Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Audiobook review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Narrators: Steve West & Fiona Hardingham
Publish date: 2011
Source: Library
Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
"It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
" (Goodreads)

This book and I have a bit of a history. I downloaded the ebook last year in March and tried reading it a while later. I gave up about 30% in because the story just seemed to go nowhere and I was completely bored. Then later, I heard audio was the way to go and after Heidi and Monica went on and on about it at ALA, I knew I had to try it! Of course Heidi and Monica were right :)

I enjoyed the audiobook, but the story was just not what I expected at all. I never would have read this if not for rave reviews and a Printz Honor, so I'm not surprised that it's not my favorite book ever, but I also liked it more than I thought. Even on audio, the story was still slow, but it was much more enjoyable to listen than read. I do agree that Maggie Stiefvater is great at describing setting--at times I really felt like I was on Thisby. I do like books set on islands, so I think that helped my unexpected enjoyment.

The audiobook aspects of The Scorpio Races were amazing and I would highly recommend listening to it over reading the print. The narrators for both Sean and Puck are amazing, with each having different voices for all the characters found in their chapters. I especially liked Steve West's narration and look forward to listening to more stories read by him. If you are thinking about reading this, please try the audio. You won't regret it!

I am honestly not sure yet what I think of the book as a whole. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I still think most of the book was really slow, with the exception of the last 25%, which zipped by. I'm torn, because I think I more enjoyed the audiobook production than the actual story. I know I definitely would not have finished the print. For now, I'm saying 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

Publish date: April 2013
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Length: 408 pages
"Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.
" (Goodreads)

My student book club picked The Program as one of their summer books, along with The 5th Wave. I would have read it regardless, but maybe not as soon if not for book club. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am really looking forward to reading more from Suzanne Young.

I really love the premise behind this book and think it has huge appeal for teens. Being a teenager can be so hard and I think most go through rough periods, similar to some situations that characters go through in The Program. Teens (and adults) will definitely be able to relate to this and think about what they would do in Sloane's situation. This books raises tons of interesting questions and I can't wait to discuss them with students. The question that stuck with me the most after finishing was: if I could, would I want to erase bad/sad memories? Interesting to think about...

I honestly can't think of anything I didn't like about The Program. I thought the writing was great and it was hard to put the book down. I read it over two days, not wanting to stop. The pacing was good and I was really curious about the characters and who to trust. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel and reading more by Suzanne Young!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Publish date: 2012
Source: Classroom library
Format: Hardcover
Length: 322 pages
"There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.
" (Goodreads)

I don't think I would have read Every Day if my student book club had not picked it as one of their first books (along with The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe). It just doesn't seem like the kind of book I'd want to read. I enjoyed it, but it's not one of my favorites.

I really like the idea behind Every Day, that A wakes up in a different body every day and gets to be a new person but never his true self. It was a great way for Levithan to explore different characters and it was interesting to see how A reacted to each body and gender. I also liked Levithan's writing and how suspenseful everything was. I ended up reading it really quickly just to find out what would happen.

What I didn't like is that A falling for Rhiannon is basically instalove, one of my least favorite parts of books. It was interesting to see how Levithan handled their relationship and how Rhiannon reacted to A being what he is, but it was still hard to believe that he fell for her so hard. I also didn't really like the ending, which was my students' main complaint as well. Does anyone know if there will be a sequel?