Review: I Was Born For This

 

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Summary

Goodreads Synopsis: For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

Review

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5

I first discovered Alice Oseman when I learned about Radio Silence. Also, there was black biracial girl on the cover so that was a compelling enough reason for me to pick up her book! A US publisher bought her second novel, but the cover didn’t have the girl represented on it like the UK edition. I went ahead and purchased Radio Silence from TheBookDepository.com because I wanted to see someone that looked like me on the cover. I waited three whole weeks for it to arrive and the rest is history. When I heard the author had a brand new book coming out I WAS SO EXCITED. Unfortunately, the US publisher didn’t want her next book (LAME) so I had to order it from a UK retailer again. That’s how much I like this author’s work. I have to say her third book, I Was Born For This, lived up to all my expectations.

“I think the truth is that everyone in the entire world is confused and nobody understands much of anything at all.”

I loved everything about this book except the direction that some of the plot went in, which is why I took half of a point off. Otherwise, it was absolutely incredible. I Was Born For This follows an almost similar plot formula to Radio Silence but not in a way that feels repetitive. In fact, I felt like Alice Oseman brought all the things that worked her previous book but made it even better.

The book follows Fereshteh “Angel” Rahimi, an eighteen year old Muslim girl, who is very involved in The Ark fandom, an all-boy British band. What’s so cool to me is that The Ark’s members aren’t all white: Jimmy is a biracial (Indian/Italian) transgender boy; Rowan is Nigerian and the Alpha in a sense; Lister is bisexual. The entire story happens in the span of a week and we actually get both Angel’s and Jimmy’s POV throughout. Normally, I don’t like POV changes but here it worked!

Angel meets up with a girl named Juliet from online to go to The Ark concert. She stays at Juliet’s grandmother’s place but learns that Juliet brought a boy a long to hang out with as well. This effects the friendship dynamics, which you’ll notice when you read the book. In the meantime, Jimmy is struggling with anxiety and the pressure of an impending new band contract. Rowan is dealing with trying to keep his relationship with Bliss, a biracial Asian girl, a secret. Lister is self-medicating with alcohol and trying to laugh everything off. They all have their share of problems. Suffice to say, behind the scenes The Ark is quite dysfunctional and once Angel realizes this it makes her rethink everything she thought she knew. All these issues tie together and lead to a series of events that change all their lives forever.

Things I Loved:

  • The female friendships! They weren’t perfect, but they weren’t petty either.
  • The complexity of online friendships in real life.
  • The complexity of being in famous boyband.
  • The religious symbolism: The Ark. Angel. Joan of Arc. (Also, Jimmy is Christian or at least he has a close relative who is a practicing but he occasionally attends services).
  • The inclusion of diversity felt seamless and not forced.
  • How anxiety is represented. I’ve never had a full on anxiety/panic attack but I’ve experienced similar intrusive thoughts the way Jimmy has.
  • During the week span of the timeline, Angel talks to her dad on the phone and he is a very caring father. This is important because Muslim fathers don’t always have positive rep and I wanted to note that it exists here.
  • I liked the way Angel talks as if she’s just figuring things out and growing into maturity and not as if she’s already a fountain of knowledge. This contrasts with John Green novels where the characters all talk as if they have life figured out already! You can have complex, philosophical thoughts but I feel like it needs to sound like a sudden revelation. Anyway, I appreciated how we got to see Angel mature.

*Spoilers are crossed out*

While I enjoyed nearly everything about this book, I found it hard to swallow a plot in which the main character actually meets, helps, and stays overnight at the grandfather of a guy in a world famous boy band.

Even though I liked that Angel has this little adventure, sometimes I felt like The Ark obsession thing was the main event of the story. There was SO much going on with all the characters and I would’ve liked there be some more focus on their issues rather than the fact that half the characters are in a famous band and the other half are connected to the members in some way.

All in all, the representation was amazing! I liked every single character. Everyone is flawed and messy. Everyone has as a lot going on in their own life, which leads the characters to act self-centered to a degree. Sometimes when you go through your own sh*t, you’re in your own bubble so-to-speak. But at the end of the day, these characters do care, flaws and all. Ultimately, the lesson I think Angel learns is that she can’t place all her faith in a boy band because real life can be a let down and nothing and no one is perfect.

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Review: Nyxia Unleashed

3

Summary

Goodreads Synopsis: Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?

**I received an e-ARC from Netgalley. This has not influenced my rating.

Review 

 My Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5/5

Nyxia Unleashed picks up exactly where we left off in the first installment of the Nyxia Triad series and does not suffer from “second book syndrome”.  The sequel continues to entertain with even more twists and turns. The action is never stagnant as the characters are constantly in motion and the unknowns of “Eden” (now known as Grimgarden) are unceasing. The author manages to find a balance between both a character-driven and plot-driven story, making the Nyxia series a refreshing read.

“Reality is what we’re leaving behind as we move through the empty forest and out into a world that feels full of ghosts.”

Emmett Atwater and his crew are beginning to slowly re-learn everything they know about the Adamites, formerly known as the “Imago” by Babel in the previous book. There is excellent commentary on how society functions and thrives with the women, how the elite treat the lower classes, and the conflicts and dangers of a superior group trying to colonize the perceived inferior group. It’s a mirror to the real world that Emmett reflects on—-he grew up in a poor neighborhood and knows what it feels like to be treated differently based on where he lives and what he has. Some of the more elite Adamites mistreat the lower classes to impress the kids, but Genesis crew aren’t having it.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Babel’s out here playing the role of colonizer, slapping labels on the originals and pretending they created it all in the first place.” 

I thoroughly enjoyed how self-aware Emmett is when it comes to encountering a new species from his own. He quickly learns the correct names of the world and their people. Emmett also realizes that he’s a guest in their home and makes an effort to treat all those he encounters with respect, especially those living in the “lesser” circles of Sevenset.

“It’s these people who will stand shoulder to shoulder with me in whatever fight’s waiting for us.”

While I felt like the world-building was carefully thought out, at the same time the author doesn’t focus every moment on the world by simply info-dumping the details. He shows, rather than tells, the reader what Eden is like through the dangers, the culture, and even the food. Essentially, we see the world through Emmett’s point of view. What’s new for him is new for the readers as we’re slowly drawn into the world of Grimgarden.

“We are brothers by force. Babel’s final experiment bonded us in some dark, impossible way.” 

The author does an excellent job at making me care about nearly all the characters. The comradery and loyalty between them is touching, especially since most of them started as enemies first. The growth between the characters is paced well with the story’s plot. Another thing I have to say about this novel is: Don’t mess with the women. Both the human women and Adamite women are a force to be reckoned with. I loved how strong representation was given to the females in this book by portraying their leadership and tenacity in the face of conflict.

As far as diverse representation goes, if you read the first book you already know Emmett is an African-American boy. Morning, his love interest is Latina. We also have an on page m/m relationship. However, the characters are not cardboard cut outs nor are they caricatures of themselves. They feel real. Most of them express a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, fear, hopes, and dreams. These complex feelings are due to the desperation they all felt when Babel offered them an opportunity of a life time. The anger from coming from low places and broken homes only for Babel to pull the rug from under them. When the kids understand the reality they truly are facing, everything changes.

“I sit there […] thinking about the family we’ve forged, not through blood, but through steel and chaos.”

The only thing that led me to take off half a star is that I would have liked to see the nyxia substance play more of a role in this installment. While lot happens does happen, I expected with a title that contained the words “unleashed” that there would be scenes where nyxia came into play on a much larger scale. However, I have a strong suspicion that the author hasn’t revealed all his cards and the finale will most likely blow our minds. After those WILD last chapters, I have no doubt that the third book will exceed my expectations.

If you haven’t picked up Nyxia yet, my only question is: Why not? There are strong messages of growing up poor, feeling powerless, corporate greed, and the biases and treatment of an indigenous population. I think this is clever on the author’s part because he can get kids and teens interested in this story by making it both fun and relatable while also bringing attention to social issues without it being “preachy”. The author is very involved with working with both middle and high school children and you can definitely tell who he wrote this for (he’s a teacher!).

“In that impossible place, in that endless inhuman beauty, we bury the ones we loved.” 

I highly recommend this sequel. The number one thing I expect from a sci-fi story is suspense. In the sequel, the author delivers by leaving me on edge at nearly every chapter I finish. Scott Reintgen manages to craft both an exciting and sentimental story about discovering a new world, uncovering secrets, and what it means to ultimately forge your own path.

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Nyxia: Unleashed is out July 17th, 2018 at most book retailers!

In the meantime, you can purchase Nyxia on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or at your local bookstore. Or you wait for the paperback version to be released on June 19th, 2018.

 

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My Spring Wrap-Up was huge because I combined two months worth of stuff, so I’m doing a separate post for my June Goals! I rarely do TBRs anymore because I’m such a mood reader but I’m 95% positive that the following list is what I plan to read this month. I can’t imagine why that would change. With the exception of a couple ARCS I already have, there aren’t any new releases I plan to buy right away between June and August. Yep. I’m going to read what I already own. I’m not anticipating any summer releases that would drastically alter my June TBR.

My June TBR

  • LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff // I own several of Jay Kristof’s books already and have not read them yet, so this will be my first!
  • The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang // After the little Twitter controversy surrounding this book, I decided I wanted to support the author and instantly bought it.
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab // I ordered the UK special edition and I’m dying for it to get here.
  • Binti #1 by Nnedi Okorafor // DIVERSE SCI-FI. WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE SAID?
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo // I’m still working on this one from last month. I’m almost finished. It’s a slow burn, so I can’t binge it.

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Goals

  1. Try not to update Goodreads for a month and read at my own pace. I put pressure on myself when I see whether I’m behind or ahead of schedule. Sometimes it’s nice to have that extra push (hence it being called the “Goodreads challenge), but I think I might do a my wrap ups every two months instead. We’ll see.
  2. No buying books for TWO months. I know. I die. (I broke my ban because Book Outlet had a sale. Restarting ban on: 6/13)
  3. WORK ON MY NOVEL. I may have some sneak peaks on here this month! [X]
  4. Social Media Goals: (Current Stats/Goal) – Twitter: 385/400 | Instagram: 211/200 | Blog: 193/200.
  5. Start advertising my photography and charge for portraits. I’ve been talking about becoming a freelancer but now I just need to actually do it.

Entertainment: Looking Forward To

 

  • Sense 8 2-Hour Finale on Netflix (8th) // *screams* [X]
  • Incredibles 2 in theaters (14th) // I can’t believe I’ve waited 14 years for this.. also, this may be the record for longest weight for a sequel? [X]
  • Love, Simon on Netflix!! (19th) // I didn’t have anyone to see this in theaters, but I’m SUPER stoked to watch it soon. [X]
  • Oceans Eight (5th) // Need I say more?
  • Florence and the Machine is coming to my state this Fall! I may be buying tickets soon. This is more of a later in the year thing, but I have to add it because I’m doing NOTHING fun this summer. I just need something to look forward to.

I’m not a summer person. I find solace in the colder seasons. I find comfort in layers and hot drinks. I find magic in Harry Potter marathons and the colors of the leaves changing. The last few months of the year have a way of awakening my soul. I feel like all the books I read between now and September only exist to help pass the time. I have a great line up of books to read until then. I’m super excited!

What books, TV shows, or movies are you looking forward to this month? Do you have any summer plans???