Friday, December 31, 2010

My 2010 Top Ten!

That's right! It's the last day of the year and therefore time to look back on these past twelve months and reflect. Here at the YAB, this year has seen five months of great YA reads, almost 50 followers, and over 2000 hits! Personally, I've read a bunch of books, heard quite a few albums, and seen more films than I'm proud to have paid to see (oh, me). So, while I reflect on 2010 and make resolutions and all that jazz, let me share with you my top ten picks of the year. Without further ado, I present to you:

The YA Bookshelf's 
2010 Top Ten
10. Candor by Pam Bachorz
9. Swoon by Nina Malkin
8. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
7. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
6. Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
4. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
3. Matched by Ally Condie
2. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

** This book cured me of my aversion to any book set before 1900. Many thanks, Cassie.



** My biggest regret this year was never getting to see It's Kind of A Funny Story. Gahh, the DVD release is soo far away!

10. "Private Affair" - The Virgins
9. "Stay with Me" - Breathe Electric
8. "The Time Is Right Now" - Rediscover
7. "On Top" - The Killers
6. "1901" - Phoenix
5. "Heartbreak on Vinyl" - Blake Lewis
4. "Ours" - The Bravery
3. "Saltwater Room" - Owl City
2. "Inside of You" - The Maine

...*drumroll please*
1. "Dream This Dream" - Go Periscope

** this song is like aural happiness, puppies and rainbows, etc.

and, because there aren't that many good TV shows...
 My 2010 Top Five
TV Shows
5. Gossip Girl (The CW)
4. Glee (FOX)
3. Misfits (E4)
2. Vampire Diaries (The CW)


 ** I have nothing to say about this show other that if you have not seen it, see it. Now. Immediately. It will fill your life with joy and whimsy.

Gahh, so that's it. 2010 in a nutshell. Only  few hours until a brand new decade starts! Fingers crossed that we don't get into any more wars, or fill the ocean with any more oil, or have to sit through ten more years of American Idol. (shudder). Anyway, happy New Year, dear readers. May the odds be ever in your favor in 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Incarceron [Review]

Title: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Series: Incarceron, #1
Genre: Fantasy
What They Say:
Incarceron -- a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology -- a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber -- chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison -- a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device -- a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn's escape is born ...

What I Say:
So I got to that odd point between book releases when I feel as if I have read everything. I was searching high and low for something new when I came across this. I thought, Eh, it's the holidays; what the hell! Currently awaiting its big-screen adaptation (starring Taylor Lautner? Why?), this book does a good job of boring, impressing, and freaking out the reader all at once. That said:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Plot: ooh
Two stories. Story one: Welcome to Incarceron. An experimental paradise, created to be some kind of rehab for all the world's criminals and crazies about 150 years ago. Well, that was the plan. Today it is a barren wasteland filled with psychotic gangs and disfigured creatures and half-men. The prison is a sinister omniscient force which delights in torturing its inmates. The prison is alive. What happened here? Meet Finn. He is a prisoner just like the others, only he only remembers the last three years of his life and he sees the outside world in his dreams, a world which may not even exist. No one ever enters or leaves Incarceron, but Finn believes he was born on the outside. Needless to say, he and his "friend" Keiro are determined to get there ASAP. Story two: Welcome to the Realm. The year is 1700. Well, the year has been 1700 for the last 150 years. For some reason or other, a king decided that the world had too many problems. After having Incarceron built, he decreed that the world revert to 1700s society. Forever. Modern devices are forbidden, everyone must follow Protocol. Claudia is a princess. Well, not yet, but she will be. The daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, she is about to be forced into marriage with the Queen's arrogant son. She was once betrothed to the prince of the realm, but he was mysteriously killed in a horse accident three years ago. Or was he? (Here's where the stories come together). When Claudia and Finn both find magical keys which allow them to communicate, Claudia learns a great deal about the truth of Incarceron and its warden, and Finn learns a great deal about who he might really be.

To start, I'm always a bit wary of reading any book set before maybe 1900, just because authors can tend to crank up the pretension and obnoxious period-stuff and quite efficiently put me to sleep. After reading a few other-era novels, I have come up with the following Rule of Thumb. 1800s: interesting. 1700s: boring as hell. The book itself actually lampshades this fact. The king's like, Let's all live in a time without technological advancement, general progress, or change of any kind; that'll be interesting. Not! What's odd is that it's never clearly stated whether the "year" in Incarceron is different from the year in the outside world. Because Incarceron was created before they stopped time? Not that there are any notable differences, but still. I think I was mostly bent out shape by the lack of a climax. Sure, a few interesting events unfold near the end, but by that point I didn't really care anymore. Fisher uses an interesting plot device in this book: wait until the reader's ready to give up reading, then totally freak them out with some creepy twist, after which the reader is forced to continued until bored to tears again, at which time another crazy plot twist is employed. What can I say? It serves it's purpose. Though I was thoroughly weirded out by the end, haha. I wonder if she meant the prison to be just like HAL, but it was.

Characters: meh
Two words. Redeeming Qualities. Why does no character in this book have any redeeming qualities? I thought that was a golden rule, at least in YA: Write unto your characters qualities which make them likeable to at least some of thy readers. Here's the express version of my character analyses. Finn: confused and miserable at the beginning, confused and miserable at the end. Keiro: wretched jerkass at the beginning, wretched jerkass at the end (this one really showcases his lack of redeeming qualities throughout). Claudia: flat and pouty at the beginning, flat and pouty at the end (though living in 1700-world is probably a contributing factor). All the other characters in this book made me wonder, Why are they here?

