Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

This was a book that I saw on Amazon and was interested in, but it wasn't until my sister lent me the book (with not overly sparkling reviews) that I managed to read it.

Bumped is set in the 2030s, after a virus has 'swept the world', making everyone over 18 infertile. This has lead to the use of surrogates (both professional and amateur). Melody is one of these surrogates. She's worth more as a surrogate because genetically she's practically perfect. But before she can do the deed her religious twin sister Harmony turns up on her doorstep to spread the word of God.

The characters were interesting, and the choices they make, and what they go through and have gone through are a good subject for a book. However, I found both Melody and Harmony to be annoying at various points throughout the book. It was mainly their use of language, and the way they would get overemotional at some things, but not emotional enough at others. In that way I guess they weren't a very realistic representation of the girls in society today.
Picture from Google

The fact that the were twins was also interesting, and the whole plot surrounded it. Only one problem, first they were very distant with each other, as you might expect when you find your long lost sister, but at the end they had a link that was really unrealistic.
Speaking as a twin myself, I hated it. We twins don't have a random connection, we're just like any other sisters, only closer (sometimes). Although there wasn't any ridiculous psychic abilities, it still annoyed me.
However, I loved Zen as a character. He's well rounded and normal, which is more than I can say for the rest of them.

Some of the language was good, but there were parts that also really annoyed me. here are some examples:
'pregging', 'negging', 'bumping', 'for serious'. These I can just about understand. i know what they mean and there will be some slang in the future. But what the hell is 'renegging', 'thumped' and 'PTL!'? Which reminds me, there are also far too many exclamation marks, and sexual music excerpts.

If you can get past these things though, it's actually not a bad book. It deals with very important issues, that we all face and that we all understand.
 Bumped deals with a lot of issues and themes, which I really like, such as religion, teen pregnancy, surrogacy, sex in general, advancement, cultural values, perfectionism and choices. This does redeem it, as it does make you think (something I love in a book).

Overall, a good book, but with some really annoying habits. Awarded 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

I picked this up at 'The Works' for £1.99. Bargain! I'd been looking at it but hadn't decided to buy it yet, until I saw it. It's another one of those books whose cover draws your attention.
The cover is blood red with the shadow of a horse on it. Curly dark red is strewn across it in the shape of a heart, and the white writing over the top is pretty cool too. I do like an interesting font.

However, I don't usually like seaside stories, and aren't usually fond of horses either, but the idea of the story was what made me pick it up. The Scorpio races happen every year. They are a race of sea horses, and to race means that someone will die. It is a certainty.
The idea is that a girl enters the race (the very first girl may I add) to save her family from poverty as there is a hefty amount of money available if you win the races. So, that's a good start - it has danger and a touch of romance. From there it went downhill.

This book, in one word, was disappointing. The idea was good, the sea horses were actually pretty scary, but to me the characters did not have enough substance to them. I liked most of the characters, but I wasn't overly invested in them. The only one I thought was interesting was Finn, the girls brother.
It might be worth a mention here that I did think it was a bit weird how easily people got over deaths, for example, of their parents and friends. You would have thought that some of the book would be about their feelings on that, but not much time is put into it, it is more about the feelings of now. Saying this, it does make for a quicker pace.

The romance was quite well written, it played out how you might expect it to in a usual teen relationship. But the whole tone of the book was either solemn, nervous or occasionally exhilarated. However, it was easy to read, unless the tone depresses you.
Something that I did think was very good though, is the fact that Steifvater deals with women's rights and the treatment of women in a mans sport. It was well done in mu opinion.

I do think that this is written with younger readers in mind, even though one of the main characters is supposed to be 19. I think this is more for 14-15 year olds who love horses. I'm not a fan of horses, but I thought that the idea would make it worth the read, which it certainly is. But, for me there was still something missing in this book.

The ending is very exciting, but everything comes off as you might expect it to, so, yeah, disappointing. The ending isn't so much of a bang as a small fizzle in which everything goes as you always expected it to.

However, it was, overall, fairly enjoyable, and brilliant to the right audience. Unfortunately, I'm not the right audience so it gets 2 out of 5 stars, because quite frankly, there's not much substance to the characters.

( Also, don't read this if you hate it when authors use people's whole names. It grated on my nerves.)
Quite a lot of other people seem to like it, so have a look at these opinions:

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

This book has been on my Amazon wish list for a long time. I finally got a copy as a birthday present, and was ecstatic.

Firstly, I have to say what made me want it was the cover. It's just so beautiful and elegant. The circus and the well-dressed old fashioned couple on the front are wonderful, all in black and white, with just a dash of silver and red.The man in looks particularly charismatic. Underneath the cover is the face of a clock. The most intriguing clock, as it doesn't have any numbers or numerals on it. And if you open up the cover there are white top hats and bowler hats on a black background, the odd few red. But what got me is the pages. Every page lined with black so it looks like the book has a velvet side. I love it when the pages are coloured that way. and to top it off, a red bookmark.
So basically, it was the most beautiful book I'd ever seen and I had to have it.
Then there's the blurb, also particularly intriguing.

All we know is that there is a circus that comes at night, the Cirque du Reves (the circus of dreams), and two people have been bound.
The Beautiful Cover. Image from Google.
The plot was interesting, I loved the premise and all the ideas surrounding it, but I still feel that there could have been more in detail descriptions so that I could fully appreciate the circus, although it does make it more mysterious not to have them. The atmosphere of the whole tale is beautiful.
Saying this, some of the ideas within the tents were wonderful, I especially loved the cloud maze, bottle room and ice garden, and the descriptions of these were perfect.
Now for the bad bit.

The game itself, although connected to the circus, was not as exciting as I wanted it to be. The whole book was more about the ethereal and mysterious nature of magic, and less about any kind of magical battle/duel. It isn't as quickly paced as anticipated. The love scenes, however, were well written, with just enough detail, but not too much information. Although Marco is incredibly fickle, too much so for my liking, and they are a little quick to fall in love.

The main characters were good, especially Bailey and Marco, as I thought that they developed well, although others did not. This may have been because there were so many different characters, and so not many characters got a spotlight, the ones that did are not especially well developed, like Celia, but others are much better. Too many characters was a major downfall of this book, as most of them were not well rounded, and did not serve much of a purpose in the book. Characters such as Isobel, Mr. Barris and Madame Padva.
However, Alexander is a very good character. he is the perfect concoction of mystery and intrigue, with a cloudy, elongated past and never revealing his true feelings or intentions. Although the author dos not make it clear why there is a competition between Alexander and Prospero, you feel that Alexander has a good reason.

Balance, time and stories were some very interesting themes associated with the book, and I would have liked them to be explored more, and can only hope that it will be in the future.
Overall this is an intriguing book with some beautiful ideas, concepts, descriptions and mysteries, but there are far too many characters to the author to keep up with (it felt like each character was hanging by a loose thread, whilst being juggled precariously) and the plot was not quite as snappy as I would have liked it to be. So I'm awarding it 3/5 stars.

This nook has divided views a lot. So here are some more:
The Guardian Review
Erin Morganstern's Blog