Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  This week is a freebie, so I went with a topic from before I started participating: Top Ten Books I Read Before I Started Blogging.

I was a voracious reader when I was younger, gobbling down entire trilogies in a weekend, reading ten or twenty books per week during the summer, literally reading the entire YA section of my library by the time I turned sixteen.  (Luckily, we had an awesome inter-library loan program, so I was then able to read the entire YA section of several nearby libraries by the time I finished high school.)  I didn’t keep track of what I read then, much to my disappointment now.  There are books that I absolutely loved, and I just cannot for the life of me remember what they were called.

But these are books that I either read right before I started blogging (like Room and The Diviners), books that made a real impression on me (like the Fearless series), and books I still own that have moved across the country with me (I still have all my Tamora Pierce books, and I refuse to get rid of them).

So, read on for a list of ten great books (or, at least, books that I remember being great) from before I wrote reviews:

image

– Room by Emma Donoghue 
– Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk 
– Fearless (series) by Francine Pascal 

image

– Song of the Lioness (series) by Tamora Pierce

– Daughter of the Lioness (series) by Tamora Pierce

image

– A Great and Terrible Beauty (series) by Libba Bray 
– 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

image

– Looking for Alaska by John Green
– Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
– Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

   Goodreads   Amazon

**While I don’t think my review gives away much more than is in the plot summary, I have had some complaints over on Goodreads that it should be under spoiler tags.  To avoid ruining anybody’s life, I’m putting this under a read more.**

** spoiler alert ** 

Oh boy. Here we go. I always hate writing negative reviews, especially of books that don’t have a lot of reviews to begin with. It’s a lot of pressure when your review could considerably lower the book’s average rating! But I just can’t pretend that I loved this book.

But, as always, please remember that doesn’t mean that you won’t love it.

This was an impulse pick from Netgalley. I was trying to find something to read, and while I usually steer clear of the Read Now section, I jumped in and picked this book. It’s a pretty intriguing description:

It’s the year 2055 and an anarchist organization has taken control with the aim to create a world-class society. Half of humankind is unknowingly living in an alternate reality called Dormance… and there are no plans to wake them up.

Sixteen-year-old introvert Emery Parker is one such dormant. An academic scholar who avoids ruffling feathers at all costs, Emery finds herself being transferred to a boarding school on the outskirts of Arizona. Little does she know, a family secret has the power to change the course of the future. When she’s approached with an opportunity to free the dormants, she sees no other choice but to accept, even though failure could mean having her memory wiped clean.

But when tech-savvy Torin Porter reaches out to her from the other side, Emery begins to question everything she was told about Dormance. If her family’s secret falls into the wrong hands, the world as she knows it will be faced with irreversible consequences. Now Emery must play both sides to uncover the truth about her family’s past or risk leaving mankind to live in an unconscious reality.

Futuristic world! Alternate reality! Anarchist organizations! Intelligent, introverted MC! Boarding school! Hacker boys! These are all things I like in my books. But, ugh. The execution could have really used some work, starting with the whole basis of the plot in general. Half the world lives in Dormance, a state where their bodies are held in suspension as they live out some sort of virtual reality. Sure, makes sense for the first generation. How do you explain their virtual babies? Do babies just appear in suspension when born in Dormance? Or do people just not get pregnant, and think nothing of it? But also, where do they keep all these bodies? We’re told where a whopping total of twelve bodies are kept. There are supposedly millions of people in Dormance. I don’t get it.

But anyway, setting that aside, let’s talk about Emery’s recruitment and training for The Alpha Drive. She receives a phone call from a man who doesn’t identify himself, asking her to come alone to a location she’s unfamiliar with. She thinks, Hey, why not and leaves without telling her roommate what she’s doing or where she’s going. I thought Emery was supposed to be smart? Of course, everything works out in the end, except for the fact that she has a microchip implanted and has to sign a confidentiality agreement with unfortunate repercussions, including memory wipes in the event of anybody figuring out her identity, or if she figures out another Alpha Drive participant’s identity. We can set that aside, too, because I guess if I were running a top secret scary recruitment program, I might be just as serious about confidentiality. (Probably not, but carrying on…) Emery is trained in the elements. In aquam, she has to dive and swim and deal with seeing dead family members. In ignis, she basically has to set herself on fire. In terrae, she runs through the wilderness as manticores chase her. Somehow, this is meant to prepare her for battle.

Enter Torin Porter, a lovable hacker working for The Alpha Drive’s mortal enemy, Seventh Sanctum. Emery has been led to believe that The Alpha Drive are the good guys, and 7S wants to destroy the world, but Torin tells her it’s actually the opposite. And… she just believes him. He’s right, of course, but come on, Emery. Again, I thought you were supposed to be smart?

At this point, the book derails into a series of romantic conflicts, but I don’t know why I expected anything different from young adult sci-fi. Emery has arguments with her clingy boyfriend from home, who somehow never has trouble getting into her supposedly secure campus. Emery sneaks off and spends the night with a boy she meets at a party. She’s not sure what that means. She and her roommate develop a crush on the same boy, and spend the rest of the book bickering about it. Neither of them are familiar with girl code of not hooking up with/dating a boy your friend likes, I guess. Even Torin develops a crush on Emery. Half the world lives in an alternate reality, but the most important thing at this moment is whether or not Emery made out with Mason and whether or not that upset Rhea.

The last 20% of the book is a mess. As I was reading it, I found myself asking (out loud) what just happened. It’s convenient. (Come on, Emery, even I could have guessed the password for The Alpha Drive’s safe.) The resolution, if you can call it that, doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t at all make me want to read the rest of the trilogy.

