The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

The Inexplicable Logic of My LifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Benjamin Alire Saenz is incredible. His stories are so gorgeous, and they fist punch you right in the heart. The relationships between the main character, his friends, and his dad are so rich and worthy of my time and interest. This novel has so many beautiful and difficult things to say about life, loss, grief, and hope.

It’s raw and honest, and I think I should read everything by Saenz. This story is different from Ari and Dante, which has its own special kind of magic, but I still loved spending time with the characters in this world.

Pages: 452

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Replica by Lauren Oliver

Replica (Replica, #1)Replica by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The format of this book is one of my favorite things about it. You can read Lyra’s story first, or Gemma’s story first, or you could alternate back and forth with each chapter.

I read Lyra first, then Gemma. This seems like a good method, because it pulled me in. I really enjoyed Lyra’s unique voice and perspective. I confess I didn’t enjoy Gemma’s story as much. It’s just a concept that has been done a lot, and nothing seemed particularly fresh or surprising in that section. Her part of the story was just a bit too boring for me, even though I liked Gemma as a character.

I would have preferred the whole story had been from Lyra and 72’s POVs instead, but I still think the gimmicky format is fun.

I confess I’m not sure I’m going to read on to book two, because there’s just not enough intrigue here for me. But I still enjoyed the story.

Pages: 544

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Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

Into the Bright Unknown (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #3)Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was disappointing and unnecessary. The plot was thin. The storyline was boring. It’s also a bit preachy, which I wasn’t in the mood for. I don’t mind when books have lessons or make a good point, but I hate that feeling like it is forced upon me…like the author is hitting me over the head with it. When that happens, it disrupts the story more than it helps or makes a point.

I gave this 3 stars, because I still love the characters and setting (and typically love everything Rae Carson). In reality, it’s more of a 2.5.

Unfortunately, this lacks intrigue, action, emotional resonance, and a satisfying conclusion. There’s a happy ending. I just didn’t enjoy it. In fact, by that point, I didn’t even care anymore.

The longer you read, the more tedious and cliché the story becomes. The displays of power are lackluster. Most of those questions I’ve been carrying with me since book one remain unanswered, which is both disappointing and a missed opportunity. Any answers you do get are vague and along the lines of –-because it just is what it is, grasshopper.

I honestly can’t really understand why this book was necessary, other than it was part of the publishing contract. It definitely did not grow the series or contribute positively towards it. Almost everything I loved about the previous books was missing in this addition.

If you really like period pieces and/or happy endings, enough to overlook things like plot and character development, then you’ll probably still enjoy this. It just wasn’t enough for me. My overall impression of this story is – meh.

And I’m pretty sad about that.

Pages: 432

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked SaintsAll the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is more of a 2.5 for me.

I wanted to love this, but I really struggled. It could have been me, as I listened on audio and perhaps was a poor listener. However, I rewound and rewound and rewound and rewound. This would just not keep my attention, and about 70% of the time, I had no clue who anyone was or what was happening.

Typically, I love Stiefvater. I think I could read Scorpio Races and the Raven Cycle a thousand times and never tire of them. They are so unique, and I tend to love her unusual approaches and unexpected worlds.

Unfortunately, it took me almost 15 chapters to really get into the story at all. I had to just force myself forward (through the pangs of despair and haze of denial), and it wasn’t until that point that I really started remember who anyone was. There’s also not any real plot that I’m aware of up until about 3/5 of the way into the story, and it’s a pretty weak plot at that. Or perhaps the plot is there but I was so overwhelmed by the style that I couldn’t even recognize or follow it.

The writing is extremely stylized, which typically I find interesting. Unfortunately, it’s stylized telling, instead of stylized showing. So be prepared to be told, told, told, told, told, told, told, and told again who everyone is. You’ll be told what they think. You’ll be told what they want. You’ll be told what they fear. You’ll be told who they are, in the prettiest and most unique sorts of ways. You’ll be told what their struggles are, but you’ll rarely be shown any of this, particularly in the first half off the book, which means it may not stick very well. None of it really stuck for me.

Every scene in the beginning feels basically like a new list of facts about yet another character, and I wasn’t interested in memorizing any of it. Some of the sentences sound beautiful in the moment, but they lack impact, since I now can’t match any of those sentences to any characters. And since I don’t want to memorize a list of beautiful sounding facts about way too many different characters that don’t really seem to be helping the story along, it’s hard to make connections and keep any of the details straight.

Yep. This was a major struggle, when I just wanted to be captivated.

The reason this still gets 3 stars is because the last half of the book is significantly better and more interesting than the first half. There were some really fascinating characters, once I could finally figure out who people were and why they mattered. But at the same time, I’m still pretty confused by the world and world building. It could be a delightful, imaginative world, but instead, it’s more of a tedious and confusing world. I think depth was sacrificed to pretty sounding and stylized sentences in this case.

HOWEVER, I typically love Stiefvater, and there’s something here that was interesting to me, at least in terms of the concept and a few of the characters. In case this is just me being inattentive, or failing to get what is great about this, I may go back and listen to this again on a better day and see if that changes my perspective. If it does, I’ll be sure to update this review.

Now, I’m going to go hug my pillow and wallow, because I absolutely hate it when I can’t love a book.

Pages: 320

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