Mini-review: The Unit & One of Us is Lying

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

* I received a copy of The Unit from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Set in future where the elderly become dispensable (women at 50, men at 60) and are placed into the Reserve Bank Unit where they’re expected to live the rest of their lives. They’re fed well, clothed and have access to many social activities. In return for the comfortable lifestyle, they must partake in medical trials and donate their organs when needed until the final one. The longer you contribute, the longer you live.

The Unit is quite sad since it asks the question of what makes a person indispensable? Why does someone’s life mean less because it doesn’t conform to what’s required? And the government in this book tries to cover it up by treating the people who enter the Unit well. There are a few sweet moments as Dorrit makes new friends and finds a love she never had outside and despite the circumstances, they have a place where they finally fit.

The Unit is an interesting idea but there were so many plot holes and moments of ambiguity that brought down the story a lot.


Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

If One of Us is Lying was a tv show, everyone would’ve finished the entire series in a day. (Most likely would receive similar hype as Riverdale and 13RW) Five students enter detentions, but only four come out alive and become prime suspects for the death of the fifth person. Simon, the one who died, ran a blog that exposed everyone’s dirty secrets and had a secret for each suspect. McManus did a damn good job in this. Using very stereotypical aspects of a high school, she gave the characters more depth and substance than I had expected. McManus is very good at writing suspense and making the reader question everything. It’s sort of a mash up between The Breakfast Club, Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

But that’s all the good things I have to say about the series. The first half was thrilling and fun but towards the end it became so disappointing. Using someone’s sexuality and having them be outed against their will shouldn’t have been treated as a plot twist. Their sexuality shouldn’t be something shocking. Also, villainising mental illness was an instant no-no for me. (Trina @ Between Chapters has a more thorough review. There was another I had read but I’ll link once I find it again)

Content warning: a character being outed against their will, harmful rep of mental illness.

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Book Review: Final Draft

Book Review: Final Draft

Rating: ★★★★★

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

Laila Piedra lives for the stories she writes, and the only person who reads them is her creative writing teacher. Until he ends up in the hospital and he’s replaced by a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is exceptionally critical and continuously unimpressed. Her strange assignment leads Laila on an obsessive journey to win her praise.

I have a soft spot for Riley Redgate. Seven Ways We Lie, her debut novel, was the reason I started giving contemporary novels another chance and I really, really enjoyed Final Draft. There was something personal yet universal about it.

Final Draft perfectly tackles the anxiety of writers. Laila has no idea what her future holds but what she is sure of is her stories even if she never lets anyone read them. I related so damn much with part of her. I couldn’t also allow anyone read any of the fanfiction I had written when I was younger, even hiding under a pseudonym so it couldn’t be traced to me. Laila yearns to make something that people will love, the same way she loves her favourite series. But she’s never satisfied, even when she’s told she is doing well. She’s literally her own worst critic. But the introduction of the new teacher means Laila must face a different approach and starts to experience more things in a real-life setting to improve her writing.

The only one real criticism I have, which is practically the same as Seven Ways We Lie, was the lack of responsibility the new teacher had. Though technically she can claim deniability since she never told the students explicitly to do the things they do but suggesting students do things that could potentially put them in danger and or upset someone was a bit irresponsible. But she’s a very ambiguous character, so you’ll understand what she’s trying to do while not fully appreciating the ways she does it.

Final Draft is a coming of age story about grief, first love and self-love as Laila learns to manage the fear that holds her back. It’s very relatable, straightforward and entertaining to read. Look out for this when it comes out.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Book Review: Starfish

Book Review: Starfish

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

I received a copy of this via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review!

Starfish follows Kiko, a growing artist, who dreams being accepted into her dream art school and finally be free of her abusive mother.

Starfish was brutal and brilliant, all in one go. Kiko’s story was tough to read but so authentic to experience. I truly loved the sections where it shows what Kiko wanted to say versus what she actually says. It was a great way of showing Kiko’s struggle and the art description at the end of each chapter were beautiful. I loved the writing and the way Akemi wrote this story, as we read about Kiko’s journey accept herself. I found myself connecting with Kiko on so many levels, Starfish was indeed an experience to read.

