Review: More Than This (By Patrick Ness)

Review: More Than This (By Patrick Ness)

More Than This is a teen novel written by Patrick Ness and follows a boy who is washed up on a beach, naked and confused. As weird as it sounds, More Than This is a world of mystery and this only touches the tip of the iceberg.

A boy drowns. He dies. Then he wakes up. 

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Plot

This story is set in a dystopian future, but it’s not apocalyptic. It’s something else, something different, and this is what makes the story so intriguing. We’re sent on a hunt for answers, and it starts with to a boy we find lying on a beach alone and as naked as a baby. This instantly sparked my curiosity and was actually successful in making me read page after page because of how Patrick Ness writes out the way this lost boy tries to discover more about where he is, who he is and why he’s here.

Now I won’t spoil, but something that has made itself comfortable in our world is the core to this story, and it is shown to have killed our real world while we live in another. It touches a scenario that I could see become real, and installed fear in me. Because of this I wanted to read on and on, never stopping unless I absolutely had to. It was all so scary yet compelling, and I loved it.

The journey that the boy takes is paced lovely, with characters making this plot even more adventurous, with the additional touch of humour that made me burst out laughing yet gripped to know what happens next.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

So, what’s the name of this naked boy on the beach? Well, it’s Seth. Seth Wearing. And I must say, he is an absolute warrior. His determination surprised me because even though he was confused, I was expecting him to be more…desperate. There was something about him that made him different from main characters I’ve encountered in other teen novels. He wasn’t scared but rather utterly confused and wondered why he was alone and empty of memories. His strong and fierce personality made me really like him (he does have one memory/vulnerability, but I’ll let you find that out) and I felt like I was on this journey with him, trying to learn more about the situation. He made the most of what he had around him, and made the brave choice of deciding to venture out to truly understand what had happened.

Once he ventures out into the unknown, he bumps into two other characters who join Seth on his journey and enlighten him on the way with their theories. A teen girl and a young boy, they bring humour, knowledge and tears to the story, and I loved both of them. They added something extra to the story, and I couldn’t help but read more to understand them and their story as well as Seth’s. All of the characters were portrayed as strong youngsters, and their secrets/stories made them so real that I really felt for them and was tempted to shed a tear or two.

Now, there is another character within this book who acts as the villain, trying to get these youngsters for a reason unknown (later it’s revealed) and its name is The Driver. This character is absolutely terrifying (seriously though, I had hairs standing up on my arms!) and although I wouldn’t consider it a main character, it definitely plays an important role in the story. You may also be wondering why I’m referring to The Driver as ‘it’…well that’s for you to find out!

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip 

The mystery of what Seth was doing alone on a beach was just one thing that peaked my interest, and as the story went on, I found myself reading for hours. You can really immerse yourself in the story and imagine yourself walking alongside Seth, wondering about the world you’re in and what’s going on. I think it’s safe to say that the first page was instantly hooking, and I wasn’t satisfied with a few pages a night. I read this book under 2 weeks, so I was reading a few chapters a night!

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, More Than This is an amazing story with unique characters and a gripping plot that sucks you in from the first page. Intense, adventurous and compelling, I highly recommended anyone and everyone read this book and experience the dystopian future that is More Than This. 

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more More Than This reviews and any information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21969786-more-than-this

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

Review: The Essex Serpent (By Sarah Perry)

The Essex Serpent is a novel of historical fiction written by Sarah Perry, who happens to be an Essex native herself. Her inspiration for this story comes from the legend of the serpent, whereby it is said to have lurked in Essex waters in the past, but who really knows, for a legend is forever a mystery…

So, what about this novel? Well, it’s set in the late 1800’s and is centred around Ms Cora Seabourne. Who is she? Well, keep on reading to find out!

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Plot

The first thing I noticed whilst starting to read this book was the style of writing. It was the type that you’d find in books written in the 1800’s, and I found this to be a great fit. It made me feel like I was reading a classic book, and I loved it. And it’s not just the style of writing that made me like this book, but the layout too. The use of letters and journal entries gave an even deeper insight to the characters thoughts, adding a greater understanding and a plot with depth. With everything that was happening, I could never guess what was going to happen next, and sometimes I was and wasn’t surprised.