I know I have a lot of complaints, but this book sure kept me entertained. Despite everything, I still wanted to know what would happen next. I think it started off better than it finished, and with a lot of polishing, it could be a great story.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2016 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #3: a young adult bestseller.

Although I’ve been blogging about books since November 2013, I only recently got into other people’s blogs.  Most of the ones I follow come from other Goodreads reviewers that I trust, but I love talking about books and reading about reading, so I’m always looking for more book blogs to follow.

I follow a few (not a lot) of my fellow book bloggers, all of whom are more knowledgeable and awesome than me.  These are the book blogs that I would recommend:

Who do you follow?  Are there any reviewers on Goodreads (or the bookish blogging world in general) that you love?

   Goodreads   Amazon

Every book I’ve ever read by Colleen Hoover has left me feeling conflicted, but that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I got a BookBub alert that this one was free on Kindle, so I snapped it up and actually ended up starting it that same day. It’s a quick read with an immersive plot, just like I’ve come to expect from Hoover. I was surprised at how little drama this book had compared to books of hers that I’d previously read… until I got about 80% in, because that’s where it all is.

The basics, to start:

Sky meets Holder at the grocery store one day. He’s the first boy she’s ever been attracted to in her entire life, but he acts really strange around her and she figures that, of course, he’d be the one boy on the planet not banging her door down to get with her. But then they run into each other a few more times, and she realizes that he’s sweet and he does like her, he’s just weird about showing it.

It’s not long before Sky and Holder become close, but Holder’s erratic moods make their relationship (if you could even call it that) rocky. When you add in a traumatic past, huge hidden secrets, and teenage hormones, you’ve got a recipe for some over-the-top drama.

There are spoilers under the cut.

Now, things I liked:

1. Sky’s new friend at school, Breckin, is honestly the best character in the book. He’s present for all of probably thirty or so pages, but he’s the most likeable character in the entire book. He’s funny, he and Sky have a great connection, and even though it feels like he’s just there so the book doesn’t solely focus on Sky and Holder, he was a great addition. (I probably would have preferred a book about Breckin over what I got in this book.)

2. There might have been some serious instalove here (even if the characters don’t refer to it that way), but I could definitely feel the connection between Sky and Holder.

3. Hoover’s writing, as always, drew me in. In any of her books that I’ve ever read, I want to keep going even when I hate what’s going on.

Things I disliked (spoilers ahead):

1. All the slut shaming. It’s in every Hoover book I’ve read so far, and it’s so frustrating. Our MC is ~super edgy~ because she sneaks boys into her room to make out. Just make out, nothing more, she wants us to know. Because she’d be a slut if she did anything more, and what kind of MC would she be then? Her and her BFF also lovingly refer to each other as “slut” or “whore” and I have never understood why that’s a thing.

2. Holder’s mood swings. Sky starts off on the right foot with this. She’s creeped out. She’s disturbed. She thinks he’s super hot, but she wants nothing to do with him. But then he smiles and she throws caution to the wind, putting up with a guy who constantly throws temper tantrums, goes weeks at a time without talking to her, punches the hoods of random cars when he gets upset, and practically stalks her until she falls in love with him.

3. The entire last quarter was completely over the top. Let’s wrap up everything that happens to the MC’s in this book, because this is what took my rating down to two stars: 

**serious spoilers ahead** 

– Sky’s mother dies when Sky is very young.

– Her father repeatedly rapes her as a small child.

– She’s kidnapped and told that her father gave her up.

– Holder witnessed the kidnapping and still blames himself for it, even though he too was a small child at the time and DID tell an adult, and it’s not his fault that the adult didn’t listen.

– Holder’s twin sister (Lesslie) commits suicide, and he feels guilty over this too.

– Surprise! Holder and Lesslie were best friends with Sky when she was little. Also, Sky’s father raped Lesslie, too.

– Sky’s “adoptive” mother is actually her biological aunt, who was ALSO repeatedly raped by Sky’s father as a teenager.

– When Sky confronts her father, he shoots himself in the head in front of her.
I mean, this is just too much. At some point, I just started rolling my eyes as another and another and ANOTHER dramatic twist came one right after the other.

4. The sexual abuse is not handled well at all. Sky has repressed it. I get that. It was really traumatic for her, and as a young child, she didn’t really understand what was happening, only that she didn’t like it and it made her sad. That’s all fine. But the idea that Sky can go from completely shutting herself down emotionally when she’s in any sort of physical relationship with a boy – I’m talking not even kissing someone without zoning out – to falling all over Holder, having orgasms out of nowhere, begging him to have sex with her just after she’s uncovered her repressed memories… I just can’t buy it.

5. Why does nobody in this book suggest therapy? Sky has had an incredibly traumatic life. I mean, see the list above. It’s crazy. But Sky just talks to Holder, takes a shower, has some sex, and she’s magically ok? No, she needs professional help. This is insane.

Overall:

I wanted to like this book. And while I was reading it, at some points, I actually did. But in general, I can’t put up with all of this. There’s too much going on to actually do any of it well. When you have me literally rolling my eyes at the plot twists, you’ve gone too far. And that’s what this book did. It went too far.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

I completely failed at the book queue I posted a couple weeks ago.  I’ve read several books since then, but only one of the three that I’d planed on. So here it is again.  My commitment to read these three books over the next two weeks.  It’s going to happen this time.  Seriously.  Probably.  Maybe.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Time’s Edge by Rysa Walker

What’s up next on your reading list?