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Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Saturday, February 28, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

I knew it would be I'd be haunted by sadness reading a story surrounding WWII. I formed an attachment to the characters in All the Light We Cannot See which made the story all the more poignant. I think I was invested to the characters mainly because of the length of the book and the fact that it follows many years of their lives. The dangers they were facing and even activities of daily life were documented in great detail.

There was a lot of suspense in the book achieved mainly through jumps in narrative to different years. I found this a bit frustrating. The book felt a bit draggy as you're thrown from one year to the another, back again and then to the other year. You're left waiting to read about the events eventuating in each year. In my opinion, this book is better read in small parts at a time because you notice the story being dragged out more when you read large chunks in one seating.

Overall, a spectacularly moving story.

Review: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Friday, February 13, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But...Ian doesn't. He's funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.

Some Boys was an unflinching story that looks at bullying and rape. The writing was powerful as it brought out a lot of strong emotions from me. My heart was aching in empathy and my head was pounding in anger at some of the things that Grace had to endure. Grace was an extremely strong character and I couldn't imagine handling things the way she did.

Ian is caught in the middle of supporting his friend Zac who (allegedly in Ian's view) raped Grace or standing up for Grace after he hears her raw account of what happened that night she was at the party with Zac. It was good that Ian didn't appear to be the white knight in shining armour ready to pick Grace off her feet and save her from everything. (Hell, he even joined in with his mates in taunting Grace albeit regretting it later). I liked the message conveyed in the book that doing the right thing is not always easy.

The ending was quite disappointing. It was too unrealistic in light of what Grace had to endure and I would've preferred a much toned down open ending. Nevertheless, my disappointment in the ending is easily overshadowed by my love for the story throughout.

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Goodreads summary:
The people of Nottinghamshire know Will Scarlet as Robin Hood’s shadow, a slip of a boy who throws daggers with deadly accuracy and an accomplished thief with an unerring eye for treasure. A select few know that Will is actually Scarlet, a young woman “recruited” by Robin two years earlier as he wandered the alleys of London. But no one knows who the real Scarlet is, what she was doing in London, and how she got that scar on her cheek. That is, no one but Gisbourne, the ruthless thief-taker just hired by the sheriff to capture Robin and his band.

The synopsis of the book captured my attention; the main character Scarlet, a mysterious woman posing as a thief alongside Robin Hood and his gang, stealthily helping citizens put food on their plate and pay their taxes in order to escape punishment from an unreasonable Sheriff. The story certainly retained my attention but I felt the focus were was more on romance and less on adventure. I were was a bit disappointed in this aspect but going into the book I had the feeling a female narrator meant this were was likely to occur.

What irks me the most about a female book character is when they can't decide who they like and strings along guys without taking into account that someone would eventually be hurt. Scarlet did precisely this. It was quite obvious who she liked (but she were was totally convinced he didn't like her back, when clearly we could all sense he were was) so the love triangle wasn't all that compelling.

I don't know much about the folklore of Robin Hood, but the antagonists Guy of Gisbourne and his lackies were a bit too evil without reason. I would've liked to see conflicting sides in their characters but they were as evil as villains could get. The distinction between good guys and baddies were was as clear as white and black in this book.

Since Scarlet is part of a trilogy, I'm holding onto hope that the series adds more dimension to the antagonists (and protagonists too) and since the love triangle is out of the way, a satisfying romance to unfold.