posted at Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 at 8:00 AM | Mini Reviews, Reviews, Young Adult
I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.
With authors David Levithan and Nina LaCour, I expected excellence, and that’s what I got from You Know Me Well. It’s a touching, fast-paced whirlwind of a story about brand new besties who come into each other’s lives just at the right time.
On the first night of Pride week in San Francisco, Kate spots her classmate Mark dancing in his underwear on a bar as part of a contest. She immediately asks him to be her friend, because she knows what she likes. They’re both having a rough time, as she runs away from her manic pixie dream girl about to become real and he faces losing his best friend/something more than best friend to the cute guy he just picked up at the bar.
Mark and Kate are both scared to face the future. Kate’s afraid of college and of facing Violet, this girl she’s been crushing on from a distance for a year. Mark’s afraid that Ryan won’t love him back the same way.
You Know Me Well takes place over the course of just a week, and it’s a time of major transformation in their lives. The voices are good, and I was invested in both of their stories. I think their friendship’s done really well, with occasional reminders that they don’t actually know each other that well yet. They confront their personal demons in a way that feels right and authentic. Both get weirdly poetic at times and start talking like adults who are looking back on those times of transformation, which very much felt like authorial voice coming down from on high, but other than that I was very much caught up in the story.
My favorite thing about this book is how not only is there so much queer representation, but there’s absolutely no pushback. It’s all happiness and pride and normal, which is what the world should be all the time, because it’s so beautiful.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #2
Published by Quirk Books on January 14, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Historical
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This sequel to the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended.
Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
Complete with dozens of newly discovered vintage photographs.
Two years ago, I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City, and I was really impressed with both. I didn’t bother re-reviewing the first, because I felt pretty similarly, though I lowered my rating a bit. In this case, though, I don’t feel the same way I did on my first read. If you want to check out my review, you can here. It’s not that I think my past self is wrong, but I clearly was feeling connection and I don’t have that now at all. Without that force driving me through the book, I was bored and noticed elements I find problematic.
My main issue is that I’m disconnected. I don’t find Jacob particularly interesting and his romance with Emma has been consistently awful. He barely knows anything about her (seriously, dude, tell me an interest of hers and I will eat my damn hat) but she’s pretty and wants to kiss him and he’s never had a girlfriend before; she “loves” him because she looks like his grandfather did when she was in love with him. In short, they need to be on a weird episode of Jerry Springer (or would that just be a normal episode of Jerry Springer?). It’s gross, and Riggs just keeps trying to sell the reader on it and I keep rolling my eyes and groaning. This ship is not going to happen.
Plot-wise, while there’s a lot more going on than in the first book, it’s not as cohesive so it ended up being more boring. The kids are on the run, and they don’t know where to go aside from trying to find a loop. To make Claire stop crying, they pick a Peculiar tale at random to read as they rest in the forest, running from the wights. That tale, conveniently, just happens to be about a location they happen to find right then! What are the chances?! Not good, frankly. This sets the rest of the events in motion, but it’s such convenient happenstance.
From that loop on, the kids find someone who tells them where to go, and they start heading there. They may have adventures on the way, but eventually they get to another person who tells them where to go. It’s video game plotting, and it’s not great; very little’s actually accomplished by all the running around, and there’s not really any character growth either. Don’t even get me started on Jacob figuring out he has a new power from a dream and magically knowing how to use it at the perfect time. View Spoiler »He speaks parseltongue, errr, hollowtongue. « Hide Spoiler
One of their adventures as they try to go where someone told them to go is running into “gypsies.” If you don’t enjoy the use of this slur, this section of the book will hurt you. Also, if you don’t enjoy people of color risking their damn lives to protect a small group of white (minus Jacob, who is Jewish) children, then you really won’t like this section. There’s absolutely no damn reason why there couldn’t have been more diversity in the peculiar children; it’s not like they were accepted by society anyway. Then the diversity is Romani willing to sacrifice themselves to save them. And, of course, they turn away the peculiar Romani child when he wants to join them, because they just cannot have more people, but later add three more white children to their group. Yeah, okay. (Oh, and later, Millard argues with a peculiar POC about the name of her home country, like she wouldn’t fucking know.)
All of that said, the ending was pretty exciting. The twist at the end is well set-up, and Jacob’s new power, though horribly established, should make things interesting in The Library of Souls. This book felt way too much like it was wasting time, and man that diversity needs work.
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: