Tag Archives: 3 stars

‘The Sky so Heavy’ by Claire Zorn

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

There is something about a book that hits too close to home that makes reading uncomfortable. And

Photo by Peychaud

Photo by Peychaud

I’m not talking about emotionally, or intellectually or situation-wise – I mean an Australian book that name drops shopping centres. It makes me feel ill.  I’m not sure if Americans or the English feel the same way. I feel like they don’t. They have had centuries to get over their home towns being named dropped, their shopping centres globalised, and their plant life used for literary scenery. In Australia we basically only just came out of the water and evolved into hotties last year. We don’t have many books written about us – and the ones we do and shoved down our throats by every proud Australian, trying to convince their youth that: ‘Hey, we matter too, see!!! It’s in this actual-published-book!’

Get out of my face.

Some Australian books do it right. Tomorrow when the War Began, Seven Little Australians, Deadly Unna? And some do it extremely wrong. At a first glance I thought this would be one of those books. An awful – hey lets go to Westfield after school – instead of hey let’s go to the shops after school. It started off that way and I thought to myself – this will not be a fun night for me. Then it got good.

The Sky so Heavy got real pretty fast. It’s a dystopian fiction, set in Australia. We don’t have anything but dystopian here because we are a depressive people… Or violent. Pretty much sad or mad describes most Australians. Anyway – some bombs go off somewhere and suddenly everything shuts down. No power. No internets. No water. Then it starts snowing… radioactive snow. I thought I would settle down to read a chapter before I crashed – then I realised I had finished the book and my alarm to get up for work was set to go off in 4 hours. Worst feeling ever.

It was an extremely fat paced, easy to read novel. It was obviously preachy, and a little predictable, and everyone’s parents seemed to be pretty sweet letting their children roam around by themselves in a rapey, murdery, violent landscape where they will starve, dehydrate, freeze, or die of radioactive snow… I think to make it more YA, Claire needed to get rid of their parents so that the characters could go and find themselves. Which is fine. But maybe just kill them off. Parents aren’t usually so chill about that.

Most dystopian novels have an enemy. They are usually fairly easy to hate, and are foreign invading country, or of a different species, or an oppressive government. In ‘The Sky so Heavy’ the neighbours are the bad guys. And it feel so very real and hopeless. Human nature is a truly awful thing – and I don’t think I fully grasped that until I read this book. We will kill people, steal the food from the mouths of babies, and whatever the hell else – just so it means we can live. Eugh it’s disgusting. I hope if I am ever in an apocalyptic situation, I get the first wave of sickness, or death so I don’t have to see how low the rest of the world will sink.

So the book was good for that. However I couldn’t help but pick up some similarities to ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’. It was like I had to. The characters where just the same characters rolled into one person, or different genders. I guess in Australia we have about six different personalities. Quiet Asian, Religious, Muck-around-idiot, Artsy-protective-narrator, Hot-girl-who-comes-off-as-shallow-but-is-actually-deep-and-insightful.

All-in-all, worth the read.

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‘Wintergirls’ by Laurie Halse Anderson

★ ★ ★ ☆☆

wintergirls

Photo by Peychaud

Technically there is a lot to love about this book. Original writing style, strong and scary themes, magical realism, relatable characters. It’s great really. Only now I am so hungry. And rather sad. I hate it when books make me feel like this – though I guess that’s when you know it is a good book. I found this book very hard to rate. It was amazing truly. But I wouldn’t read it again. It’s too sad. A little too dark and real for my tastes. It deserves 4 stars – and if I were an impartial robot, I would give it just that – but this is my personal blog space and I can do whatever the hell I like. So that’s why I gave it 3.

Far be it from me to actually give a scholarly review or even give a summary of the book – I’m just not that kind of girl – but I suppose I could give you my version of it.

