Book Review of Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater’s Introduction to the Wolves of Mercy Falls

 

After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my shelves. Many years ago, I had gathered the first books by her that I had heard of: The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Beginning with Shiver, this trilogy follows werewolves and a girl who is fascinated by them. Unlike the Raven Cycle, this trilogy involves plenty of kissing. Here is my review of the book.

Shiver and warm characters

One of the most surprising things that Maggie Stiefvater accomplishes in this first book is that she creates warm characters. Most books centered around mythological creatures tend to be bloated with world building. I like that this book focuses more on relationships.

There is a sense of urgency to Sam and Grace’s relationship. It colors the relationship with a desperate and hungry tone. When they spend time together, it is domestic at best but they are both drinking in each other’s features, personalities, and quirks. It warmed my heart to see such a love story. To an extent, this ache reminded me of Gansey and Blue in the sense that there are forces beyond the characters, driving them apart.

But, the pack itself was messy and charming, just like a family. I did not expect this either because The Raven Boys had a smaller friend group, and it was not even a set group (new members introduced toward the end of the book series). The complicated dynamics between members of the pack made things even more interesting and realistic. It grounded the story.

The Lone Wolf

I was actually surprised by who is actually the lone wolf. It’s Grace! She is invested in these wolves so much that it often alienates her. Her friendships are rocky and so are her connections to family. This makes her relationship with Sam more intense, more desperate and crucial.

But, of course, the other lone wolf in this is Jack Culpeper. His sister surprised me with her curiosity and cleverness. It is rare in books when so many people are in “the know” about the supernatural creatures in the story. Often, I tried to push myself to empathize with Jack, even though he made a mess in terms of plot. I look forward to his development as a character (and as a wolf).

Dropping Temperatures

With each chapter, the temperature drops and it raises the stakes of this love story. It becomes very clear that Sam is not the Jacob Black of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. He is sensitive and frank, a pacifist and an artist. In other words, he is our pure cinnamon roll and he must be protected.

Shiver Rating and Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a nice and quick read. It was moving and sweet, but it also lacked depth in terms of character development and conflict. Perhaps this will change in later books. I will say that Stiefvater gets points for creating male characters that do not adhere to strands of toxic masculinity. So, that’s nice to see.

 

 

 

Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by

Thoughts in a Review: A Torch Against the Night

Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against the Night by the wonderful Sabaa Tahir. In this book, we follow the journey of Elias, Laia, and Helene as the Empire continues to enslave Scholars. Here are my thoughts wrapped into a review. Let me share my excitement with you.

A Torch Against the night’s beauty: Helene, my heart’s queen

“But you are not finished. You are my masterpiece, Helene Aquilla, but I have just begun. If you survive, you shall be a force to be reckoned with in this world. But first you will be unmade. First, you will be broken.”

The most incredible aspect of this novel is not only the pacing but also the inclusion of Helene’s point of view. I think it was such a privilege to read more from Helene’s perspective. In a way, she and Elias mirror each other’s struggle between tradition and change.

A Torch Against the Night is essentially the unfolding of a much more complex plot than I ever could have imagined. Through Elias’ best friend, we get to the internal functions of the Empire. We also experience a new Emperor (Marcus) and his interactions with the Commandant.

Helene is also pressured to find and destroy her best friend, which is something Elias refused to follow through with. But, with her, I felt that she was even more torn. Her family is known for their loyalty. But, the question is: to whom should she be loyal to? The Empire or Elias?

A torch against the night’s beauty 2: A World built further

What is truly wonderful about this book is how the world is further developed. We experience the tension between the tribes, the treatment of Scholar children, slaves’ relationship with the Commandant.

But, it is also a neat development of the characters. The way they connect with other characters is conveyed in such a compelling manner. I think of Laia and Darin, in particular. Helene and her sisters are other manifestations of relationships’ complexity within this world. It’s like people are under so much oppression and cruelty. They end up making choices that are not ideal.

And, I think this is the most surprising aspect of A Torch Against the Night: no one has the privilege of choosing what they truly want. The introduction of Marcus’ treatment by the elders of the Empire wrinkled the story further. It was not like Marcus won and was immediately welcomed into the role of emperor. No, he has to live with the loss of his brother while trying to gain the respect of the Empire.

