise correctly in my opinion. Goodness.

I also liked the plot and premise, though I think the ending fell a bit flat and there were weird side-plots that resolved in unsatisfying ways. But the overall story was pretty good. I just wish the main character would have been a bit more uh… well, a bit less controlling about everything that was going on throughout it.

Now that I’ve written everything out, it’s definitely clear that all the things I liked about the book were counteracted by the things I disliked. It’s basically even. The fast pace I was able to read it in really helped bump it from ‘neutral’ to ‘I liked it’ territory though. So a three star review from me it is.

3/5 stars

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
YA Fantasy
Read Aug 23 – 27th
648 pages
Throne of Glass, Book 4
Spoiler-free blabber

I feel like these books are hard to review. Objectively, there are a lot of problems with them, but subjectively, I tend to adore them.

To prove my words, I wrote that top bit there and then I sat here for five minutes staring at my screen, trying to figure out how to start. Hm…

Queen of Shadows was a book on my 10 in 2018 list, the second year in a row it appeared there. I read the first three books rapid fire back in January of 2016 and then got distracted. This read was the second attempt. I picked it up once in 2017 and got a chapter into it before realizing I had forgotten character relations, major plots points, and all sorts of things from the first three. I ended up watching a spoilery in-depth review of Heir of Fire before jumping into it this time, and while my memory was spotty on it for a while, it definitely was a better experience.

Going into this one, I had heard it was a party-splitter, that some fans adored it and others really, really disliked it. I read it, waiting and waiting for this opinion-altering event to occur, and… I never really found one. Overall themes in the book could be off-putting I suppose, but I don’t think I quite understand why this book is so disliked by some when obviously they had liked the first three. I don’t really see how it was so different overall. So, if you are in the ‘didn’t like this’ party, enlighten me, because I am truly curious what I missed.

I think my favorite thing about this book and Maas’s books in general, is how easy they are to read. I tend to pick them up when I’m in a reading slump, because without fail I fly through them. I think I read this 650 page book in… four days? Maybe five? I really buzzed through it, and considering I’d only been reading manga beforehand because ofย  the slump, I’d say that’s pretty good.

I’ve mentioned in past reviews of the series that Celaena or Aelin or whatever her name is, is not my favorite character. She rubs me the wrong way. I feel like her abilities are too much for the amount of training she’s received compared to her enemies, some obviously much older and much more experienced. I guess she just comes across as a bit unbelievable to me. Though, she’s nowhere near as bad as my favorite Mary Sue. And honestly, I think I liked her more this book than I have in any of its predecessors. Originally in book one, she was very immature – threw tantrums, was vindictive. I think seeing her actually have interpersonal relations with people has helped. And I very much like ‘Aelin’ more than ‘Celaena’. Her character development has been going pretty well and maybe one day, I’ll actually like her. Maybe.

So, I mentioned there are problems with the book objectively, the main character being a bit over-inflated being one. Another is the age of many of the main players and leaders of factions. Everyone from the resistance to the assassins to the guards are in their late teens or early twenties, with the exception of the centuries-old fae who is somehow able to get along with everyone with no maturity or generational-gap issues. He just… fits right in, but you would think he’d have more problems adjusting. A third is the eventual almost-guaranteed attraction of every male character to Aelin. At one point or another, all of them decide they’re crushing on her or more, regardless of their age. Heck, even her cousin gets territorial over her (though not for romantic reasons, don’t worry, it’s not gross). A fourth is all the ‘alpha-male’ bull-doody that results from issue three. Aelin herself calls it out, but she does it in a way that says ‘Oh you guys. Quit fighting over little ol’ me’ and never actually addresses the root of the behavior or why it’s weird for them all to be posturing to each other over this 19-year-old woman.

So yes, objectively, issues. None of these issues are particularly new, they’ve been in the series since book one and just growing broader with the addition of more characters. Do they bug me? Yes. Are they enough for me to dislike the series? Weirdly, no. But, I can see why they’d be too much for some people. I feel like if I wasn’t able to fly through the books as easily as I am, these issues would be much more of a factor for me. But I at least want to acknowledge them.

Plot-wise I rather liked this book. I liked the expansion of the world, I liked the subplots of the side characters. I like Chaol and I really like Manon. The witch subplot chapters were some of my favorites, and I really like how she’s been developing and how her thirteen are actually starting to get personalities. When she was introduced last book, I found her interesting but her chapters were kinda flat. Aside from Manon herself, none of the characters in them were really given any opportunity to show that they were more than cardboard cut-outs. This book allowed for that, and I think that Manon’s First is one of my favorite characters in the series now. She’s pretty great.

Another thing I liked seeing was the friendship that developed between Aelin and one of the female characters that was mentioned earlier in the series and then forgotten about. She reappears in this book and actually gets a good dose of character development. It’s always nice to see a movie or book pass the Bechdel test, man. Just because a book has a main female lead doesn’t mean it passes, and it’s a bit sad that fails are so common. I think this relationship in particular is what made me dislike Aelin less in this book than I have in the others. I feel like this friendship was a much needed dynamic, and I hope it lasts.

And finally, as mentioned above, I flew through it. The writing was compelling enough to keep me reading for over a hundred pages a day, and that is the main reason why I liked it so much. The book was fun. It was enjoyable to read, and I found myself unable to put it down. It made me wanna break my book buying ban so I could go get the fifth one (but I didn’t, I’m making myself wait).

So overall, despite the issues this book has, I did rather like it, and I’m looking forward to the fifth one.

