May Wrap-Up

Books:

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

After five years of hearing just how bad this book is, I decided I wanted to see for myself. It’s the most famous piece of Twilight fan fiction and I felt I might as well read it, since I missed the “My Immortal” train in the Harry Potter fandom.

Honestly, it surprised me. It was a quick and easy read, probably because it was originally fanfic. With fanfic, you don’t need to spend a lot of time on exposition; you can just jump right in to two people falling for each other. Another thing that surprised me was that it was obviously Twilight fanfic. Usually with Twilight all-human AUs, the plot is so far removed from canon. Fifty Shades, however, actually does incorporate lines and plot points from the Twilight. 

Obviously, Ana and Christian’s relationship is problematic, but honestly a lot of what happens in Fifty Shades happens in other books too. Often this book is framed like it is the Only Book Ever to have these issues. The thing that shocked me most was that Christian got into BDSM at 15 because of his mother’s friend and as an adult, he’s still friends with her. I don’t remember anyone ever talking about how Christian experienced statutory rape.

Total “inner goddess” count: 54

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

3/5

I had hoped that Maas’s writing style from Empire of Storms was a one-time thing, but it carried over into ACOWAR. The choppy sentences really frustrated me, especially toward the end. Honestly, I skimmed over a large portion of the final fight because I couldn’t be bothered to read through it. I wish this book was edited again to smooth over the choppiness. Example:

“The Weaver had waited. Hiding here. Until we arrived.” <- This literally did not need to be broken up like that. If it was a one-time thing, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. Choppiness can add to the effect, especially in an action-heavy scene. But stuff like this happened all throughout the book.

Despite this, I did enjoy the characters. Rhysand addressing his court before the final battle made me cry. The relationships of Rhysand’s court are really what saved this book for me.

I think I am done with Maas’s worlds for now. I might get Tower of Dawn from the library when it comes out. We’ll see.

 

Book Review: The Hate U Give

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5/5

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. (x)

This book was one of the most anticipated books of 2017 and rightly so.

Starr is a compelling character and I could really get into her point of view and understand how she sees the world. It’s easy to think that a book on such a topic would come out preachy, with little character development, but that is not the case here. It does examine the tough topic of racism and privilege, all while having the characters feel like real people.

What I really loved was how present Starr’s parents were throughout the story, which is often not the case in YA (especially in YA fantasy). One of my favorite scenes was when Starr and her dad were talking about Tupac and the meaning of “thug life.”

When Starr was interviewed about the night Khalil was shot, I teared up at the point where she wondered if the police officer was going to shoot her too. It was very raw and gave you a glimpse into life under police brutality.

Definitely pick this up – it is a much needed narrative about racism and police brutality, all with compelling and real characters.

Favorite quote: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing that.”

Book Review: “You’re Welcome, Universe”

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Synopsis:

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way. (x)

This was a fun, quick read with a good intro into Deaf culture and street artist culture. The illustrations were beautiful added so much to the book.

My favorite thing about this book was that the main cause of heartache for Julia is her friendships with Jordyn and YP. Usually, heartache surrounds love interests and friendship is treated like it can’t hurt you like a romantic relationship can. This book shows you that friendships can hurt you and sometimes you can reconcile and sometimes it’s better to move on.

Favorite passage: “Listen, English is second language. I speak American Sign Language. It’s not English. It’s not charades, not miming. It’s a language.” – pg. 247

I love this because a lot of people really don’t understand that ASL is its own language. Like Julia says, it’s not charades or miming. It’s not based on English. (In fact, ASL has more in common with French Sign Language. British Sign Language – from another native English speaking country – is really different from ASL.) Gardner also makes sure to treat ASL like a language by not always saying “signed” after dialogue. She writes signing like it’s natural.

I would love to see more books like this one with Deaf main characters and strong friendships.