Monthly Archives: July 2013

Book Review: Debra Driza’s “Mila 2.0”

Standard

Debra Driza / Mila 2.0

No one suspects what she’s made of.

Mila 2.0 is the first book in a planned trilogy by debut novelist Debra Driza. At the beginning of the story we find Mila, the main character, coping up with the after effects of the deadly fire which caused her and mother to move from Philadephia to Minnesota. The fire took his father’s life but that’s all she remembers. Mila can’t recall anything. Then a freak accident reveals to her things she wasn’t supposed to know. She’s an android built by the government as a weapon and she is supposed to be terminated.

Mila 2.0 is an action-packed read. At 400 plus pages, it is quite a long story but it is enjoyable enough for a reader to finish, well, at least for me that was the case.

As a whole, Debra Driza’s debut has its hits and misses. Characterization is first on my list. A character will be introduced, I got to know him a bit but then he disappears from the scene and I am left with Mila’s recollections of this character. That was the case with Hunter and some of Mila’s friends in the story, which is a bummer. It’s hard to connect and feel for a character you don’t know much about. It’s step one in building attachment.

Second, the main character is weak (and, yes, this deserves a whole paragraph to itself). I liked Mila in the first part of the book. She’s sweet, endearingly insecure and, basically, just a teen-aged girl trying to fit in. But her lovable traits start vanishing the moment she discovers that she isn’t human at all. Instead, she turned out to be this overly emotional android with human feelings for a good part of the book after the “discovery”. I know she is supposed to have feelings but it was just too much. She could have spent more time figuring how to get out of the mess she was in instead of wasting it on whining and crying.

The strong point of Mila 2.0 is its action. Driza describes the action scenes pretty well and that made me finish the book. It kept the story interesting enough though still not that unpredictable.

Overall, I enjoyed Mila 2.0 partly because this is the first YA sci-fi book I read and I really didn’t expect too much (something I do with every book I start, yes, even novels written by my favorite authors). It is good but it could have been better. Anyway, this is the first in three books so let’s give Mila a chance to grow up (how you do that when you’re an android, I don’t know). I’ll definitely get the second and third book once they are out.

Rating: 3/5

Advertisements

Wish List: Lissa Price’s “Starters” (and soon… “Enders”)

Standard

The cover for Lissa Price‘s “Enders” was recently revealed and it looks awesome. Just look at it. LOOK AT IT!!!

STARTERS-ENDERS-PRICE

I have been meaning to get Starters for quite some time now. The story sounds interesting but I have been reading a lot of YA sci-fi and dystopian literature lately and I need a cleanse of some sort. It’s better that way. It gives my mind a little bit of time to process the stories I’ve read. My head tends to mix plots together when I read books of the same genre so closely together and I don’t want that. I want to fully appreciate every single story I read.

Anyway, enough with the babble. I’ll get the book this weekend. =)

While Enderss release is still on January 7 next year, you can freely salivate over its amazing cover and a bit of an excerpt HERE

Book Review: Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

Standard

Neil Gaiman / The Ocean at the End of the Lane

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good,” internalized our unnamed narrator five pages into the story.

And that is what The Ocean at the End of the Lane is all about – recollections of a childhood long forgotten.

Neil Gaimans unnamed middle-aged narrator takes readers with him as he recalls events from his childhood. It all starts when he returns to his childhood hometown of Sussex, England for a funeral. He then finds himself driving down to the house at the end of the lane where he finds one of the Hempstock women who he thought to be his friend’s, Lettie’s mother but later turned out to be the Old Mrs. Hempstock, the grandmother. And as he sat by the small pond, the same pond Lettie called an ocean, the memories of the strange events when he was a 7-year old boy come rushing back to him.

Gaiman is a master of combining myth, fantasy and horror into one solid story. In American Gods, he took in a handful of pagan gods and put them into an Americana road trip. In Coraline, he created an utterly horrific world beyond a door. It is no wonder that he turned a simple 40-year old man’s recollections into something akin to the tales of the Brothers Grimm. It may have taken him eight years to come up with an adult novel but Gaiman never lost his touch. His narrative is more vivid than ever. Creating a balance between the real world and the magical realm is a hard task but Gaiman more than manages it. He is one of those few writers who can seamlessly go in and out of the imagined world within his story.

But even if it is similar to his previous works, there’s something that sets Ocean apart.

Neil Gaiman created a narrator that’s easy to relate with. His voice is clear, his experiences very much real. He was able to capture an essential part of the adult disenchantment and put it into his main character. A lot of times while reading the book I’ve imagined a 7-year old Neil Gaiman in place of the narrator. Well, I did read somewhere that he based some of the Ocean’s  protagonist’s qualities and experiences on his own childhood so I guess in a way it really is him there in the story.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is beautifully written. More than it’s magic-filled pages, what made me love the story more is its humanity. Gaiman did not give his readers a story made up happy,everything-is-all-good characters. Instead, he gave us characters that are flawed but truthful. And even though the ending he gave us was anything but reassuring, it was closer to what happens in real life. It is open to so many possibilities.

Young readers and adults alike will surely enjoy The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is definitely worth the eight-year wait.

Rating: 5/5

Me, Fangirling and My Current Book Stack

Standard

I don’t usually get giddy over talking to or seeing famous people. Note, I said “not usually”, which means that there are some exceptional moments when I actually do get giddy and happy and cheery and whatever one may and should feel when someone you admire actually ACTUALLY replies to you.

I’ve just paid off the month’s bills and it goes to say that money’s a bit tight right now so I had to make some necessary cuts. I usually buy two, three books every pay day but this cut off I can only buy one, and I hate having to choose between books. It feels so much like a betrayal. I swear, if I become rich, I will buy one branch of my favorite bookstore. I will live there and I will turn it into a library of some sorts for those people who don’t have enough to buy new books.

It was a battle between Gayle Forman‘s If I Stay and Libba Bray‘s The Diviners. In the end, Libba Bray’s novel won out because it was the only copy left in the book store.

Then I tweeted this after I got the book:

1lib

I sent out that tweet without expecting any replies back, so I really went all giddy when I received this:

2lib

Talk about fangirling!!! Yes, I am. Gadh! That’s Libba Bray! I’m just so happy and surprised she even saw my tweet. (Please excuse me for fangirling again.)

I still have a few books to read before I can get to The Diviners. Here’s my reading stack right now:

IMG00243-20130720-0645

I have a couple of things coming up within the next two weeks. A couple of reviews for Debra Driza‘s debut Mila 2.0 and Neil Gaiman‘s (gasp) newest release in six years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I may also finish the thing I’m writing about David Levithan‘s Every Day.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you guys are doing great wherever you are. Happy reading!

XOXO

Rachel

John Green’s Looking for Alaska, Departures and Our Questioning Nature

Standard

There’s so much stuff I could write about from Looking for Alaska – the search for the “Great Perhaps”, drunk driving, self-destructive behaviors in teens – but I choose none of those. I am going to write about our questioning instead. Why? Well, because among all the things John Green’s first novel made me think about it was the one which hit me the hardest.

But, before anything else, a summary, and because I can’t come up with a more concise summary, I will borrow the novel’s back page blurb.

Looking for Alaska

before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

after. Nothing is ever the same.

It’s always like that, isn’t it? It only takes one thing – one person – to change everything else. Then, BOOM! Nothing’s ever the same. Not. Ever. Again. And you’d think by knowing that ever reliable cliché “People come, people go” you’d fare better. Well, here’s a bucket of ice cold water dude. Pour it unto yourself and wake up. Knowing doesn’t make things any easier. It’s just not how the world works.

There’s truth in cliches, after all they won’t be repeated over and over and over again if there weren’t even a pinch of reality in them but I prefer the phrase “People come into and out of your life” over “People come and go”. It is longer, I know, but it’s more truthful.

Alaska jumped into Pudge’s life and changed him.

We all have people come into our lives, some stay while others go. But still I am sure, and I really do believe in this, that no matter what they do – whether they stay or leave – every person we meet changes us. The change may not always be big enough for us to notice but their effect will always be there, an indelible mark on our whole existence.

And we also do the same thing to many people – lives we’ve met and will meet, lives we’ve walked out of and lives we’ve chosen to stick through with.

So, when someone who’ve tremendously changed us leaves it’s all but natural to ask questions. What made them leave? Where did they go?  Who made them leave? Was it you? How could they leave? Why do they have to fucking leave?

Alaska did many things which Pudge, the Colonel and Takumi could and would never understand. She changed them and they’ve changed her, in what way, we’ll never really know.

We ask questions, trying to understand, always looking for an explanation as if the world owes us one. And we could be right, after all, we were changed then discarded like an old, ratty pair of sneakers – we were left behind at a loss and an explanation is the least we could get. But we could also be wrong, maybe we don’t have the right to demand for an explanation in the first place. And what if we don’t like the answers we find? What if our search for answers only lead us to even more questions?

Still we ask because we need to know. We need to understand.

Pudge, the Colonel and Takumi could’ve all done something better for Alaska. Stopped her, maybe? It could’ve changed things, but that’s one more thing we can never be sure of.

But we can only do so much. We’re all simple and complicated at the same time. Sometimes we can no longer tell which is which and we just go around the same circle. It’s okay to ask and try to find answers but we must also know when to stop rationalizing and answering questions and understanding why people did the things they did. We can’t change what’s already been done. It’s just one more thing we must learn to let go of.

We have to forgive the person who left us and also forgive ourselves. Only then will the questions start to stop haunting us.