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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Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

18053135Novel: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | Goodreads
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5 stars
Originally Published On: A Charming Reverie

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

This is the third (and sadly the final) book in the Shatter Me trilogy. THIS BOOK WAS *ALMOST* PERFECT. I loved it- it was everything I hoped for it to be without even realizing it. As far as dystopian trilogy conclusions go, this was by far one of the best. Everything happened the way I wanted it to without being dragged out unnecessarily and annoyingly. WARNER, sigh. Juliette was so incredibly, surprisingly strong in this book. She completely redeemed herself in my eyes and I found myself really admiring her strength as a protagonist. Tahereh Mafi’s writing was beautiful as always, and possibly even more poetic than in the previous two books. No strike-throughs, which showed Juliette’s internal development.

*SPOILERS*

Wuliette. Jarner. Warniette. Jaaron. I give up. Tahereh Mafi has made it impossible to ship Juliette and Warner with a cool name but it doesn’t matter because they’re going to be together forever, HALLELUJAH. I love Warner. Aaron. Whatever his name is. So. Freaking. Much. I’d like a Warner in my life, please. It was agony when they were cordially distant in the middle of this book. I think I squealed when Juliette finallydeclared her love for him.

I was so thankful that Juliette wasn’t wishy-washy with Adam; I appreciated that she made her decision and stuck to it unwaveringly. Speaking of Adam, what a jerk. I understood where he was coming from completely, I really did. But the way he lashed out at Juliette was very surprising to me, and at times in this book he reminded me of his father (much more so than Warner). I feel *slightly* bad for Adam, and I wish we got more of an ending for him, but I know that this needed to happen for my sanity and Juliette’s character development. But mostly for my sanity. Adam changed a lot throughout this installment. He behaved quite appallingly for most of the book. By the end, he was tolerable. I knew after Unravel Me that I wanted Juliette to be with Warner, but I still cared about Adam a lot as a love interest and a character. I think Mafi did a good job of smoothly transitioning the romantic plot from Adam’s favor to Warner’s. She explained and proved why Warner was a better match for Juliette very well, showing that the choice represents more than just romance- Juliette is stronger as an individual with Warner.

If Adam hadn’t been so hurtful in Ignite Me, I would’ve felt more torn- I still would’ve shipped Warniette, but would’ve wanted a super happy ending for Adam and probably would’ve resented Juliette for hurting him. But Mafi did an excellent job of changing readers’ opinions realistically and gradually so that everyone can logically (and emotionally) accept the ending to this fantastic love triangle.

I also thought it was awesome that Juliette learned to project and control her power so that she could be invincible or turn it off. Now she can touch Kenji (who is one of my favorite characters in this series). I loved all of the Warner scenes, especially the ones that occurred in Adam’s house. Laughed. Out. Loud. Warner is a boss. I also loved learning about Warner’s true motives in the early chapters of the book, when he revealed to Juliette why he had first studied her journal that he retrieved from the asylum. We learned a bit in his novella, Destroy Me, but having it all pieced together changed both Juliette’s and my impression of him. He is a truly unique, fascinating, and wonderful character to read about.

*END OF SPOILERS*

My single qualm with this book (other than the continuation of lackluster world-building that was present in the previous two installments) is the rather abrupt ending. The rebellion was a bit rushed, but I honestly didn’t mind that. After the final chapter, I was expecting either another chapter, an epilogue, SOMETHING. It left off almost as if there would be a fourth book, but then there was an author’s note that made it very clear that the series was finished. *SLIGHT SPOILER* After all these characters have worked so hard to bring down The Reestablishment, I feel like we deserve to see how their lives have changed and how they have changed the world. I would have liked a “One Year Later” or “Five Years Later” or a novella to show us the aftermath of this revolution. The last page in this book didn’t feel like the last page in a series- it felt like a cliffhanger that would be followed by another book. I want some closure! How are Juliette and Warner doing? How is the new government? What is the world like now? How’s Adam? Is he with Alia now? Have Warner and Adam bonded? Does James know Warner is his brother? ETC., ETC., ETC. Also, I was hoping for a really cute, sweet, sentimental Juliette-Warner scene at the end, kind of like Bella and Edward’s “forever” scene at the end of Breaking Dawn. *OKAY SLIGHT SPOILER IS OVER*

So up until the final page, when I said “Seriously? That’s it?” I loved the book wholeheartedly. I still do for the most part. I just think it could’ve really, really used something in addition to the original ending to give readers closure for the future and a chance to contentedly say goodbye to the characters we’ve grown to love, knowing that they are thriving. The non-ending is rather frustrating. Okay, extremely frustrating the more I think about it… I feel like I haven’t said goodbye to these characters yet because I keep expecting something more that is never coming. And the more I think about it, the more I think that everything was almost too easy. Everything worked out exactly the way I wanted it to, which was awesome when I was reading the book because that hardly ever (okay never) happens.

But now, two days later, I don’t find myself still thinking about this book. Because I didn’t encounter any struggles while reading in getting what I wanted, I can blissfully forget the book. I think of it positively and with happy thoughts, but I don’t think “Yeah, everything almost went wrong, but then I ended up being satisfied.” This wasn’t a Champion or a Mockingjay where I felt like I’d lost some and won some. I won everything with this book. So why am I strangely disappointed? Because when I am too satisfied with a book, it tends to be less memorable after awhile in my mind. I’ll remember liking it and being happy at the end, but not much else. Whereas other dystopian trilogy conclusions I may not have liked or enjoyed reading as much, but I remember more. This all made more sense in my head. (Pulls hair out in frustration at not being able to properly express nonsensical feelings.)

Overall, I found Ignite Me to be a very beautiful, well-written book and conclusion to this wonderful trilogy. I also think this would’ve been a great book to have dual POVs or a second POV sprinkled in occasionally, but Juliette’s POV was very interesting and much more than bearable. I hope this review doesn’t come across as negative- I thought the book was phenomenal so I can only pick apart the things I didn’t like (otherwise this would be ten pages of absolute gushing). The ending was more like a non-ending, but otherwise I loved this book and don’t think anyone who has loved this trilogy will be (very) disappointed!

Thanks for reading.

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Top 10 Favorite Fictional Relationships

Hellooo. In honor of Valentine’s Day this past Sunday, I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite bookish relationships (because aren’t fictional relationships the best kind?). I am definitely a fangirl, so narrowing down my list to ten was a little tricky. But without further ado, here are some of my favorite couples in literature! (P.S. They aren’t in order because that would just be too hard.)

  1. Katniss and Peeta The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
  2. Will and TessaThe Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare.
  3. Adrian and Sydney | The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead.
  4. John and Savannah Dear John by Nicholas Sparks.
  5. Celaena and Sam | The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.
  6. Aelin and Rowan The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.
  7. Violet and Finch All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
  8. Étienne and AnnaAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.
  9. Alice and Jasper | The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.
  10. Juliet and Warner | The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi.

There are so many other couples I love, especially ones where I love one of the characters so much and the other is just fine, so they didn’t make the list. I don’t want this list to be confused with being my favorite romances, because while some of these are, many are not. (For example, I adore The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it’s kind of tragic and contains one of my favorite characters, not couples.)

What are some of your favorite fictional couples?

Thanks for reading.

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The Martian by Andy Weir

20829029Novel: The Martian by Andy Weir | Goodreads
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Crown
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Andy Weir originally self-published The Martian in 2011. No wonder the novel eventually got picked up by a big publisher and adapted into a blockbuster film this year – it’s fantastic. While I have yet to see the movie, The Martian is a thrilling, adult science fiction novel that will appeal to a wide range of readers. I am not a science person at all. I have to work harder in my science classes at school to learn and prepare for tests, and I still don’t feel like I fully comprehend the material a lot of the time. So, naturally, much of the science in this book went completely over my head. But while I may not have understood all of the astrophysics concepts, I did appreciate the vast amount of research and knowledge Weir poured into his novel. The Martian is one of those books that makes you smarter just by you reading it.

Aside from the scientific specifics, the plot and protagonist stand out from those in other science fiction books I’ve read. Mark Watney is intelligent, hilarious, and, at times, a bit crude (but in a lovable way). It’s hard to imagine anyone handling being stranded alone on Mars for a year and a half, but he does with grace and a sense of humor. Mark narrates a majority of the novel through log entries, so he feels very real and unfiltered. There were times while reading where I began to feel a bit stifled by reading from one person’s perspective with little to no character interactions, but the novel would soon shift gears and give me a perspective change through NASA, the China space program headquarters, Watney’s crew, etc. (these were all written in third person). I didn’t find the plot to be predictable – there were always twists, turns, and catastrophes that Mark and the scientists watching him were able to solve through quick thinking, wit, and level heads. The Martian truly feels real, like it is actually happening or is a record of events that happened recently. In this aspect, it’s incredibly unique and it has renewed my interest in space programs.

Though I don’t read much science fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. The only cons I can name are that, occasionally, Mark’s sarcasm seemed a little forced; I didn’t always find the science easy or desirable to follow; and at times, the story felt monotonous. However, I think the latter two “cons” were intended: space science IS complicated and the average person won’t understand all (or rather most) of it, and I think Weir wanted readers to feel the monotony of Mark’s life on Mars in order to enhance their perspective on the situation. Overall, I highly recommend The Martian to anyone who likes a witty narrator (think grown-up Percy Jackson) and is interested in a scientific space adventure. I can’t wait to watch the movie and see how it compares!

Thanks for reading.

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