Recapping some books I’ve read this year (2013)

I’ve always recapped on what I’ve watched at cinema in the year at the end of the year. Which I will do after I have seen The Desolation of Smaug but for now I feel like recapping the books I have read.

Usually my top ten films are ones that have been released in that year. I find it a bit harder to keep up with book releases (as most people probably do) so whilst most are fairly recent they most certainly weren’t all released this year.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I have reviewed this recently on my blog but it deserves another mention. It’s a fantastic riveting story that retells an aftermath of an alien invasion in an interesting way. The second book The Infinite Sea will be out sometime next year although no release date has been put in place as of yet. I’m very exciting to see where it goes next because to be honest it looks like the last of the human race are fighting a losing battle but it should be a good read.

Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson 

This book is a contemporary thriller/drama; imagine the plot of 50 First Dates but instead of Adam Sandler helping you, you have a psychopathic maniac waking up next to you. It’s brilliantly written from a first person perspective of the memory loss victim which you would imagine would be tedious – it really isn’t. There’s a film in the works for next year December 2nd. Whilst I really loved the book I’m not entirely sold on a film adaptation but with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong casted it could be worth watching.

Legend by Marie Lu 

Again I’m a bit late on this bandwagon. This book is extremely popular in the YA section with two sequels already best sellers. It follows a young man Day who is living in poverty to survive but he is extremely skilled and branded a wanted terrorist, we also follow June who is a military official with a Vendetta against Day. But they both soon realise they have a common enemy. I haven’t read the other two books I will be buying them and reading them soon. It’s not the most original story but it’s still quite exciting even if it was at time predictable.

The Rapture by Liz Jensen 

Another contemporary/thriller following Gabrielle Fox a psychiatrist in England who is given a very unusual subject who seems to be predicting the future. This book at times a bit slow but still very gripping in plot. It was a small gem I picked up as it was fairly cheap and I really enjoyed it.

Nyteria Rising by G.L. Twynham

I did start reading this last year but didn’t get around to finishing it completely due to busy projects but I did re-read late last year finishing it earlier this year. This book is third in ‘The Thirteenth Series’ where Val is forced into combat against more enemies whilst trying to prevent attacks from some long-term enemies. I was living in Lincoln at the time of picking up the first book as it had the ‘local author’ sticker and I loved it. I got hold of The Turncoat (Second book) and I was completely hooked and Twynham’s imagination holds no bounds in this instalment and it wont stop there. Looking forward to reading the next one ‘The Awakening.’ I’ve said this before I think in my Turncoat review but this series would make a fantastic long-term TV series!

Carrie by Stephen King

An oldie as we all know. I did read this a few years back but with a remake of the film I decided to read it again. My all-time favourite Stephen King book, love the way it’s written, love all the themes he touches on. King is extremely talented on bringing depth to characters and a delicate sense of realism on the paranormal which is abundant in this short story.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 

Ok. I had a bit of a hard time with this book. It’s concept is interesting set in the present day when Daisy is shipped off from Manhattan to her cousins in England a war is declared and Daisy and her cousins are stuck in a now occupied England. It was written well, I like the style, it’s kind of Daisy re-telling the story as if it happened a good time ago with this sarky kind of feel to it. A lot of caps are used and theres no dialogue as such. The first few chapters got me hooked but it wasn’t long until I got bored. Not so much a fan of the incest love story with her cousin either.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The third book in the Divergent series where Tris and friends leave the Chicago city barriers to meet the rest of the world but what lies there may not be any better than the government in their city. This book I felt was a waste of my time. I was bored, the mish-mash of plot was unbearable.

The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell

  Described as ‘A Masterpiece – a dose of the uncertainty of Kafka, the fantasy of Bradbury, the crisp prose of Greene, and the noir of Chandler’ – At which point I should have decided this book isn’t for me if the short reviews are as pretentious as a Lars Von Trier production. However I thought I could give the ‘big adult read’ a go, I shouldn’t have. I’m sure it’s a fantastic book and while I love surreal worlds and chilling atmospheres I really just couldn’t be gripped.

Ok. ‘Book Haul‘ which is a list of books you say you are going to read. I don’t usually assign myself books that I say I’m definitely going to read unless it’s one that I’m really excited to read and even then it’s whether or not I actually finish it but here’s a little stab on what’s next on my list.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Prodigy & Champion by Marie Lu

The Maze Runner by James Dashner 

The Awakening by G.L. Twynham

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken 

The Fifth Wave By Rick Yancey – Review

There is so much that goes on, yet it is written so perfectly and with such precision and subtle plot-cues, it makes perfect sense and tries not to fry the brain with information but it is Sci-fi heavy.