The Commandant and the Cook

My favorite people in this story are the ones I do not know enough about so far: The Commandant and the Cook. I would love to read more about Cook. What is her backstory? How was she taken prisoner? What did she do to annoy the Commandant so much?

Besides, I want to know more about her link to Laia. Why is she so protective of her?

Cook gives Helene such a difficult time, and I was just living for that protectiveness. It’s nice to see women play powerful roles in this world.

Now, the Commandant and Elias’ battle (the literal one and the longer, more indirect one) was surprising. I was so shocked by how she alters his fate. Still, I remain hopeful for her development. She needs to have more scenes revealing her inner turmoil. Sabaa Tahir includes glimpses of the Commandant’s fury. But, I want more details.

Keenan: Called it.

I never liked this dude. It was kind of clear that he is shady as heck. That’s all I am going to say.

Overall:

I gave A Torch Against the Night a five-star rating. It was a quick and engaging read. Please check out this series for a brilliant time.

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by

Thoughts and Rambles on An Ember in the Ashes

I read Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week. It was easily one of my favorite reads this year. A review, thoughts, and rambles on An Ember in the Ashes, is in order.

The premise of An Ember in the Ashes

Sabaa Tahir creates a universe inspired by the Roman empire in An Ember in the Ashes. In a cruel world with militaristic tones, Elias and Laia live. Laia is a Scholar with ties to the rebellion. Elias is in training to be a Mask within the Martial Empire. His mother is the Commandant. He and his best friend Helene are preparing for their big tests.

Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, and it leads Laia into the very core of the rebellion. Sent on a doomed mission into the Commandant’s “home,” Laia attempts to spy on the Commandant through her role as a slave.

But, when she and Elias meet, sparks fly. He, a soldier, and her a slave to an Empire unwilling to incorporate the Scholars into their society. Also: efrits, jinns, and other scary things roam the Empire.

What I liked

Let me preface this by saying that I loved An Ember in the Ashes as a whole. I gave it 4.5-5 stars because it was a quick, engaging, and addictive reading experience. So, here are some of my favorite things in this story.

First, Helene, my queen, pretty much stole my heart from page 1. She’s like the Captain Phasma of these books, but on a conflicted one for sure. I enjoyed her dynamic with Elias, and how it clashed with other Masks in training with them.

Elias’ inner turmoil also translated nicely onto the page. He clearly is very much a reaction to his mother’s nature. And, I think he communicates the frustration with the system beautifully.

While Laia’s storyline was sometimes painful because of all the torture she endures, I did like her persistence and her connection to her brother. She does get “visions” that are unexplained (or at least, still unclear to me).  The beauty of her storyline is also in the irony of finding trust in the least likely spaces.

What I did not like

There were some irksome things in this book, I have to admit. First, I did not really buy the attraction/connection between Laia and Elias. It has happened way too fast. Then again, I do recognize that sometimes very sudden connections happen. Elias was already on the edge of renouncing his connection to the Empire. But, I do find it odd that he was willing to give it all up for someone he did not know very well.

Moreover, I think An Ember in the Ashes would have benefited from some additional points of view. For instance, I wanted more Helene’s point of view (something that is remedied in the sequel, from what I have noticed so far). Another point of view I craved was the Commandant’s own perspective.  I am all for villains being mean and all that, but I also want to know why they function that way. What is their motivation? What drives them to be cruel and heartless?

Besides, the Commandant’s birth of Elias is kind of unorthodox. I want more of the undertones of such an origin and how it influences their relationship.

Finally, I also want to see more Scholars. What makes them subservient to the Empire? What is the history of their conflict? Stuff like that could really clear up the tensions between these two groups.

Overall, though, this book was wonderful. I am working on reading the second one in the series. Cannot wait to see more Elias, Helene, and Laia.

