What it’s About: Willa Parker’s life in What Cheer, Iowa isn’t anything special, but she still resents it when her famous (and absent) mother forces her to head east to the exclusive Pembroke Prep. It doesn’t really matter though, since she is planning on ending her life anyway. But then she starts to meet a couple of people at her new home who make her rethink her plans for suicide.
What I Thought: A decent enough concept about a misfit from Iowa who unexpectedly becomes friends with the queen of her new school. I had some issues with the narration, which tried to pull off the idea that Willa is conversing with the reader. It also dragged a bit for me, with everything unfolding pretty much as expected. Not terrible by any means, but I definitely preferred Portes Anatomy of a Misfit.
What it’s About: Mikey lives in a world where paranormal YA plots just happen every so often. The Indie kids deal with them. But Mikey’s not one of the chosen ones. He’s just trying to deal with his OCD and work up the nerve to tell his friend how he really feels about her.
What I Thought: A light-hearted story about what it’s like to be one of the extra characters in a YA novel. The people who don’t get involved with the life or death struggle and just try to live their lives. Each chapter opens with a quick description about what is happening in the paranormal plot during the chapter, and then launches into the actual characters of the book. We thus get a story about mental illness, being gay, family problems, and the like. The problem is that I spent the entire book trying to understand how Mikey’s best friend Jared didn’t belong in the other plot. See, Jared’s grandmother was a cat goddess, making him one quarter cat god. This means he commands immediate loyalty from all cat in the area, both domestic and wild, along with healing powers. But somehow he’s not supposed to try to help with the whole mess going on with the immortals. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jared and his powers, but it just seemed like it didn’t really fit with the concept of the novel.
What it’s About: Cath is stunned when her twin sister Wren doesn’t want to room with her at college. Wren figures it’s time to branch out and have new experiences, but the socially anxious Wren feels lost without her sister. At least Cath still has her Harry Po – er Simon Snow fanfic Carry On, where Simon falls for his rival Baz instead of his cannon love interest Agatha.
What I Thought: I really go back and forth on this book. Much of it feels like a very real story about someone with anxiety trying to navigate college. But I have a couple of issues with the book that really bother me. First, I really think it would have been improved if it was a dual POV looking at both sisters. Wren’s quest to expand her horizons basically takes the form of her showing up every so often and acting like an idiot until something happens, and she ultimately decides to pretty much abandon her quest. There is also a moment when Cath meets a fan of her fanfic, and when the girl admits she used to be a fan of the canonical couple Simon and Agatha, Cath’s immediate reaction is pure horror. If that moment had been cut and the book simply went immediately to Cather’s argument that Agatha just leads on both Simon and Baz it would have been fine, but that moment of disgust that someone has a different opinion than you is one of the uglier aspects of fandom.
What it’s About: Blue is the only member of her family who is not psychic, but she does magnify the powers of others. So when she goes with her mother to see the spirits of those who will die in the next year, she doesn’t actually accept to see any of them herself. But a boy her age appears to her and says that he is Gansey. Gansey is a student at a local all-boys school, who is leading his friends Ronan, Adam and Noah on a quest to find magic, which puts them on a collision course with Blue and her psychic family. Also, Blue has always been told that she will cause her true love to die, something that weighs heavily on her as she gets to know the boys.
What I Thought: This book was on my radar for a while, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. It’s a bit slow, and Stiefvater has a unique writing style that can be hard to get used too, but the characters are as sharply drawn as any I’ve ever seen. I was immediately drawn in and completely invested in all five of the main cast.
What it’s About: When Tally turns sixteen in a few weeks, she will finally get the operation to correct her physical imperfections and turn her from and ugly into a pretty. But then she meets Shay, also just about to have the operation, but a lot less excited about it. Then Shay disappears, and Tally is told that she must find and help capture Shay, or she will never become a pretty.
What I Thought: Another book that was on my radar for a very long time, that I finally got around to reading thanks to a Goodreads Read-Along. Once again, I’m very glad that I took the plunge. Admittedly at first I wasn’t entirely sure what to think, as some of the stuff about Pretty Town seemed a bit silly, but I was sucked in by Tally and Shay. And what seems silly at first looks a lot different by the end of the story. One complaint would be that I didn’t care much for the male lead, and if the graphic novel of the story from Shay’s perspective is cannon, then my opinion of him drops even further.