4.25/5 stars

Book Review: Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Wonders of the Invisible WorldWonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

352 pages
YA, Magical realism, LGBT
Read 9-29 to 10-11

Wonders of the Invisible World was recommended to me by a friend, who said she read it in one sitting and absolutely loved it. I took the rec knowing her particular suggestions to me are usually either hit or miss. I either love them to bits or can’t even finish them. This is the first time I think I’ve read a book recommended by her where it landed somewhere in the middle.

This book is set in modern day and follows a teenage boy who feels he has no idea who he is or what his life is about. He walks around in a fog, wondering when his life left him in the dust. When a friend from his childhood reappears, it triggers a series of events that slowly reveal that his life was actually as distant and detached as he thought it was, and that someone was making it that way on purpose. I’ll stop the synopsis there, only saying in addition that this book has both magical realism and LGBT themes, which is a combination I personally haven’t read before.

First and foremost, I feel like this book tried to be a mystery and couldn’t quite get there. There were a couple twists that I predicted early on and when they happened exactly how I thought they would, it was a bit of a yawn. This book didn’t surprise me at all, despite the supernatural elements mentioned that could have been used to do so. The characters as well I felt were a bit lacking. The main character Aiden, that one who’s always complaining about not knowing who he is or what his personality is, really conveyed that. I had no clue what this kid’s personality was. He was pretty damn flat. So… is that good characterization because he knew he was flat or was it bad? Haven’t the foggiest, but as a result I couldn’t relate or sympathize to him very well, which was probably a contributing factor why the twists did nothing for me.

The plot itself was interesting if a bit slow-moving. This was probably my favorite part of the book, regardless of the untwisty twists. Aiden’s memory and personality are in a fog and he starts hearing and seeing things that no one else can. The tree in his back yard starts speaking to him, he witnesses his great grandfather fighting in WW2, and all of it connects to why he’s such a bore, I mean why he’s so confused with himself. As the plot unraveled, I did start to feel something for the characters. Not the main characters, but his mother and his romantic interest. Both of them stood out to me more than Aiden did unfortunately. I ended up really disliking one and liking the other but at least I felt something towards them.

The thing I think this book handled the best was the romance. It wasn’t really.. romantic, I guess, but it felt real, natural. In every LGBT book I’ve read, there’s always some big confrontation before the characters relationship can get started: some realization, some fight with family, something that says ‘this is out of the norm and this book is gonna milk it’. But this book, the relationship just kinda… happened. There wasn’t any fighting from parents, there wasn’t any disowning, there wasn’t any ideological monologue as the main character realized he had feelings for another man… he just accepted it and rolled with it, as did his boyfriend and his family. It was a nice to see an LGBT relationship not put on a pedestal or highlighted as different or bad – it just popped in there like any other relationship would and both characters actually handled it in a mature manner (gasp, no drama!)

So overall, with the pros and cons mentioned above, I liked this book. Didn’t love it, but liked it well enough. So it gets a decent rating from me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Happy reading. :”D

July Wrap-Up and August Currently Reading

Aaaand now the year is 2/3 over. I really wish my brain would quit normalizing things and allow me to perceive time moving more slowly like I did when I was little. Goodness. I’M GONNA BE 25 IN A WEEK MAN. I’M OLD.

Anyways, in July, I participated in a few readathons and I didn’t realize this until now, but holy cow did I read a lot of books. Well, 9 of them were books, 9 of them were graphic novels or manga. But regardless – I was going to go through each one and say a bit about it, but I feel like you’d be reading a novel, so I’m going to just list the stars for each one (and if you’d like to voice an opinion on one or two, go for it :D)

The 5 star books were:

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)Easy (Contours of the Heart, #1)The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)V for VendettaNight (The Night Trilogy, #1)

4.5 stars:

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

4 stars:

The New World (Chaos Walking, #0.5)A Little PrincessIkigami: The Ultimate Limit, Volume 3 (Ikigami, #3)Saiyuki Reload, Volume 6Saiyuki Reload Volume 7 (v. 7)

3.5 stars:

Matched (Matched, #1)Promethea, Vol. 1The Arctic Incident: The Graphic Novel (Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novels, #2)City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)You and Me, Etc.

2.5 stars:

Anya's Ghost

1 star:

Flight Volume One (Flight, #1)

My favorite book of the month was Easy by Tammara Weber, and the least favorite was Flight volume 1. I will not be continuing that series. I felt it has such potential and it was such a let-down. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

So for August. As I mentioned above, I turn 25 this month (yay, my car insurance rate is being cut in half) and hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of reading done as well. ๐Ÿ˜€

As of right now, I’m reading:

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire #1)Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker's Guide, #3)A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)The Martian

A few of these I’ve been reading for ages (namely the third and fifth book listed). I just haven’t been in the mood to finish them (even though I really really enjoy both of them so far). Both of them I’m reading with my SO. The Douglas Adams book we’re reading aloud and The Martian we’re listening to on audiobook. It’s difficult to find the time to commit to them when we’re both in the mood to read/listen. One of these days, they’ll get finished.

Also I went to the library for the first time in years a couple days ago and rented a couple books (Anya’s Ghost, The Bitter Kingdom, Flight vol 1 and Snow Like Ashes) There are so many books there that I want to read now that I know I won’t have to pay for them (namely…. Throne of Glass. xD I know I said I wasn’t gonna read it, but now that I don’t have to buy it to do so.. it’s more tempting. So if I read it, I’ll eat my hat and you all can call me goofy). As for what else I’m going to read this month, I have no idea. You know how I am with TBRs. I’ll read what I read.

EDIT: I totally forgot about my TBR Jar Challenge. This month’s slip is: “Read a book that is 500+ pages”. Guess how many pages A Storm of Swords is. ;”D That’s right, more than 500. Woop.

How was your reading month? Happy reading! ๐Ÿ˜€