Review: Roar by Cora Carmack

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Rating: 2/5 stars 

Summary:

Roar is about Aurora Paven, who comes from a family of Stormlings. She was raised as royalty and meant to be queen someday. She is not showing any signs of the magic she needs to protect her Kingdom. Aurora runs away from the safety of her palace to find out if she can steal storm magic. On the run, she encounters violent storms and uncovers secrets about herself.

Review:

I was prepared to LOVE this one and I didn’t. While the world-building was compelling and straight up magical, I had trouble with the character development. No matter how annoying the characters got, I still enjoyed reading the book in the beginning and then everything just sucked by the end. Aurora/Roar is supposed to be this epic storm queen but I found her to be passive, boring, and meek.

I should have just DNF’ed the dang book, but I was too transfixed and in awe of the world. Storm hunters, storm hearts, illegal markets, a princess on the run and undercover, storm magic. This was something I’ve never read before. The males in the story are boring. The love interest is a slow burn, but in a bad way. All I want to do is shake the two love birds and say, “Just be together already!” However, after further thought I realized that this book is actually quite anti-feminist and I no longer supported any romantic aspect of this book.

While the kingdom is a bit flat, we’re hardly there anyway. We’re on the road with the Aurora and the side characters, who are supposed to help her learn how to storm hunt. The storms essentially act as the main characters and the real characters are the secondary one.

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Earlier in the story, I felt like I was going to give this book a solid 4 stars. I’m rather impressed by the uniqueness of the story overall. While, it’s not the worst book in the world, it just had much more potential and relied too much on character tropes. My main problem with this book was that it gradually becoming worse, not better.  Toward the end, I had to read one chapter than pick up where I started 2 weeks later and so on until finally realized this was not a good story after all. The lush world-building almost saved it, but by the end it just didn’t work for me anymore and I stopped caring. There are no quotable passages or even memorable moments.

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Review: They Both Die At the End

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Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary: 

They Both Die at the End is the story of two boys who both receive the same bad news from Death Cast on September 5th after midnight: they both only have one day left to live. Mateo and Rufus are complete strangers who decide to be each other’s last friend through the Last Friend App, which allows users to buddy up with someone on their End Day.  Mateo is a gay Puerto-Rican and Rufus is a bisexual Cuban. During their final hours, both Mateo and Rufus learn how to really live and choose to make every last moment count. The story alternates between both Mateo and Rufus’ perspective as they live like there’s no tomorrow… literally. During the course of the day, their friendship deepens and unfolds into something more.

I cannot tell you how you will survive without me. I cannot tell you how to mourn me.  I cannot convince you to not feel guilty if you forget the anniversary of my death, or if you realize days or weeks or months have gone by without thinking about me. I just want you to live.

Review:

This was my first Adam Silvera book and I truly believe the world needs his books. They Both Die at the End was a thought-provoking and hopeful story about friendship and love. The story was a completely non-cliche take on the saying, “you only live once”. I found the journey of Mateo and Rufus engrossing and significant. The world Silvera sets his characters in is bizarre, yet it was written in a way that convinced me that this was real life — our lives — and we should make it count. What makes these characters even more three-dimensional (because these are the least flat characters I’ve read in awhile) is what their respective families mean to them in their terms of what family is. Rufus lost his entire family to a car crash, which landed him in the foster system. There he cultivates relationships with others who are orphaned due to Death Cast’s predictions. of their parents. He calls his best friends “The Plutos” because they are cast aside and rejected, just like Pluto (an endearing but sad reason behind the name). Mateo’s father has been in a coma, but Mateo and Lidia look out for each other. He is the godfather to Lidia’s child. While we don’t have an exclusive history, you can tell they mean a great deal to one another.  By the end of Mateo and Rufus’ journey, I was pleasantly surprised by the emotions I felt for these characters, who graced the pages with utter sincerity.

Adam Silvera’s third book is lightly comedic, heart-warming (and breaking), and vulnerable story on truly living.

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

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For fans Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, and Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary:

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon, tells the story of two Indian-American teenagers who fall in love despite trying to focus on their own personal aspirations. Dimple wants to go Sanford and pursue a career in web-development and is not a romantic in any way. She could care less about dating boys. Rishi is the hopeless romantic one, but intends to go MIT and pursue a practical trade and give up his secret hobby sketching comic characters. When both of their parents set them up during a summer program to Dimple’s surprise, she is absolutely certain she will be miserable if Rishi stays.

If things couldn’t get any worse, for the big summer coding competition Rishi chooses Dimple as her partner prior to them even meeting each other. Since it’s too late to switch partners, Dimple is stuck with Rishi for the the entire program so now they have to work with each other. Even though Dimple doesn’t believe in “kismet”, she finds that hanging with Rishi isn’t so bad after all. As they become more acquainted, Dimple pushes Rishi to pursue his real dreams while also surprising herself — maybe she can fall for a boy and still have a chance at her future.  Sandhya Menon’s debut novel is the heart-warming, sweet, nerd meets nerd rom-com we all need.

Review:

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room! Diversity.  This book obviously has representation.  I think it’s important to highlight the immigrant/first generation American dynamic of families in YA books. To many, this book may have been an enlightening read but for me it was actually familiar for two reasons. One of my mom’s good friends from long ago is Indian and her kids were born in America, so I already have some prior understanding of this culture. The other reason is because I’ve read a few books on assimilation before. You’ll often find this theme in adult/foreign fiction, such as The Namesake and The Kite Runner (both of which I recommend, by the way). I really think it’s wonderful to give voices to first generation Americans because their foreign culture is always going to clash with their American-ness. These issues aren’t necessarily specific to Indian-American culture, but culture can strongly dictate one’s life’s choices. This book is for anyone, so don’t let the “diversity” discourage you.

Another theme I liked was the romance. It started off less conventional than other love stories because Dimple doesn’t even know who Rishi is! She thinks he’s a stalker at first and it looks like Rishi’s efforts are a lost cause before their story begins. Not to mention, Dimple is so hot-headed when it comes to her goals, which makes her pretty hard to get at first. Interestingly enough, Dimple would rather avoid any sort of conflict with people as long as it doesn’t get in the way of her personal values. At some points in the book, I started to lose interest simple because, well, a love story is a love story no matter what and regardless of the beginning the formula is the same. But I have to say, I’m glad Rishi didn’t have to be a jerk for readers to like him or think he was cool. As far as writing style goes, I felt like Menon’s prose was strong, mature, and true to the characters. The story flowed naturally, but was also fun to read.

On the flip side, this wasn’t a page-turner for me. Sometimes there were gooey, hopeless romantic moments that made me want to roll my eyes. I was really intrigued at the idea of Dimple working towards a personal goal but all that changed when a guy comes along. I was pretty annoyed when shy, non-boy crazy Dimple decides to do something totally out of character that I can’t say because it’s kind of a spoiler. It’s totally okay for a character to surprise us by evolving, but there was nothing to help me understand this sudden change in personality —- bold and impulsive.  This is to say, it was somewhat hard to grasp Dimple being a spontaneous introvert and Rishi a practical yet hopeless romantic extrovert sometimes. I also didn’t like the high school drama stuff. I know that to keep a story flowing, we need conflicts but I did not like the really cheesy, high school stuff. I can’t dock points off because technically they all just graduated. Like a few others, I would have liked to see less love story and more dream-chasing. It was still such a fun read and I would recommend it.

I almost gave this book 3.5 stars, but the ending saved it.

We need women of color in the technology field! That is all.

Rating: 4/5 stars