I have been pretty good about two things lately, 1) completing my reading challenge for this year (only ten books left!) and 2) reviewing most of the books I read on Goodreads. What I haven’t been too good at is getting those reviews from there to here so I thought it was time for another review roundup, ya edition!
Saints and Misfits // S.K. Ali
“I can’t imagine what it means to love everyone. But I’m just going to start right here, by loving a bit more of myself.”
Actual Rating: 4/5 ⭐
I really enjoyed reading Saints and Misfits, it pretty much checks all of my ‘what I look for in a YA contemporary’ boxes; well written and complex characters (many of whom are women), wonderful relationships, and it manages to be fun and intriguing while also discussing deeper content. However, I’ve been having a hard time writing this review because I just plain don’t know what to say besides“its good read it”, so here is a humble list of all the reasons why I loved Saints and Misfits:
– Janna is such a wonderfully complex and well written main character, we get to see not only her strengths but her mistakes as well and I think she really grows throughout the novel. I loved how sarcastic she could be and how unwilling to was to be shoved into a box based on stereotypes, she loves photography, is a total booknerd who worries about tests and having a crush on a boy and she also wears a hijab. That is who she is. I think Janna is an incredibly relatable character and I think it’s lovely that so many girls are going to get to see themselves in her.
– I really liked the themes and topics Saints and Misfits discussed: what happens when you put people on pedestals, the effects of sexual assault, how important and empowering choice can be – Janna chooses to wear a hijab, Sausan chooses to wear a niqab, the very first chapter of the book highlights Janna’s choice to wear a burkini, and some girls choose not to wear any of these things.
– I really liked getting the chance to learn a little bit about Islam and Islamic traditions and I think books like this are important.
– There are so many well developed friendships in this novel and the majority of them are between girls, girls supporting girls and girls being kickass together and I loved every minute of it. I also really liked the very loving and supporting relationships Janna had with her family and I think it’s a really nice change to the usually absent/annoying family trope we see in YA books. As well I loved her friendship with Mr.Ram
– I think Ali’s writing is wonderful and engaging and I found it hard to put this book down, I read almost all of it in one day.
– The side characters aren’t ignored/background cut-outs, they’re fleshed out.
– I liked how open the ending felt because I feel like it paired really well with how Janna felt at the end of the book
I only have a few cons to contrast my humble list:
– It was hard for me to see the overall plot because I feel like the story wandered quite often
– I almost wish the very short Janna x Jeremy line didn’t exist because I feel like it didn’t really add anything
– Any and every page where Farooq was present.
I really recommend Saints and Misfits to anyone looking for a really nice and thoughtful read, I think it just has so many amazing elements and characters.
*I just wanted to add a small note: I’m white and I’m not Muslim so if I need to be corrected on anything please feel free*
| Salaam Reads / Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers | Published June 13th 2017 | 336 Pages | Goodreads
The Cresswell Plot // Eliza Wass
“I think I knew I was the only one carving stars.”
Actual Rating: 3/5 ⭐
The Cresswell Plot is a … weird book and it’s a book that’s left me in a “I’m not sure if I liked this but I definitely didn’t dislike it” state. There were a number of things that I think really worked and I did like but I would have liked it a lot more had these things been fleshed out more, unfortunately I think this book just kind of falls flat.
The Cresswell Plot is mostly about Castley but it’s also about her incredibly cult-like family that’s ruled by their abusive Father, they live in a run-down house deep in the woods, they’re only supposed to do the bare minimum in the way of interacting with on-family members (to the extent of that the siblings will be married to each other in Heaven), a frequent form of “punishment” is being locked in a literal cave/hole in the ground and their Father believes that they are the only good people in the world and that soon they will all be called to go to Heaven. It’s actually quite scary and mind-boggling, I think The Cresswell Plot‘s unsettling atmosphere actually knocks it out of the park and I really enjoyed Wass’s writing style.
A lot of my problems with The Cresswell Plot came up near the end half of the book, I think it actually opens really nicely and the set-up and character introductions had me incredibly intrigued. In particular I liked Castley, I think her thought process and development throughout the book was really interesting; We get to see every minute of her coming to grips with her entire world-view being shattered piece by piece essentially. I also liked Mortimer quite a lot in the beginning and was really hopeful to see where his character when but unfortunately it doesn’t get fleshed out at all – in fact most of the characters besides Castley are very bare bones, and Mortimer in particular felt like had his personality flipped 180 from what was being set up; there were some side characters that could have been really interesting – George, Amity and Michael – and it felt like the story started to do something with them but then just abruptly stops. Another thing that bothered me about the characters was that practically none of the teenagers felt like teenagers, like one minute they were teenagers and the next they were making these grand speeches.
