Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff
(YA Contemporary; 288 pages; Published: Jan. 27, 2015; HarperTeen)
Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.
As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.
I generally enjoy when music is an integral part of a story. As Sam works his way through Hayden’s playlist, he opens his eyes to the world and the people around him, rather than just hiding out in his room and online. It forces him to interact and to step out of his comfortable, albeit lonely, little bubble. I enjoyed this story, though I felt rather detached reading it (perhaps that was because Sam was so detached/unaware from the world around him). In the end, I wish there was a bit more clarification as to Hayden’s motivation. I also kind of wish this book weren’t compared to Thirteen Reasons Why or The Perks of Being a Wallflower — very hard to live up to books like that. On a side note: Is it just me or do there seem to be a lot of suicide books out at the moment?
Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) by Holly Smale
(YA Contemporary; 384 pages; Published: Jan. 27, 2015; HarperTeen)
Harriet Manners is tired of being labeled a geek. So when she’s discovered by a modeling agent, she seizes the chance to reinvent herself. There’s only one problem: Harriet is the definition of awkward. Does she have what it takes to transform from geek to chic?
I’m a big fan of cute, quirky characters and Harriet definitely fits that definition. She’s a full-on geek and she knows it, though, in the beginning, she’s kind of sick of that label and, when she’s offered a modeling gig, she takes it as her opportunity to leave that label behind. Of course, that’s more easily said than done, considering this girl is a geek through and through. I do wish she spent a little less time putting herself down but she’s got a wit and a snark that had me giggling. This story was a big hit across the pond and, luckily for us, all that dry British humor has not been edited out (though, people who are completely unfamiliar with some expressions and such might be a bit lost). Quirky and enjoyable.
The Prey (The Hatchery #1) by Tom Isbell
(YA Dystopian; 416 pages; Published: Jan. 20, 2015; HarperTeen)
A hot debut trilogy and a riveting story of survival, courage, and romance in a future where creating a master civilization is the only thing prized, no matter the method. After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the “good of the Republic,” by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.
There’s plenty of action to be had in this story, though the pacing is slow, and a whole lot of potential but, in the end, this story just didn’t work for me. Why? First off, it’s told in alternating POVs with alternating tenses (present third person and past first person. Why?!?). Second, there’s not enough worldbuilding. Why are the boys raised to be a part of a sadistic sport and the girls raised for experimentation? The character development of the villains doesn’t explain this, either. Third, insta-love with a dash of love triangle (which doesn’t come to fruition, thank god). While I fully believe in insta-love (or, at least, insta-connection) in real life, I feel like it’s a cop-out in books. Still, there are plenty of positive reviews out there for this story so, if it intrigues, it’s definitely worth a go.
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