So this week was a big reading week for me--since last Sunday night, I finished five books! However, since two of them were for the Cybils, I can't talk about them here yet. (Of course, I did no writing this week...I guess that's the trade-off. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day!)
Before I post my reviews for the week, I want to mention that I'm participating for the second time in the blog comment challenge hosted by Lee Wind and MotherReader. The idea is that it takes 21 days to start a habit, so for 21 days (starting this past Friday) I'll be trying to leave five blog comments a day. I credit this challenge last year with helping me start connecting with some of you who I've gotten to know since then, and I also discovered some new blogs by checking out the list of participants. I encourage you all to sign up and give it a shot--there will be prizes! The goal is 100 comments by Jan. 31st, so you're not too behind yet! And welcome to anyone who's stopping by here for the first time as part of the challenge.
Edited to Add: Check out this opportunity to read and review books from Entangled Teen! Be a part of "the list!"
What I Read This Week:
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be curiously slow-moving, but that's not necessarily a strike against it. Jenna's growing understanding of her own existence and the larger context of her family, science, and the world around her is a slow-moving process, so it's natural that it should unfurl slowly on the page. After a terrible accident, Jenna's parents were forced to make some extremely difficult decisions, the full extent of which Jenna does not learn until well into the book. The rest of the book shows Jenna coming to terms with the results of those decisions and wrestling with the ethics of what has been done to her. Because it's a book with biomedical ethics at its heart, many of the supporting characters feel slightly underdeveloped (again, I wasn't terribly bothered by this--we get a sense of them, much as we get a sense of Asher and Fiona in The Giver, but really we don't need to know them better than we do. They're likable enough--or in one case, awful enough--and they help get the point across.) I was fascinated by Jenna's story and her parents' decisions, and I did think her grandmother was an interesting character. It wasn't until the very last chapter, though, that I really felt the impact of what had been done to Jenna. When I did, though, I really felt it. Overall, I thought this was a really interesting look at where we could be heading as a species with extremely advanced medical technology, and I was invested in Jenna's process of learning to become her own person. This would be an excellent classroom read and I recommend it for anyone interested in a standalone, non-dystopian exploration of some fascinating dilemmas.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book felt a little like a throwback for me, to the deeply character-based dystopias of yesteryear. I mean, I'm being dopey, but what I'm actually trying to say is that it felt tonally more like The Giver than The Hunger Games or even Delirium. While every dystopian novel balances the needs of a main character with the sociopolitical situation, some land more on the "individual quest for freedom and individual rights" side, and some land more on the "social revolution with explosions" side. I love them both, but I really enjoyed the narrow scope and quiet build of Wither. I won't be surprised or disappointed if the next books in the series bring exploding revolutions, but I liked Rhine's growing understanding of the husband she was kidnapped for, and I liked her focus on simply getting back to her brother. The world they live in is clearly a mess, and we get sufficient detail about that to make it compelling, but this is very much Rhine's story. As of yet, she has not been marked out as a Menace To Society; her battles are with her husband and his terribly creepy father. I got sucked into this one really quickly (clearly; I got it from the library less than 24 hours ago as of this writing) and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. (I will also give Wither points for an ending that is totally satisfying but still makes me want to read the second book. I appreciate that it is not a total gasping-for-air cliffhanger, because I have seven and a half other books I need to read for three separate but looming deadlines, and I won't be able to pick up Fever until probably February at the earliest.)
Origin by Jessica Khoury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book felt unique in a couple of ways. For one, it was sort of science-fiction but it was set, as far as I could tell, in the present day (or even the recent past?) And it is YA genre fiction AND a standalone which is hard to come by these days but so satisfying. In other ways, it was similar to other books I've really enjoyed: a protagonist who has to make really difficult choices in order to become the person she wants to be, a terribly attractive love interest who spends the whole book shirtless...so, I mean, good stuff. I loved the rainforest setting and I thought Little Cam, the settlement of scientists, was fascinating. I guessed at the ending, but getting there was still exciting and the last half of the book flew by. I can't help but compare it to Tuck Everlasting--this is a much more complex, grown-up meditation on love and mortality, but still has a scene of swimming under a waterfall because I guess that's a genre requirement. Origin started a bit slow for me but definitely picked up, and I recommend it for anyone looking for a story that delivers a great romantic storyline in a package they haven't seen a million times already.
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