The Host by Stephenie Meyer

It’s a sci-fi/romance novel. The earth has been invaded by a race of aliens who call themselves ‘souls’…they take over the minds of their human ‘hosts’ and are able to access their memories. Most of humanity has succumbed- but there are still groups of humans scattered around the world. Melanie Stryder, her brother Jamie and her boyfriend, for want of a better word, Jared. Melanie has been captured and the soul ‘Wanderer’ has been placed inside her. But Melanie refuses to fade away, as most other humans have; she is still present in Wanderer’s head as a little voice that refuses to go away. Melanie throws vivid memories at Wanderer to avoid her finding the memories she’s searching for- because Wanderer is supposed to be looking for information about the other humans. Wanderer can’t stop Melanie’s concern for Jamie and Jared from affecting her, and the two set off through the desert to look for them at her Uncle Jeb’s- they’re nearly dead from dehydration when finally, they’re found.

I’ll be honest: Twilight isn’t my favorite series in the world. So I was a little apprehensive before I picked this one up. It’s fantastic for fans of Twilight- it’s pretty much the same! Because if you look a tiny bit closer, a lot of the Twilight characters are reflected in The Host’s characters as well:

Main character, unable to lie: Melanie and Bella

Jared and Edward

The other love interest: Ian and Jacob

Compassionate doctor: Doc and Carlisle

 A love triangle

 Those who hate the main character for no reason: Sharon and Lauren

…well, I could go on and on. For those who adored Twilight, go ahead! Definitely worth a read for you. For those who didn’t…well, steer clear. Age? Well, they’re both aimed at teenagers. Full of romance and internal monologue, with not much action.

 

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Thief by Malorie Blackman

This is one of Malorie Blackman’s shorter books. I’d only read her Noughts and Crossesseries and I thought they were fantastic- so I tried this one. It wasn’t bad. It was nowhere near Noughts and Crosses, though. The beginning, I warn you, was boring and clichéd- I was about ready to throw the book onto the floor and scream at the sky. That does change, though, and you soon find yourself in the middle of an incredible plot.

What if you could change the past to save the future?

You’re the new girl in school. You’re just trying to fit in – and it’s not working.

Then someone accuses you of theft, and you think things can’t get any worse. Until you get caught in a freak storm.

The next thing you know, you’re in the future. Being shot at for being out after curfew. You don’t even recognize your hometown. And you’re heading for a confrontation from your worst nightmare.”

The blurb is certainly very draw-you-in, because it’s so utterly confusing. The book isn’t- it’s readable and reasonably paced. It’s gripping. It’s the story of Lydia Henson, who just moved with her family from bustling London to a small town. This is the clichéd bit- she’s struggling to fit in at school. There’s a group of “popular girls” at her new school, including her “new best friend” Fran, and she wants to join them- but the leader, also the “school bully”, says to join them Lydia has to steal the school sports cup and keep it in her locker overnight. Lydia backs out- but the cup is found in her locker the next day and she is accused of stealing it. This starts a whole load of trouble for her family, and her brother is the only kid she knows who is sticking up for her. Lydia is particularly upset by Fran’s reluctance to step in and defend her- and it gets so bad that their car is attacked, they get hate mail, etc.- not great for a new school.

And now the interesting part begins! In a freak storm, Lydia is somehow hurled into the future- she meets all sorts of people and sees that in the future, she has turned into a bitter, spiteful old hag and her brother has become the well known, much hated “Tyrant”.

I think this one is aimed at younger readers- I’d say, 9-12? It’s very readable, very gripping, and I read it just a few days ago- which is quite a bit above that age! – And I have to say, I enjoyed it. It’s a lot better than many “teen” novels I’ve read, and I genuinely grew to care about some of the characters, which I think shows how beautifully relatable the book is. One to read!

 

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REVIVED by Cat Patrick

After dying five times- Daisy is getting pretty tired of it. She has to relocate each time, with a new name, school, everything- a new life. It’s an intriguing plot that’s quick paced, an easy read, and it’s one that you can get lost in quickly. Revive is the drug that brings people back to life, and Daisy is part of that program.

Daisy.

Daisy, Daisy, Daisy.