Relationships: meh
Claudia and Finn - If I had to pick out two characters and say they were in a relationship, I would choose these two. But they really aren't. At no point is there any mention of current Like or any relationship-y banter or anything that would cause the reader to think they were in a relationship. Because they're not. But I felt like I had to put something here, haha. They only actually meet in the last twenty pages of the book, and even then you're not sure if they like each other. Really, it looks like Claudia's a nurse, crooning over this filthy, mentally-damaged boy for three hundred pages. Maybe I'll have to read the sequel to see what happens with these two, but I don't want to do that.

Special Features: ooh
So, like I said earlier. Incarceron is alive. It's technically a prison, but it's described more like a world of its own. There are "wards", but they're more like cities or countries. I guess they just took all of world's criminal and mental patients and sent them there (which sounds extremely complicated, but is never explained in the book). So there are a billion prisoners. Can you imagine a billion people dropping off the face of the earth? It's a mind-bender, because would you really notice if they're all criminals and mental patients? And then I bet the guys who made the prison were just kicking themselves when the realized, Oh wait, in a few years there'll be a whole new generation of criminals, so what was the point of trying to contain them all? At least other dystopias had better ways of controlling the undesirables. Ways that didn't involve making all the girls wear petticoats. (I can't get over what a terrible idea that is. And people signed off on that? Were there no checks and balances in that monarchy? I just don't gettt it). On another note, you know what I just noticed. This book is completely devoid of snark. Aside from a few sort-of clever retorts here and there, these kids have been entirely deprived of wit. Oh, the humanity!

Parting Quote:
Finn had leaned out over mile on mile of stinking hovels, the people running from haphazard dwellings of tin and wood, lame and diseased, their children listless. He had been glad when the wind had lifted the ship away. Incarceron was a hell. And yet he possessed its Key.
This book is strong in the mind-bending department.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Sacrifice [Review]

Title: Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
Series: Vampire Academy #6
Genre: Urban Fantasy
What They Say:
Rose Hathaway has always played by her own rules. She broke the law when she ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy with her best friend and last surviving Dragomir Princess, Lissa. She broke the law when she fell in love with her gorgeous, off-limits instructor, Dimitri. And she dared to defy Queen Tatiana, leader of the Moroi world, risking her life and reputation to protect generations of dhampir guardian to come.

Now the law has finally caught up with Rose- for a crime she didn’t even commit. She’s in prison for the highest offense imaginable: the assassination of a monarch. She’ll need help from both Dimitri and Adrian to find the one living person who can stall her execution and force the Moroi elite to acknowledge a shocking new candidate for the royal throne: Vasilisa Dragomir. But the clock on Rose’s life is running out. Rose knows in her heart the world of the dead wants her back… and this time she is truly out of second chances. The big question is, when your life is about saving others, who will save you?

What I Say:
So after my Vampire Academy binge this summer, I've been counting the hours until the last book in the series, and I was not disappointed. Well, I wasn't totally not disappointed, but you'll hear about that later. This series closer had jailbreaks, hillbillies, and a whole lotta spirit. That said...

4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
So Rose is in jail for a murder she didn't commit. But not for long! She has better things to do, like run across the country as a fugitive searching for the Lissa's dad's long-lost love-child with her ex-lover Dimitri who totally hates her even though he's all over her and it's pretty obvious he still loves her. (whew). Not to mention tracking down clues on Queen Tatiana's real murderer to clear her name so she can, you know, show her face in public without getting shot down by Guardians. Yikers. So achieving this near-impossible feat is not easy, but will enlisting the help of some of her old nemeses get Rose into more trouble than she was bargaining for? (Spoiler: Yeah, it will.)

I love a mystery. Provide me with clues, shady motives, and a high chance of betrayal, and I am on board for at least three hundred pages. That said, I especially love a mystery in which you're pretty sure you know whodunit, but nahh you don't! As I predicted in my review of the last two books, we get a good long look at positions of power in the royal court and lengths to which some will go to get them. Or to make sure other people don't get them. It's a vamp-eat-vamp world out there, kiddies. In all, I was glad to see a big decrease in dullness this time around. I wasn't bored to tears even once. Though I was moved to rage at one point (see Relationships).

Characters: wow
Oh Rose. If I were an elementary school teacher, I would give this girl a pat on the back, a Most Improved award, and a freakin' gold star on top of that. I have never been more proud of a YA character's dynamic-ness. I mean, she wasn't an awful, hideous brat from hell in this one! I didn't want to flog her or cut her hair or lock her in an attic! She was smart and thoughtful and sympathetic. So much respect. Except in the case of one plot development for which I may never ever be able to forgive her (see Relationships).

Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. After six books, he has earned a place on my list of favorite YA characters, if I ever write a list of favorite YA characters. He pretty much fills the snark quota for the whole series. The rest is just gravy. I only wonder what he plans to do with his life. Seriously. A person can't drink and smoke and flirt forever...can they?

It's hard to focus on specific characters in this series. They're really an ensemble, tiny aspects of each character making up the story as a whole. Though I will note that at a certain point in the book, all of the characters seems to lose their color. It's very apparent in the last few chapters. The story is still strong, but everyone just seems...tired. Which kind of makes sense. After everything that happens, I'd be too tired for clever quips, too.

Relationships: ooh
Rose and Adrian - It isn't really spoilering to tell you that no, these two don't end up together. Why, you thought they would? Well, apparently Rule #1 of YA is "The girl never chooses the Second Guy, no matter how beautiful and snarky and perfect he is for her because apparently girls are like Memory Foam Mattresses that mould to the shape of the first guy who sleeps on them!" Gahh, I bleed for you, Adrian. I really do. To be fair, I saw this coming, seeing as they spend less than fifty pages together in the whole thing, and a good eighty percent of those meetings take place in Rose's dreams. So.

Rose and Dimitri - Sigh. Well, I get it. They complete each other and stuff. Their auras get all tingly around each other. I guess they're soulmates. He's just so serious all the time. Rose says so herself, "[Adrian and I] have fun together." I just feel like Rose and Dimitri can't be all intense and angsty forever, right? I can imagine Rose and Adrian growing old and domestic, sure. Dimitri, not so much. Though, of course, there are probably a thousand other readers who think the exact opposite, haha.

Special Features: ooh
I was sad to see so little focus on Moroi elemental magic in this one. I mean, it pops up when it's really necessary to the plot, but it's hopelessly eclipsed by spirit. (Spirit, if you forgot, is the mysterious "fifth element", linked to mind powers and emo-ness). There was mention of spirit on at least every other page. Spirit this, spirit that. Well, sure it was central to the plot, but gahh, too much. Also, please Richelle Mead, can we reprint this series with different covers? Those angsty, pouty covers are pretty much the main reason I've had to put this series into my Guilty Pleasure pile. I can't imagine walking out into public with them...gahh.

Parting Quote:
     From behind Lissa, I heard Christian say, "Worst. Timing. Ever."
     Adrian studied Lissa and then looked at Christian sprawling on the bed on the far side of the suite. "Huh," Adrian said, letting himself in. "So that’s how you’re going to fix the family problem. Little Dragomirs. Good idea."
    Christian sat up and strolled toward them. "Yeah, that’s exactly it. You’re interrupting official Council business.” 
Oh these guys.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Heartbeat [Review]

Title: My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What They Say:
As she tries to understand the closeness between her older brother and his best friend, fourteen-year-old Ellen finds her relationship with each of them changing.  

What I Say:
I don't entirely understand why, but I have loved this book since forever. Literally. Like, if West Virginia would go ahead and legalize interspecies marriage, I would soo be making my case that books are living creatures and lobbying at Congress and moving to West Virginia and all that just so I could be eternally bonded to the teenage dream that is My Heartbeat. I re-read it every year around Christmas because I suddenly remember that it's been a year since I last read it. It's that good. The weird thing, though, is that if I took a step back and really analyzed the quality of Freymann's writing the way I do with other books, I could probably find something to criticize. But I just can't bring myself to do that. That's how much I love this book. It's pretty much the ultimate young adult New York City-in-the-winter Like story with a happy ending. Swoon. That said...

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Plot: wow
I was so surprised that Goodreads only had a one-sentence summary for this book. It sounds so blah when you put it that way. There is, like, zero mention of James's gorgeousness. Sigh. Let me put it straight for you. Meet Ellen. She's about to be a freshman in high school. Link is Ellen's older brother. He and his best friend James are about to be seniors. Ellen is totally madly in love with James. They are all, these three, very classy kids. At school, Ellen starts to realize that the girls are all either in love with James or her brother. Ellen doesn't see the fuss, as she has had exclusive access to both boys as long as she can remember. Link has always been her brother. Ellen has always loved James. James has always loved her, in his way. But after a passing comment from a classmate ("They're like a couple, aren't they?"), she begins to wonder if it's possible that Link and James might love each other as well.

This story can be taken two ways, which is nice. When I first read it, I was happy to see James and Ellen together, because she is the main character and I love a good non-gooey Like story. But when I re-read it now, I'm just sad that he isn't with Link, which is the real point of the book: things fall apart and people are complicated and all that. Bittersweet is the word. Also, characters with daddy issues (Jace Wayland, Percy Jackson, Oscar Banks, etc) are always especially snarky, I find. And ohh boy, there are daddy issues everywhere in this one.

Characters: wow
Ellen reminds me a bit of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Sometimes she seems to be mature beyond her years, and other times I'm surprised by how naive she is. I feel like every use of the word totally was like Freymann remembering Oh, right, Ellen's only fourteen. It's alright, Freymann, I liked her narration. Even if it's probably given me an unrealistic idea of New York City and its love magic.

I hate to call Link McConnell a drama queen, but in retrospect he kind of is. Albeit a brooding, resentful, oddly appealing, hyperintelligent one. The guy can teach himself fractions at age nine but can't think of non-spiteful ways to deal with his father. In that way, he is very much like James. Like I said, daddy issues abound. Though I seriously approve of his taste in films.

Now James is like a puppy who's been abandoned, but not so recently that he needs a hug or anything. He has this way with words (though I suppose it's really Freymann's way with words) that just kills you. Gahh, it's lovely as hell. Like, put-down-the-book-and-sigh lovely. Like, tea-on-Easter lovely. Anyway. He's a lot like Link, which is probably why they're best friends, but where Link is allergic to confrontation (much like Ellen) and therefore passive-aggressive to the max, James may be the chillest thing there ever was. He doesn't need to fret about the unwritten rules of society because they don't necessarily apply to him, being rich and beautiful and endlessly fascinating. Moral of this story: money solves everything. Nahhh, kidding. Wouldn't that be awful?

Relationships: wow
Link and James - Hmm, does it count as a relationship if it largely rooted in denial and resentment and jealousy and fear? Why yes it does. True Like is complicated, my friends.

