Magan: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

book cover for in honor by jessi kirby, book cover with girl wearing a sundress and bootsIn Honor by Jessi Kirby (website | twitter)

Future Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 288
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: ARC Received at ALA Mid-Winter
How we found out about it: Ginger at GReads!

Summary: It’s always been Honor, her brother Finn, and Rusty, Finn’s best friend. Finn inexplicably joins the military, loses his friendship with Rusty, and nine months later, is killed in Iraq. Honor finds herself driving across the country after Finn’s funeral reunited with (a very drunk) Rusty, hoping to make good on Finn’s last words to her.

Oh my goodness, you guys! In Honor was one of the books I was most excited to have received at ALA Mid-Winter back in January. When the copy landed in my hands, I wanted to hide away in a corner to read it right then and there. I, hesitantly, waited until I returned home to read it. Ginger, Yani, and I all read it at the same time so we could discuss.

And what a book to discuss! The entire time I was reading, I was choking back tears or my heart was racing. Honor’s brother Finn gave her tickets to a concert in California. Even though the road trip to CA from TX seems fickle and nonsensical since she’s just attended his funeral, she feels like it’s something he would want her to do. She loads her bags in his Impala and is all set to go when Rusty, Finn’s best friend decides to go with her.

Finn and Rusty’s relationship was complicated. No one understood why Finn joined the military when he had a full, free ride to college where he would also play football. Since he joined the military, his relationship with Rusty was strained. Honor isn’t thrilled to have a travel companion, but after several unfortunate events occur, she realizes that maybe it’s for the best that he went. Finn would have enjoyed seeing them drive across the country together.

That drive – almost the very same one – from TX to CA was one that I’ve made. When I graduated college, Dustyn and I sold our house and most of our belongings and moved to sunny San Diego. That was one of the longest, most difficult drives I’ve ever experienced. Leaving our friends and family behind was not easy, and I cried many a tear as Texas faded in the rear-view mirror. Even though I wasn’t making my trip for the same reasons Honor was, I understood in a deep, personal way how she felt. With each mile, she was saying good-bye to her brother and the reality was setting in just a little bit more.

The excitement of the trip was all in the journey and the mishaps. In Honor’s pages were filled with so much authenticity and so many real moments. Ultimately the story is so much more than Honor trying to commemorate her brother. Along the way, she finds truth and strength. And there’s maybe a little bit of a love interest with Rusty. Maybe.

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Magan: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

sequel to delirium by lauren oliver, pandemonium by lauren oliverPandemonium by Lauren Oliver [twitter | website]
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 375
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: ARC received from HarperCollins at ALA (Thank you!)
Why I read it: Delirium is awesome. This is the sequel!

Summary: Lena has escaped into the Wilds, but the last she sees of Alex is him being beaten and surrounded by the Regulators. She has no idea where to find a settlement with Invalids; just as she’s dying, she is saved by Raven. It is at her homestead that Lena learns how to survive in the Wilds and learns of the resistance.

– – – – – – – – –

**Today I’m publishing my reviews of Delirium and Pandemonium separately because I didn’t want to spoil anything for people who might not have read Delirium yet. If you plan to pick up Delirium soon, don’t read this review. I will unintentionally mention spoilers because I’ll talk about where it left off and Pandemonium begins, though I will try to be cautious of mentioning any new spoilers for the sequel.**

– – – – – – – – –

Delirium introduced us to a girl who was weak and very influenced by the society. Lena had very little say-so and often didn’t think for herself. We saw her progress from a lowly character with little self-esteem into a brave, confident young woman who would do anything to spend her life with Alex. Who would give anything to make her own decisions. Thus, she fled into the Wilds seeking freedom, although Alex was trapped by the Regulators and never makes it to the other side.

Pandemonium opens and we see that there is a “then” and a “now.” Oliver switched up how she chose to tell Lena’s story. Some chapters are flashbacks to when she first enters the Wilds and others are current day. Since there were two stories being simultaneously told, it seemed as though I was reading about two Lena’s. I am amazed by the growth that occurred in Lena. I thought she would be fully prepared to live outside the society, but being broken-hearted and damaged took a toll on her character. She second guesses herself and has to go through another developmental stage. She realizes how weak she is and is pushed to fight; thoughts of Alex are what encourage her to continue on.

While I felt that Oliver was very cautious and intentional in Delirium, she was much more intense this go around. The story was powerful and there were so many puzzle pieces I was trying to fit together. I was anxious to devour the book (but knew I’d be waiting an entire year for the final one). There was hardly a low-intensity moment, and the shifts from now and then would occur just as things were coming together, leaving me in suspense a little while longer. Oliver left me constantly grasping for more information, and I went through an array of emotions while reading.

I was shocked. I was heart-broken. I yearned for Alex. I was disgusted. (Rats, anyone?!)

I was completely surprised by the ending.

There are so many things I need want to know now. I don’t know how things will wrap up in Requiem. I wish I could have a coffee date with Lauren Oliver so she could spill all the details. Honestly, for as much as I loved Delirium, I was even more blown away by Pandemonium. It’s all the things a sequel should be, and much, much more. I encourage you to read this book and have a friend nearby to discuss all the details with. Ginger at GReads! got a few texts from me like, “I am dyinngggggggg. I am still shaking from it.” I guarantee you’ll need someone to help digest all the twists and turns.

