The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddNovel: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Goodreads
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Source: B-Fest
Rating: 4.5 stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Sun Is Also a Star is the story of a girl and boy from different backgrounds meeting and falling in love. It’s also about family, cultural identities and assimilation, and the challenges of immigration in the United States. The novel is set in New York City and takes place over the course of a single day. Despite it being a young adult contemporary novel, which is a genre I generally avoid, I found The Sun Is Also a Star to be brilliantly composed, well-researched, thought-provoking, and fun.

Let’s start with the basics.

Natasha is a seventeen-year-old undocumented immigrant living in NYC. She moved to the U.S. with her mother at the age of eight to join her father, who’d been trying to make it as a Broadway actor for several years. She’s smart, cynical, and hardworking—a no nonsense kind of girl who knows what she wants and how to get it. She doesn’t believe in love, fate, destiny, religion, or even dreams; she believes in science, and science alone.

Natasha’s world is falling apart. Her dad is living in la-la land within his own mind—he’s failing as an actor and has pretty much given up on work and the world. He’s resentful of his family and feels he gave up his dream career, his “God-given talent” of acting, for his wife and two kids. One night, he gets a D.U.I., revealing to a police officer the illegal immigration status of his family. The Kingsley family is thus issued a deportation order, which ruins all of Natasha’s plans for the rest of her senior year of high school, college, and a career. The day that her family is supposed to leave the United States—presumably forever—Natasha sets out into the city to find someone, anyone, who can help her get the deportation order reversed. Why should her life be wrecked because her father made a stupid mistake?

Enter Daniel. Daniel was born in America and is the youngest son of Korean immigrants. His older brother Charlie’s suspension from Harvard leads his parents to exert more pressure on Daniel to attend Yale and become a doctor. Daniel’s parents know what it’s like to be poor, and the thought of their sons living in poverty someday haunts them. They think they know what’s best for Daniel and refuse him any room to design his own life and career.

Daniel is a dreamer. He’s honest, self-deprecating, passionate, and funny, and he aspires to be a poet. Daniel believes in God, in fate, and in “meant to be.” Most of all, though, he believes in love. When Daniel and Natasha cross paths, is it purely due to coincidence, or has a string of events caused by fate led them together? Upon first look, they’re polar opposites of each other, but as the day goes on, they discover they have more and more in common: dysfunctional families, problems with their parents, and an undeniable connection with each other. Whether it’s simply chemicals in their brains, as Natasha believes, or a grand destiny, as Daniel thinks, the 12 hour love story of Natasha and Daniel is fascinating, funny, and heartwarming. I found that it was easy to put aside the little voice in my head that likes to chant “unrealistic” at me while reading YA contemporary novels and go with the flow of Nicola Yoon’s story. The relationships, cultures, science, and politics involved make it different from any other novel I’ve read, and I appreciate the personal touches and amount of research Yoon put into her story. The format of The Sun Is Also a Star, which consists of chapters that alternate by POV, sprinkled tidbits of outside perspectives, and short chapters on topics such as love, irie, and scientific theories/studies, was delightful and interesting to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s sophomore novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, and I recommend it to the non-believers and those who enjoy a bit of whimsicality in their contemporary reading. It hits shelves November 1st, so be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Thanks for reading.

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Mini Reviews | 2

I slacked a bit near the end of the school year with writing full reviews (and wrap-ups) of the books I’ve read. Rather than break my pledge to review every book I read this year, I figured I’d compromise and write mini reviews of the books I read in April and May, complete with my general thoughts on each. This post is the second of a two-part mini review series. You can view the first part here. Enjoy!

61kqENa2G0L._SL300_Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | Audible (5/5 stars)
The Chamber of Secrets has always been my least favorite Harry Potter book, but obviously I still love it. Listening to it on audiobook was so much fun, as the story comes to life more than I would have thought possible with Jim Dale’s lovely narration. There’s not much more to say about it, but you can read my full review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone here. I highly recommend checking out the HP audiobooks as they are relatively inexpensive via Audible and can make mundane tasks like driving or cleaning more enjoyable.

16000044Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes | Goodreads (3/5 stars)
Rebel Spring is the second installment to the Falling Kingdoms series. The series follows a cast of characters and perspectives and has been described as a “YA Game of Thrones.” While I do see some similarities, the writing in this series is definitely lower-level and the characters are often unlikeable. I found this sequel tedious and hard to get through until late in the book, where it picked up for me.

17342700Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes | Goodreads (3.5/5 stars)
The third book in the Falling Kingdoms series, Gathering Darkness was pretty good. It’s my favorite of the series so far, as I found the characters more complex and interesting and the plot deeper and thickening. Morgan Rhodes loves to do plot twists and put her characters through the ringer, which I find entertaining and, thus, appreciate. I got into the romantic tension that builds in this novel and cannot wait to pick up the fourth installment, Frozen Tides, if only to find out what happens next. While I don’t think the Falling Kingdoms series is amazing, it has become addicting and definitely keeps the reader on his or her toes. I’d recommend checking it out if it interests you, or if you’re a younger reader looking to delve into young adult fantasy.

Thanks for reading.

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Mini Reviews | 1

 

I’ve slacked a bit over the last two months in writing full reviews (and wrap-ups) of the books I’ve read. Rather than break my pledge to review every book I read this year, I figured I’d compromise and write mini reviews of the books I read in April and May, complete with my general thoughts on each. This post will be the first of two. Enjoy!

