Jellico started out painfully slowly with no sense of where the story is going. After an hour I put it down and didn’t pick it up for over a year. After three hours I was considering deleting it even though I have a rule about always finishing books. That first was just sucha chore, I thought it could be the first to go.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad or even badly told story; it was just seemed so murky and muddled. The story-within-a-story interludes were as yet unframed, the goals of Taylor (the lead) were still unknown and the initial set up (the ‘war’ between three groups of teens that live or study by the Jellico road) was confusing and, as such, uninteresting. I’m all for a story unfolding, for pieces of information deftly doled out at the right moments etc but the first third seemed like it belong to a different story or at least set up a completely different story.
The first three hours were about that ‘war’ but that is not what the book is about and event thought eh story provides more than one could-be ‘resolution’, the conflict is simply dropped when the real story got going.
The protracted set-up gave an opportunity to tease a few things and start setting up the real story but since I had no idea what the real story was, the tid-bits, flashback, allusions and interludes left me confused and bored.
Jellico road is essentially a story a story of two generations of friends who form/ed unbreakable bonds. It becomes about Taylors search for family, love and understanding. When it does – it is utterly fabulous. I just can’t help but think that if it were only framed like that from the beginning it would have been solid gold.
By the last third of the book, the interludes/flashbacks are breathtaking in their revelations and I got excited every time I heard the music that signalled the change (as opposed to considering fast-forwarding them in the first third).
I guess you just have to go with the book and trust where it will take you but it’s the second novel in a row that I feel did not frame the ultimate story early enough for me to be invested from the beginning. It’s also the second in a row I’ve picked back up a year after dumping it – not a coincidence.
All I can say is if you like powerful emotional dramas, family sagas or intergenerational searches for love, family and hope than the Jellico Road is a wonderful book so stick it out. The end was so utterly emotional I had to lock myself in the bathroom at work to finish it because I couldn’t leave it or sob at my desk.
I don’t know how international readers will take the Australian story and the Aussie narrator. I AM Australian so I found a lot of the stereotypes, characters and idioms accurate to the point of uncomfortable. Somehow though, I still found the narrator’s accent grating (I just kept wondering if that is what I sound like?!)
Overall, I strongly recommend Jellico Road and it is times like this I remember why I have my ‘always finish’ rule!
To say I was highly anticipating the series finale of Timeriders would be an understatement.
I haven’t been as invested in a lengthy series since Harry Potter. I’ve been glowingly positive about every entry, even those a little lighter on the action and heavier on the overall story arc which comes to its conclusion here.
To say I am disappointed with the series finale of Timeriders would also be an understatement.
I am nothing short of devastated by this limp, uneventful and ultimately pointless wrap-up to a series I’ve repeatedly praised for being fresh, exciting, clever and unique.
I’m so let down, not only by where the author took the series but how weakly the Infinity Cage was executed it has tainted the whole series for me.
Given that the first 4-7 books focus more on standalone adventures (which were simply excellent) I would honestly recommend people only read those.
If your curiosity is genuinely piqued by the hints and clues dropped about the Timeriders’ origins throughout the series…still don’t bother finishing the series because this wrap-up is ultimately unsatisfying.
I never fully warmed to Glory O’Brian. I found her heartless and I don’t give characters with a ‘tragic’ past a pass on being unpleasant, especially when they go out of their way to be so.
Perhaps I came to understand her or at least sympathise a little but I failed to connect with Glory.
As a result the framing story – newly graduated Glory O’Brien facing an uncertain future - failed to grip me.
What did get me hook, line and sinker though was Glory’s own story – "The History of the Future". Apparently stricken with sudden physic abilities Glory begin to document the horrific future she sees for her, her friends and her country.
It is this ‘plot’, unravelled from her snatches of physic vision,that had me fascinated and captivated. This is a unique take on how the United States could crumble – one I haven’t read before in the myriad of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction currently clogging the shelves.
The book raised terrifying and thought provoking ideas that I wanted to immediately discuss with friends and that hands down makes the book worth recommending for me.
As a woman, I enjoyed the feminist themes and ideas but I don’t think you have to be female to enjoy this. The issues raised can be appreciated by anyone who wants something more than a hot guy/hot girl romance from their YA literature.
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future is expertly crafted so I think you'll have a hard time not being drawn if you give it a try!
I mistakenly expected a story about superpowers and I liked the idea of blending that with more mythical quest sort of story.
Chasing Power was actually based around magic and magical abilities and while I enjoyed the Deep South voodoo elements, I generally don’t enjoy books about witchcraft.
The premise was still interesting though and the characters had lots of potential.
Unfortunately, Kayla and the rest of the cast ultimately failed to engage me enough to get through the messy third act.
Chasing Power descended into anti-climactic melodrama with inconsequential villains that left me checking the time remaining.
Chasing Power wasn’t terrible but it will be forgettable.
I honestly don’t know why I persisted with this series.
After a great debut, the second entry in the trilogy was lacklustre but I’m nothing if not loyal to a series that I start.
Unfortunately my devotion wasn’t rewarded with a stellar wrap up to the trilogy.
Don’t Let Go continued with a ho-hum fugitive tale that had the characters constantly moving but the plot left standing still. This entry managed to be even less dynamic though, because the POV characters were together for most of the story this time.
Most disappointing is the utterly anti-climactic ending. The villains, new and old, ultimately present no real challenge for the protagonists. Honestly, the story could have been resolved in a similar fashion back in book one, so fruitless were the efforts of ‘heroes’ in books two and three.
