Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Darkest Minds, The Beginning of Everything, and Just Like Fate

Goodreads summary:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
This book has gotten rave reviews; I'm pretty sure all my Goodreads friends have given it 4- or 5-star reviews.  And The Darkest Minds definitely lives up to all the buzz.  It's a great balance of action, world-building, character development, and strong writing.
What made this sci-fi/dystopian world even more creepy for me is the fact that it's set where I live: Virginia.  I knew many of the places the characters traveled and talked about, so I definitely felt very immersed in the world.  Not only is the world-building fantastic, I loved the strong characters.  Bracken really excels in writing characters who are original and ring true, and I fell in love with all of them.  A certain flashback scene with Ruby, the main character, nearly made me cry.
The only thing that felt a little off was the pacing.  This book is just so long, and I felt like some of it could have been chopped off to make it slightly shorter.  Still, I appreciate how thorough Bracken is with her storytelling; it's quite obvious that the plot was carefully and expertly crafted.  I definitely can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

I have so many reviews I need to write, I honestly didn't intend on writing one for this book, but it left such an impact on me that I can't help myself.  This book made it onto my all-time favorites, which, according to Goodreads, only consists of 69 of the nearly 900 books I've read.  I really can't recommend it enough.
This book is perfect for fans of John Green.  The quirky writing style reminded me of him, as well as the nerdy characters and the heartbreaking ending.  Oh, the writing.  Sometimes, books have these rare and perfect quotes that just relate so much to what you're going through at the time you read it.  That's how this book was for me.  There are so many fantastical lessons to be learned from this book; like how to make choices for yourself and to not let other people tell you how to live your life.  I know that may sound corny and obvious, but it's true.  This book just struck a chord with me.
Plus, the Doctor Who references just made it even more awesome.  And the characters and romance?  Don't even get me started.  The romance is so real and bittersweet, it will break your heart.  And the characters' stories completely resonated with me.  I could go on all day about how wonderful and relatable they were, but this is supposed to be a mini-review, so I'll keep it short and sweet.  Basically: whether you're a contemporary fan or not, The Beginning of Everything is a must-read.
My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:
Caroline is at a crossroads. Her grandmother is sick, maybe dying. Like the rest of her family, Caroline's been at Gram's bedside since her stroke. With the pressure building, all Caroline wants to do is escape--both her family and the reality of Gram's failing health. So when Caroline's best friend offers to take her to a party one fateful Friday night, she must choose: stay by Gram's side, or go to the party and live her life.

The consequence of this one decision will split Caroline's fate into two separate paths--and she's about to live them both.

Friendships are tested and family drama hits an all-new high as Caroline attempts to rebuild old relationships, and even make a few new ones. If she stays, her longtime crush, Joel, might finally notice her, but if she goes, Chris, the charming college boy, might prove to be everything she's ever wanted.

Though there are two distinct ways for her fate to unfold, there is only one happy ending...
Hmm, I didn't care for Just Like Fate very much.  Although it's a fast read and there are a few moments where I empathized with the characters, overall this book left a mediocre impression.  I just wasn't crazy about many of the choices Caroline makes.
First off, who on earth leaves their dying grandmother in a hospital to go to a party?  Just...what?  The summary claims Caroline goes to a party to "live her life," but to me, going to a party while her grandmother is close to death proves nothing but Caroline's stupidity and immaturity.  This was the first moment that seriously irked me (along with Caroline's insensitive and clichéd best friend), and I couldn't get over it throughout the whole book.  Then the "other" Caroline gets together with her crush Joel, who is a complete jerk, except she's too blind to see it.  So yeah, I couldn't really stand either of the Carolines.
There were a couple stuff I liked - Chris (the other love interest) is very sweet and funny, and his character was the one that really seemed to stick out to me.  And I did like the unsteady relationships between Caroline and her dad, as well as Caroline and her sister, and how they developed throughout the book.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make me like this book.  I'd had high hopes since the premise is similar to Pivot Point by Kasie West, but sadly, Just Like Fate didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped.
My rating:  2 out of 5 stars
~ Kaitlyn

No comments:

Post a Comment