Friday, December 28, 2012
Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret. Everyone in school knows it. She's cute and best friends with one of the most popular girls in school, Kristen. Automatically cool and popular by association, Chelsea takes full advantage of her status and tries to keep Kristen happy even if it means belittling herself a bit. During a party, Chelsea sees something shocking and immediately tells the popular crowd. Some guys take it upon themselves to attack the person involved as a result. She tells the police and the guilty party is in the process of being punished, but Chelsea now faces ridicule and hate at every turn. Her classmates either hate her for telling the secret in the first place and generally being a blabbermouth or for getting star athletes arrested. Chelsea takes a vow of silence because she hurt so many people with her words. It's hard to stay silent when constantly attacked, but she makes some surprising new friends and finds out about who she is and who she wants to be.
Speechless is a good contemporary teen book about making mistakes and having the courage to do what you like and be yourself. I really enjoyed seeing Chelsea's journey throughout the novel, but she starts off as pretty terrible. She tells everyone's secrets to her best friend Kristen and then figures out how to make it work the most in their favor, either through blackmail or by spreading the secret to everyone at school. When she takes her vow of silence and all her friends abandon her, it becomes apparent that she really doesn't know who she is. The person she pretended to be took over her whole life, causing her to wear clothes she didn't like, do things she hated, and mold herself to another's liking. With no one to care or impress, she struggles to find out who she really is underneath it all. Her vow of silence allows her to view the world in a vastly different way than she did before. She sees the effect of words and experiences first hand how words can really hurt people. I like that this is bullying from the perspective of the bully because this is rarely seen in teen books.
One aspect I really liked was portraying the toxic relationship between Chelsea and Kristen. The friendship was always completely one sided with Kristen being the most important person while Chelsea accepts that she isn't good enough as herself and changes in accordance to Kristen's whims. I have personally been in two of such relationships that started normally enough, but ended this way. I don't see this type of relationship portrayed in teen books very often and it hit home for me. Chelsea's classmates' behavior just blew my mind. Two star athletes were arrested because of their own actions, but Chelsea's testimony was integral to catching them. They blamed Chelsea for the whole situation instead of those boys for acting heinously. That mentality is crazy to me, but unfortunately not unrealistic.
Speechless is a moving contemporary read that feels honest and realistic. The writing made me breeze through it easily, but the subject matter and emotions proved to make it more profound than a fluffy read. I would definitely read more books by Hannah Harrington.
My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Merry slightly late Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you lovely people out there. I hope you all have an awesome holiday with the ones you love. I have been super lazy and not writing anything, so hopefully after the holidays die down a bit, I will be posting more about music, movies, my own crazy thoughts. :)
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Camille is part of one of seven the most powerful and wealthy Families that rule over New Haven. It wasn't always that way. She was found when she was 6 years old, cold, mute, abused, scarred, and injured in the snow. The Vultisino, the leader of this particular Family, adopted her as his own daughter. Cami is now sixteen and no longer mute, although she still has a stutter that makes it difficult for her to speak. She goes to school, has two friends: Ruby and Ellie, and grew up a pampered heiress. Her life is enviable, but she knows she doesn't really belong there. She has no idea who she was before age 6, what her real name is, or when her real birthday is. She doesn't really belong with her Family or with her friends. The plot thickens when Tor, a mysterious boy who works in the garden, has the same scars as her. He is the first clue she's had to unlocking the secrets of her past, but maybe some secrets are best left alone.
Nameless is a very unique fairy tale retelling that has its own alternate version of our world. Lili St. Crow just throws us into the deep end of her world, with offhand mentions of bizarre things such as Twists, minotaurs, Family, charmers, and mere-humans. It's quite disorienting and confusing at first, but as the book goes on, things are subtly explained and the picture becomes clear. This world is a magical alternative universe that broke away from our world just after World War I, which is widely known as the Reeve or magic revolution. In 1920, the Deprescence hit. The country and farm land turned into the Waste and money couldn't save people from mutating into jacks or Twists or eaten by some nasty creature. I love the alternative reality and history of the world and how it shares similarities with our own world, but manages to be so different. I also loved the small fairy tale references, like how Ruby lives on Perrault Street, named after Charles Perrault, the French author who wrote his own versions of folk tales. I haven't seen a world that integrated many fairy tales and magic into it work so well since Bill Willingham's Fables.
The characters are just as strong as the world building. Cami, although timid and soft spoken, is a strong, smart character. She has been through a lot in her life and has the scars to prove it. Unlike a lot of other YA protagonists, Cami isn't self pitying or annoying, although the potential to be so was there. She just wants to know where she truly belongs, where she came from, and who her real family is. It's completely understandable to want to know those things and feel like an outsider if these questions aren't answered. She ventures into danger sometimes, but with a real decision to do so instead of stumbling into it obliviously. I think her self awareness and strength to make decisions like that, even if I disagree with it, make Cami one of my favorite YA protagonists. Nico is the other character that really surprised me. For much of the book, he's the stereotypical vampire badboy that are pretty popular in fiction recently. He leaves Cami often to party with his friends and holds a lot of anger at the world. Underneath it all, he truly cares for Cami and uses that anger as a shield. I was relieved to see a real, complex character rather than the abusive, annoying shells that are usually written about.
Nameless is one of the best Snow White retellings I've ever read. It has it all: twists and turns, mystery, alternative reality and history, magic, love, and self discovery. I highly recommend this to fans of fairy tale reimaginings and dark fantasy.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins