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Review: Boy 23 by Jim Carrington

Monday, September 28, 2015
Goodreads summary:
Boy 23 isn't in My Place any more. He can't see The Screen, he can't hear The Voice. Boy 23 is alone.

One dark night, Boy 23 is thrown in the back of the van and driven out of My Place - the only home he has ever known. He is abandoned in a forest with a rucksack containing the bare essentials for survival. Before the van drives away, a voice tells him he must run as far as he can. His life depends on it. Boy 23 has never known another human. Boy 23 has never even been outside. So who is he? Why do people want to kill him? And more to the point, who is the voice that wants to save him?
Boy 23 is dumped in the forest with only a backpack of tools for basic survival and a set of instructions by The Voice instructing him where to go. Boy 23 is both fascinated and frightened of the outside world as he navigates his way through the forest using the knowledge he gained from The Screen while he stayed at My Place. This book started off really mysterious and just like Boy 23 I didn't know what was in store! Boy 23 stumbles across a Children's Home and reveals himself to be special. The caretakers want to use him for their own agenda whilst from people from My Place are determined to get him back.

Boy 23 was quite slow-paced from the beginning and it wasn't very exciting reading about his trek through the forest, hunting and making fires. But once more characters were introduced, things picked up. It wasn't until the end though, where the action took me by surprise and revelations were made about the origins of Boy 23 and the reason why people were after him.

Unfortunately, I didn't grow to like any of the characters. I think the main reason was because Boy 23 was kind of emotionless though I guess it is understandable since he wasn't brought up as a normal child. Carina, an orphan at the children's home was kind and she had a terrible backstory, but I felt quite distant from her too.

Overall I thought Boy 23 had the basic dystopian storyline; a main group in charge, a resistance group against them and the main character seeking to become a rebel. The book didn't really bring anything mind-blowing to the genre but it was a pretty good read with some interesting ideas.

Note: I received an advanced reader's copy from Bloomsbury Publishing Plc via NetGalley to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer

Saturday, September 5, 2015
Goodreads summary:
What happens when happily ever after... isn't?

Delilah hates school as much as she loves books. In fact, there's one book in particular she can't get enough of. If anyone knew how many times she has read and re-read the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially the popular kids, she'd be sent to social Siberia... forever.

To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there's a handsome (well, okay, hot) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there's something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they're from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?

Delilah is completely addicted to the fairytale 'Between the Lines' and has read it hundreds of times because she connects with the main character Oliver (plus she might have a crush on him). After checking out the book from the library once more and opening to reread the book, she finds out that she can hear and communicate with Oliver through the pages. It turns out Oliver wants a life more than just replaying the same role over and over again to the Readers.

Between the Lines is split between Delilah's POV, the fairytale story and Oliver's POV. I found this great because by the end of the book you've read two stories in one! I enjoyed the quirky elements of the story such as the behind the scenes look at the characters in the fairytale book once the book is closed by Delilah and the way the book affects them (flipping the pages meant that characters were dragged across words to a different part of the story!).

I wasn't completely convinced with the 'love' story of Delilah and Oliver though, which was a huge part of the book. It was insta-love. Delilah probably felt like she loved Oliver because she knew his story but kind of failed to acknowledge that he'd been playing a role and could be a completely different person. She fell in love with the idea of a prince who was not courageous but used his wits to tackle problems and I felt she automatically transferred that to the real Oliver. It felt like Oliver fell in love with Delilah simply because she was so new and different to Seraphima, his love interest in the fairytale. We don't really get to see them getting to know each other. The book spends the majority of the time on Delilah and Oliver coming up with plans and possibilities to overcome their forbidden romance of literally living in two different worlds.

I kind of expected more in terms of Delilah's 'real-life' story. She's established as a loner and I just felt that with the background story of Delilah's friendship with Jules and her school life and how she made her mother worry, there would be a bit of her turning her life around but Delilah was completely concentrated on Oliver which was a shame.

The ending twist bothered me a bit and left an unpleasant feeling after I turned the last page of the book.
I didn't like it when Edgar (the son of the author of Between the Lines, the person Oliver was based on) switched places with Oliver. Like he'd rather be in the story than in the real world. He felt like he didn't belong in the world and no one, not even his mom would miss him. He was figuratively giving up on life. This just didn't sit right with me!

The actual fairytale 'Between the Lines' was quite enjoyable and I liked that Prince Oliver's quest to save a princess from an evil villain provided action and wit. I loved the lovely silhouette and colourful illustrations peppered throughout the book because they really added something special to the words!

Overall, I liked the creative storyline of this book, especially at the beginning when everything was being established. The engagement of the rest of the story really hinged on the believability of Delilah and Oliver's relationship which I was unfortunately iffy about.