Set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, Cassie is alone and scared but she packs a lot of will… and the M16 comes in handy. She goes on a journey to find her younger brother amidst the new world, she has to face fears and come to trust her instincts because she sure as hell can’t trust anyone else but herself.

The story starts off on the dawn of the 5th wave with Cassie reminiscing about the first four waves of attacks from the silent but violent alien visitors in the sky. Whilst keeping your interest keen, it is not much of a page turner at first. The book is separated into sections and the first section is essentially the plot set-up with very little going on in the present world of Cassie. For a ‘young adults’ Sci-fi it is actually very Sci-fi heavy which I like but others may not be likened to at first. After this section of the book however it is all ‘go, go, go’ and the action really kicks in.

Cassie is sullen, sarky, strong willed and very intelligent with no care for trivial things, which provides a breath of fresh air from your usual ‘omg, I’m a whiney plain jane with nothing else going for me’. At times Yancey does fall Cassie into the cliche especially when it comes to the love interest – Ben Parish. At times it became extremely grating that Ben Parish gets mentioned as often as he does by Cassie, I don’t know about many people but I know if my family have died along with more than 90% of the population, my high-school crush wouldn’t exactly be in my thoughts. However these cliches are quite few and far between and it is pretty much bearable.

Whilst the main character is Cassie each section has been written from a different point of view. The other main character being Ben Parish/Zombie whom has been saved by the army and put into a camp to become a soldier, this creates a nice contrast of Ben’s seemingly safe base compared to Cassie’s isolation and survival in the wild. There is also a section in which is in Cassie’s brothers point of view, however I felt it didn’t really add much to the plot or the themes and seemed a bit unnecessary.

The book was been beautifully written and the plot, whilst still borrowing a lot from other alien-invasion stories, still provides an edge of originality that keeps it fresh in the Sci-fi genre. Yancey does not over do it and leaves a lot to the imagination and is constantly questioning who you trust as a reader much like the characters themselves. I definitely recommend it to any sci-fi lover and those who don’t enjoy sci-fi may just appreciate this book if you can handle the first section.

4/5 Rating:

I give it a 4/5 rating, would of got a 5 if it wasn’t for the cliches slipping through and the annoyingly slow-pace start. The rights for the film have been sold and is in-development. Whilst there still is a chance it may not be made, judging by the hype and sales of this book it is seems unlikely. I’d expect to see a film around 2015/early 2016 and it has a lot of potential to be fantastically cinematic. – Book trailer

Divergent (By Veronica Roth) Book Review

As it was praised as ‘the next Hunger Games’ and there is now a film out next year starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet I thought I’d give this book ago.

Quick summary: In the dystopian world of Chicago the public are split into five factions based on what virtue they value the most. Amity for the peaceful, Dauntless for the brave, Abnegation for the selfless, Candor for the honest and finally Erudite for the intelligent. Abnegation born Beatrice is turning 16 and she finds she doesn’t fit in, a test soon proves that she doesn’t really fit in anywhere, she is Divergent a secret she must keep. Regardless, to avoid being factionless, she decides to leave her family and join the Dauntless, but over time she soon realises what it means to be Divergent.

Now I love dystopia, I love post-apocalyptic however after finishing this book it made me feel quite deflated. There is a lot of flaws and whilst I believe Roth has a great imagination, she fails to exploit it to choose a safer, more cliche, style of development. For me, there was no real explanation why Chicago is split into factions, to ‘avoid war’ is a bit of a sell out and doesn’t really work for me. What is outside Chicago? I believe it’s partially hinted that there is a world outside Chicago, but again no more clues as to what. Even if it is in the second book, Roth could have set it up a bit more. Why 16? 16 seems a little young to be choosing your place of residence for the rest of your life, and also Tris’ character development over the book suggests she’s much older. I feel that Roth’s choice of making the ‘coming of age’ 16 a little too much of an attempt to engage in Young Adults, when 18 would be perfectly fine and make sense. The factionless? Now these guys are people that failed initiations into Factions and live a world of poverty and are treated badly, segregated from everyone else. Now there seems to be a lot of these people but none of them thought to uprise? Again not entirely explored, do these people have any human rights? Is there a stigma about them? Again not explored, not explained.

You can’t just feed a reader random information with little or no backstory and expect you to just accept it, especially when dealing with Dystopian/Sci-Fi novels. I just couldn’t engage with the world, without these little questions answered as far as I am concerned it’s extremely flawed.