I will warn you, Bowman did say she wrote this for people who need to see their experiences brought to life, and, boy, she did do exactly that. It was a struggle to read this. Her mother’s behaviour is nauseating to read but felt so real.

Although the romance isn’t a massive subplot in this book, it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of it, partly because of Jamie’s ignorance. I get that he doesn’t understand (spoiler-ish, we learn from one of the reveals, that he sort of does) but there were too many moments where Kiko’s anxiety was being framed as absurd and not usual from his lines. And him submitting Kiko’s art and showing her images to others without her knowledge and permission was teeth-grindingly annoying. We get it, he loves her, but forcing her into certain things wasn’t okay for me.

Overall, Akemi has created a beautiful and emotional story about learning to love yourself when others told you it’s impossible. Read it if you can, it’s not one to be missed.

TW: sexual abuse, racism, emotional abuse, parental abuse/neglect, suicide attempt. (If you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something else, please tell me!)


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After

I received an ARC of each book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Leigh is only sixteen when her mother dies by suicide, leaving nothing but the words, “I want you to remember.” And this leads her on a journey to Taiwan in search of a bird, to meet the grandparents she never knew and hopefully learn about the life her mother never spoke about.

I can tell you it’s been a while since I finished a book and immediately started sobbing after completing it. The Astonishing Color of After was a wonderful, visually and writing-wise, novel about grief and family. There’s just so much to it. It’s a mystery with Leigh uncovering secrets her mother buried years ago through memories. But it’s also a love story as Leigh struggles with her relationship with her best friend, Axel. Her mother’s passing changes everything. And both sides of the story are equally beautiful and enthralling. But the family is the heart and strength of this story, and it indeed is so astonishing.

There’s also a magical element to this novel. Leigh experiences the past in the form of burning incense and items such as photographs, and she’s able to experience her family history from the perspectives of her family members. This allowed her to understand what she never could before and to accept the daunting choices that were made. This aspect of this was so, so gorgeous and Pan’s style made this so stunning to experience.

Overall, there are so many words to describe this novel: stunning, extraordinary, beautiful, gorgeous. The lyrical prose, Leigh’s strength and struggles as she tries to connect with a past she wishes she knew and while accepting a new future. She finds what she needed, and the ending was so satisfying. A beautifully-told story, and one that I’ll definitely remember.


GOODREADS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY

tw: suicide – mentions of it through the book and also the moments just after it. Depression.(if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Book Review: Saints and Misfits

Book Review: Saints and Misfits
 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

 

I can’t imagine what it means to love everyone, but I’m going to start right here, by loving a bit more of myself. And maybe then the rest will follow.

Janna Yusuf is surrounded by saints and misfits. She’s just trying to make sense of her life, and her feelings for an unreachable boy. But a particular monster, masked as a saint, is making it difficult for her. She can’t ignore him but she isn’t ready to speak the truth and if she does, what will others think of her?

Saints and Misfits has one of the most appreciable Muslim representations I’ve seen in a young adult novel. Ali nicely and quickly captures the life of Muslim teen that felt real. We see Janna living an ordinary life: Janna attends mosque events, wears the hijab while also going through typical teen drama and daily school life. Islam isn’t this HUGE block that’s separated from her, it’s weaved and incorporated into the plot, in a way that felt natural.  It’s a coming of age story that felt normal. There was nothing wrong with Janna being Muslim, and that felt so good to read.

Continue reading “Book Review: Saints and Misfits”

Monthly Rewind: February, 2018

Monthly Rewind: February, 2018

L I F E

    • This isn’t a life update, but more of a weather update. It snowed down here in Brighton, like heavily, with enough to settle. There hasn’t been like that like in Brighton in almost ten years. I still vividly remember the time it was. And I took some great pictures as well.
  • Aside from me getting excited over damn snow, this month was not very active. I’m settling into my second semester at university while also working a few days a week. Just doing what I can to get by, really.

B O O K S

monthlyrewind_feb18

Continue reading “Monthly Rewind: February, 2018”