She is a typical teenage girl- immature, silly, obsessed with popularity, you get the point. Which is fine for the immature, silly, popularity-obsessed teenage girls who read it; but I’d have liked the main character to be a little bit more mature. I find it a little bit silly that she died 5 times in 11 years purely by accident. As time went on, though, she began to grow on me a little bit- and by the end, I was just as broken as she was when the (surprisingly sad) ending came along.

Back to Revive! The creator has been given the name “God” due to his ability to bring people back to life. Those who work in the program are called his “disciples”.

The plot had a lot of promise! It was so, so interesting. The beginning was so easy to get lost in. This didn’t live up to Forgotten, which is incredible. Daisy’s relationship was quite predictable. But I’d have loved for more to be spent on the program- especially because the entire plot went so much deeper that there was a lot more that could have come out of this.

I loved her relationship with Mason, her “parental figure” for this book. They had such a believable father/daughter relationship. I loved Megan and Audrey. Matt…he’s a slightly different story- his character wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have preferred. I say that about a lot of characters, but it’s true!

No matter how much I’ve pointed out the low points- there are also a lot of highs, and I’d definitely recommend this. Age- early teen, I guess! 12-14, because it’s easiest to relate to Daisy. But you can read it whenever.

I’ll just finish with a quote: “Anger is manageable. Sadness is heartbreaking.”

Not sure why I love that so much, but I do.

 

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AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES by John Green

 

So, imagine this: this guy’s a childhood prodigy, good at school, that kind of thing. He is something special. Nerdy, obsessed with anagramming, but special all the same. (And no, he doesn’t sparkle. Or have magic powers. Or have any weird scars.) He meets a girlAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green named Katherine and they start dating.

 

He’s dumped.

 

Then 18 more Katherines dump him. Not Catherines, or Cathys, or Kates, or Kittys- Katherines. Just Katherines. I’m guessing you’re having some inkling about why the book’s called what it is?

 

It’s quirky and nerdy and generally fun for a light read. It’s not quite as “deep” as his other books though, for want of a better word. It’s not “laugh out loud” funny… it’s more sniggering-in-mild-amusement.

 

The thing that carries you through the book is his insistence that he can create a theorem about dumpers/dumpees and finally stop being a dumpee. It’s kind of stupid- in the funny way.

 

I’ve read so many negative reviews on this book. I found it slightly surprising, but then I noticed that everyone compared it to Will Grayson, Will Grayson (which I am currently in the middle of) and The Fault in our Stars– which, by the way, are fantastic- but the whole idea of those two is much more serious, and I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

 

I mean, they all use the same John Green element, but An Abundance of Katherines is a road trip book. Literally, and figuratively. He goes on a road trip and finds what he’s been looking for. And I get why people get bored…it’s just, I think you’d have to have a relatively short attention span to get bored as early as some people did. If you do, I’m guessing this is not the book for you! It’s that kind of book that’s only suited to some people- not like some of John Green’s others, which are suited to almost every teenager I know, book-loving or not. It’s for ages 12-14-ish, I’d say, but then your preferences for the type of book you read come in. If you’re like me- reading anything you get your hands on- or if you like funny-ish kind of books, then read it. If you like John Green, read it. If you’re not any of those things- read it anyway!

 

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EAST by Edith Pattou

Also called North Child

“ROSE HAS ALWAYS BEEN DIFFERENT.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home…but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.

EAST by Edith PattouSo when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it- in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family- she readily agrees.

Rose travels on this bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart- and finds her purpose- and realizes her journey has only just begun.”

This is a book I’ve reread countless times. I read it first when I was about nine, and I read it again last night, and I saw the recommended age was twelve and above! It isn’t as well known as it deserves to be. It’s a retelling of the Norwegian folk tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

There’s a quote in the front that I think sums up my thoughts pretty well:

“Pattou has brought the tale of an enchantment, a Troll Queen, a talking polar bear, and a fabulous ice castle so completely to life that it hardly seems like fantasy.”

Bank Street Bookstore Bookmark 

It’s incredibly real. It’s not comically ‘talking polar bear’ and not Disney-movie-style ‘ice palace’ and ‘enchantment’. It’s not hilariously ugly ‘Troll Queen’. It’s very, very real because it’s all so very different. It’s told in different point of views, but mainly from the point of view of Rose, who is the main character of this story. You follow her from a really young age, where a lot of the talking is done by her family, and then it moves to mainly her, with bursts of the Troll Queen and, of course, our White Bear (the talking polar bear), who is the second biggest character- not speaking role wise, but plot wise. The book is quite thick, 507 pages, but please don’t let that put you off! It’s incredible. It’s got quite a heavy element of superstition- it’s her mother’s fault a lot of this happens, all because her mother is so superstitious.