Character development. Dear god Roth! She made a very strong, brave and courageous character and ruined her. Her relationship with her trainer made her extremely pathetic. There was a point where Four (the trainer) explains that he likes her and doesn’t want ‘just sex’. This prompts Tris to well up and get upset because “she’s not pretty enough obviously.” After that I just couldn’t take the character seriously, especially after Roth had built such a great and powerful girl-turning-woman and then boom – From Katniss Everdeen to Bella Swan in one paragraph. No Roth, you naughty author!

However the concept I liked, and I did read the whole thing. Dangling the “why is being Divergent dangerous?” like a carrot was a very good move to keep us wanting more and keep us reading. The book wasn’t terrible, it just could of had a lot more to it that would of made it a 5/5. I’m giving it though a 2/5. I’ll read the second novel and I might go see the film. I sure as hell wont be first in line though.

The Turncoats by G.L. Twynham Review

Ever find that most young adult books have a slow lagging story that, may have you hooked until the early hours of the morning, however the climax just had you wishing you never bothered devoting time and money *cough* Twilight *cough*.

Not with ‘The Turncoats’, this book is one of the only books I’ve managed to finish in one sitting, I was warned by a friend that I would not be able to put it down, eight hours later, I was finished.  G.L. Tywnham based in my current University-home county of Lincolnshire is just starting to branch out of that ‘local’ author box, due to the growing popularity of ‘The Thirteenth’. Twynham has done it again with it’s sequel ‘The Turncoats’. The series follows Valerie Saunders as she finds out in ‘The Thirteenth’ she was not quite the normal just-turned-eighteen year old girl she thought she was and has a much bigger destiny.

In The Turncoats she is forced to embrace her destiny further with the help of a few human friends, she goes through painstaking tasks, hits many emotional bricks walls and generally is just a ‘bad-ass’. You will not expect the twists and, if not vigilant enough, the small things scattered around the book will come back at you without a moments warning.

When reading the book you will find that the character depth is very deep, you really start to connect and hear each individual voice clearly throughout the book. Visualising is very clear and, at parts, leaves much up to the minds eye to fill in the gaps without forcing yourself. Although ‘The Thirteenth’ was good, Twynham has improved massively and ‘The Turncoats’ seems more planned out and has a lot more goals with more complicated characters – the traits of a very skilled author considering it’s her second book. One thing ‘The Turncoats’ has that ‘The Thirteenth’ was missing was a bit more humour, especially in these types of books, a character specifically made for humour and relief adds a nice touch. Enter ‘Zac Efron’, no not the actor, an alien who is to guide Val, whom took on the name of Zac Efron. He is a funny character who doesn’t quite grasp humans or human culture, one section of the book where he experiences his first 3D film was especially amusing, I don’t want to give away much of his character, but he does have the best lines in the book.

This is all I’m going to say, I do find it hard to review sequels without giving away too much of the first book. Although this book has a Young Adult’s demographic, I don’t think that it should end there. I’d definitely recommend no matter what age as this series has a lot of depth and a climax that I am certain you will not see coming and myself certainly can not wait for the third book. Overall a 9/10 rating from me.

The Next Biggest Franchise – “I Am Number Four”

While most book to film adaptations occur from a best-seller, it seems producer Michael Bay (Transformers) and director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) felt it necessary to take a big leap and take a chance on making the movie “I Am Number Four” a book no one had heard about because it hadn’t even been released when they started production. The book was released on the 23rd of August and is currently on the top of the book charts, and now with a cast of promise from British up comer Alex Pettyfer and Glee Star Dianna argon take on the lead roles.

I can certainly see what was appealing to them. The books basic plot is a sci-fi thriller, nine children and their guardians escaped from their home planet due to a nasty and unexpected war from a harsh and desperate race. They reached the closest life-sustaining planet, Earth and each child and their guardian had split up across earth in hiding. 15 years later, what Number Four and his guardian Henri had feared the most is now gaining closer, Number Three had been killed which means Number Four is next. They go into hiding in the fictional small town of Paradise Ohio where Number Four (Alias: John) tries his best to blend in and make friends despite Henri’s warning. It’s not long before John develops a loyal friendship with geek Sam and a love interest in Sarah. But it only makes it worse as the threat dawns nearer.

This book is certainly your next Harry Potter or Twilight, to the point that it probably brings them together plus more, a prominent love story with a heavy fantasy action topping. The book itself is definitely a thrilling read, there were not many chapters that I thought were boring, each chapter contains something that makes it worth your while. And the Pittacus Lore, the nom de plume of the authors Jobie Hughs and James Frey, really does add to the story giving it a sense of realism.