I felt like a lot of the moments in The Cresswell Plot were very anti-climactic, things that with enough build up would have been shocking and thrilling just kind of … weren’t. I failed to understand how Michael Endecott turning out to be their uncle was some big shocking revelation and even when I was shocked by the discovery of Caspar’s bones it’s literally never explained why he was murdered. The Cresswell Plot does a lot of asking but never answers. I kind of felt like I was always waiting for the mystery and thrill to pop up but it never came and then the story was just over; the ending felt rushed and a little flat to me, there was so much underlying buildup and a very anti-climactic climax and then right quick it was done.
All in all The Cresswell Plot just left me conflicted. I really liked the downright creepy atmosphere and premise, which was actually really intriguing and for the most part I was intrigued throughout the book but I do also think it unfortunately just falls flat. I definitely don’t think that this is a bad read and I think that Castley is an incredibly interesting character but if you’re looking for a lot of thrilling mystery this probably isn’t for you.
| Disney – Hyperion | Published June 7th 2016 | 272 Pages | Goodreads
Hollow City // Ransom Riggs
“Just because they knew it was lost didn’t mean they knew how to let it go.”
Actual Rating: 4/5 ⭐
What an absolutely SMASH of a sequel, I marathon read this book in a matter of days because I just couldn’t put it down. Hollow City picks up right where Miss Peregrine’s ends off and it’s like an unstoppable boulder rolling down a hill, unlike the first novel Hollow City jumps from one loop to another as the peculiar bunch searches for another Ymbryne to help Miss Peregrine.
Hollow City is much darker (and more morbid) than the first novel and it’s quite fast-paced, there’s a lot more action and traveling and the using of peculiar powers. The peculiar world really gets built up more in Hollow City, I liked the tales of the peculiar being little tidbits of history and mythology. As well we really get to see different sides of the peculiars and their characters get a lot more fleshed out, Olive, Hugh and Bronwyn place much larger rolls in Hollow City and it was nice to see their characters grow. I really liked that this book explored the effects of living in a loop on the children and as well how Jacob was struggling with this new world/leaving his life behind/being forced to become a leader – I loved that Emma got to take more charge and develop, she’s definitely one of my favourite characters.
I really liked the introduction of new characters and peculiars, Miss Peregrine’s was such an enclosed book and Hollow City really branches out. I absolutely love Melina and her peculiarity and her take no shit attitude and I’m really excited to see how she works into the last book. The one thing that I’m still very, ehh about is Jacob and Emma’s romance. I don’t really see the romantic chemistry and I feel like it gets a little in the way of all the other cool stuff about the world.
The twists in this book are SO DAMN GOOD, this is the first book in a while where I didn’t see the twists coming. Like, Miss Peregrine’s brother reveal, the bees saving the day, THAT ENDING AND JACOB’S PECULIARITY. This book knocked my mind off its damn feet.
| Quirk Books | Published February 24th 2015 | 428 Pages | Goodreads
Library of Souls // Ransom Riggs
“We have time”
Actual Rating: 4/5 ⭐
What an absolutely perfectending, Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children is probably one of the only series where I’ve consistently given each book the same rating and although Library of Souls isn’t my favourite of the trilogy I really did enjoy it; I really didn’t want this book to end because I didn’t want the series to end but I ended up being just so satisfied with how nicely everything wrapped up.
Library of Souls picks up directly after the end of the previous book and just keeps rolling, from the first to the last page it’s filled with action and development. I loved that Library of Souls focused in on Jacob and him growing as a peculiar and discovering his powers – next to Emma’s his peculiarity is by far my favourite one.
I also loved the introduction to the darker side of the peculiar world, Devil’s Acre really gives Library of Souls a rougher and grittier vibe that’s much different from the other two books. I did really miss the eerie and unusual-ness of the first two books that I just don’t thinkLibrary of Souls has; as well I think the photographs don’t have the same affect as they did, it felt almost as if they were an after thought instead of part of the story.
I though the world-building in Library of Souls was actually pretty decent for a third book, I enjoyed the characters and places we got to be introduced to even if they could have been fleshed out a tad more – I LOVE Sharon and how he’s such a big ole’ softy on the inside and I thought the Panloopticon was a really interesting aspect, I wish we had gotten to spend more time with it. Overall I just think that Riggs has created such a rich and interesting world, and I would honestly read like ten more peculiar books because I love it so much.
I was only really disappointed by a few things, I think that Caul could have had a lot more fleshing out as a villain and I actually would have liked it if he had played a much larger physical role in the book; I also thought that having Bentham become a villain-for-a-minute was kinda lame and would have liked to watch the peculiar children save the day. It might be because I actually really liked his character as a good guy though. Also the fact that we don’t really get to spend all that much time in the actual Library of Souls was kinda disappointing and I think it could have been such an interesting aspect of the story.
All in all I adored not only this book but also this series, I just think it’s so well-written and interesting and I’m actually sad that I’ve finished it because I want to live in it forever.
| Quirk Books | Published September 22nd 2015 | 464 Pages | Goodreads