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
    I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by

The Mixed Bag of One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

 

 

I am going to share with you my experience of reading One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake here. Naturally, spoilers will arise. While I avoid naming specific characters, I advise you to read with caution. Okay. When I read Three Dark Crowns, I remembered how much I enjoyed Kendare Blake’s writing. Upon seeing the sequel in the library, I snagged it in the hopes of getting a nice conclusion to what I thought was a duology. Granted, Kendare Blake’s writing is still effortless, I did find this reading experience to be quite a mixed bag. Let’s talk about One Dark Throne. 

the mad sister Nearing the One Dark Throne

At the end of the first book, one of the sisters is essentially betrayed by her lover. In One Dark Throne, she functions as a rogue queen. Sometimes, she was terrifying and great. However, I do have a problem with characters being “evil” for the sake of needing a villain.

There is a sense of mystery to this second novel. One Dark Throne keeps hinting that something is wrong with one of the sisters. Everyone suspects it. Yet, there are very few clues as to what is, in fact, her motivation to behave the way she does.

Betrayals to get to the dark throne

Kendare Blake does something beautiful within the story: betrayals. I think this is the most shocking aspect of One Dark Throne. Political, familial, romantic, and even friendship levels of betrayals and wrongdoings shape the trajectory of a given character.

I am mostly baffled by the lovers-suitors-queens dynamics. There are many characters in that regard and I struggle to remember who was truly liked by a queen.

Plus, I am unsure about the characters who have powers. Are they supposed to be helping their queens? The fun for me is having unskilled queens duke it out. Sure, I like Jules fine. But, she tends to distract from Arsinoe’s storyline.

pacing

Three Dark Crowns featured a bit of a slower pace than what I am used to. Kendare Blake was establishing characters and including political layers to this story. Three queens have to go head-to-head and whoever survives becomes ruler of the land.

Cool.

But, in this one, there was still the slow pace once more. Kendare Blake punctuates the plot by assassination attempts and duels. The sisters spend most of their time apart, again, and I found myself wishing Blake would include enough tension between them.

From what I have heard, this series was initially a duology. This is definitely something I assumed from reading the first book. One Dark Throne could have easily concluded the conflict.

Overall

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake maintains an interesting tale that is somewhat overstretched.  It was definitely a mixed bag. The reading experience of this second book had highs and lows. For one thing, the characters develop quite a bit. But, the pacing threw me off. It is definitely a step above the first book.

It is definitely within the 3.5 to the 4-star range for me.  While I mostly enjoyed Kendare Blake’s progression of the plot in this one, I felt like One Dark Throne lagged a bit.

 

 

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

BR: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

 

I have been very lucky with books lately, so excuse the barrage of reviews on the blog. Exciting to have more stories to discuss, to be honest. Today, I am going to be talking about Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake.

Premise

A matriarchy exists, where a queen gives birth to triplets. These three girls are then separated and tasked with killing each other. The survivor becomes queen.

Characters

Okay. Let me try to get this right. Mirabella is an elemental queen, living in a convent-type of place. Then, there is Arsinoe. She is a naturalist, who can control animals and plants. Finally, Katharine is our poisoner queen, who can consume high levels of poison.

Along the way, there are also characters who support each one of the queens.

Thoughts

(Run. Spoilers ahead)

Overall, I liked this book quite a bit. It is slow moving, mainly because there is so much political intrigue going on. Blake introduces each royal queen. In doing so, she also has to include side characters who belong in each individual court.

Now, the big thing in this story is about sisterhood. I know it doesn’t sound like it from the premise, but Mirabella, the most powerful of them, has dreams of the sisters changing tradition. She reaches out to Arsinoe (accidentally or on purpose. Debatable semantics here).

The other twist you don’t quite see coming is how much this novel truly reflects on young adult literature. In essence, the tale revolves around the theme of self discovery which manifests itself in the idea of supernatural powers.  Quite impressively, the author is dealing with characters who have not found their strength just yet, and they are tasked with an epic battle (to the death!).

In addition, this struggle to find power also appears in the queens’ attempts to voice their own opinions within their courts. Fear plays a huge part in their narratives, because they are not as strong as their courts try to convey to the other courts. It’s quite a Slytherin-y thing and it makes me so happy.

However, the story also has kind of a Skrillex kind of vibe. As in, the bass doesn’t quite drop in a dramatic way. Instead, it is a lot of build up and no intense conclusion. The next book will hopefully include an actual battle.

The beauty of the book’s ending lies in the emotional weight it carries. It truly feels like a sucker punch when the sisters do meet each other and have to announce their powers. The amount of deceit and fear are tangible yet completely overwhelming. Readers spend so much time in these girls’ heads that they become fully invested in their survival. I don’t know if I can handle any of them dying.