Pandemonium just came out on February 28th. Hurry out and buy your copy! If you already devoured it, tell me what you thought below! I’m so curious to know.

More Reviews of Pandemonium:

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book cover for delirium paperback, delirium young adult review lauren oliver, person who didn't like delirium

Magan: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

book cover for delirium paperback, delirium young adult review lauren oliver, person who didn't like deliriumDelirium by Lauren Oliver [twitter | website]
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 441
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: Paperback (special edition with lots of extras)
Why I bought it: I wanted to give the series another try.

Summary: Love (or the deliria) has been deemed a disease. It is mandatory that everyone must be cured of the deliria once they turn 18. Lena is a few months away from her 18th birthday when she begins to question being cured, meets Alex, and discovers that the society doesn’t function as perfectly as she once believed.

I mentioned in this In My Mailbox vlog that I read Delirium last year and didn’t love it. Why? you ask.

I whittled it down to a few reasons, and mostly I believe that it was terrible timing. I read Delirium immediately after finishing Divergent by Veronica Roth, which happens to be one of my very favorite books. I went into Oliver’s world expecting the fast-paced, kick ass heroin I loved from Divergent. The two worlds, while both dystopias, are so incredibly different, as are both authors’ writing styles. This year when I went to ALA, I met several friends who convinced me to give Delirium another try. So I did.

And I abso-freaking-lutely loved it.

I hereby admit that I was 100% in the wrong to have read two dystopias back to back. I confess that I am a complete Lauren Oliver fangirl now. I wish I could take back the months that I didn’t recommend Delirium to my friends because all I want to do now is sing its praises from the rooftop.

Because this is a release from last year, I am just going to cover a few of my favorite aspects of Delirium:

  • Oliver spends a lot of time allowing us to see Lena in her natural environment before shocking us with Lena’s doubts about the cure. This gives us a chance to really see how much Lena believes in everything, how anxious she is to receive the cure (and why that is), and how automatron-like she is because she doesn’t really think for herself. Every single decision she makes is based on how she can be a good citizen and not break any rules.  Reading this the second time, I saw how well Oliver used this period of change to develop the details of the world; I even felt convinced, at times, that the cure was worthwhile.
  • The process of Lena unraveling is a slow progression. She doesn’t meet Alex and then woah! everything falls to pieces. Oliver was very intentional when it comes to Alex. Just as Lena slowly loosens her reins, we slowly fall in love with him, too. He has secrets and is very mysterious; Lena eventually has to learn all of those things and they aren’t easy for her to digest. I love, love, love that Lena and Alex don’t have an insta-love relationship. They definitely defy the odds, though, because Lena is all about the cure.
  • One of the things I’ve learned to enjoy more in the last 9 months is books that have less dialog and more description. During my first reading, I wasn’t a huge fan of the large, solid chunks of writing. I love seeing characters interact, but I’ve gotten much more acclimated to taking in the details. In fact, that’s something I now see Oliver does extremely well.
  • Even though I’d read this before, I felt so much more connected to it this time. I understood Lena and didn’t feel the same frustration. I accepted that she was do-gooder (not saying this is a bad thing!) and rarely broke the rules. I didn’t expect her to suddenly “find herself” and then make an abrupt change. I really, sincerely believe that I went in to Delirium the first time expecting something from the story – having my own opinions about what Oliver could do with such an awesome concept -  instead of allowing myself to enter Oliver’s world with an open mind.

I do have to say that while I was convinced to re-read Delirium, no one convinced me to change my opinion. I wasn’t paid off by the book mafia or anything. I really felt like the book deserved another chance since so many people have raved about it. I’m really glad I read it again.

So I ask you, readers, what book did you really feel disconnected with that others seemed to love? Did you read it again and did your opinion change?

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Read my review of Pandemonium

Estelle: Lock and Key By Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Released: May 14, 2009
Pages: 432
Target Audience: Young Adult
Why I picked it up: Trying to read a bunch of Dessen.
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
Summary: At a young age, Ruby is forced to take charge of her life due to her M.I.A. and irresponsible mother. When her mom disappears and the landlords find out, Ruby begrudgingly reunites with her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in many years.

This was the second Sarah Dessen book I’ve read (the first being Keeping the Moon, which I absolutely loved). For a long time, Ruby thought she was fooling the world into thinking her life was just fine. Somehow ignoring the fact that electricity wasn’t working and water wasn’t running. The reality: her mom has split, she can’t keep up with the bills, and pretty suddenly she finds herself living with her sister and husband in a huge house and unlimited amounts of money. The girls have not seen each other since Cora left for college. Now she is a successful lawyer married to Jamie, a guy she met in college who also has a prosperous career.

It’s heartbreaking because when the sisters were younger Cora took the brunt of her mother’s behavior to protect Ruby and somewhere along the way they lost that. Their sibling dynamics, in addition to Ruby’s “friendship” with the boy-next-door, Nate (who has problems of his own), really force Ruby to examine her past and figure out how to stumble forward.

What made this book so addicting for me was the gradual change in all of the characters and the realization that the word “family” means many things to different people. Sometimes that is a lot to deal with, especially for Ruby and Cora, who grew up with a mother who was destructive in a number of ways.

Dessen does a great job of making these characters and their feelings tangible and by the final chapters, I couldn’t stop picking up the book during my work day. I was satisfied that she left readers with realistic conclusions and most of all, hope.