Book: The Rules for Disappearing

"The Rules for Disappearing"

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky… But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, it has given her a new name–Megan Rose Jones–and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do–or see–that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all of the suits’ rules–and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters–survival.

I’m on the fence on whether I liked the book or not. On the one hand, I like the cinematic premise. I like the idea, and for the most part, the execution of it. I like the logic that the main character employs in trying to figure out what the story is behind their placement in Witness Protection. But the cinematic premise is also my biggest bone of contention with The Rules for Disappearing.

You see, when you watch a movie, you’re not always privy to what your main character is thinking. You can be, some movies employ narration or voice overs, but suspense thrillers usually let the action speak for itself. Which is why in movies, left-of-field twists work. In books though, withholding information, even if it’s important and organic to your story, makes your main character an unreliable narrator. And that’s when we get into a bit of trouble. Because it’s hard to trust an unreliable narrator.

Also, it’s hard to get romantically swept away when your main character is constantly reminding you that she shouldn’t be falling in love. It kills the mood. And makes her a tad unlikeable when she disobeys her own rules.

And that’s just the tip of why I don’t know whether The Rules for Disappearing is something I would recommend to people or not.

I did enjoy reading the book. A lot. It was a very fast read, and for the most part, I was very engaged in what was happening to the main character. But, and please bear in mind that I am not a resident of the United States of America, the plan our main character tries to pull to get her family out of Witness Protection in the last quarter of the book was very unbelievable. Highly improbable. And that ruined the book a little for me.

Which is kind of sad since the ending was very chilling. And would make you want to read the sequel, even as you wonder if the book actually warrants a sequel. I guess when I do eventually pick up the follow-up, I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that the events don’t unfold the way it did here–unrealistically.

But this is me, and other people have other opinions. So why don’t we mosey on down to their little corners of the world wide web and find out what they have to say about the novel:
The Flyleaf Review
Oh, Chrys
Young Adult Book Haven

Book: Crash Into Me

"Crash Into Me"

Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in common: They all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, they made a deadly pact: They will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides…and at their final destination, they will do themselves in.

As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impusles, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living–or if there’s no turning back.

Right from the start, I decided to believe that all the characters would survive in the end. It’s just how these type of novels go. It’s either your character is already dead and they’re just recounting life before they did themselves in, or something will happen to change their minds about killing themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Imagine my surprise when, as three characters become better people, one of them start to spiral deeper into unexplicable depression. It’s a great twist. It keeps the reader guessing. It kept me guessing if maybe I was wrong and there will, at least, be one casualty.

But the keyword to that statement is ‘inexplicable.’

There’s a twist. There always is one, nowadays. But the thing with twists is, they have to be earned. This one doesn’t earn it. I mean, the writer obviously knew he was going to drop the twist somewhere in the story–but it doesn’t fit. It feels forced. Tacked on. And the bad thing is, you also know that it’s part of one character’s history. An integral part that was purposefully held back just to surprise the viewers.

I hated it.

Not the twist. The twist is fine. I hate the fact that the author held back on it. He should’ve built up on it. No, I don’t mean put in clues. Voracious readers would be able to latch on to those and the twist wouldn’t make as big an impact to them. But in terms of how the characters relate to each other, talk to each other; let the omissions and the hesitations speak; let the fears show; and, let the readers feel what the character is supposed to be feeling.

Crash Into Me is a good book. Was a good book. It’s not completely original; but the story was solid and the characters, though they may not always be likeable, at least they’re relatable. It’s the twist near the end that completely ruins it for me.

But that’s just me. Head on to what other blogs have to say about the book, maybe they liked it better than I did. Here’s a few:
Read, Read, Read
A Good Addiction
Chick Loves Lit

Book: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List

"Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List"

Naomi and Ely have been inseparable since childhood–partially because they’ve grown up across the hall from each other in the same Manhattan apartment building, and also because they’re best friends. Soul mates. Or are they? Just to be safe, they’ve created a NO KISS LIST–their list of people who are absolutely off-kissing-limits for both of them. The NO KISS LIST protects their friendship and ensures that nothing will rock the foundation of Naomi and Ely: the institution.

Until Ely kisses Naomi’s boyfriend. And a fateful piece of gum in the wrong place at the wrong time changes everything.

