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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Title: This Is Not A Test
Author: Courtney Summers

Release Date: 19th June 2012

My Rating: 3/5

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up.

As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

In A Nutshell:
This Is Not A Test is a compelling novel that looks at the psychological state of 6 teenage survivors as they fight to live during what appears to be a zombie apocalypse. A story of hope and finding a reason to live.

My Review: 
This Is Not A Test is a compelling novel that looks at the psychological state of 6 teenage survivors as they fight to live during what appears to be a zombie apocalypse. Although there is some action, the story isn’t based around the teens as they constantly battle the undead. Instead we look at each person’s state of mind and how they evolve during their time holed up at their now empty high school.

Sloane had planned to end it all after a lifetime of being a punching bag for her father. But before she could, the apocalypse started. This could have been the perfect opportunity for her life to end but while sitting in the middle of the street waiting for a zombie to come and munch on her (that wasn’t supposed to sound comical), two guys she went to high school with stumbled across her and helped her to ‘safety’. Sloane has no desire to ‘take anyone down with her’ so while she waits for the perfect moment when she can surrender to the banging on the otherside of the wall, she spends her days surrounded by people who want to live and are struggling to adjust to suddenly being faced with death. But perhaps what is even more significant is that without realising it, Sloane begins to form a type of bond with some of the others, possibly giving her a reason to fight, if not for herself, then maybe another.

It was a gripping novel with a message of hope but I finished it feeling rather blasé. For some reason, and I can’t quite put my finger on what or why, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

Title: Confessions of an Angry Girl
Author: Louise Rozett

Release Date: 28th August 2012

Age Recommendation: 14+

My Rating: 3/5

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has some confessions to make…

1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate, don't you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is now enraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)

(Sorry. That was rude.)

In A Nutshell:
Confessions of an Angry Girl is about that horrible and confusing stage when you are in your early teens and it feels like everything is changing and you have no control. Although the characters can sometimes be irritating, it is realistic and compelling.

My Review:
Confessions of an Angry Girl is about that horrible and confusing stage when  you are in your early teens and it feels like everything is changing and you have no control. It's like magically, overnight, you are supposed to care about boys and clothes and makeup. And being popular should apparently be your top priority. For fourteen-year-old Rose, this isn't the case. She wants everything to stay the same. She doesn't understand why her best friend suddenly wants to join the cheerleading squad and is talking about sex. Everything is moving too quickly and Rose is still trying to come to terms with what her life means after the death of her father in Iraq over the summer.

Rose’s world has fallen apart. She’s angry, although she’s not really sure she is ready to confront why. She’s sad and doesn’t really know how to express herself and her grief. She’s vulnerable and feels alone but doesn’t voice this. 

The main problem for Rose is that she can’t understand why her best friend is suddenly changing. She gets frustrated with Tracey because she refuses to listen to her but what Rose needs to realise is that most of the time, you can’t tell someone something and expect them to believe you hands down, especially when it concerns matters of the heart. They have to come to realise these things on their own and as a friend, all you can do for them is be there for them when everything goes pear-shaped. I think almost everyone has experienced having a friend who has sold them out in their quest for popularity and it certainly hurts, but what Rose fails to see is that she is not completely innocent either. She has her faults, just like everyone else. And that is ok. That’s human nature.

Other things of note?

I read the book in one sitting. Despite the fact that certain bits annoyed me, it was realistic and compelling.

Rose and Tracey both got on my nerves but they are young and naïve and need to learn from their mistakes. What matters is how they come out at the end and deal with their respective situations.

There are underlying lessons throughout the novel that are important, such as explaining why and how friendships can change and that is ok to not what not follow the crowd and to be yourself. There is also the all-important sex-ed class. 

I haven’t said anything about the boys in the book. Matt, Tracey’s boyfriend, is a jerk and it is obvious from the beginning. Robert is a nice guy but really needs a reality check. Jamie is a bit of a mix and I’m undecided about him and Angelo, Jamie’s friend, is very sweet and I hope he has more page-time in a follow up.

Speaking of a follow up, I was slightly annoyed with the ending as I felt it left some things unresolved. I'm hoping that Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, due for release in 2013, will be a sequel of sorts and tie up some loose ends.
Thankyou to Harlequin Teen Australia for this review copy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Title: Alice in Zombieland
Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles #1
Author: Gena Showalter

Release Date: 1st October 2012

My Rating: 5/5

She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real.

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.

In A Nutshell:
I loved Alice in Zombieland and was drawn into the story right from the beginning. I couldn't put it down and would love to fall into the metaphorical rabbit-hole with Cole any day, and maybe kick some zombie butt in the process!

My Review:
I admit I was slightly apprehensive before starting Alice in Zombieland as I had heard mixed reviews from other bloggers. But, I was drawn into the story right from the beginning and couldn't put it down.

Alice is a very likeable character who takes everything in her stride and wants to fight and stand up for herself, no matter who she is facing, whether it be someone at school or something that goes bump in the night. After her family is killed suddenly one evening, Alice moves in with her grandparents and starts at a new school. There she finds a loyal and sassy friend in Kat and unlikely shadows as the roughestest boys at school pay her extra attention. Too bad she seems to be having waking dreams about their 'leader' Cole.

The whole novel is filled with punchy language and attitude, but it doesn't over do it, and was thoroughly enjoyable. Showalter has created an amazing world that pulls you in and holds tight as Alice becomes immersed in a whole new life she never believed existed. What Alice soon finds out is that Cole and his motley crew are just as involved in what goes on after dark as she is. As she learns to harness the skills her father taught her before he died, Alice falls deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole to a world that threatens to show her what her father feared the most.

Cole is the kind of bad boy that girls drool over. He's dangerous but protective, damaged but worthy with looks that leave a girl speechless and the ability to demand control. The chemistry between him and Alice sizzles and you will completely fall for him. I also love the background issues that go on with Kat and Frosty :)

For Alice, living with her grandparents is tough at the beginning but they are very sweet people who just want the best for her. It's funny reading their parts because they try to talk to Alice using what they think is cool and hip 'teen-speak'. They are adorable.

Many of the reviews I have read seem disappointed that the novel doesn't seem to be a reworking of Alice in Wonderland. I'm not sure if maybe it was marketed this way or if people just assumed but I didn't expect it to be a retelling. I can find ways it reflects Alice in Wonderland symbolically, but I don't think it was ever meant to be a literal reworking of it. Anyway, I loved it and I hope you do too.

I read this just before I disappeared on a month-long holiday to Europe and now that I am back and have written this, all I want to do is read Alice in Zombieland again!
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