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Month: June 2016

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

 



The Lost and the Found is a teen fiction thriller novel by Cat Clarke that can leave the reader eager to turn the next page or put down the book and give up.

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was automatically taken over by Laurel’s disappearance, whether that was the press hounding them every day, or her parent’s difficult marriage, Faith just didn’t seem to have her own life.

Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back and now that dream has become reality. However, a disturbing trail of events leaves Faith increasingly paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if if she really is happy that she’s got her sister back.



First of all, this book is not a thriller. It’s been put in the thriller genre pigeon-hole many many times and all I can say is: this book did not get me on the edge of seat and it didn’t make me wonder… Which is what thriller’s are supposed to do.

However…

I am a massive fan of Cat Clarke’s other books and I really do like her style of writing. I’m glad that she managed to focus the book on the relationship between Faith and Laurel and not the romance between Faith and her boyfriend, Thomas. In that way, it’s not like other teen fiction books where the whole storyline is based on romance. There are romantic aspects of this book, but they are hidden away in the background and every so often, we are introduced to this aspect but not too much. Which I absolutely loved. Going into this book, I was hoping that the main character – Faith – wouldn’t be held back by her boyfriend and she wasn’t. This made me incredibly happy.


“I decide to put it out of my mind completely. I will not allow myself to become a paranoid wreck.”
– Cat Clarke, The Lost and the Found



The characters of Faith and Laurel were also spectacular. If you have an older/younger sister, you will be able to relate to the character of Faith easily. You love having your sister there and you know that you love her, but sometimes she can be the most annoying person on the planet and you just need to get away. Faith made this problem very real. You could tell that she was over the moon when Laurel cam back, but over the course of the book, she started getting those ‘sisterly’ feelings where Faith was getting irritated by certain things that Laurel would do. Is this type of realism that comes from Clarke’s writing style that I just adore. 

I hated Laurel. She was created perfectly by Clarke as I have just mentioned but I just wanted to shout at her. She’s just come back from being kidnapped and abused, why is she behaving like a spoiled child and being smug. I think it’s because her character was too nice. She was too polite. Too helpful. Too loving. No one is like that. Which is what made me think that something was up with this character. Something wasn’t right.

The plot twist was fantastic. I think that it was too near the end and that there wasn’t enough build up but it was a brilliant, well thought-out plot twist. The beginning of the book was good and the ending of the book was good, but some of the bits in between felt slow and boring. A thriller is supposed to be fast-paced and keep you guessing. This didn’t. The only time where The Lost and the Found got me curious was just before the plot twist… Near the end. 

This was a put-down-pick-up type of book, one where you don’t really fancy reading it all in one go because you just get slightly bored by the storyline. But, I do think that’s because this book is described as a thriller. If this book was pigeon-holed as just a ‘normal’ teen fiction book, then this book would have been better, but to be a thriller a book, it has to be exciting and it has to have more than one shocking element throughout the story, this didn’t.

Overall, The Lost and the Found is a very good book. It has well-rounded characters and a big shock at the end, but the story was slow and didn’t grip me as much as it should have done. I would recommend this book, just don’t expect a thriller.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


I’ve been wanting to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for a very long time so when I finally got around to it, I was so excited.

On a summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears; passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? His wife’s killer?



If you’re looking for a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat until you’ve turned the last page, then this is the book for you. Gone Girl is a crime, thriller novel that captivates the reader from the very first page.

The idea of this novel is fantastic and Gillian Flynn has a beautiful writing style but I found the characters of Nick and Amy to be quite two dimensional – whether this is a character representation of their relationship, I don’t know. Amy came across as a rich, stuck-up woman and her problems that are shown in this book are very small but Flynn paints them as the end of the world. I was also sick of reading about how brilliant Amy was and how she was so beautiful and perfect. It was boring, it was repetitive she just becomes this idiotic character three-quarter of the way through the book. Nick is pathetic, wimpy and whiny and was bordering on becoming a misogynist with his repetition of “fucking bitch” all throughout the book. He also becomes an idiot of a character three-quarters of the way throughout the book.

Due to a number of expletives and sexual description throughout the book, I would say that Gone Girl is aimed at readers aged sixteen and older. 


“We weren’t ourselves when we fell in love, and when we became ourselves – surprise! – we were poison. We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way.”
– Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
 


However, moving away from the characters, the story was fantastic and I loved the huge question that hung over the novel: “did Nick kill Amy?” I also quite enjoyed reading the book from both the characters perspectives. We follow Nick’s story in the present tense whilst the investigation is going underway and Amy’s perspective in diary entries from before her disappearance that describe her and Nick’s relationship. The two different points of view offer us a deeper insight into their rollercoaster relationship and make the reader almost become detectives themselves, making the readers question every character in their heads as they are reading and seeing if that particular character could have committed the crime. It’s very clever of Flynn.

I was very impressed with the twist of Gone Girl (it was a twist however, that can be easily figured out), but my mouth was still agape and still led me to finish this book as soon as possible so that I could see what the ending was like. 

The ending was disappointing. Very disappointing and a lot of readers have said this to Gillian Flynn. It was disappointing because readers know that what happens at the end wouldn’t really happen, it’s unbelievable. On the other hand, the ending shows how messed up Nick and Amy’s relationship was and how messed up their characters were.

Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, I read it in a couple of days and once I had finished the book, I decided to watch the film. Even though the characters weren’t my favourite, there are bumps in every book. Gillian Flynn is a fantastic writer, she knows how to make you feel something, she knows how to shock and scare. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller. 


All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Much like Eleanor & Park, All The Bright Places is surrounded by a world of hype, people who read it, then re-read it religiously, people who think this is the best teen fiction book around. 


Theodore Finch constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. That ‘something good’ is Violet Markey.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, crossing off each day on her calendar. Graduation is the day when she can escape her numbing grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.




 When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, their worlds collide. It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself, not the ‘freak’ that the rest of the school has labelled him. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can start to move past her sister’s death and to start living the days that she so eagerly wanted to wish away. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.


For me, this book is over-rated but that doesn’t mean that I hated it, I just don’t understand the hype. 

Through the characters of Violet and Finch, debut author Jennifer Niven explores the world of mental-illness; in particular depression. It’s hard for authors of the young adult genre to fully portray the world of mental illnesses; Holly Bourne did it perfectly in Am I Normal Yet? but Niven somehow gets it to begin with and then loses her grip halfway through. 

The description throughout the book of the characters however, is brilliant. Niven portrays Finch’s mood swings and personality changes incredibly and conveys beautifully his love for Violet. Niven’s portrayal of Violet is also magnificent but sometimes gets lost in the descriptions of Finch. There was so much more description of Finch’s dark place than Violet’s and I felt as if this was a shame because Violet’s voice needed to be heard as much as Finch’s.


“I do my best thinking at night when everyone else is sleeping. No interruptions. No noise. I like the feeling of being awake when no one else is.”
– Jennifer Niven, All The Bright Places
 


Secondary characters such as Amanda Monk, Finch’s Dad and Violet’s parents could have had the spotlight shined on them a bit more too. Amanda’s character goes through a massive plot twist that I felt was completely overlooked bar a few sentences, Finch’s Dad was one of the causes of Finch’s depression and we only got a slither of a look as to why and Violet’s parents just seemed two-dimensional. They had no idea what was going on throughout the entirety of the book.

What I liked about the romance was that it wasn’t sexual, it was very endearing and romantic. The sexual moments of the relationship were suggested but not described and this worked very well since the one of the focusses of the book was how two people suffering can come together and help each other out. 

People all over the internet are saying that if you love John Green, you will love this book. No. All The Bright Places is it’s own book and where it shares similarities to The Fault in our Stars, it also differs in the sense that I didn’t find it as captivating; The Fault in our Stars made me fall in love with the characters, All The Bright Places didn’t.

All The Bright Places was as stop-start read for me as I didn’t find myself as invested in the characters as I would have liked to be. When major occurrences happened in this novel, I didn’t find myself caring, I just turned the page like my life in that moment hadn’t been changed (no guys, I am not cold-hearted; I have cried and laughed at many many books). I wanted to feel happy for the characters and at times, I wanted to cry for them but I just couldn’t because I hadn’t made that connection with them.

This is an okay book but I felt like certain things got lost in the sea of the portrayal of mental illness. It’s nice to see more and more authors try and write about depression, OCD, eating disorders etc., but there’s a certain way to do it. I wasn’t captivated and it seemed too similar to John Green’s: The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns and also Jay Asher’s: Thirteen Reasons Why

I would recommend this book, purely because the ‘wanderings’ that Finch and Violet go on are fascinating and the romance between the two characters is magical, but I think it will be a long time before I read this book again.

Warning: this book contains triggers for depression such as discussions of suicide



Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I had read about much of the hype that surrounded this book. Nearly everybody who had read it had told me that it was amazing and that they couldn’t fault it, other people told me that this book was over-hyped and it wasn’t as good as everyone was exclaiming it to be.

I decided to read it myself and have my own opinion.

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Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Beatrix Adams (or Bex) is determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last train home, she meets a boy who turns her plans upside down.

Jack is charming, attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so cloistered. Will his own secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

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