Book & Movie Reviews

Playing Dress Up: A Book Review On Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I gave this book 3 stars.

You know those books who get raved about by everybody in all of Booktopia and you tell yourself, “I’m going to read this book because it must be fan-tastic if everybody else loves it so much?”….Whelp,  Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins falls under that category for me.

I chose to read this book before its companion because well, Anna & The French Kiss was checked out at my local library and this was all they had at the time. I went into the book all drummed up and ready to sing its praises afterwards. However,…I was faced with disappointment.

While this book isn’t bad, it’s not technically good either. The characters in this story seemed to me to be ones that were harvested from other YA Fiction and placed smack-dab in the middle of Perkins’ novel. For instance, Lola is a somewhat contrived character who is labeled as the fashionable/artsy daughter of a same-sex male couple. The couple adopted Lola from one of the dad’s drug addicted sister when she was younger and wasn’t ready to raise a child.

Perkins also gives Lola the somewhat obvious aspiration to become a costume designer and formulates Lola’s character to dress up as different “characters” throughout the novel to mark herself as an individual while also showing her creative side. Keeping with this “individual rebel” act, Lola’s boyfriend, Max is delegated the role of the 20-somethin year old rocker who treats everyone else like crap besides Lola (or so it seems in the beginning). From here, we get the return of Cricket, the goofy/smart boy from next door who Lola was previously involved with and the usual sparks start to fly.

 Major Things That Bothered Me About The Book:

1. To me,  Lola and Cricket’s courtship falls flat and the characters also comes off as a tad mismatched. Cricket’s character seems so juvenile while, Lola seems to be this worldly girl who captures everyone’s attention.

2. Lola’s refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Cricket sends her in a relentless circle dance. She goes from not wanting to say how she feels. To hiding her actual feelings from Max and Cricket. Then, when she finally gets to the point where she can’t hide her feelings  anymore, Lola has to confront Max and he breaks her heart and leaves her in ultra-goth mode (which, she vehemently denies being in).

3. By the novel’s end, the only thing left to do is to “tidy up” and write a final romance sequence for Lola and Cricket……but wait!…..Perkins decides to go the extra mile and spice things up by giving Lola a final chance to showcase her clothing designs in the form of Calliope, Cricket’s twin sister who happens to be a figure skater. This chance for Lola to showcase her talent seemed so random in the midst of the story’s ending but, it does give readers the chance to see Lola’s versatility in fashion. Suffice to say, Perkins has Lola rescue the day and then, sends both Cricket and Lola on their blissful way to a ball-like ending with Lola wearing a gown inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fashion and Cricket looking dapper in a regular suit.

Even though I would label this book as a typical YA love story, my biggest gripe with the story was that it didn’t feel authentic. I felt as if I’d read the conversations between Lola and Cricket before and seen the “boy loves girl but, girl’s with another guy” storyline before. Even Lola’s zany outfits just seemed to be pilfered from other books with similar plots. I’m still looking forward to reading Anna & The French Kiss and even Isla & The Happily Ever After but, this book didn’t exactly work me into a frenzy. Yet, If you’re looking for a light, quirky read I’d suggest this book.

Cheers.

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With Brothers Like This, Who Needs Boyfriends: A Series Review of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I finished reading the first two books sometime in February 2013.

I gave the City of Bones 5 stars and City of Ashes 4.5 stars. I am currently reading City of Glass.

Sooooooo…this book review is going to be a general review of what I think about the series so far.

Things I Like About The Series:

1. Cassandra Clare’s description of the Shadowhunters’ world is phenomenal. We’re talking kickbutt, over the top action, in-depth mythology, jaw dropping magical realm, coo-koo villains type of good. Clare makes her characters believable if not annoying. I never felt as if she was stretching the reality of her world too far to a point where it was like,”ummmmm…okay if you say so, I guess portals can be opened in the sky and weird crap can reign down on Earth.” Her writing style really makes you feel like this magical world she created exist somewhere.

2. Two words: Magnus. Bane. The way that Clare integrates today’s social issues into her novels didn’t feel preachy nor, unrealistic. I knew that Magnus’s character was a fiercely fashionable warlock and I was totally okay with that. His dialogue in the novel was sarcastic and witty and added life in places where the novel could have easily turned into a constant battle loop. I especially looked forward to hearing what outfit this warlock had thrown together for each random adventure the Shadowhunter crew went on.

3. Clare integrated so many supernatural characters into her novel I couldn’t even keep up. The way she used the creatures (i.e., werewolves, demons, demon hunters, etc.) was fresh and exciting as well. Often times, this genre of YA gets saturated with the same type of storylines and for Clare to pick up these time worn archetypes and dust them off and breathe new life into them left me seriously impressed. I was especially in love with Luke and his ragtag gang of werewolves.

4. The fact that these novels aren’t written from a dystopian point of view sent me into a gleeful dance…seriously how many ways are authors and film directors going to imagine our end? The creation by Clare of a world that is slotted into ours made me pretty excited and interested at what would happen next.

Now…..

Things I AB-SO-LUTE-LY ABHORRED About This Series:

1. How many time can Clary fall in love with her brother or someone who is supposed to be her brother? I seriously need her to be given a portable family tree so that she can know who is and who isn’t her family so she can stop exchanging saliva with her brothers. smh Even if her brothers/psuedo-brothers are extra fwine incest is still disgusting. Clary seriously just needs to find a nice werewolf or vampire and settle down away from the Shadowhunter men….speaking of Clary…

2. Once again…smh…Clary’s character is seriously one of the more annoying female leads that I’ve seen in YA. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her but somewhere between the second book’s end and the third book’s beginning, I became frustrated with her outside of her above mentioned tendency. It seems to me like Clary suffers from “helpless syndrome,” an affliction that gets handed to pretty female characters who really have no real weight in stories except to be the damsel in distress and get thrown around the story by authors to drive books’ action. Clary’s character needs to be schooled in Shadowhunting 101 or giving training in her new “gift” so that she can be made useful instead of forcing everybody into uncomfortable situations with her helplessness since she needs to be rescued every few chapters.

3. I sometimes feel as if Clare is dragging certain things out and could skim a good 100/200 pages from each novel. There are times when I have to refrain from skipping ahead due to Clare’s longwindedness.

4. Valentine’s character probes a question I’ve always had about men who become evil dictators. At what point in these men’s rise to power do their followers/society not realize…hmmm…this man is a psycho? I swear Valentine’s back story made me skeptical that absolutely NO one saw the telltale signs that this man was fifty shades of cray. Even Jace defends his “father” to a fault causing me to want to shake him and yell, “WAKE-UP!, HE IS CRAAAAAAAZY!”…But, I digress.

Love it or Hate it, Clare’s depiction of life as a shadowhunter is totally making me want to dig into the back of my closet and pull out my black hoodie along with my black converse and ride into the night to hunt demons…ok maybe just ride on over to my local Half Price Bookstore but, still, I totally love this series.

Sidenote: How many city’s are in the Shadowhunter world?

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