Hence why the book ends on such a cliffhanger.

“I want revenge.”

what about you?

Have you read this book or anything like it? Who are your favorite regal figures in fiction? And, to what extent do you feel like their ascent into the throne was admirable? Also: who do you think will win the battle in the next book?

See you in the comments.
Okay.
Dinasoaur out!

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

BR: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood Book Review

 

Warning: Here be spoilers. If you are interested in reading this book, and you dislike spoilers, RUN. As Star Crossed by Jessica Spotswood is the middle of a trilogy, I cannot help but spoil the first book at least.

premise

The Cahill sisters, living in an oppressive regime of patriarchy, are forced to keep their magic secret. Older sister Cate is torn between her choice to announce her intention (a tradition within their society). Should she marry and have children? In this case, who does she marry? Does she marry for love or for status? Or, should she join the Sisterhood, a convent for women?

spoilers start now. run.

conflict

Ultimately, this is the middle of a trilogy. Naturally, there is a lot of tension between the characters. In particular, the crux of this book lies in the conflicts among the Cahill sisters, the convent sisters, and within the society as a whole.

It’s a hard thing to balance as part of this experience, dealing with so much pressure with the characters at every turn. Within each family, there is some sort of fight for power. For instance, the most notable ongoing problem is between Maura and Cate (plus occasionally Tess is thrown in there). Given what happened with Maura’s love life in book 1, it is understandable that things were messy for her. So, in true Slytherin style, Maura is ambitiously trying to be the best witch of her time. This may sound fine, until you hear Cate being called into power by Sister Cora (leader of the sisterhood).

Incidentally, this tension also rises beyond Cate and Maura. They are both mentored by two opposing leaders within the sisterhood. Cora, diplomatic and somewhat hesitant, is the current figure at the helm of the Sisterhood. Inez, aggressive and urgent, is leading Maura to get women up against the men. Cora and Cate don’t connect that much, but when they do interact, it is powerful stuff.

On an even larger scale, there is the obvious tension between the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood. Beyond that, it is just women and men, at odds with the double standards set by the patriarchy. Sachi and her illegitimate sister are prime examples of men unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes while also acting as overbearing figures towards women.

nuance

Being the second book, there are hints that some men don’t believe in the oppression of women. Finn is an example of them. I like that not all women are presented as morally good as opposed to men being evil. Instead, there are all these shades of grey. It is really unclear what will happen in the next book.

The scene with Sachi’s sister (whose name escapes me) and their father was truly heartbreaking and kind of terrifying. I don’t like seeing women running for their lives just for disagreeing. Physical intimidation is something I had encountered a lot within discourse, and I think surely one can communicate without it. Sure, the character is presented as a hypocrite. But, I am really hoping for some nice closure for Sachi’s sister…even if I can’t remember her name. It starts with an R.

 

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

BR: The Upside of Unrequited Book Review

 

 

I devoured Becky Albertalli’s second novel over the course of two days. Many thoughts bounding around my head as I write this review at 2 AM. Hope you are ready for some serious fangirl action…and stuff.

premise

Molly Peskin-Susu is an awkward chubby girl who has had twenty-six crushes. All of them were unrequited. As her sister falls in love with her dream girl, she is confronted with her own journey to find herself (not in a cheesy way, I promise). Her sister sets her up with hipster Will. Enter Reid, her coworker, who likes all things Ren Faire and Middle-Earth. And chocolate eggs.

review

If you follow me on Goodreads, you will see that I fangirl over this novel. I loved it even more than Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens’ Agenda. This one had more complexity to it, and more nuance going on in terms of sexuality, body shapes, and relationship with siblings/family. I gave it four stars.

Here’s why.

PS: SPOILERS AHEAD.

siblings conflict

The conflict between Cassie and Molly in this novel parallels some of the tension between Nadine and Karen. While it is not exactly a mirror image of the cause of conflict, the idea is the same. Two siblings lose touch and then they’re unable to connect as much, or even see eye to eye.