Cast: Henri, Sarah, Number Four, Number Six

The high-school parts are some what cliche, you have the ‘jocks’ and cheerleaders and what have you, it kind of grates on you the over use of the cliche’s because we all know that they are not that clear-cut, however it didn’t prove a main concept in the book although it definitely sends off that vibe in the first two chapters. Number Four/John is the main character and is written in his first person narrative, you did not really feel as an alien but rather a troubled teenager which again adds to the realism of the character, he spent from the age 5 on earth so his character has seemed to fully adopt Earth culture and human interactions which differ from his guardian’s which is a nice touch and adds to a satisfying depth. Sarah is also a breath of fresh of air, she is neither a bullied-suffering-geek or a your popular-cheerleader-bitch she is a keen photographer and a friends-with-everyone nice girl with a sense of independence.

The book leads to average predictions, and whilst some of them may be true, they don’t pan out how you think they do. Needless to say, the climax is extremely appeasing and will completely have you hooked until it’s over.  However there were minute parts of it that I found slightly hard to visualise and didn’t understand what the authors were trying to describe.

There was one small thing bothering me, the lack of closure. The book had sprouted so many questions with very little answers, with a sequel planned for 2011 I didn’t expect full closure, but it did leave an annoying personal craving which will sure be the one thing driving me to click ‘pre-order’

Overall I highly recommend giving it a ‘Chicken & Bacon Mayo Melt Panini Rating’ (9/10). I actually can not wait to see the film adaptation with a schedule release of February 2011.

Click here to see some early behind the scenes footage with a message from the cast.

I read a new book… it was called Hush Hush By Becca Fitzpatrick

Now having a minimal social life at the moment, just working at my new job then writing my script, in between doing a bit of music jamming, making friends with spiders… you know, the usual sh*t, I decided to buy a new book to give me a bit of a break as I was fed up choosing from the same Film collection almost every other night.

I looked at book charts really not quite sure what I wanted to buy. This title and cover art however struck me so I read the blurb and some reviews, whilst most compared it to twilight and saying it was a rip off, I was most angry about this, the blurb suggested, a supernatural genre, a high school setting and a dark romance/suspense thriller… forgive me if I’m wrong but thats always been the ‘teen fiction’. Yes we all know the twilight series is famous for this genre however it doesn’t make the genre.

On with the review…

Hush Hush follows an intelligent young ‘plain jane’ girl named Nora Grey, Whose life has been, not quite normal but close enough until she met Patch Cipriano, a dark mysterious boy in her biology class, and ever since then her life has been tossed and turned into thrilling illusions and life-threatening situations. Whilst her best friend Vee a more of a happy-go-lucky type person is completely oblivious to the seriousness of the strange happenings involving Patch, but more takes it as an opportunity to play spy and with Nora, try their best to unravel Patch’s over-secretive past.

My main problem with this book was by far the main character, for an intelligent girl she was extremely and undeniably stupid, apart from the odd comment to her acing every class and her trips to the library you would never of guessed she was meant to be top-of-the-class. However she was interesting to follow and although at times her character didn’t make sense, her character development and her reactions to certain situations seemed natural and believable.

Whilst most of the readers would realise what Patch already is before Nora does, you’re reading it left with a question in mind, ‘Where exactly is this book going?’ I was at times slightly close to putting it down but then I would read a line which would have me reading for another 4 chapters or so. The plot development was somewhat slow but really did tease you with questions that you couldn’t help but want to know the answer.

The slow plot development is greatly redeemed by series of climax’s where everything comes together which you wouldn’t have seen coming.

There is one thing I’d like to comment which is the author’s research, she had two choices, either go biblical with the book, or don’t and just create a fiction whether creature is based on a biblically creature or not but Becca here decided to do a mix, some of it biblical, some of it not, which in my opinion doesn’t gel very well. She had obviously thought long and hard and probably spent many nights reading the bible, whilst this is good she has put such a strong biblical egde that the true nature of an Angel, Fallen Angel and a Nephilim in the book didn’t seem to fit. And yet the only time the most influential being in the bible was mentioned, was when it was followed by ‘Oh My …” Infact God wasn’t mentioned once and whether you are religious or not you do think of the question “Where does God fit in this?”

Overall it was a good read I’d give it 7.5/10 – Wouldn’t particularly read it again but I would see the movie adaptation  and I recommend it and I will be reading the sequel Crescendo out this October.