Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

3/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I am not a huge sci-fi fan.  It’s just not something that tends to appeal to me, though there are exceptions, with Star Trek: Next Generation being the biggest.  That said, I did enjoy The 5th Wave enough to recommend it to people who do like science fiction.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book.  I didn’t mind spending money on it.  I plan to read the rest of the trilogy because I want to find out what happens.

So, I knocked off two stars because of the way it’s written.  It jumps back and forth between points of view, Cassie and Ben, and it can get a bit confusing because this happens at least a dozen times.  It’s difficult to keep the story line straight when things change so often.  There were parts in the action scenes where time seemed to skip, or things weren’t clearly explained so I wasn’t 100% certain what was going on.  I see that a lot in action scenes, where bullets are flying and things are exploding and you’ve got a lot of detail to cram into a short space and make it seem real.  It’s a tough trick to pull off, and while the book was good overall, I don’t think Yancey quite pulled that off.

But, I am looking forward to starting book #2 in the series, so definitely go out and buy The 5th Wave if you enjoy sci-fi, aliens, dystopian fiction, or all of the above.

The Book High

Today is going to be a very distracted day for me.  I am exhausted.

While “exhausted” is nothing new to me (mom of a toddler here), this is a different kind.  Mental exhaustion.  I’m tapped out.  Coming down off a rollercoaster ride type exhaustion, although really, I’ve been mostly sunk into an armchair the last three days.

Three days ago I picked up Jennifer McMahon’s Dismantled, a book that’s been on my to-read list for quite a while.  I’d just finished Catherine Coulter’s Bombshell and I was looking for another good mystery, but something deeper and not of the police procedural type.  And thus began my rollercoaster ride.

Ending a good book always feels kind of like coming down off a high of sorts.  It’s always been that way.  I remember sitting in bed one night and feeling this way after I finished The Sword of Shannara.  I’d gotten it as a Christmas present and, not even 12 yet, it was the biggest book I’d ever read.  One of the best.  To this day I am still obsessed with Terry Brooks’ work.

It was the same after I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dracula, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and the myriad of other great books I’ve come across over the years.  I bought into the propaganda they peddled in libraries and shows like Reading Rainbow when I was young– books can take you places, teach you things, amaze you, infuriate you, leave you breathless, and, most of all, hungry for the next one.  I’ve already got Frog Music and Behind the Scenes at the Museum checked out and waiting on my desk.  It’s like how addicts start planning how to get their next fix while lighting up the first.

By the way — support your local libraries.  They help junkies like me get our high in safe, cheap/free ways.  Like a literary methadone clinic.

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advleg/advocacyuniversity/toolkit/talkingpoints

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HOW To Finish Your Damn Book

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

At the beginning of this year I wrote a post for that treasure trove of writing and publishing information, Writing.ie, about why you should finish your damn book. You can read that post here. It proved really popular. So popular that it seems to me like a lot of you are in the same place I was until last summer: wanting nothing more than to have finished your book, but finding yourself doing everything but writing it.

It’s all well and good for me to tell you why you should finish your book (nutshell: a finished book is the one thing everyone who ever got published/successfully self-published has in common) but how do you do it? How do you overcome procrastination? How do you finish your damn book?

I only know what worked for me, but maybe you’ll find something in there that works for you. Let’s see…

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16 Questions to Ask Someone When They’re Reading Your Manuscript

Ivy Reddington

Interrogation

My friend Skye has been reading my novel-in-progress as I write each chapter. She is only four chapters into it and I just created a list of questions to ask her to get the maximum amount of information out of her, without getting what she thinks I want to hear.

I hope this could help someone!