Ellen and James - This relationship is much, much simpler by comparison. While Link and James only kept Ellen around to prevent awkward moments and crossed boundaries, at some point James realized Ellen was totally madly in love with him and well, girls have interesting qualities too, right? To be fair, Ellen and James are perfect for each other. They're both sooo classy. Seriously. Oh my god, it's insane.

Special Features: ooh
The city! Again! You can never read too many novels about the city. Fact. Or new money families who live in the city, high on cash but low on love for their kids. And everyone likes a nice little tale about sexual identity and finding your place in the world and getting your daddy to love you (haha, well sort of!). Ugh, but I hate the cover. I don't know, Keith Haring's art doesn't impress me much.

Parting Quotes:
   "I don't want to sleep with a girl," I say. "I love James."
   This is why no one in my family ever says anything. Look at the way private - totally and irrevocably private - things just slip out.
   "I mean, not really," I amend hastily. "I just think so."
   "This vacillating affection appears to run in the family," Dad says, signaling for the check.
 Sigh... I just want to lie in a bed of money and dream of tea and romance and That Hamilton Woman.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Scorch Trials [Review]

Title: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Series: Maze Runner, #2
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to. In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago. Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them. Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

What I Say:
So I was all good and ready to set down The Maze Runner and take a break from reading for a while. And I did. For a few minutes. Then I got all twitchy, had a crazy dream about a labyrinth, and finally decided I needed to get my hands on a copy of The Scorch Trials ASAP. Boy, am I glad I did. This second book in the Maze Runner series is even better than the first. It's got the heat, snark, and - of course - lots of running. That said...

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Plot: wow
So our Gladers have been saved, right? Yeah, no. Thomas and co. realize pretty quick that the trials aren't over. Their next task is to cross the Scorch in two weeks. The Scorch is the part of the world directly hit by the sun flares long ago, the are between the two tropics where places like Mexico and India used to be. It's hot, there's no drinkable water, and it's full of mindless crazies withered by a mysterious disease...So it's pretty much just like Mexico and India now. Ha, JK. The Gladers are having difficulty battling the elements, but there other, more sinister dealings afoot in the Scorch. They are being watched.

Before I start, let me just get something out of the way. WICKED is good? Bullshit. More like, TERESA is stupid. Ughh. Anyway, Thomas gets jerked around an awful lot in this book. Poor kid can't catch a break. Though, I guess, this book wouldn't have been as crazy and scary and holyshitwhatwasthat? if Thomas was sailing down Easy Street the whole time. His personal anguish = good reading. I cannot wait for the third book, if only to finally understand what WICKED and past!Thomas think they're doing. Because they're really effing up some lives here. Thomas will never be able to listen to dance-rock again without cringing! You monsters!

Characters: wow
Oh Thomas. He definitely underwent some snark training between books one and two, but he cranks it up in this one. Not that I'm complaining. Or maybe his life has just suckened to the point that only black humor can alleviate the ever-present feeling of doom and despair threatening to drag him into an abyss of crushing lifelong depression. And stuff.

And here is where I take a step back from my blind approval of this series and point out a little fault. Somehow Dashner was able to write a really strong, dynamic main character, and then an ensemble cast of supporting characters that never get a chance to develop. It's probably because the series is told from Thomas's point of view, and he's way too busy staying alive to be analyzing his buddies. Ah well.

Relationships: ooh
Thomas and Teresa - Well, we see a little bit of these two in this one. Not an official couple, still, but there's definitely some Like going on. Mostly, though, I feel like Thomas likes the idea of Teresa (or maybe his memory of her) more than he actually likes her. She's his link to their past, so she's his comfort object. She's pretty much his blankie. And what happens when your blankie gets a stain and Mommy accidentally ruins it in the wash...?

Special Features: ooh
This book featured the Cranks, people infected with the Flare quarantined in the Scorch. Some of them are a little quirky, some are crazy, and some are raving lunatic cannibals who listen to club jams and roofie young lovers. What I want to know is where the Flare came from, and how the trials could lead to a cure, and all those nice things we'll learn in the last book next year. Oh, and it features telepathy. Lots of in-head conversations that kind of mix things up.

Parting Quotes:
   “Taste good?” [Brenda] asked as she dug into her own food.
   “Please. I’d push my own mom down the stairs to eat this stuff. If I still have a mom.” [Thomas] couldn’t help thinking of his dream and the brief glimpse he’d seen of her, but did his best to forget it—it was too depressing. ...
   "I’d kill your mother for something fresh out of a garden. A nice salad.”
   “Guess my mom doesn’t have much of a chance if she’s ever standing between us and a grocery store.”
   “Guess not.”
Careful, Thomas; I can see your abandonment issues peeking out from behind your rapier wit.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Maze Runner [Review]

Title: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Series: Maze Runner #1
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say:
Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?

What I Say: 
Again, this is one of those series that has been dancing around my periphery for a while, and I thought this short holiday week was the perfect time to delve into the odd-sounding book that is The Maze Runner. First off, dystopia = +5 cool points, but dystopia + amnesia + monsters + labyrinths + lots of running =

 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
So one day, Thomas wakes up in the Glade, a community of about fifty boys on a farm. Only, he doesn't remember how he got there. Or who he is. And neither does anybody else. As Thomas begins to adapt to life in the Glade, he knows they must be there for a reason. He knows someone must have put them there. He knows there must be a way out of the labyrinth which surrounds the Glade on all sides, full of poisonous monsters and the Runners who navigate the Maze daily in hopes of finding an exit. He knows that the antidote changes the Runners somehow, maybe drives them crazy. That is, until a girl arrives in the lift with a message from the creators of the Maze: everything is about to change. Suddenly, Thomas has a bad feeling he might know more about the Maze than he thought he did. And he might not be the person he thinks he is...

I'd have to classify this story as half-adventure, half-horror. Thomas and the Gladers are put through more crazy, arbitrary, deadly trials than a sane person can handle, so I'm not surprised that some of them have totally lost it. I've never actually jumped while reading a book before, so hats off to James Dashner. His balance between humor and horror and pure genius is so precise and unstable it's pretty much radioactive. Gahh, this book was amazing. This review can't even start doing it justice. Gahh. I would say more, but all of the best parts are so very spoilery, so.

Characters: wow
Thomas is something I like to call awesome. He's pretty freakin' awesome. If I could leave alt-rock mixtapes in his mailbox or write him emo poetry, I would. Often. I can't put my finger on what exactly makes him so mind-bendingly amazing, but I can point out a few contributing factors. He has a pretty good handle on his snark. There are these great moments where you can tell Dashner just wanted to write Thomas was done putting up with this shit before reminding everyone what a major badass he is. Man, this book even made me like the name Thomas.

Newt. This books supports my theory that English people take snark classes in school. If this was the kind of book that needed comic relief (which it's so not), Newt would be a great example of how it's done. Oh man, he's great. Funny in a way that's mostly bitter and hurtful, because their situation is sooo bad. I can't imagine someone reading the book and not liking Newt.

Relationships: ooh
Thomas and Teresa - Intriiiiguing! I can't technically call this a relationship because there's never a clear Declaration of Like and she spends a good chunk of the book in a coma, but I mean come on. She's the only girl in the whole story, he's totally awesome, and they connect on so many levels. It's almost like he hears her voice in his head. Did I say that?

Special Features: ooh
After two years living apart from society, the Gladers have come up with their own slang! (I guess that had nothing else to do). I feel like this is always a risky move for YA authors. I mean, sometimes made-up slang really enhances the story, but sometimes it just doesn't. The Glader slang is weird and awkward at first, but it starts to grow on you. At the very least, it's charming stuff.

Parting Quotes: 
   Newt finally broke the silence. "Anyway, next up - figure out what we do with Tommy here." 
   Thomas perked up at that..."Do with me? What're you talking about?"
   Newt stood, stretched his arms. "Turned this whole place upside down, you bloody shank. Half the Gladers think you're God, the other half wanna throw your butt down the Box Hole. Lotta stuff to talk about."
 Nahh, Tom's like god's god.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Line [Review]

Title: The Line by Teri Hall
Series: The Line #1
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say:
An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It's said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.

Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel's dad died in the last war. It's a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.

Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?

What I Say:
Ohh, boy. Do I love me a good old dystopia. Kids fighting to the death in an arena? Bring it on. Pleasantville featuring Dr. Kevorkian? Yes please. Delinquent teens being harvested for parts? Gimme gimme. Teri Hall's debut novel takes us to the future-US, which is uhhh missing a few states, let's just say. That said...

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
Rachel lives with her mother (Vivian) on The Property, one of the few nice places to live in the US today. Away from the cities and the harsh and unpredictable government, Rachel enjoys a quiet existence where others never visit: right by the Line. The Line is the last section of a protective boundary surrounding the country, meant to protect it from attack or invasion in the last war. Only, when threats came in about a possible attack, they really had to hurry on that boundary! So some Einstein thought, Hey, let's just draw a line and connect the starting point with what we have so far. Who cares if the northwest corner of the country will end up on the outside? Not me! Somebody okayed this brilliant idea, and the boundary was finished along the Line. Then the enemy bombed the shit out of the US, but it was okay because the boundary protected everyone! Except...oh right, all those people left Away on the other side...Whoops! And it gets better (or worse)! After the public response to that little snafu, the government decided to just throw out the Bill of Rights. Cause who needs that, right? Back to Rachel: her life continues to be quiet and dull until one day she gets a message in the stream by her house. Whoever sent it needs help. But the stream comes from Away, and nobody lives there...right? Well, spending time near the Line shouldn't be a problem, right? Well, it is, because paranoid Vivian has started to get even more paranoid lately, and why are they living in the middle of nowhere anyway? Vivian isn't hiding some dark, mysterious past or anything. (Spoiler: she is).

Ahh, the joys of dystopia. The more the government sucks, the deeper I'm sucked into the story. I mean, you're running low on time and cash, so you let a million people die? Damn, US, you scary! While this book was noticeably short, Hall provides the reader with a peek into a future so effed up (and an ending so abrupt) that I imagine many people will be waiting up for the sequel next year. This storyline could have gotten this book an easy three-star rating, if it weren't for the rest of this review...

Characters: meh
Heh. Well. I was so into the story and the mystery and stuff, that I made a lot of excuses for the characters as I read. Life is so hard for our main characters that they don't have time to cultivate personalities. Or, like, smile ever. So no, there was virtually no snark or the like in this book. Now that's a sign of a world gone bad.

Relationships: --
There, uhhh, weren't any in this book. I didn't want to give this section an 'ugh', because there will be some in the next book (Hall set it up bigtime). On closer inspection, this books was missing a lot of key book elements. It was so short, too. Surely, she could have spent twenty-or-so pages fleshing things out more. Hm...

