Book Review

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh MafiA Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 16th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

This. Book. Was. Incredible. I am super impressed by A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I was very hesitant to read it at first because I hated Shatter Me and Adam and Warner were both awful, but I thought I would give it a go to see if Mafi’s writing has improved. And it really has!

This story was absolutely wonderful. The book follows Shirin as she deals with life and arsehole classmates and neighbours. I did wonder if Shirin was a bit of a self insert by the author, but to be honest I don’t really care if she is. Shirin was a lovely character to read. She’s just so good, and I can’t even explain why. I just really enjoyed reading about her and her life and her struggles. I liked how fierce she is.

Also, I have to mention the romance. The romance! I loved it! I can’t remember the last time I said this about a book but OH MY GOD it was so great. I ship it. Ocean, the love interest, was lovely.

One thing that I was wondering was why it was set one year after 9/11. I’m not sure how much it really added to the plot, since I’m sure Muslim girls go through all of this stuff nowadays in 2018. If anyone is able to enlighten me, please do! This isn’t a complaint, I’m just really not sure what the point was.

Sana loved it as well, and I think we should all trust her opinion.

I really hope Mafi writes more contemporary because I loved this and I will definitely read more from her. Unless it’s YA paranormal/dystopia because I’m not sure I can trust that.

Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn

Drop by Drop by Morgan LlywelynDrop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn
Series: Drop by Drop #1
Genre: Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: 26th June 2018
Publisher: Tor
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: one-half-stars

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible―Navigation systems, communications, medical equipment―fail.

In Sycamore River, citizens find their lives disrupted as everything they've depended on melts around them, with sometimes fatal results. All they can rely upon is themselves.

And this is only the beginning . . .

To be completely honest with you, this book was shit. I am so disappointed because the premise had such promise. A world in which all the plastic starts to melt? Yaaaassss. Computers would break down. Cars would fall apart. There would be no more television or phones, and if you didn’t have a completely metal radio you’d be screwed. But instead of focusing on society breaking down and something actually exciting, the author chose to focus on a small town that could no longer use pens.

Everything about this book disappointed me. I’m a huge fan of the apocalyptic genre and I thought this was going to be great. Unfortunately, it was boring, somewhat underdeveloped, and the characters were dull and unlikeable. I obviously won’t be carrying on with the series.

 

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

What It It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam SilveraWhat If It's Us by Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 9th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What If It’s Us was my first read by both Albertalli and Silvera. I know, I know, I’m a disappointment of a book blogger. I just never thought to pick up their books before. I thought this would be a good introduction to their work, so I requested it when I saw it was up on Edelweiss. While I wasn’t disappointed by the book, I don’t think it lived up to the hype that I had built up in my head.

This book is a really cute contemporary. That’s the only way I can describe it. It’s fluffy, it’s super sweet, the main characters (one of them, anyway) was adorable, and it was all just really nice. I was expecting something a bit more mind-blowing, considering how much everyone seems to love these authors. I’d be interested to see what fans of the authors’ previous books think of this one and how What If It’s Us matches up.

I don’t know how the authors went about writing this book, but I liked Arthur a lot more than I liked Ben. Arthur isn’t even the type of character I would gravitate towards or connect with, but I thought he was just lovely. Ben, on the other hand, was irritating as hell and I couldn’t get over the stuff with his ex-boyfriend. Just. Nope.

I’ve read that some people didn’t like the ending of this one but I ended up really loving it. Without spoiling things, I loved the way that everything wrapped up, I loved the epilogue, and I just thought it was done really well. I’m not a massive fan of everything wrapping neatly with a cute little bow, so this ending sat incredibly well with me.

To be honest, I was expecting a lot more from both of these authors, but I will still be reading their other books because I really enjoyed this one.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Mirage by Somaiya DaudMirage by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage has been getting a tonne of hype lately (“lately” meaning pre-release, but I know it’s now October by the time this post goes up) and I totally fell for it. I thought it sounded like everything I loved. Science fiction about a conquered galaxy, a revolution, and some kind of fantasy other than English. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

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Contagion by Erin Bowman

Contagion by Erin BowmanContagion by Erin Bowman
Series: Contagion #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 24th July 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

It got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don't set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Apologies for starting out this review on a negative note, but I just have to point out that I haaaaaated Bowman’s debut novel, Taken, and so I was very hesitant to read this book. But Taken came out years ago, so I decided to give the author another go in the hope that her writing had improved and that she had stopped writing abusive main characters. And she did! I ended up really enjoying Contagion, and I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel when it comes out (presumably) next year.

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