Soon a rift of universal proportions threatens to destroy their friendship, and it remains to be seen whether Naomi and Ely can find their way toward new soul-mate prospects … and back to one another.

Much as I liked Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, I found myself equally mesmerized by the train wreck that is Naomi and Ely’s relationship.

In Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan introduce to us a handful of really likeable characters. There’s Naomi, the self-confessed liar and a bitch who is holding on to the hope that her best friend would fall in love with her; Bruce the First who is in love with Naomi even after she breaks up with him; Bruce the Second who is as normal as can be, considering the fact that he’s in a contemporary young adult novel; and then there’s Gabriel, Kelly and the Robins who don’t really get to appear a lot but seem likeable anyways.

The only character I had a hard time connecting to was Ely. I found him selfish and shallow. And I don’t understand why two characters would actually fall in love with him. Which is a shame since I think the book would’ve been more enjoyable had Ely been worthy of Naomi and Bruce the Second’s affections.

Of course, that’s not really the point of the book. At least, I don’t think so. From my reading of it, I think that it’s about friendship–the importance and intricacies of a friendship that means more to one than the other. And I like that. Because not all contemporary young adult novels need to revolve around love.

I mean, there are love stories in this book: there are three sets of couples by the time it ends. But it happens alongside the meat of the novel, which is Naomi and Ely’s relationship–this long-standing friendship that only takes one kiss and one lie to destroy.

Except it’s not just one kiss and one lie, is it?

Naomi, in the introductory chapters, already confess to lying. Lying a lot. Especially to Ely. Which he then answers with truth: admitting that he had kissed Naomi’s boyfriend. And they’re okay after that. Which says a lot about their friendship. All the more so when it’s revealed in their respective chapters how (a) Naomi is not at all okay with it, and (b) how Ely refuses to acknowledge that it’s even a thing.

If Ely had been more guilt-ridden, I think I would’ve liked him more. But he wasn’t. And I don’t. Then again, it would be out of character for Ely to feel any remorse at what he had done. Selfish and shallow, remember?

My extreme dislike for Ely though does not, in the least, lessen my enjoyment of the book. While I found myself annoyed at how childish some of the characters are, I do realize that they are kids. In their late teenage years, yes, but kids nonetheless. They still can act like their invulnerable–like they are infinite, to borrow from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And with that perspective, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a great cautionary tale about the fragile binds of friendship.

Especially one that isn’t so much grounded on shared experience, as it is about common interests and lies.

In the end though, Naomi and Ely do realize why they are friends and what made them friends in the first place. It’s too late to redeem Ely’s character by this time, but I thought the friendship was salvaged well.

Going over what I wrote, it may seem that I didn’t like the book; but I did. I wouldn’t have wasted so many words had I not liked it. But, as I always say, these are my opinions. Feel free to disagree with me, and we can have a discussion.

Or, you can read what other people have written about the book. Like:
The Book Scoop
Escape
The Book Muncher

Book: A Monster Calls

"A Monster Calls"

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I picked up A Monster Calls. A few friends recommended it to me, and I was a little ambivalent when I read the synopsis. It didn’t speak to me. But when I stumbled across the edition I found, this beautifully illustrated version by Walker Books, I knew I was buying the book. If only for the really beautiful illustrations.

But when I read the book, I fell in love with it.

Conor, the main character, is flawed. And that makes him, for me, a great character. He is a great character study on human beings. This is a child fashioned by the everyday life, shaped by external forces beyond his control, and choices that were his to make. Choices that, we find out as the story goes along, are colored by what he was taught–by the beliefs instilled in him.

Choices that the monster wants Conor to face.

Our main character doesn’t have an easy life. And I really like how author Patrick Ness doesn’t make Conor the typical flawed protagonists who has a naturally good heart. As I said before, Conor is flawed. And that’s what makes me relate more to him than other characters I’ve read, who are going through the same things he is in this book. And that’s what makes the book’s end all the more heartbreaking. Because by the time the book ends, we become Conor.

A Monster Calls tells the story of Conor, but more than that, it tells the story of us. Humans doing human things, feeling human emotions–being human. And being monsters.

This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read in 2012, and I’m very grateful for the friends who recommended this to me. Now, I shall be doing other friends favors by recommending this book to them.

Before I do that though, let us read a few reviews from book blogs across the ‘net:
There’s a Book
The Book Smugglers
Dog-Eared