Special Features: ooh
It's the future. Apparently a future where Kindles has made real books obsolete, you have to register a username on every website (Can you imagine? I can hardly stand making up usernames and passwords with letters, numbers, and symbols on some sites. Imagine having to log in to use Wikipedia. Oh, the horror!), and yet people still use those dorky handheld voice recorders most often seen on the desks of grade-grubbers in college lecture halls. Never said it was a pretty future.

Parting Quotes:
"That's your mom, right?" Pathik smiled. "She looks nicer than she did when she was dragging you away the other night."   
There was apparently a snark famine in the future, and by the time there were enough cocky jerkasses to resume snarking, they were all too tired and oppressed to bother trying. Very sad story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crescendo [Review]

Title: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush, Hush #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
What They Say:

Nora should have known her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch, and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

What I Say:
Despite my early skepticism about yet another girl-falls-for-supernatural-stalker series, Hush, Hush was a lovely escape from the norm: mixing cringe-worthy cliché with fresh new plot devices and a mysterious badass who is actually a little bit badass. Knowing what I was getting into with the second book, I was pleased to see Fitzpatrick's Fiction Formula has not changed. That said:
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
So Nora and Patch should be hamming it up now that they're all together and stuff, but noo. In the face of some minor obstacles, their Like fizzles, and Nora spends a good fifty pages in a jealous huff while crawling out of peoples' windows and touching their stuff. (I'm guessing Patch gave her stalking lessons sometime before their breakup). Meanwhile, best-friend-Vee is suddenly dating Patch's best friend Rixon, who is Irish, even though that point was only mentioned once in the first book and was completely ignored thereafter. Mean-meanwhile, there's a new guy in town (Scott). A childhood friend-turned-bad-boy-and-possible-love-interest, Nora could be getting herself into trouble with this one! So, after the first hundred pages of plot-setting, Nora must sit down and solve the following mysteries: Why are Patch and Marcie spending so much time together? Why does Marcie hate her so much? What's up with Scott's mysterious past? Who is the Black Hand and why did he kill her father? Why does she keep seeing her father's ghost (Yeah...)? What's up with her mom and why has she been parked in a certain someone's father's driveway? (Lots of mystery, as per usual). If Nora doesn't watch out, she might find herself in grave danger! ...again.

The thing about the Becca Fitzpatrick Fiction Formula is: at first, I hate it. The first hundred pages of Hush, Hush made me cringe, and this one was no different, but somehow Fitzpatrick always manages to pull a sixth- and eleventh-hour plot twist that throws me in such a way that I am actually forced to keep reading. She has also proven herself to be an author who can be trusted to set up a helluva lot of mystery and solve it by the last page. Assuming her Formula doesn't change anytime soon, I'll be willing to trudge through the first hundred pages of the next book, no matter how predictable or tedious it may seem. Though, if Nora wakes up pregnant with a demon baby, I'll drop it off a bridge.

Characters: ooh
It's good to see that Nora's hasn't changed too much from the first book. Well, maybe good isn't the right word, but you know what I mean. She's still easily-offended and kind of neurotic, but I must say I'm impressed with how steady on her feet she is. I mean, sure she and Patch split and sure it's because she's too proud and jealous, but at least she's doing the dumping and she's standing up for her full-disclosure rights as a girlfriend, dammit! And she didn't even have to slap him like a certain kind of waify-damsel I hate...

I was very sad to see how Patch loses all his snark in this book. I guess once he's convinced Nora of his greatness, he doesn't think he needs it anymore. But I needed it. His snark is one of his few redeeming qualities! Again, I noticed how he also has stayed much the same throughout this series. Gasp! you may say. But character development is key to a good novel! While I agree that static characters are mostly boring, I also think (what? More than one opinion?) that it's unrealistic for a character's personality to drastically change just because they fall in Like or gain some Special New Powers. In real life, you are who you are no matter how much you grow up or fall in love. Shouldn't it be the same in literature?

I was so proud of Vee if only for the sole reason that she doesn't need to be saved at the end. What? A silly, funny character not getting into dumb shenanigans all the time? Oh Fitzpatrick, you revolutionary, you. In fact, Vee seems to become Nora's conscience in this book, trying to talk her out of the crazy, jealousy-driven stunts she plans. Whoa! A previously-daffy character can mature over time into a reliable friend with a moral compass? Yeah, so proud of Vee.

Relationships: ooh
Nora and Patch - Like many a second book in a series, these two are split up through most of it. While I know I was supposed to take Nora's side in this one, I couldn't help but favor Patch. I mean, let's face it: Patch is a player, and Nora should have taken that fact into account before pointing her jealous fingers all over the place.

Special Features: wow
The first books focused on Patch and the angels; this one sheds a certain light on the Nephilim (who are half-human, half-angel) and their descendents. They're kind of peeved about being possessed by angels two weeks each year, and are getting ready to fight back. (Who knew?) Sure, the Nephilim are techinically the villains of this series, but it's interesting when your villain sort of has a point. Hard to side with the good guys when you can't tell if there even are any.

Parting Quotes:
Patch leaned back against the booth and arched his eyebrows at me. The gesture said it all: Pay up.
“You got lucky,” I said.
“I’m about to
get lucky."
Why can't Patch maintain this level of snark at all times?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Girl Parts [Review]

Title: Girl Parts by John Cusick
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Science-Fiction
What They Say:

What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.
David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend.

What I Say:
I've had my eye out for Girl Parts since summer, so I was pretty psyched to pick it up once it rolled into the library. Despite the intriguing premise, I was reasonably underwhelmed by this one. I mean, a story about robots should be interesting, right? That said...

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Plot: ooh
So these two boys go to the same Catholic school, but are in completely different socials groups. David is the rich, popular playboy whose parents think he's disassociated because he watched one of his classmates commit suicide on the internet and hardly batted an eyelid. Charlie is the nature-loving outcast who doesn't want friends - at least, not friends like David. David thinks he's hit the jackpot when his parents buy him a female robot to teach him to form connections, but he gets a shock whenever he tries to make a move on her. One of these days, however, he is determined to get to those girl parts.

This story had a lot of promise, but while it had some mild highlights, it was a good 95% boring. Reading about a priveleged kid with no real problems and a less-priveleged kid with no real problems can only fascinate me for so long. Especially when not one of the characters has any handle on wit or snark. I mean, there was wannabe-snark, but YA is just a mess without the real thing. Real life is about zingers and sarcasm! Ha.

Characters: meh
David was so thoroughly the jerk-who-sort-of-grows-feelings. Cusick really stuck to his clichés in this book. I guess it was nice that he didn't make some magical Jerkass-to-Gentleman transformation at the end, but at least then the story would have had a point...

Charlie was...oh, sorry, I just fell asleep. Rule #1 to Being An Outsider: one must be intriguing and/or mysterious at all times. Charlie definitely broke that rule. How can he look down on all the rich kids when he's just as dull as they are? Other clichés perpetuated: boy is nobody, boy can't talk to girls, boy somehow gets above-average girl anyway. Oh, John, why?

Relationships: meh
David and Rose - Boohoo, my killer 16-year-old charm isn't getting me some, sooo I'm going to be a jerk and throw out the girlfriend my daddy had to buy for me. My life is sooo hard. Boohoo, I'm a Japanese robot who has apparently been programmed to worship this 16-year-old boy That's not weird at all...

Charlie and Rose - Yay, I just got my first kiss. Who cares if it's with a malfunctioning Japanese robot? I laugh at those dumb rich kids whose parents buy them sex dolls, but it's actually totally normal! (Sigh.)

Special Features: ooh
Well, despite the fact that the robot in this story was pretty dull, it was an interesting angle to take. A main love interest who isn't technically real? A for effort on the idea, Cusick. I see where you were trying to go with that.

Parting Quotes:
I tried realllly hard to find a cute/interesting/snarky quote from this book but I simply couldn't. Though perhaps I'll find one on the re-read and add it later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Boyfriend List [Review]

Title: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Series: Ruby Oliver, #1
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What They Say:
Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:
lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list),
lost her best friend (Kim),
lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket),
did something suspicious with a boy (#10),
did something advanced with a boy (#15),
had an argument with a boy (#14),
drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
got caught by her mom (ag!),
had a panic attack (scary),
lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie),
failed a math test (she’ll make it up),
hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends),
became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).

But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

What I Say:
I have been wanting to start reading this series ever since I finished The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and decided that E. Lockhart is kind of umm awesome. This book has houseboats, misadventures, and overpriveleged prep-school kids. That said:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Plot: ooh
So yeah, Ruby Oliver has a shrink. A shrink who asks her to write a list of all the boys in her life. It's fifteen boys long - which, yeah, makes her look like a slut - but it's not like that! Some of these are boys who she only ever talked to, some are boys she just watched from afar and (well, that's not making it look much better, is it?) Talking through the Boyfriend List is supposed to be helping Roo get to the source of her recent panic attacks in the wake of being dumped by her boyfriend, who then took up with her best friend, but this List just seems to be making things worse! The lives of teenage girls are so complicated and embarrassing!

I'll admit, that's not a very good synopsis of this book, haha. It's hard to summarize, mainly because the book is linear is some ways and cyclical in others. The linear story is about Ruby's sessions with her shrink, but each boy gets his own story within that story, and sometimes there's another story that's not exactly related to one of the boys, but finds its way in there too. (Phew.) Despite how hard it is to sum up in 5-10 sentences, I greatly appreciated the way Lockhart told this story. While I've liked how teenagers are genuinely portrayed in some of my other reviews, I was especially impressed by how genuine Ruby's voice is for a teenager and a human being. It starts on one subject, then peters out into stream of consciousness, then refocuses around some new plot point, adding side-commentary in the form of sporadic footnotes, and sometimes forgets about the original subject altogether. Ruby's narrative is one of the few I've read that truly gives me the feeling of seeing into someone's mind.

Characters: ooh
Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I liked Ruby so much, the other characters ranged from blah-to obnoxious in comparison. Except Ruby's sort-of-friend Noel, but he's only in there 20 pages tops. Ruby is funny, at times immature, but also capable of self-reflection and admission of (but not angsting over) her flaws. Her friends seem silly and shallow, her boyfriend is only very cool sometimes, and her parents need shrinks more than she does. Oh wait! No wonder I felt that way about all the other characters? That was the author's intention? (And this, dear reader, is why E. Lockhart is so great.)

Realtionships: ooh
Ruby and Jackson -  For all those boys on her list, Jackson is the only real boyfriend out of the bunch. Because this relationship is over from page one, and it's all told in flashback, I didn't get my hopes up for a quickie get-back-together on the last page (though Ruby certainly did). Lockhart teaches the reader a lesson in disillusionment through Ruby, who thinks Jackson hung the moon even after he dumps her, only to slowly begin to see his faults and finally discover the truth about what kind of guy he is. Buuut, because this is a series, I can't totally write these two off.