In some ways, Cassie is hit with this wave of love while Molly grapples with her own place as a person without a twin. To me, this is the crux of this story truly.

body image

I also like the mirroring of Grandma’s body image issues with Molly’s own feelings towards her appearance. And, as a chubby person myself, I liked that Albertalli handles this generational disconnect in a  sensitive way. To me, I often get criticized for my body image and it felt kind of nice to see this critique as a genuine issue on the person’s part, not my own. It’s hard to divorce this shaming from fat bodies, unfortunately, and it’s quite lovely to see a novel tackle that issue in a tasteful manner.

Her body image plays into her assumptions about her self worth often. I found the whole Will thing to be a compound of two issues. First, I think Molly was unsure of whether she can be with Reid. Two, to an extent, she tries to tap into what Cassie is seeing here. Twins and best friends together? Sounds nice and neat.

You know what I really like? That she didn’t end up with Will. Seriously. Best choice ever.

romance

Overall, I like the romances here. The one between Cassie and Mina could have used some more focus, but I understand that she’s not the center of this story. Reid and Molly’s connection was charming and sweet.

The assumption that someone as nerdy as Reid can’t be a good boyfriend was challenged pretty well. Although I will say that I don’t think that being physical is what makes someone good as a partner. But, hey. I don’t know about relationships all that much. This is all guess work for me.

Okay. bye.

 

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

BR: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Book Review

I finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane on the last day of 2017. My brain has been struggling to contain the excitement of having read my first Gaiman novel. Seriously. In some ways, The Ocean in the End of the Lane will always be special to me, because of its content. Uh, let me dive into this review, though, because I can gush all day.

premise

An unnamed middle aged man returns to his family home, and recalls the adventure of a summer he spent with childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock.

theme–childhood and imagination

My favorite aspect of this story has to be the magical realism feel to it. Throughout the novel, it is unclear if the story is literal or figurative. This blurring of reality with imagination is very much rooted in childhood (from what I experienced).

But, also, the charming factor in this story has to be the way the characters behave. Sure, we go on a supernatural kind of surreal adventure with monsters and a worm that turns into an awful creature. However, the children (unnamed main character and Lettie) behave like children. They talk like children, and they cry, throw tantrums, and argue with their sister (well, this is mainly our dude character, but hey).

Gaiman creates such a rosy view of life at first, but then, it is warped and scary in parts (nothing disturbing, but it will linger for a bit).

Speaking of which…

darkness in the so-called “pure”

The story begins with a quote about children remembering or knowing things that adults assume they wouldn’t. It’s about the way we undermine children and their maturity. Truly, our unnamed hero and Lettie see some really dark stuff, stuff we wouldn’t expect children to comprehend, and they fight valiantly.

As I have said earlier, I am in awe of this teetering balance Gaiman strikes between child characters, surreal story lines, and darkness. I am intrigued by Ursula Montakin, her connection to our main character’s family, and what that really means in regards to children’s understanding of infidelity, gender roles, and family dynamics in relation to all of these things.

There is a scene in particular that stunned me: the bath scene with our main character’s father. In some ways, it highlighted the idea of embarrassment and shame contrasting with social expectations from parents. Like, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see parents negatively when they can’t “control” their children. But Ursula signifies the pressure on parents to be authority figures, even if it means they get to act aggressive.

 friendship and family

Most importantly, this is a story about found-family vs. blood family. I think our main character would have loved to see Lettie and her strangely beautiful ocean at the end of the lane. Her family, equally invested in child-like wonder and superstition, lead a safe home to the main hero. It is a home he goes back to, over and over, with and without Lettie.

It is such a telling sign that Lettie’s legacy, consciously or not, drives the main character to return for refuge throughout his life. If this isn’t what the best friendships are about, I don’t know what is.

 

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

Illuminae Book Review

I have been hearing quite a bit about Illuminae and its subsequent books. Hesitant, I picked up the two books out already (Illuminae and Gemina). It took me ages to actually pick it up because the series is hyped beyond measure. Here are my thoughts on the book.

premise

Set in space, the story begins with the destruction of a planet. On that planet, there is a couple breaking up. Ezra and Kady are fighting and they have to awkwardly get in a car together to avoid death.