This review feels very harsh but as I’ve paid for and sat through three books in nearly as many years, I think my scorn is justified.
I don’t recommend Don’t Let Go, nor the Don’t Turn Around series to anyone.
Tom Leveen doesn't shy away from serious and modern teen issues in his books which is one of the reasons I both enjoy and respect his work.
Random pulled out the big guns - online bullying and teenage suicide - and as always, Leevan took a unique and thoughtful approach the serious material.
I recommend his work to anyone wanting to look at great modern teen literature grounded in the real world.
Unfortunately, though, Random wasn't a particularly great read on its own merits. Don't get me wrong, it's better than 90% of the post-apocalyptic- vampire-love-triangle stories currently packing out the YA genre but felt incomplete.
I have to mark Random down more for what wasn't on the page than what was. Frankly, I wish it could have been longer, fuller, more detailed and with more resolution.
No, there would have been no easy answers but I think the poignancy was undercut by having to keep the main character on a narrow arc and having the climax hinge on a punchy ‘twist’.
Anyone wanting a YA read on real-world social issues should definitely check out Random but this isn’t a life changing read (and keep an eye on Tom Leveen because his breakout novel has to be just around the corner!)
One Man Guy is an incredibly sweet and touching coming-of-age and coming-out story.
It was beautifully written and well-crafted but the absolute highlight was exploration of the Armenian-American culture clash Alek constantly struggles with.
The lush descriptions of the favoured Eastern European delicacies had me drooling and the prose had an incredible sense of place be it suburban New Jersey, eclectic downtown Manhattan or the seeming infinite journey between the two.
Alek coming to terms with his coming out was honest and heartfelt so I think it will appeal to anyone without a particular interest in LGBT literature.
I highly recommended for all readers! I just wish it was longer!
I’m really sorry if you’re reading this hoping for some insight because I am at an utter loss about how to review Almost Tall.
I just have no idea what the heck I am supposed to take away from this exceedingly brief, albeit well written prose.
Yes, I hesitate to even call Almost Tall a ‘story’. Nothing really seems to happen but I’m certain the author is trying make some kind of point that is just lost.
There is some truly great character set up – I want to give absolute credit to the author for that. In fact, the great character seems tragically wasted.
Finally, I have to address the homosexual content. I cannot be sure, since the authors’ intentions are so muddled on every level, but homosexuality and homosexual relationships seem to be a target for criticism, cynicism and even revulsion in Almost Tall.
The idea that the author would take this view point is utterly offensive.
But did he? Or did he mean to?
Who can tell!?
All I know is that I was left feeling vaguely offended and uncomfortable making Almost Tall an unenjoyable read that I do not recommend.
While I ended up kind of appreciating what Ghost Time tried to do, I really cannot recommend it to anyone.
Ghost Time commits the cardinal sin of YA literature - it spends its entire (and frankly excessive) length setting up a series rather than focusing on being a compelling, worthwhile read within itself.
Several mysteries are established and many, many characters are introduced only for the book to end on a cliff-hanger….and the second in the series isn’t due for publication until TWO YEARS after the first!
This indulgent and self-important attitude towards reader experience seemed to permeate the novel with its meandering pace and disengaged tone.
As I said, I didn’t mind Ghost Time in the end but it was a hard fought battle to get there and I doubt I’ll have the patience to sit through the next book if/when it ever arrives.
Finally, I strongly recommend checking out an audio sample or maybe picking this up in paperback if you do want to check it out.
The language is intolerable, especially at the beginning.
So I’m like, OMG, right? “OMG,” I said, “Right?”
And he was like, right, you know? “Right,” he said.
Seriously, OMG, right?
Yes, that is literally how it reads – every sentence punctuated with rights, txtspeak, you knows and other verbal ticks. And for some reason the author has all the characters ‘think’ what they’re going to say and then still put it in as dialogue immediately after!
So I’m going to tell you I don’t recommend this book, “I don’t recommend Ghost Time,” I say.
Fat Boy was an uncomfortably accurate look at what it’s really like to be an overweight teenager.
This element hit me in particularly hard but the author pulled no punches when it came to the pain of isolation, inequality, bullying, broken families and dissolving friendships in high school either.
Credit to Herbach for having the guts to be so confronting but it didn’t exactly make for a pleasant read.
I would have like the plot to be a little stronger, a little more inspiring, a little more mythic.
Basically, I wish Fat Boy had been a little more fiction and a little less reality.
It was definitely well written and impactful – both great things and rare quantities in YA lit.
But I struggled with to get through the challenging subject matter and I’m struggling to recommend something I personally enjoyed so little.
I could tell from the blurb I would either love or hate Ruby Rose – there could be no inbetween with a so completely over-the-top premise.
And Ruby Rose was everything I should have hated – mopey, shoe-obsessed and far too willing to plunge headlong into danger under the guise of being tough, gutsy and independent...only to need to be recused from herself.
But somehow…I came to, if not really like her, at least not be annoyed to tears by her. And frankly, I consider that a quite a victory – Humphries shot sky-high with this one and the fact she didn’t fail horrifically is kind of amazing.
Okay, I’m not really selling this am I?
Bottom line: I know what I hate and I didn’t hate Killing Ruby Rose.
Yes, the plot jumps the tracks completely by the third act but I’ll be happy to continue with the series.
This is high praise from me, so I think most YA readers should be able to find something to enjoy here.
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