Ruby and Noel - So, Noel is the boy in Ruby's art class who is sort of amazing in general. I'm crossing my fingers for these two in the next books, even though there's been like zero foreshadowing on that, and I'm probably just being silly. He's sooo cool, though.

Special Features: ooh
Other than Gail Giles's Right Behind You, this is the only book I've read told mostly through the protag's sessions with a shrink. There's something different about a book in which the audience has been replaced by a single person, or idea of a person. I wonder if the rest of the series will stick with this format or switch it up. We shall see.

Parting Quotes:
I got a lecture about behavior and how if we wanted boys to be gentlemen we should act like ladies, which was idiotic because we didn't want the boys to be gentlemen. We wanted them to think we were pretty and ask us to dance and hold our hands and maybe kiss us in the corner and then send us clever instant messages.
Ruby Oliver: just like you!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Lost Hero [Review]

Title: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus, #1
Genre: Fantasy
What They Say: 

Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. 

What I Say:
Okay, so. Not-so-secret: I love love loved the Percy Jackson series. Oh boy, where to start? When I was in the 9-12 age-range, there were never any good books to read (I mean, sure there was Harry Potter, but even that got old to me), so I’m extremely impressed by Rick Riordan, who came out with a kids’ book series that 1) promotes childhood awesomeness 2) teaches culture-deprived American kids about Greek Mythology, and 3) transcends age-groups and reading levels with its mind-bending awesomeness. I’m completely serious, if you haven’t picked up the Percy Jackson series, go do it right now. Anyway, The Lost Hero is the first book in Riordan’s new series, set in the same world as the first. It’s got blond amnesiacs, neurotic weathermen, and may induce vertigo. That said…

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
(So, first off, if you've never even heard of Percy Jackson, you probably won't might not understand any of this. That's cool. Read about it anyway, haha.) Meet Jason. He's kind of like Jason Bourne in that he just woke up on a bus and has no idea who he is, he's in constant danger, and he's a bit of a badass. He's unlike Jason Bourne in pretty much every other way. So, he's on this bus on a field trip at a school he's never heard of with two best friends (Piper and Leo) he's never met. Suddenly, they're being attacked by mythical creatures and their gym coach is a satyr and - weirdest of all - Jason kind of understands this stuff, despite having absolutely no memories. The three are quickly taken to Camp Half-Blood, where demigod children spend their summers. Yeah, one of each of their parents is a Greek god. And again, somehow Jason knows something about all this. When a goddess goes missing and dark stuff starts stirring up again, the three are sent off on a quest to save her, at possibly great personal cost. Great cost like their lives. And that's just the beginning.

Among Rick Riordan's many talents is his knack for telling a story. Some authors have this thing where they try to have at least one interesting point on each page, to hold attention. Well, on average, there are at least three interesting points on each page of The Lost Hero. Especially if you know a little Greek/Roman mythology on the side. Ooh, did I say Roman? Why would I say that...? (You'll see, tee-hee.) Like always when reading a series, I can't pass too strong judgment on the plot because I don't know what's going to happen next. But book one sets you up so throughly for book two that I can't believe it's a year until the next one comes out. So not to spoiler all over the place (I'm getting better at this!) these kids come close to death at least twice as often as Percy and Annabeth ever did. But maybe that's because of their modes of transportation...

Characters: wow
Now I like a mysterious badass. It takes a lot of skill, though, to toe the line between intriguing and Oh my god, you have so many secrets! I don't even care anymore! Luckily, Jason is intriguing without being a headache, which may be attributed to the fact that, with the rotating point-of-views, we get to see inside his head every once in a while. He's lighter on the snark than Percy, and he has to be saved a lot more. I'm waiting on the next book to see his inner badass finally unleashed, as I'm sure it will.

Piper. While I very quickly tired of her Noo, I have to betray my friends! angst, there is something oddly gratifying about girls defying gender-norms. And I haven't seen a character called Piper since Charmed went off the air. So kudos.

Oh Leo. The Brock of this series. And the Ron Weasley. Crazy for girls when girls never even notice him. Shadowed by the general greatness of his best friend (which I'm glad was lampshaded early on so it won't be a pesky plot device later). Also - and come on, this isn't really a spoiler - fire powers are awesome, but always such a source of angst. Except, I guess, for the human torch guy from Fantastic Four. Broken homes are also sources of angst. And dead parents. Yeah, lots of angst.

Relationships: ooh
Jason and Piper - A note about Rick Riordan: he is all about the teasing and not about the pleasing,and he is also all about the boys-can't-be-cool-when-talking-to-girls-no-matter-how-badass-they-are thing. So do we get a Jason-Piper kiss? Or even a Jason-Piper confession of True Like? Child, this is only book one, so of course not! But stay tuned, because if this series follows Percy Jackson's love schedule, we should be seeing some awkward hand-holding by at least book three.

Special Features: WHOA.
So, as I mentioned earlier. Both the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series focus on Greek mythology. In my twelve years of education, my classes taught Greek mythology for a week in second grade and a week in eighth when we read The Odyssey in English class. So these books, while being thoroughly entertaining, also taught me quite a lot about it. I feel all warm and fuzzy thinking of all the kids who are getting to learn this stuff through Riordan's books, so yeah. 'WHOA' is right.

Parting Quotes:

“It’s too dangerous,” Jason said. “You shouldn’t go by yourself.”
“Ah, I got duct tape and breath mints. I’ll be fine," said Leo.
The thing about these books is: I could quote, like, every other sentence.