And the story takes off from there.

characters

I did not expect to love Ezra and Kady that much. In fact, I was unsure about them for a long time. But, even McNulty made an impression on me, and I cannot get over this group of bad-ass sassy peeps.

Kady, a hacker and a general computer whiz, is sarcastic. She tends to have little connection with rules and regulations. When confronted with authority, she tends to be cynical and eve hostile.

Not Ezra. He is more likely to be compliant, makes friends on the ship he’s on, and even opens up about romance/relationships with McNulty.

 format

The format of this book is creative and rather fitting of the story. I do like the emails and the AIDAN freak out sessions most. I do have to say that some of the pages were hard to impact me emotionally. Like, I am not sure if I am supposed to care for AIDAN or not. Same with all the scenes between Kady and AIDAN, or the fights between space ships. I was rather confused for a little. It definitely takes some getting used to.

humor/language

I liked all the bleeped sections in the novel. It just added a sense of depth to the characters and the setting they’re in. The usage of the word “chum” was kind of excessive. I don’t know if it’s Australian for “dude” but, dang it, you don’t have to use it so much.

Astro Princess made me smile real big. I loved this story, even if I was somewhat slow while reading it (that format…it takes some getting used to).

Rating: 4 stars

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
Yesterday, I finished reading the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, which is called A Torch Against
I read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes over the course of two days last week.

BR: Turtles All The Way Down

 

 

I was surprised when John Green announced his newest novel, Turtles All the Way Down. It felt very sudden and miraculous, almost. Believe me, I try not to be a sap about things often. But, this book was immediately a favorite, before I had even read it. I’ll come out and admit it:I am a John Green fan. Here are some of my thoughts on the book.

Premise

Best friends Aza and Daisy gather up clues on the missing billionaire in their town. His sons Noah and Davis try to come to terms with his disappearance. Some talk of a tuatara lizard, which is a word that my computer doesn’t even know it existed.

mental illness

I don’t mean to exaggerate here, I am genuinely expressing my admiration for this book’s honesty and raw featuring of mental illness. From my own experience, I think Aza has the depersonalization that I deal with daily. I admit that mine is a bit more exaggerated than hers, but it was still moving to see her sessions with Dr. Singh.

When she deals in metaphors because her pain is so intense, I was nodding along. Part of me wanted to snap-shot the whole book.

The invasive thoughts, intrusive and powerful, were terrifying. My own experience is not so much focused on bacteria. Instead, my brain is invested in what I cannot control: people’s perceptions and my value as a human.

Besides, the way this anxiety shakes up the foundations of relationships, be it friendship or romantic ones, even parent-child relationships. Heck, I’d say even Aza’s relationship with Dr. Singh is rocky because of it.

John Green gets this weird reputation of glamorizing illness. Listen. This is in no way fun or romantic. If anything, it is destructive and dwindles any bit of connection Aza has with anyone. Even Daisy, who has been her best friend for years,  communicates her frustrations .

the mystery

While I wasn’t too much of a fan of the Holmes last name here, I did like the mystery presented in the story. Davis and Noah were crucial to humanizing Pickett.  I think John Green always deals with people in a sensitive and cautious manner. It is hard not to be emphatic toward characters in his stories.

I felt so much compassion for Davis and Noah. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much of a paternal connection myself. Davis and his blog was also incredibly moving and powerful as a study of human psyche and emotion. He deals with so much loss and frustration. People assuming that wealth equates to entitlement was heartbreaking, because Davis asks for such simple things. He wishes for them, not really asks for them.

privilege and wealth

I think the novel certainly presents some good insight for readers to consider. Daisy, Aza, and Davis all posit that there is more to wealth than material things. Let me tell you, I hate it when people assume that John Green writes “philosopher” teens. Listen, teens are people. They vary. For me, if I had read this book as a teen, it would have blown my mind away because it articulated things that preoccupied me all along.

Friendship

Daisy reminded me of my failed friendships. I just got out of an old friendship from college days, and I was flinching a little whenever Daisy and Aza had conflicts. In a way, Daisy is still a refreshing response to mental illness. I’d rather have someone tell me what to work on. I was mostly isolated with every friendship I had, because people did not know how to work around my weirdness.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friendship that lasts as long as Daisy and Aza’s relationship. My illness manifests differently, and dynamics vary from person to person.

 

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