Magan: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, a vlog review

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (website | twitter)
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Pages: 338
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover gifted to me by my in-laws for Christmas!
How I heard about it: Um, this book is awesome so everyone’s talking about it.

Shatter Me is buzzing.

Everywhere. It’s kind of a big deal.

And Tahereh Mafi is awesome. (Understatement of the year.)

If you’re a big book blog follower, maybe you’ve already read several reviews of Shatter Me. I wanted to attempt to do something a little different this time. I love making vlogs and I LOVED this book… I put these two things together and here you have a vlog review of Shatter Me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmAtfforVEg

And just in case I wasn’t clear: Shatter Me IS AWESOME. You must read it right now.

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Magan: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Pages: 336
Target Audience: Young Adult
How I found out about it: NetGalley
Format: Sent to Kindle from NetGalley
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Harper’s sister, June, commits suicide by overdosing on pills; no one has answers about why she did it. Harper knows she has to do what June always wanted to do – go to California. She road trips with her best friend, Laney, and a boy, Jake, that was somehow connected to her sister.

 

Saving June has left me emotionally raw and ripped to pieces.

We are introduced to Harper after June’s funeral. June is her older sister who committed suicide – she and Harper were night and day different. June was very willing and eager to please, make perfect grades, and was surrounded by tons of friends. Harper was disobedient, a less than ideal student, and had only one close friend. When June dies, no one knows why. She leaves behind no note. Harper rummaged through her room and found something that reminded her how badly June wanted to escape Michigan to live in California. It’s then that she realizes that she has to find a way to scatter her sister’s ashes there.

She and her best friend, Laney, devise a plan to road trip to California, but have no means of transportation. A boy June used to tutor, Jake, offers to drive them in his van. The unlikely threesome set off on an adventure to discover answers about why June might have chosen to take her own life.  There’s such a mix of tender emotion and rage – Why would June do this? Is God real? How could everyone have overlooked the signs?  Harrington did a beautiful job setting up the story so that we would feel exactly how Harper would have. Lost, confused, hurting, mad, depressed, dejected – but most of all, ignorant.

There’s so little we know about June and Jake. Did they date? If they didn’t know each other well, why would he offer to drive over two thousand miles to help out these two girls?  Jake’s character was so mysterious and multi-layered. I really enjoyed getting to know more about him. One of my favorite character traits was his love for music – I constantly have music playing while I work, but I wouldn’t say I’m a music snob. Jake kind of was. He tossed out so many bands and songs that I felt like I should grab a notebook to scribble them all down. (Instead, Harrington did something incredibly awesome – before her acknowledgements, she included several playlists!)

Jake and Harper do not have an easy relationship; by all outer appearances, these two would seem to hate one another. Their banter is humorous and they’re brutally honest with one another. So many things go unsaid between Harper and everyone else in her life – Jake seems like a breath of fresh air, telling her exactly how he feels and laying everything on the line.  Laney was such a supportive best friend, in many ways even Harper couldn’t see or understand. I loved the dynamic between them and the ways they learned to be supportive and strong together.

This story is so beautifully written. When I wasn’t reading, I was constantly thinking about it and when I’d have my next chance to sit down to read.  I read all through Thanksgiving day while my family sat down to watch football.  It’s just that wonderful. Kudos to Hannah Harrington for such a beautiful debut novel!

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Magan: Crossed by Ally Condie

ally condie dystopian trilogy, matched #2 by ally condie, crossed by ally condieCrossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie

Released: November 1, 2011
Pages: 384
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Downloaded to my Kindle.
Why I picked it up: Last year I read Matched – my first dystopia ever. I had to continue reading the series.
Summary: Cassia goes in search of Ky in the Outer Provinces, only to be told that he and two other guys have escaped. She and fellow escapee, Indie, are determined to find them and desperately want to join up with the Rising because they no longer believe in the Society.

 

Last year when I picked up Matched, I was so intrigued by the idea of Cassia being matched to two boys – one who was her best friend and another who was an outcast in the Society. I fell in love with how Cassia begins to realize her world isn’t exactly as perfect as she’s always been told. I admired Ky’s character for being so strong; he was an outcast but none of that was his fault. He taught Cassia so much and I couldn’t wait to see if they fell in love. I devoured this book, staying up until 4AM to finish it. Over the last year, I’ve been a major cheerleader for Matched. Highly anticipating Crossed – hoping to finally have a few more answers.

When Crossed was released, I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. I needed to begin reading it right away. Cassia goes in search of Ky, who she believes to be in the Outer Provinces. Ky has escaped from there and is trying to find a way to get back to Cassia. My first thoughts were, “Seriously!?  They’re going to go in circles and never find one another?”  Much of this book is about their struggles trying to survive and not be detained by the Society again. Unlike in Matched, Crossed is told from Ky and Cassia’s perspectives. We have an inside look at where they are at all times. While I enjoyed hearing from both characters, I do think this added an element of confusion to the story.

The entire story takes place over a very short amount of time, but Condie did a beautiful job making the reader feel as though they were exhausted and tired right along with Cassia and Ky. She didn’t quickly or easily tell the story of how they were climbing, running, and hiding through the canyons. Because they were in unfamiliar territory, I kept trying to figure out if they were near each other and wondered if someone would be mistaken for an enemy and killed.  I felt on edge the entire book because they could so easily be discovered and their whole mission to find one another would be forfeit.

We are introduced to several new characters in Crossed – Indie, Eli, Vick, and Hunter. I had no idea who to trust. By the end of the book, I didn’t know if the Rising was good or bad, if they had fallen into the trap of the Society again, and whether Ky and Xander really had Cassia’s best interests in mind.  Ky knows of a secret that Xander is keeping, but he wants Cassia to find out from Xander himself.  Aside from a short scene in the beginning with Xander, we don’t see much of him in Crossed. I was hoping for a bit more with him, but I think he will certainly shine in the last book.

Overall, I think Condie does a brilliant job as an author – she makes me feel exactly how the characters would be feeling. It is really hard for me to say that I 100% loved Crossed because I was so utterly confused and discombobulated, but I do think that was the intent. Though I wish I had more answers and knew a bit more about what would happen in the next book, I am thrilled that I am kept guessing. I am elated that I won’t be able to guess the ending.  I am, however, sorely disappointed that I’ll have to wait another entire YEAR for the final book to be released.

For anyone who might be a fan of the Hunger Games, I think the Matched trilogy would be a great series for you. What pulls me into the Matched books are the relationships between Cassia, Ky, and Xander. With the Hunger Games, I found myself extremely disgusted with the Capitol and therefore just as invested even if Katniss didn’t end up with Peeta or Gale. These are two very different dystopias, but if you enjoy this type of read, you should definitely consider picking them up.

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