  1. Can you describe the main character to me?
  2. Can you describe the setting or major place to me?
  3. What did you think when this character did this? (Some scene specific to your story… May have to ask this about many scenes)
  4. What thoughts did the end of that chapter leave you with?
  5. Who was your favorite major character?
  6. Who was your favorite minor character?
  7. Who was your least favorite character?
  8. What was your favorite scene?
  9. Are there any characters that seem vague in your memory?
  10. Are there any places that need more detail?
  11. Did…

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Five Fascinating Facts about Black Beauty

Interesting Literature

Fun facts about Black Beauty and the novel’s author, Anna Sewell

1. Anna Sewell’s novel Black Beauty is one of the biggest-selling novels of all time. Published in 1877, Black Beauty was a huge publishing success story from the start. Although Sewell died five months after the book appeared (the cause of her death has been attributed variously to tuberculosis and hepatitis), she lived long enough to learn that she had written a bestseller. The book has sold over 50 million copies in total, making it one of the bestselling books in English. It was Sewell’s only novel. Sewell died in 1878, but had been an invalid for much of her life; she was confined to her family home for much of her life.

2. Black Beauty is described on its title-page as ‘translated from the equine’. Sewell’s unusual conceit was to tell the story from the perspective of the…

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What Are You Reading This March?

Reflections of a Book Addict

March has been an absolutely crazy hectic month for me. As such the amount of time I’ve been able to dedicate to reading has been quite short. It’s the 22nd of the month and I’ve only read 5 books!! I guess I should be happy that my total is 5 and not 0. With such a small amount of books completed this month, I’m being realistic with what else I plan to complete this month. On my list is Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare.

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Attachments was Rowell’s first novel and is a true gem. After reading Eleanor & Park and Fangirl I was dying to read more. I’m literally on pins and needles awaiting her next novel Landline due out this July. City of Bones got bumped up my list after I saw The Mortal Instruments movie. I…

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5 Books I Totally Hated (and Why)

The Twilight Series

People fall into one of two categories where these are concerned — they love it or they hate it.  Obviously, I hated it.

And not (just) why you might think.  Stephenie Meyer can form a sentence.  She can construct a plot.  My problem is that she took the MOST boring characters and the MOST boring plot and made them her focus.  Jasper took part in 1800s vampire turf wars.  Alice was deemed crazy and kept in a dark isolation room most of her life.  Carlisle was a preacher’s son who managed to completely tame his bloodlust after being bitten (because he’s just that awesome, not that he has some dumb power like Bella).  Rosalie was raped, beaten, and left to die by her fiance and his friends, but got her revenge Kill Bill-style after she turned.  Why can’t I read about that instead of the cheesy Harlequin romance that drags on 100 times longer than every other Harlequin?

And on the subject of characters, Edward is completely unrealistic.  “Oh, he actually acted like a vampire and killed people to drink their blood, but it’s okay, because he only killed bad people.”  Who is he, Dexter Morgan (and even he has made mistakes)?  And he’s a virgin after more than 100 years…yeah…

Emma

I feel like a traitor for hating this book since I love Jane Austen’s other books, but, to me, Emma was just a flop.  The titular character was whiny, annoying, egotistical, and completely oblivious to the facts.  I understand that this was kind of the point and she supposedly learned a lesson, but I couldn’t get past her flaws to find a trait that I liked or could even connect with.  My motivation to read it after that was based purely on the fact that I had to write a paper about it.

Mockingjay (SPOILERS)

Although the story of the Hunger Games trilogy was decent, I think that the actual execution fell flat.  It’s kind of the opposite of the Twilight series.  They seemed to get gradually worse, making the final installment the real disappointment.

Mockingjay and its predecessors suffer from the same problem as so many other YA novels — overly simplistic writing.  Obviously, you need to be on your reader’s level, but I’ve seen third grade chapter books with better sentence construction.  When your sentences are so basic that they sound contrived, it’s disappointing.  And when your descriptions are so jumbled and unclear that a college-educated writer can’t make sense of what’s going on, you have a problem.

The final issue I had with Mockingjay was that it tried to do too much.  The story against the Capitol was enough — don’t try to splice in issues with the government of District 13 along with it unless you’re going to set that up a little earlier.  Obviously, no government is going to be perfect and you can point that out, but if it’s so bad that the main character feels the need to assassinate the President to prevent her from taking power, then it needs to be a part of the larger story arc.  Otherwise, just focus on Snow’s evil, the decadence of the Capitol, the tragic bombings of the other districts, and the torture/brainwashing Peeta suffered.