Age? Well, as I said earlier- I read it when I was nine years old and I was fine (but I’m an incredibly obsessive reader)- but the recommended age is 12 and I think that’s good. This is one of those timeless reads that you can read whenever, though!

 

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ONCE by Morris Gleitzman

“ Once by Morris GleitzmanOnce” is the first of a series by Morris Gleitzman.

Once is about a Jewish boy named Felix, who escapes from a Catholic orphanage in Poland after being left there by his parents. When he returns home, he finds his town empty. A man tells him that all the Jews have gone to the city, so he sets off to go there. On the way, he sees a burning house and is shocked to find two adults and a few chickens with bullet holes in them, as if they have been shot. He also finds a young, unconscious girl, who he rescues and carries with him. When she wakes up, she keeps on crying for her parents.

Soon, Felix sees a large group of Jews being lead to the city, so he joins them with the girl, whose name is Zelda. On the way, he sees that the Jews are being murdered. When he gets to the city the Nazis are forcing all the Jew children into a van. When Zelda and Felix refuse to get into the van, a man comes and saves them by speaking to the Nazis in German, and eventually persuading them to let Felix and Zelda go. The man takes them to an underground ghetto, where they should be safe. In a few days, though, Nazis arrive to take them to a Nazi Death Camp… what happens now??

This book was really good. Though it was quite short- probably only 150 pages- it was still REALLY amazing. Good for 11-14-ish??

Next in the series: Then

 

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HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

Second of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have survived the Hungercatchingfire Games, but they are still in danger. President Snow visits Katniss’ house and tells her he knows she kissed her friend Gale… and that several Districts believe Katniss’ ‘berry trick’ was an act of rebellion, not love. President Snow tells Katniss that she will have to marry Peeta and convince him that she loves Peeta… or there will be consequences.

Katniss tells Peeta and Haymitch about this, and Peeta is upset- he really loves Katniss, and wanted it to be real. In a live interview, Peeta proposes and Katniss accepts. Soon Katniss gets wedding gowns said to be approved by President Snow himself. Katniss is upset about this, as she realizes she will never be able to have a life of her own- she will have to marry Peeta, and be on camera all her life.

One day, in town, Peeta, Katniss and Haymitch find Gale being whipped by a new head Peacekeeper. Next to him is a dead turkey. Katniss runs in front of him and the next lash hits her face. Peeta and Haymitch come to help her and stop Gale being whipped. They take Gale to Katniss’ house and Katniss’ mother heals Gale. When Gale is at her house, Katniss realizes she loves him.

Soon, her prep team comes to her house to take pictures of her in wedding gowns. There are six dresses, and each requires its own setting, lighting, makeup, hair and jewelry. Katniss is exhausted by the end of it. The next day, on TV, she sees the photos of her in dresses. After this, President Snow comes on the show to read the Quarter Quell- as it is the 75th Hunger Games, a twist will be added to the rules. This time, the twist is:

On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors

This means Katniss and either Peeta or Haymitch are going back into the arena. At first, Katniss is upset. Then she decides she wants to go talk to Haymitch. She finds him in the pub, drinking. She asks him to help her keep Peeta alive this time. He agrees, and Katniss gets drunk as well. She goes home and wakes up with a hangover. Peeta is mad at her- he tells her they can’t afford any drunkards right now. Peeta says they should train like the Careers, and they do.

They get ready. At the reaping Katniss and Haymitch are chosen, and Peeta volunteers. At the opening ceremony, Katniss and Peeta meet their competition. Katniss meets Finnick, a victor from District 4.
This year they go for training again, and Katniss shoots so well in front of everyone that almost everyone requests her for an ally. Katniss refuses.

They enter the arena again, and Katniss finds that Haymitch allied her with Finnick without telling her. At first she is annoyed, but then he becomes a friend. The arena is deadly as ever, but it becomes so much worse when Beetee, another ally, forms a potentially deadly plan to break them out of the arena…

Catching Fire is another amazing book, though the first book seems better at first because Catching Fire can be quite confusing. In the trilogy the first book seems best, though when you reread them they are all amazing.

 

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