Additionally, the plot is rich in detail, with descriptions of scenes and the environment written in a way I could picture them perfectly. The personalities of characters made it easier to imagine what they would have worn and what kind of decor they would have in their house or in their hotel room. With such clear and vibrant descriptions, I was able to have a vibrant imagination.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cora Seabourne is a widow and our leading lady, and I have to be honest here…I love her! She’s unlike any Victorian lady I’ve read in classic books. She’s boystrous, outlandish and does not care about what she looks like, and I found her so refreshing. The only sad thing I noticed about her was that she acted the way she did because her marriage to her deceased husband was an unhappy one. It is hinted that she was on the receiving end of domestic abuse, therefore I concluded she found happiness in being free and not really caring about her character around other people. Even so, she came across as a strong character who only desired love, and I felt for her.

As well as Cora, there were others who occasionally took to the main stage, such as Reverend William Ransome and Dr Luke Garrett. Luke was a character I liked and disliked, but I enjoyed reading his little story because he had such strong affection towards Cora that edged on obsessive and it made me feel excited for what lay ahead. As for William, I found him to be a simple character who slowly began to question his faith once Cora came into the picture, but still he stayed true to who he was despite his urges and I liked this element. He questioned Evolution, but still considered it alongside his beliefs, and I found this kind of progression to be realistic to what would have happened to those in the late 1800’s who questioned faith over fact. Will’s character, and others, were just as important as Cora was because they allowed character progression and change, which was an exciting prospect.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Upon beginning this book, I found that I was already a little gripped just by learning about Cora and what was happening. It wasn’t excitement that enticed me to read on, but rather curiosity. Things were already in motion once I started to read, and I wanted to know more. Once I was in the depths of this book, I realise that this story is not one that you read because of the main title, but because of the exploration that the characters go through, between themselves and their surroundings. The Essex Serpent is only a small portion of this story, with the characters and their lives being perhaps more interesting than the myth.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, The Essex Serpent is a satisfying read that I highly recommend to those with a taste for the old tales of mystery and unique love. It is packed with such detail that you dare not rush the book in fear of forgetting what happened in the previous sentence/page/chapter. The serpent itself is a mystery, and during this story I kept asking myself ‘What’s going to happen next’ and ‘Is there really a serpent in the Essex Blackwater River?’ Well, now I know. Now you MUST find out for yourself!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more The Essex Serpent reviews and further information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075861-the-essex-serpent

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? Leave a comment below! 

Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Review: Extraordinary Means (By Robyn Schneider)

Extraordinary Means is a Young Adult novel that tells the story of Lane, who suffers from a strain of tuberculosis which has no cure. He is sent to a facility that is part school and part hospital whereby he bumps into a familiar face, and finds himself making new friends and falling in love, but Lane doesn’t realise that his world will slowly start to fall apart sooner rather than later….

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Plot

The whole story takes place around Lane and his friends at the half school-half hospital facility, and I found that it flowed really nicely. I never felt confused about what was going on and always found myself entertained, whereby I was either wiping a tear away, smiling or/and laughing.

The actions and emotions of characters within the story were understandable, and I felt that I could connect with each character in each situation, even though I can’t relate to them in regards to health. The connection made it easier to feel emotional for characters and I loved it. There was so much humour that balanced well with sadness, and I welcomed this happily.

Overall, the plot was consistent and I liked that TB was never out of the picture, but rather it in lurked in the background and pounced when you least expected it, sometimes mildly and sometimes severe. TB was the reason these teens were in the facility, and that’s one thing that Robyn Schneider doesn’t let sink into the black abyss.

Aside from the TB, the story is packed full of intrigue, youthfulness and hope, and I really enjoyed every page and chapter, savouring each sentence and really thinking about the actions of characters and the events that unfold.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

If not made obvious already, Lane is the main character in Extraordinary Means. My feelings towards Lane were not negative at all, because he was actually my favourite character. At the beginning, I had no immediate thoughts about Lane, but progression into the story made me realise that Lane is your average guy (with an incurable strain of TB) who just wants to left in peace, and I can definitely relate. That is the case, until he sees a girl in the cafeteria who looks awfully familiar. Her name is Sadie and she has definite negative feelings towards Lane, until she actually gets to know him and becomes his friend. I found that the addition of friends to Lane’s character really brought him out of his shell, and I quite liked seeing him open up and become more comfortable with his environment and make the most out of what time he has left.

Now, this next thing was something I saw coming from a mile away, and that was the love that blossomed between Lane and Sadie. The beautiful thing about it was that Sadie made Lane realise that their TB wasn’t going to go away, and that this offered an opportunity that live life as you wanted within the time that was left. She was all about second chances, although I did find her version of enjoyment distasteful. She was set on the thought that alcohol was the way to go, and I thought that other ventures could have been used as a better way of enjoying themselves. Despite this, I thought Lane’s friends were a welcome addition to the story, and the love and sadness that they brought really changed them and the story to a degree that made everything quite sweet.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

I think the fact that I read this book in 5 days says a lot about how hooking this was! Humorous, heartbreaking and utterly inspiring, Extraordinary Means takes hold of your heart by the first page and doesn’t let you go till you’re finished. The main message that is embedded throughout this story is about second chances and the realisation of how much time we really have to do the things we love, and I found this beautifully motivational.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, this novel is an extraordinary read and I would definitely recommend it. The youthful lust for excitement plus incurable TB really brings something to this story, and I think I know what it is – second chances.

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more Extraordinary Means reviews and information, please visit https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23149128-extraordinary-means

Have you read Extraordinary Means? Let me know about your thoughts in the comment section below!

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Review: Cookie (By Jacqueline Wilson)

Cookie is a children’s novel written by Jacqueline Wilson, and is centred around a girl named Cookie who lives a very nice life on the surface, however it is not all that it seems.

I was actually gifted this book at 11 years old, but didn’t read it till I was 16. Since then, I have read it three times!

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Plot

The story starts off by introducing us to Cookie and her family, giving us descriptions to their looks and lifestyle. I found Cookie to be quite a lovely character, even though I was only a few pages into the book. She is a girl who loves animals, wants to be happy and wants to be in a loving family, but she also has the insecurities that come with almost every teenage girl. These realistic (and relatable) traits and behaviours made Cookie more real to me, and allowed me to develop sympathy and empathy for her (which is good!).

Reading further on, I found the story more enjoyable as it turned into an adventure that kept me hooked and wondering what was going to happen next. I got to see Cookie handling different situations and develop as a person, as well as to discover what it means to not look back.

Each chapter had me wanting more, and by the end I was really happy for Cookie and the happy ending.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Cookie is our main character, and I must say that I really enjoyed seeing her become a strong girl after leaving home with her mum to start fresh. Cookie is shy with a soft heart, and that’s what I loved the most. Characters of Cookie’s age in other books tend to be confident, brash and a little rebellious, but Cookie is different. She opened up as the story went on, and by the end she was a strong character that I was happy for.

I would also like to mention Cookie’s mum, who I consider a main character as well considering she is the one who starts afresh with Cookie after leaving Cookie’s father. She is very much like Cookie, but her strength has always been present and she uses this to leave her husband in order to escape her unhappy life at home. Ultimately, I feel the same way about Cookie’s mum as I do about Cookie. Both are very likeable characters that really make something of themselves as they start a new life together.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

Having read this book three times, I think it’s safe to assume it’s absolutely gripping!

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In conclusion, I believe Cookie is an amazing book with a lovely story and a happy ending that leaves a satisfied smile on your face. Despite the target audience being 11 – 16, I believe everyone can enjoy this book. It’s an easy read and easily enjoyable, so pick this up when you see it!

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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For more Cookie reviews and information, please click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3293749-cookie

 

Review: Ketchup Clouds (By Annabel Pitcher)

Review: Ketchup Clouds (By Annabel Pitcher)

Ketchup Clouds is a book written by Annabel Pitcher, who also wrote the famous novel ‘My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece’. I had first heard about this book at school, where my Year 11 English Teacher saw a fellow classmate reading it and had told the class how good it was, recommending us to read it. I ended up getting it at a bookstore, and thought that if my English Teacher was recommending it then it must be good.

The story revolves around a girl who has committed a dreadful act. Murder. But then one day she hears of a criminal called Stuart Harris, who is locked up on death row in Texas. Here she finds solace through writing to him, and telling him her story.

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Plot

The plot of this book is written in the form of letters, and I instantly thought this was a nice touch. Rather than our main character just going through the story, it felt like she was TELLING us, as though we were the person on death-row she was writing to. Her re-telling of events was gradual and Zoe went through each interaction and relationship in detail, right up to the murder, which made it flow nicely. Additionally, I found that I had begun to feel emotional for characters and the scenes that played out, making me feel angry for some and sad for others. These feelings made me admire the storytelling more, and because there wasn’t a fairy tale ending, it made it all the more emotional and I actually felt that the end provided unusual closure that was fitting for this plot.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Zoe is the main character in this book, therefore we only saw her side of the story (99.9% of it anyway), however this was a positive feature because we got to see the journey she took from being romantically involved with people, creating great memories, and then eventually murdering someone.

This rocky road made me feel for Zoe, and I really thought that the writing style allowed total immersion, therefore I was committed to reading more and more to really understand what made Zoe finally burst.

There are other characters present in this story, but there was only one other person who took centre stage. At the end of Zoe’s story, there was another page with a ‘letter’ that was written from Aaron, and was addressed to an ‘Alice’. Aaron was a contributing character to Zoe’s murderous act, but his character was one that I didn’t feel any hate for. In fact, I had felt sympathy for both him and Zoe (or was it really ‘Alice’? Zoe was the fake name our main character used, so it may be safe to assume her real name was Alice), and I really liked his letter because it provided closure for the story and showed me that not all tales are either sad or happy, but can be a mix of both.

Character Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Grip

The very first page was something that I found humorous, I knew that this was going to be a book I would end up enjoying! Despite not having thriller themes or anything that murder usually takes place in, Ketchup Clouds offers something different to get hooked on, mixing ordinary circumstances regarding teens alongside ones that are not typically found in such YA novels.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, I am glad that this was recommended to me as a 16-year-old, as it offered me a story that I could easily use as transition material to better understand and read novels with crime and murder in them. It is not a love story, nor is it crime, but it is unique and I was thoroughly entertained.

Overall Rating: 4 + 4 + 2 = 10 out of 10 Stars

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If you’re interested in more Ketchup Clouds reviews and information, click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11088150-ketchup-clouds

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts (By M.R. Carey)

Review: The Girl with All the Gifts (By M.R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts is a novel written by M.R.Carey, and is the first in his series that centres around an apocalyptic future.

As well as writing this well received novel, M.R.Carey is also responsible for writing Lucifer (DC Comics) and is currently the ongoing writer of the X-Men Legacy comic book series.

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Plot

The story centres around Melanie, a child who is kept in a facility amongst others like her who are special. These children are kept in chairs, tied and unable to properly move, and we are told it is for others safety. Now, I know what might be going through your mind, but trust me, it isn’t as bad as it seems. I’m not going to spoil what the main theme is here, but I will tell you that when I read the first few chapters, they really fascinated me. I didn’t fully understand what was going on, therefore I wanted to keep reading because I was excited to further learn what in the world was going on!

I realised further into the story that the basis was apocalyptic, and I’m not usually a fan of these kind of stories, but I was really enjoying this one. Each chapter had me hooked, and a few scenes left me on edge a couple of times! There were also a few nail-biting instances but they kept me excited!

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

Melanie is the star of this novel, and I found her to be a such a lovely character that I had so much admiration for. Stuck in the middle of it all, Melanie is confused as to what is going on, and why the military are so scared of her. Her and the other children are in their care, but once events start to take a turn for the worst, Melanie realises what’s going on.

Additionally, we’re all familiar with apocalyptic stories, so it comes as no surprise that our main character is accompanied. Sergeant Eddie Parks and Helen Justineau are the two adults that travel with Melanie through out this story, and it is made clear that they’re very different people. Despite this, they come together for the sake of Melanie. Both of the adults worked at the facility where Melanie and the other children were kept, but Helen had a special bond with Melanie, acting as a mother figure during this whole story. As for Sergeant Eddie, I felt that his military teachings controlled him, but now and again he considered other options and by the middle of the story, I found that he had changed a little bit, and definitely for the better.

Character Rating: 3½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

From the very first page to the very last, The Girl with All the Gifts was ABSOLUTELY GRIPPING! The story fuelled my curiosity to find out more, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, I am so glad I picked up this book! It was such an epic read with a brilliant plot line that made me keep flipping through the pages until I had to sleep because sunlight was peeking from behind my bedroom curtains!

(As I found this book utterly incredible, I plan to read the follow up novel in the not-so-distant future, so watch out!)

Overall Rating: 4 + 3½ + 2 = 9½ out of 10 Stars

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If you’re interested in more The Girl with All the Gifts reviews and information, click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

In addition to this, if you want to learn more about the second book in this series, titled ‘The Boy on the Bridge’, click the following link: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-boy-on-the-bridge/m-r-carey/9780356503530

Review: The Girl on the Train (By Paula Hawkins)

Review: The Girl on the Train (By Paula Hawkins)

The Girl on the Train is a mystery thriller book written by Paula Hawkins, and centres around Rachel, a train commuter who sees something shocking. Unable to keep it to herself, she goes to the police. Soon she becomes entangled in not only the mystery but the lives of those involved, and may be putting herself in danger.

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Plot

The story is essentially a murder mystery that focuses on Rachel finding out what happened to the perfect couple she used to spot from the train everyday on their balcony. It’s quite predictable from here as we see her go to police, get involved with the other characters and try to suss everything out herself. Although it sounds quite bland, the predictable events lead up to unpredictable events, giving the reader a sense of shock and disbelief. I felt really happy when I was proven wrong because it meant that I had to keep reading on to understand and it was thrilling! Reaching the climax of the story was exciting, as I wanted to find out what happened and how it all related back to the characters and Rachel. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed and I was thoroughly amazed at how the plot twist made me feel.

Plot Rating: 4 out of 4 Stars

Characters

It’s already been made obvious that Rachel is our main character in this book, but there are other contributing characters to our story I’d like to include. Firstly though, let’s talk about Rachel. She’s our alcoholic, unemployed and utterly boring heroine, however I actually kind of liked her. Her ‘plain Jane’ personality and lifestyle made her unique from typical main characters, as she wasn’t anything special. She’s an uninspiring woman who happens to live life in her head. Saying this however, I started to see her grow as I reached the middle of the story, and although she made mistakes and put herself in risky situations, this made her stronger and much more concentrated on the task at hand. This mystery gives Rachel purpose and a chance to change her relatively bland and downhill life, and I’m quite glad she got involved, because she is what makes this story interesting.

Other characters include Megan and Scott Hipwell & Tom and Anna Watson.

Megan and Scott are our supposed ‘perfect couple’ that Rachel sees from her train everyday, and are at the centre of the murder mystery, for it is Megan that is feared murdered after disappearing one night. When I read Rachel’s view of events from her train, I also believed that they were a perfect couple, but then I began to wonder whether there was something else to them since a happy surface always hides something dark underneath. However, I was surprised to find that there was nothing sinister to Megan and Scott, but it was more of an affair with satisfaction. With Megan being (or having been) the pretty blonde out of the couple, it was only logical that Scott was our handsome yet confused partner, but I found that his strong appearance started to deteriorate towards the ending of the story, and who could really blame him?

Tom and Anna Watson are our other important characters, but just how important are they? Well…they’re pretty damn important, but I’ll leave you to find out why.

Character Rating: 3½ out of 4 Stars

Grip

The Girl on the Train is enthralling from start to finish, and the twists that are revealed are utterly surprising. It will keep you guessing and guessing, never making you feel bored or uninterested.

Grip Rating: 2 out of 2 Stars

In all, I totally recommend reading this book. The Girl on the Train offers something different for the genre of mystery thrillers, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.

Overall Rating: 4 + 3½ + 2 = 9½ out of 10 Stars

 

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For more The Girl on the Train reviews and information, click the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22557272-the-girl-on-the-train