Tag Archives: Teen book

Dream Life – Review

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Dream Life by Lauren Mechling

Age Group: Teens

****Spoilers****

Dream Life is the sequel to Lauren Mechling’s cute teenage supernatural mystery saga of Claire Voyante. After having saved the lives of her newest best friend and family, Claire and Becca formed a very strong bond. After a summer apart, Claire is a little bummed when Becca rekindles friendships with girls from her former school. To makes things worse, Claire sort-of boyfriend, Andy, breaks up with her early in the book, blaming school and distractions as the main reason. Although disappointed, Claire soon finds out the truth behind Becca’s trysts with her friends from her former high school and is soon sucked into a world of secret societies and conspiracies added onto the daily dose of normal high school drama.

https://i2.wp.com/www.melissacwalker.com/blog/dreamlife.jpgAlthough I didn’t fall in love with the first title, I really enjoyed this sequel to Dream Girl. I thought it had a lot of good messages and themes of honesty, and friendship. Claire did rely on her charmed necklace to help her solve most f the novel’s mysteries, as she did in the first book, but she did use more of her own instincts and abilities in place of the necklace. It showed how much she changed and matured from the first book. One thing I hate about series is that the characters never develop or grow as the series progress (ie…Gossip Girl).  I particularly liked Claire’s decision at the end of the book in regards to the secret society. I thought it was a very mature and well thought out decision. Claire makes a great role model for teenage girls. She’s a good mix of clever, funny and normal without seeming cliche or over the top.  I think a lot of girls reading this series will connect with her over any of the other characters.

Dream Life
Lauren Mechling
Delacorte Press, 2010
ISBN 978-0-385-735230
325 pages
Review copy

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I Like It Like That – Review

***If you haven’t read Gossip Girl, You Know You Love Me , All I Want is Everything, and Because I’m Worth It, then this review will most likely be a spoilers for you, so please skid ahead!***

Gossip Girl book # 5 takes Blair and Serena to the snowy Sun Valley during the school winter break. Unbeknownst to the girls, Nate is also going to be at Sun Valley with current girlfriend and recovering drug addict, Georgina Sparks. Dan Humphrey is now a famous published poet in the New Yorker trying to make amends with his ex Vanessa and finding work as an assistant to one of the most pretentious editors of an elite poetry magazine. Jenny Humphrey is determined to figure out why her new boyfriend is so secretive about his family and his lifestyle. Chuck Bass? Well, he just gets in trouble anywhere he goes.

Book 5 is just as drama filled as the previous four, although at this point Blair seems to be a little bit more toned down. She has only two missions in life, to get into Yale and to lose her virginity, both of which she persues endlessly in each book, only to hit some type of roadblock along the way. After my complaints about Serena’s in the last book, she does have a somewhat strong character in I Like It Like That, but she still seems like a flimsy character, and nothing at all like her TV counterpart.

I have actually started watching the TV show, and so far, only the pilot and the second episode actually follows the book. The rest take on their own life and personality. Because they are so different, I enjoy each for their own sake. Its sort of funny how my boyfriend, who doesn’t watch the show with me, nor has he read any of my reviews, caught a snippet of the show last night and said “so, is this like Sex and the City for teens?” Hah! I love that. Its the first and most fitting description. This book does get really outrageous at times. Where are the parents?!? In this book we are finally introduced to Vanessa’s parents, but Serena’s parents are still in hiding, Blair’s mother is still lackadaisical and oblivious and Rufus Humphrey is well…father of the year in comparison. What is Cecily von Ziegesar trying to say? Are Dan and Jenny better off with their middle-class dad than their wealthier counterparts? I don’t know, if you’ve read the books, then you tell me. In my opinion, all these kids are a bit screwy.

Also, we are about 5 books into the series and have yet to see a significant role devoted to someone of color. The only two minority characters are Katy and Isabel and thus far they have played a pretty low-key and unmemorable roles, which is a sad message to send to kids of color reading this series. Only the white are rich and only the white-rich actually matter. Even in the TV show you see mostly white kids, except for the role of Vanessa. In the book she’s a white, gothic, rebel chick. In the TV, she’s still a rebel, but has a full head of fashionably styled hair and matching clothing attire. For the most part, I think teens are used to seeing only white actors on TV shows or in magazines. Its not a message that should be accepted. While Cecily addresses a class issue in her books, the race card is still left unturned.

I Like it Like That (Gossip Girl #5)
by Cecily von Ziegesar
Little, Brown and Company, 2004
ISBN 0316735183
202 pages

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The Chosen One – Review

Kyra is a 13 year old girl thirsty for freedom and knowledge. Befriended by the driver of the library mobile van, Kyra sneaks books off to her room 1 at a time, and she even dares to have a crush on a boy her age named Joshua. The problem you ask? Kyra has one father, three mothers and 20 brothers and sisters in a small and isolated Mormon community in Utah. One night, Kyra’s family eagerly waits for the Prophet to make an appearance at their house, they are all hopeful that Kyra’s father will be named an Apostle. Instead, 13 year old Kyra is told that because of a vision, she will marry her uncle Hyrum, who is 60 years old. The rest of the novel is an inner monologue of 1 v. many, or Kyra having to make the terrifying decision to either save her life and run away, or save her family’s life and stay and follow orders.

This book is really intense. Other reviewers talked about how angry this book made them, but I didn’t realize just how much. I even snapped at my own boyfriend for trying to crack jokes while I was reading this book. Carol Lynch Williams handles the entire situation of this book wonderfully. The violence, the mental and physical abuse, the hope, the sadness, everything is written with an eloquence unexpected of a teen novel. Kyra is mature for her age, but I have a feeling most mormon girls are mature at that age, given that its the marrying age. Her inner struggle is amazing to watch as it unravels over the course of the book as you see how one small decision to us can lead to a domino effect of fear. What I found ironic was when her dad would tell her “we are safe here”. Safe from what? The God Squad that beats women who voice an opinion, who murder innocents? They live in fear in their own secluded world, but are more fearful of the unknown. Although the prophet is the one who ordered that all books be burned, I’m sure he must have read Machiaveli’s The Prince, because he made great use of the ideas found in that little booklet. The leadership tactics of the “new prophet” who took over when his father died reminded me of the Islamic regime that took over in Iran when the president was virtually outsed from the community. Little by little, civil rights were taken away from women, forced to lose their jobs and be forced to stay home and cover up. Kyra’s family is not safe on the reservation, not when pregnant women who die during childbirth are considered sinners, when premmie babies are considered sinners, when 13 year old girls are hoarded by ugly, angry old men and are forced to lose all sense of themselves in this world.

    I highly recommend this book, it is a quick but captivating read.
The Chosen One
by Carol Lynch Williams
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009
ISBN 0312555113
213 pages

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Pretties – Review

***SPOILER ALERT

If you haven’t read Uglies, or haven’t finished it, please skip this post, I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone****

At the start of Pretties, Tally is no long Ugly, and neither is Shay. Both girls were taken captive by Special Circumstances and forced to turn Pretty. Tally is getting ready to join the Crims, one of the elite cliques in New Pretty Town. While at a masquerade party, someone from Tally’s Ugly past returns, crashing the party and bringing all of Tally’s past flooding back to her. Now Tally and her new boyfriend Zane set out to detangle Tally’s past and fight to stay “bubbly” to prevent the lesions on their brains from turn them into pretty-minded as they fight against the city and themselves to break free of New Pretty Town.

Tally’s character becomes developed and more interesting in this book. I’m starting to sense a formula with Westerfeld’s writing (not that it detracts from the quality of the book) It seems that at the start of each book, Tally is young, naive and very active and is soon propelled into a new life by Shay. Shay introduced Tally to the Smokies in Uglies, and now Shay is helping Tally initiate into The Crim in New Pretty Town. The book also ends on a similar cliffhanger as Uglies, so I’m wondering if Specials will follow the same patern. Despite the formula, the actual content of the story is genius quality, full of adult commentary, but at the same time full of typical teen drama, lingo and attitude.

Westerfeld further expands on the intricate societies developing in this new world. I love that the book starts with a typical Pretty life, I was always curious to see this end of the spectrum. I’m also glad the book didn’t stay Pretty. I love Westerfeld’s terminology and new language created for the series, it was very happy-making and thought-provoking in a very non-bogus way. I like how Tally is able to transition easily from one role to another, while remaining true to her true self.

One more opinion, I think this show would make a FANTASTIC TV-show. Its a great plot, great characters and being spread over 4 books lends itself easily to a smooth TV-transition. =) This would be a show quite similar to Dollhouse actually….

Pretties
by Scott Westerfeld
Simon and Schuster, 2005
ISBN 0689865392
370 pages

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Uglies – Review

Tally Youngblood is only 2 months away from turning Pretty and moving across the river from Uglyville to New Pretty Town, when she meets Shay, another Ugly, after having pulled a few tricks to crash a party at New Pretty Town to see her former best friend Peris. Tally and Shay form a strong friendship over the course of the summer as they wait for their 16th birthday to draw near so that they too can be surgically altered to be Pretty. The night before their shared 16th birthday, Shay tells Tally that she doesn’t want to be Pretty and decides to run away to a secret society hidden out in the wilds, where looks don’t matter, only personality does. At this point, Tally needs to decide if she wants to be Pretty or not, and how much she values her friendship with Shay.

I first heard of this book from Jen so, I knew I could expect a thrilling story and deeper meanings than simply personality v good looks struggle that teens deal with on a day to day basis. What I didn’t expect were the intricate layers of society that Westerfeld had developed, and the philosophic discussions about humanity, individuality and evolution, neatly packaged in teen-speak. I thought Westerfeld’s writing was fantastic, I never wanted to set the book down. Tally is an amazing character, and a great role model for anyone reading this book (teen or adult).

I would definately heed Jen’s warning, if you are going to read this book, make sure you have Pretties and Specials nearby.

Uglies
by Scott Westerfeld
Simon & Schuster, 2005
ISBN 0689865384
425 pages

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