Hamlet by William Shakespeare | Goodreads (3/5 stars)1589254My AP English class read Hamlet aloud this spring. I have to say, it isn’t one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I’m unsure whether that’s because I didn’t like the content or because I disliked the manner in which we read it. I believe it’s more of the latter, because I found it hard to understand and don’t think I got as much out of the unit as I could have. Regardless, Hamlet is an exciting, yet frustrating, tale of murder, familial relations, court politics, conquest, and, most importantly, revenge.

Untitled-14The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss | Goodreads (2.5/5 stars)
This was a weird one. Patrick Rothfuss admitted it would be in an open letter at the beginning of the book. The novella is set in the world of The Kingkiller Chronicle series and follows Auri over the course of seven days as she awaits Kvothe’s return (from where, we don’t know). Auri completes all sorts of odd tasks around the Underthing and readers get a glimpse into her fragile and childlike mind. I personally didn’t much enjoy this book and skimmed through quite a bit of it. There’s not really a plot, per say; rather, the story winds aimlessly as Auri does whatever it is that Auri does. I thought the writing was beautiful, but The Slow Regard of Silent Things was a snooze for me.

20443235The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | Goodreads (4.5/5 stars)
The Winner’s Kiss is the third and final installment in The Winner’s Trilogy. In it, we follow Kestrel and Arin’s separate struggles as they face war and imprisonment, then rejoice as they reunite to kick some emperor butt. I won’t say more on the plot because I don’t want to spoil the series for those who haven’t read it, but I found The Winner’s Kiss to be a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. I liked the first two books a bit more (I gave them both 5 stars, I believe) and found this installment to be a little less intense, but perhaps that’s because I read reviews beforehand and knew that everything would end well. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed watching Kestrel and Arin grow individually as well as together and I wish them a happily ever after.

Thanks for reading.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

15507958Novel: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes | Goodreads
Release Date: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5 stars

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Me Before You is a beautiful and thought-provoking novel filled with seemingly real characters, realistic problems, and British humor that I’ll openly admit I didn’t always follow. The story is set in a small tourist town in the English countryside. It’s told mostly in first-person from Louisa Clark’s perspective, with a few single chapters told from minor characters’ perspectives sprinkled throughout. And just as a warning before you read Me Before You: it’s not really a romance. It is an adult contemporary novel about all sorts of complicated issues and the interconnected lives of characters; a bit of romantic love develops slowly, but it isn’t what the novel is about. Rather, it’s a marketing tool that’s been abused as a selling point for Me Before You.

Louisa and I didn’t get off to a great start; I found her whiny and contrary in the first three chapters and actually put the book down for about a week. However, when I picked it back up I got right into her perspective and the story, so maybe I was just having a bad night initially. I really enjoyed Louisa’s wry voice, which is filled with humor, compassion, self-deprecation, and blunt honesty, about both herself and the world. I liked reading about her family dynamics, her lackluster relationship with Patrick, and her growth over the course of the novel. The one thing I found a bit disappointing with regards to Louisa is the way Moyes addressed her history with sexual assault. I thought it could have been dealt with more thoroughly and in a more impactful manner.

Our other main character, whose perspective we only see in the prologue from third-person, is Will Traynor. And he is a character. Will has a big personality; before his accident, he did everything big, with passion and intensity. He had designed a life he loved living, and now that his dream life is gone forever, he wants to commit suicide. He tries to, which is why Louisa is hired to watch over him. I really want to leave it at that, because the rest is for the reader to discover while reading. But I loved Will and found his life before the accident to be exciting and his life afterwards to be eye-opening. His perspective and philosophy on living is inspiring and he made a mark on my heart.

I’m always wary of hyped up books when I am late on the hype train. They’re almost always spoiled for me in some sense, and my reading experience and overall opinion of a book is altered—for better or for worse—because of its hype. If I had read Me Before You when I’d originally planned to—back a few years ago when my mom did, before all the movie hype—I think I would have been shocked by it. Its ending would have swept me off my feet and face-planted me into a pool of my own tears. That being said, it still made me said and my eyes did water a bit (I finished it at a swim team banquet and thus held in the tears that otherwise would have spilled down my cheeks). But my prediction of why everyone says it’s such a sad book and that “omg” they cried at the end was right. And I knew it would be right (without actually looking it up). So in that sense, Me Before You’s hype took away from my experience reading it, although I still found it fresh, heartbreaking, and wonderful. I would give it 4 stars based on my own experience and know I would have given it 5 had I not known what would happen. So I settled on a solid and, in my opinion, fair 4.5 star rating.

I highly recommend reading Me Before You. There is also sequel out for those interested; I felt very content with the first book’s ending because it is a complete story with no loose ends, but I may check out the second installment and review it. Let me know what you thought of Me Before You (or After You) if you’ve read either, but please keep any comments spoiler-free!

Thanks for reading.

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April/May Reading Wrap-Up

I’ve gotten way behind in my wrap-ups these last two months. I’ve totally slacked on writing my thoughts and impressions right after finishing a book and with an April reading slump, AP exams, and the end of high school, I just haven’t kept up with my blog. So here’s a very brief and bare summary of what I’ve read during the past two months.

April

I read four books and got into a bit of a slump because The Wise Man’s Fear was long and dragging. I also listened to much of the second Harry Potter audiobook.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare | 3 stars
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss | 4.25 stars
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss | 2.5 stars
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | 4.5 stars

May

I finished eight books and made progress in two more.

 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | 5 stars
Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes | 3 stars
Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes | 3.5 stars
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | a million stars
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
~
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas | re-reading, almost done
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | barely begun

I’d just like to take this moment to say that ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas is everything. It’s an absolute gem. And my favorite book ever. And you should read it. ASAP.

That is all.

Thanks for reading.

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