And for the love of God, DON’T EXPLAIN YOUR METAPHORS.  Yes, Katniss is the cat with the red dot, going crazy for what’s dangled over her…but no person is quite that poetically self-aware.

Frankenstein

Pretentious.  Long-winded.  A total guilt-trip.  Excessively dramatic.  Confusingly written (a story within another narrative written down in a letter some third person is reading…?).

Madame Bovary

I had the same problem with Madame Bovary as I did with Emma.  The title character was so whiny and downright stupid that I was unable to connect with her.  I couldn’t even make a connection to the story because all the characters were either oblivious retards, simpleton peasants with no personalities, arrogant aristocrats, or user douchebags exploiting a weak-minded woman.  And unless you have some in-depth knowledge of French culture during the time period the books take place, a lot of the references that supposedly characterize Madame Bovary will just go right over your head (I certainly didn’t know that at the time, opera was considered plebeian entertainment on par with modern WWE).

 

Want to know about some books I really liked?  Try these past posts:

Reviewing Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy”

Terry Brooks: Sometimes the Magic Works

Read a Banned Book!

How to Be a Better Writer: Advice from the Pros

There are no laws for the novel.  There never have been, nor can there ever be.

Doris Lessing

The road to hell is paved with adverbs.

Stephen King

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

Ray Bradbury

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.

Ernest Hemingway

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.

Robert Frost

You can fix anything but a blank page.

Nora Roberts

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.

C.J. Cherryh

Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.

Anne McCaffrey

I advise writing to oneself. If you don’t want to read it, nobody else is going to read it.

S.E. Hinton

To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.

Allen Ginsberg

The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read!

George R.R. Martin

Reviewing Toni Morrison’s “A Mercy”

First, a disclaimer: This is the third of Morrison’s books that I’ve read, and I am honestly unsure if she’s capable of writing a bad book.

A Mercy is slightly different from her other books in that it doesn’t place a lot of emphasis on the black experience. Instead, it is more about the disenfranchised in general — particularly women. A white European wife, the daughter of a black slave woman, an Indian woman, and one young girl of unknown race are the main characters — defined by men, by religious turmoil, by greed, and by the harshness of living in the New World. Some triumph, some abide, some turn into monsters. It’s a beautiful set of stories, heartbreaking and freeing all at once.

My only complaint is less of a complaint and more of a preference. The structure of the stories (non-linear) gives away some of the suspense. But perhaps the story was less about the stories and more about the feelings — little events that cause huge repercussions over time and and through separation.

No matter what sort of books you usually read, put A Mercy in your “to read” pile. Now. It’s amazing, moving, and even short enough to finish while you’re waiting in airports this summer.

The Gift of Reading

At the beginning of the month, I found out there’s going to be a Little One joining us in December (yay!).  When I get a break from all those famous pregnancy symptoms, I’ve been obsessing over what s/he needs.  There’s diapers and onesies and plenty of blankets for our six-month long winters…and books.

I’ll always believe that one of the great blessings of my childhood was having books at my disposal.  All kinds of books.  My parents always read for pleasure and encouraged me to do so.  My grandmother also had a huge collection of books — the accumulated titles of her childhood and those of my mother and her siblings — that I always had access to.  One of my first memories is of looking through a picture book Bible and making up my own stories to accompany the pictures, since I hadn’t learned to read yet.

My love for the written word never left me.  Books have always been my solace and my favorite pastime — from The Poky Little Puppy to Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Shannara, A Song of Ice and Fire, Toni Morrison, Jane Austen…

When I was young, I was never discouraged from reading anything.  Sure, my mother wasn’t always happy with my choices (like that um, juicy romance I picked up at 13), but I was never censored.  Reading is enrichment and it’s a love that lasts a lifetime.  I got that gift and I want to pay it forward to my little Peanut.

While I was looking through the children’s section online at B&N, I came across many of my old favorites.  Where better to start Peanut than with Mom and Dad’s favorites?  Eventually, s/he will decide to love mystery over fantasy, or documentaries or historical fiction or maybe even New Age poetry.  But for now, some good old pictures books will do.

 

The Tawny Scrawny Lion (This always made me want carrot soup!)

Horton Hears A Who! (One of hubby’s favorites)

Corduroy