Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Push: A Novel

Title Push: A Novel

Author Sapphire

Release Date April 29, 1997

Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up until now been invisible: invisible to the father who rapes her and the mother who batters her and to the authorities who dismiss her as just one more of Harlem's casualties. But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and highly radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as Precious learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it her own for the first time.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. A couple of years ago, I saw Precious (the film based on the novel). I really enjoyed the movie and I was hoping that the book was even better.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. Perhaps the book was a little too crude for me. Perhaps it was just beyond my understanding. Perhaps the movie just translated better for me. Whatever the case may be, it just didn't live up the movie for me. In my opinion, skip the book and watch the movie. This isn't advice that I give out very often, so take it for what you will.

Precious is the narrator of the story. In the beginning of the book, while Precious is still functionally illiterate, she uses minimal English. She forgoes spelling and grammar completely. As Precious learns, though, the book evolves with her. The entire tone of her voice changes, although she still keeps her dialect.

Another thing about the writing is her choice of language. She uses a lot of curse words and derogatory language. I am certainly not against cursing or anything (trust me, I've got a terrible mouth), but I feel like it took away from the story rather than added to it.

I understand that Push is written from Precious's PoV and sometimes in order to take a harsh and gritty story, you've gotta write like she Sapphire did. I get it. Sometimes, though, it was just too much to handle.

I truly enjoyed the change in Precious. It was wonderful to see her evolve from someone that thought she was worth nothing to someone that knew her life had a greater purpose and that she was more than her struggles.

Fantastic story, but execution left something to be desired. 


2.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Shine

Title Shine

Author Lauren Myracle

Release Date May 1, 2011

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Whenever I first heard about Shine, I immediately wanted to read it. Heavy issues like homophobia and hate crimes have a tendency to draw me in. Throw in the fact that the story takes place in a small Southern community and I couldn't wait to pick this book up.

First, let me say that I had a hard time writing a decent review for this book without giving away too many spoilers.

Shine was a decent book. I think I might have expected more than it was willing to give, though. Of course, that's not the books fault. I blame the blurb for being too interesting.

I feel like, in general, the characters and story follow like they would if these were real events. The small town characters were more willing to brush the ugliness of the world aside and pretend like it never happened.

I enjoyed Cat's character. Myracle made her feel very real and relatable, especially as someone from the South. I could relate to her wanting to be different from all the others around her. While I'm not from a small Southern town, I understand how people from the South get pegged as uneducated, ignorant people. I really liked that Cat worked to be different by staying in school, away from drugs, and open-minded.

It really bugged me that by halfway through the book, I was 90% sure I knew who committed the hate crime against Patrick. And by the time Cat had figured it out, I was 100% sure. I feel like Myracle made it a little bit too obvious to the readers.

Another thing I wasn't too fond of was Cat's "love interest" in the story. It seemed completely out-of-place in the story. He could have been omitted from the story and it wouldn't have made any difference at all. Overall, I don't feel like he contributed enough to the story to even be in it.


3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Review: Brother/Sister

Title Brother/Sister

Author Sean Olin

Release Date June 9, 2011

Will and Asheley have a troubled past. Their father left them when they were little, and their mother has just been carted off to an alcohol treatment center. Now, they have the house to themselves, and an endless California summer stretching out before them. Through alternating perspectives, they tell the story of how and why their lives spun violently out of control - right up to the impossibly shocking conclusion you'll have to read for yourself to believe.
I read numerous reviews on Brother/Sister before I decided to read it. Many people called the book dark and disturbing with a shocking and surprising ending. I knew I had read it. 

Brother/Sister was an amazing book. The writing, the characters, the plot... all of it was pretty mind-blowing. I was sucked in from the beginning and could hardly put down the book.

I really enjoyed the alternating views in the story. I think Olin did a fantastic job at switching between Asheley and Will. I felt like his writing suited each character perfectly, almost as if each character was written by a separate author. I find that some authors struggle with giving each character a unique voice, but that's definitely not the case here.

It was hard to find any faults with this book, but I did find a small one. How the story was told (talking to the police, but without their questions or reactions) was a little off-putting at times. It wasn't a huge problem, but just a little odd.

And of course, I must mention the ending of the book. Without giving away any spoilers, it was (just as the reviews I read promised) both shocking and surprising. It could not have possibly ended in a better way.

I would really like to see a sequel for Brother/Sister, but I completely understand if it doesn't. In fact, while I would like to see a sequel, I believe not having one would make much more sense in the grand scheme of things. Ending the story like Olin did was pure perfection.


5 out 5 stars

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: Unbreakables

Title Unbreakables

Author Joe Pringle

Release Date August 22, 2012

Chris, Ben and Leon are qualified, willing and ambitious, yet unable to find work in their fields. Leon is tired of waiting tables, Ben can't take sitting at home with nothing to do anymore and Chris has had enough of his tedious, make-do, job. Just as they're about to give up all hope Ben arrives with a plan.

With all the skills and knowledge that typical criminals are without, Ben, Chris and Leon are more than qualified to be professional thieves. The score? Three large and rare diamonds that have been confiscated from smugglers, now belonging to no one. It’s a victimless crime.

Being inexperienced means that the three men run into many problems and more than just their skills are tested with each one discovering his own weaknesses. Technical, moral and emotional issues obstruct their plan, but will it stop them in their tracks entirely?

When options run thin, creativity kicks in.

I wouldn't normally pick up a book like Unbreakables. The whole crime/adventure genre doesn't appeal to me very much. That said, after reading the blurb I was definitely interested in reading this book to see if it could change my mind about the genre. 

Unbreakables was a really good book. I was much more interested in it than I thought I would be. The writing and characters definitely kept me interested in the beginning. By the middle of the book, I was totally hooked into the plot.

I enjoyed the solid writing. The author is great at attention to detail and actually fleshing out his story. His characters are believable and his story seems very real.

The story did seem a little slow to get to the point in the beginning of the book. However, this was not enough to make the book unbearable. It was more of a minor annoyance than anything.

If you're looking for a solid crime/adventure book or, if you're like me and just want something different, I definitely recommend this book.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *