I read and review Young Adult lit!
I really enjoyed this book!
Sara Shepard’s' Pretty Little Liars' and The 'Lying Game' books have really soured me on the 'bag things happening to popular girls' genre. Her characters are unsympathetic brats; her books are poorly plotted so that she can drag the mystery out for a whole series and her narrator grating to listen to.
Todd Strasser, however, has done the same genre much, much better.
Somehow a man was able to write far less annoying teenage girls! While they were not exactly complex they weren't just stereotypes trying not to seem like stereotypes by having really specific Starbucks coffee preferences (urgh…a pet peeve of mine in teen literature)!
I also found parents, teachers, cops etc all normal/relatable unlike the caricatures used to create problems for the main character in so many other YA books.
As I said the lead wasn’t exactly complex, she just seemed normal and worked for the story but she also came through for herself, not having to rely on a cute boy which I love seeing.
Initially the book makes you feel a little clueless because so many points of view bombard you with little explain but that’s builds genuine intrigue for the reader AND it is rewarded as things slowly become clearer.
Chunks of mystery are not spelled out for readers either – yes, you’re treated as if you have half a brain and have to put bits and pieces from the various points of view together!
I also love how it had almost a slasher movie vibe with some chase/stalking scenes and they actually put me right on edge. Of course, I was walking to my car late at night through empty hospital grounds at the time…. Still I can honestly say the book gave me some chills.
The narrator is a problem. She’s pitched and squeaky and sounds so similar to the one that does Sara Shepard’s books I kept forgetting this wasn’t one of hers…you know, until the plot starting going somewhere and reminded me it couldn’t be!
Anyway, I’d definitely recommend this as a teen mystery and will check out the rest of Todd Strasser’s work!
Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters is an interesting character piece but really let down by a rushed and confused ending.
I generally don’t like short fiction because I prefer full, well-paced emersion in a world but obviously I can’t fault DGDWLfor needing to be direct and succinct.
While it wasn’t the elegantly drawn story, though, it deftly painted Sunny’s heartbreak – not at the loss of her sister but at being the one her family and community would have, frankly, preferred to lose.
Sunny’s homelife is heartbreaking and I didn’t expect to be so affected by such a quick glimpse.
The concept of a mourning family receiving a visit from their dead daughter was intriguing but ultimately the plot is why let the story down for me. Clearly written with the intention to try and put in multiple twists at the end, Dead Girls is doesn’t provide the cathartic family drama that would have been so very rewarding given the surprisingly deft character work. It also doesn’t exactly work as a mystery/psychological thriller for me because of the lack of time to develop tension.
Despite the ending though, I would recommend Dead Girls to anyone after a short, intense and heartbreaking character piece with a female protagonist that is instantly sympathetic.
Favourite was quick read more akin to short-fiction than a full novel. It wasted no time on set-up, extraneous sub-plot or relationship drama.
We jump straight into Angel Favourite’s near abduction which terrifyingly mirrors her mothers’ unexplained disappearance five years earlier. Angel reluctantly attends dinner with her attacker’s elderly mother and is sequestered for two nights at the family’s estate. Soon it becomes clear the similarities between her and her mother’s case are no coincidence.
The book progresses swiftly through the straightforward plot but manages to build a claustrophobic and foreboding atmosphere. The characters are utilitarian because the focus is story, not any personal arcs but they are serviceable if not totally compelling.
I personally had trouble connecting to the action thanks to the usual ‘clueless female heroine’ clichés – dropping their weapon halfway through the final chase, going to check out a noise by alone, injuries being acquired to prevent escape only to disappear when convenient etc.
Overall, Favourite wasn’t a bad read but it failed to fully engage me. I’m more of a character-driven reader which is why I don’t usually connect with short fiction. Favourite had an interesting enough premise to capture my attention but ran a little long without the characters and subplots to fill it out. Had Favourite been trimmed to a tight, short thriller I imagine I’d have quite enjoyed it.
I still recommend Favourite as a rare YA thriller/crime entry because that is an underappreciated genre that I wish there was more of.
I like Fantasy & Science Fiction but not into Zombie. Due to Health issues, listen to Audiobooks/read ebooks where I can enlarge the print
Although the intended audience for this book is for the YA market I found it a fun read, entertaining and interesting enough to hold my attention from start to finish and I'm in my early 60's
Oona is an incredibly likeable and well rounded character, as is Deacon her enchanted raven sidekick, some of the other characters are less rounded however and whilst it does not spoil the overall story it would help flesh out this fantasy world if some of the other characters had a bit more depth behind them. That is not to say that it is in anyway hard to find your self becoming immersed in the fantasy world of Dark Street as it stands.
I am normally wary of books narrated by the author but I found his narration to be well suited to the story and will definitely listen to more of this series.
The only qualm I had with the story was that 12 year old children were expected to sign contracts that in this universe were legally binding and that Oona seems much older than her 12 years . . . but these did not detract from my enjoyment of this book.
Frankly i did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did . . .
I would recommend this to the young and young at heart that love fantasy and or mystery