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Archive for November, 2012

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

304 pages | Published: June 14, 2012 | Penguin Group USA, Inc.

MY THOUGHTS:

Can I just say that Sam and Jase may be my new favorite contemporary YA couple? Really. Jase is the fictional boyfriend I’ve been looking for all along.

Fitzpatrick makes these characters sing. They’re so real and dynamic, always working with each other. I’ve never before seen so many characters flow together.

That being said, I think this plot attempts to tackle a lot, and succeeds in tackling half of it. From politics, to drugs, to sex, to best friends, to boyfriends, to exes – there’s a lot to be said. And most of the time, Fitzpatrick gets the messages across. But the latter portion of the book nosedives so fiercely and suddenly, and doesn’t have enough time to recover. I just wanted more, more, more. It left me feeling like someone stomped on my heart and tried to put it back to normal…unsuccessfully. The resolution feels like a cop-out. When it says “the bottom drops out of her world,” Fitzpatrick wasn’t kidding. In the turn of a page the story goes from a super high to a super low. (Keep tissues handy. Just in case.)

Nevertheless, be prepared to be captivated very early on, even though it’s strange at first. The plot points (although whacky later), are spaced in a way that’s so seemingly seamless and fluid.  You get from Point A to Point B to Point C without ever feeling as if something’s been done just to create this new niche in the story.

If anything, read it for the romance. Really. It’s too darn perfect. Everybody will want a Garrett.

I know I do.

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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him—the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.

384 pages | Published: September 29, 2011 | Penguin Group

MY THOUGHTS:

For a story that revolves around Jack the Ripper, I expected there to be many more Ripper moments.

The first chunk of The Name of the Star consists of serious build-up and character building, specifically that of Rory and her new life at boarding school. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario.  That said, the characters are all memorable and realistic – especially the boys.  For once, it was nice to not have boys banging down any doors, standing outside windows with boomboxes, or going out of their way to get the girl.  Consequently, the romance took a back seat.  And even when it was prevalent, it was spontaneous and … awkward.  Really, all it did was get my hopes up very early on.

I never expected this story to take the turn that it did.  It kept me hooked, but dissolved into a letdown.  I never felt the urgency or terror associated with the Ripper drama. Instead of increasing in action, it dwindles, becoming a long history lesson. Between long monologues and recounts of past events, I fought to finish. The latter half of The Name of the Star feels as if it’s a separate story, woven together out of thin air.  I felt tricked, no longer understanding the story’s progression.  Had there been more answers to Rory’s questions, maybe I’d be satisfied as well. But I’m just left wondering how the story gets from point A to point B.

This is a good one if you enjoy mysteries that pull you in multiple directions.  It’s not entirely unpredictable, but more teasing than anything.  Don’t expect to be scared. It’s rather tame. Ultimately, I’m unsure what The Name of the Star tries to achieve.

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