Lia is a wintergirl. For anyone wondering what the title of the book has to do with anorexia – it doesn’t really. It’s just Laurie’s made up word to describe the girls like Cassie and Lia, girls who are essentially dying of starvation. Lia she sees food in numbers (calories), she loves most of her family, though doesn’t appreciate much they do for her. She doesn’t have a job, or go to school too much, plays no sports, has no friends, and only ever pretends to read books. I can only assume because she doesn’t actually possess the strength to do any of this. It makes me shudder to think of how weak and crumbly she probably is. Laurie does an excellent job of Lia. She is completely real to me. I feel like I went to school with her. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it really does. Anyway, plot goes: Cassie dies, Lia is already suffering some serious mental problems and can’t seem to cope with the grief on top of that. She fights her family and pretends she is trying to get better, when really she is doing the opposite. There isn’t really a big climax, just rises and falls throughout the story. I read it in a night.

One problem I foresee for ‘Wintergirls’ is the unbelievable accuracy of the inside look at the mind of a girl suffering from anorexia. I’ll be the last person to blame an author for the way people read into their books – but I was sort of disgusted in the way Lia thinks. I just know some teenage idiot is going to use this book for thinspiration. It makes me annoyed when people use my precious literature to further their own delusions. I feel like the struggle of the family and the helplessness they feel is shadowed by Lia’s own mental state, that unless you recognise that Lia is actually cray, you wont be able to see the effect she is having on everyone around her.

Id cry if I could, I really would.

‘Transfixion’ by J. Giambrone

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

You know what is so great? A year ago I didn’t have a blog. I went about my nightly life, doin as I do, not realising that in squiggly lines above my head lived the internet machine that people just like myself lived. I operated under the delusion that people didn’t get things for free. No really. They (internet folk) send you books for free. Books. For Free. So anyway here’s to my first ARC.

Author: J. Giambrone23114375

Publisher: Solstice Publishing

Release Date: 09.09.14

Genre: YA + SCI FI + ACTION + THRILLER

Pages: 318

Source: ARC from J. Giambrone

Add to: Goodreads

Transfixion is not the kind of book you want to have a glass of red and sit on the couch with. Transfixion is the kind of book that could replace pre-workout. Honestly I feel like I could run a million kilometres if slightly tempted. I definitely couldn’t, but hey, I’m a writer – we all know I’m all words. I sat down to read Transfixion a week ago, all fresh faced and full of wonder, thinking I could squeeze in a quick chapter or two before some sort of banal bodily requirement (sleep) became necessary.  I had to stop. This isn’t the kind of book that you read in one or two sittings. This is the kind of book you will want to set a day aside for.

I haven’t read anything quite like Transfixion before. Author, J. Giambrone has created the most action packed YA that I’ve ever come across. Seriously, there is no down time, no stopping for toilet breaks, no time to do the dishes, no time to answer the door. Seriously Neighbour, now is not the time to ask about my wi-fi.  I read the first chapter slightly rattled. There was so blown inmuch going on and the second chapter didn’t slow! It mercilessly and militantly demanded that I hurry up or be left behind. It was mostly fear of a self-made militarily book personification that kept me reading.

But let me tell you about the actual book. Kaylee Colton, our protagonist is a messed up little lass. I’m not entirely sure how normal she was before shit got real, because there really wasn’t enough of that to tell. The premise of the story is that a signal is broadcast through the Televisions of the not-too-distant future and sends the receiver into a mindless, slaughter-rage. Which in Kaylee’s life is everyone she knows, and semi-loves. It takes her a chapter to go mute.

Kaylee is a greatly flawed hero, a refreshing take on someone who can keep their wits about them, but is totally okay with being afraid and showing it. Honestly one of the only protagonists who has ever urinated. Ever. Seriously book characters just don’t experience bodily functions like the rest of us. Well. Now they do. Selective mutism doesn’t stop Kaylee from bitchin out janitors turned war chiefs, possible violent psychopaths trying to steal her stolen bike, and just about everyone in between. A lady after my own heart.

The mystery throughout the whole book, if you even remember to wonder what started the shit storm in the first place, is who sent the TV signal? Yeah you never find out. So get over that now, while you have the chance. Giambrone has written, in my fixopinion, a dramatic prediction of the American future. Already on the news we see the TV being blamed for the sudden desire for violence in the streets. There is an ongoing argument of gun ownership as a basic human right. (KNOWLEDGE BOMB: guns are offensive not defensive weapons). It makes you think: it’s just a matter of time before somebody rocks the boat.

So I’ll be staying inside until such a time. Somebody take a picture of the sun and send me some Vitamin D in tablet form. Chocolate coating optional basic human right.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