Review: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

13597696.jpgNantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Published by Disney Hyperion on May 7th 2013

Page Count: 294

Genre(s): YA, contemporary, romance

Format: Paperback, gifted

Would I Recommend? Um…..not really. Unless you have the patience to deal with a whiny, attention-seeking protagonist and a crappy best friend. As you can probably tell from my rating, I didn’t.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on–most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits–that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

-Goodreads.com description

My Thoughts

I went into this book with super high expectations. I mean, I guess I go into a lot of books with super high expectations, but this one seemed different. Nantucket Blue had the potential to be an amazing summer read, with its gorgeous cover and its promising premise that hinted at being a fun beach read with some added darker themes to give it some depth. Unfortunately, I was left wanting much, much more.

Almost from the first page, I could tell that Cricket and I were not going to get along. Despite the huge tragedy that she and her best friend were both “overcoming,” she seemed remarkably attention-seeking. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the protagonists in books make mistakes, or even when they appear to be incredibly self-centered at times. In fact, their flaws almost always make me like them even more – they seem more genuine, more real. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing about Cricket. I tried to understand her, I really did. But every move she made in the midst of this tragedy that completely upended her best friend’s life seemed like it was for her own benefit. All she seemed focused on was having the perfect social life, the perfect body, the perfect boyfriend. I mean, really? I could sense Howland trying to add in some “deeper” grieving moments, but that lasted for about…..oh, a page. Two pages, at most. The emotions Cricket went through seemed unrealistic and naive, and I honestly could not stand her.

Which brings me to another character…..Jules. I didn’t despise Jules, but I definitely didn’t like her, either. She was just…..mean. Besides that one distinctive personality trait, she seemed like a pretty flat character. Honestly, I think I can forgive her behavior for the most part, though – she had gone through incredibly tough circumstances, so it’s understandable.

When I went into this book, I was expecting a well-structured friendship between Cricket and Jules. This probably led to my biggest disappointment of all, because there’s honestly nothing I love more in a book than a good, well-developed friendship between two characters. I can understand that the circumstances caused the girls to go through a decent share of best friend drama, but honestly, I think Howland made this way too dramatic. I could understand if it was just one or two events that might have made their relationship a bit shaky, but really? Enough is enough. At one point, I was so frustrated with the girls’ meanness towards each other that I almost closed the book. The thing is, with the way Howland described Cricket and Jules’s friendship before the “accident” occurred, you would definitely expect to see them stick together to try to avoid the fallout, even if this does include having a bit of drama. It just seemed so unrealistic, because with the way the author described it, their friendship should be strong enough to stand whatever circumstances should happen to them, no matter how severe. By the end of the novel, I was honestly rooting for them to not be friends again.

I felt pretty neutral about Cricket’s love interest. He was sweet, I suppose, but I can’t really find anything else about his personality that made him desirable. This may sound harsh, but like Jules, he just seemed like a pretty flat character to me. He also made some extremely stupid and ridiculous decisions, but I guess I could understand them for the most part because of the situations he was going through.

I didn’t like Cricket and her love interest’s (LI) relationship at all. At first it was kind of cute, but after that, things just escalated way too fast. I mean, I’ll spare you guys the details, but some scenes just seemed WAY overdone. Cricket and LI’s relationship was literally the epitome of insta-love.

Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, I enjoyed the fast pacing. It was nice to get a break from my usual slow-moving contemporaries, and while some scenes might have been done too fast, I thought it was actually pretty enjoyable overall. There were some cutesy scenes that I did really enjoy, and I also thought the ending was well-done.

Final Thought

I know the majority of this review was me ranting on and on about how so many things bugged me, but in reality, it was okay. I mean, there were some parts that made me want to throw my paperback copy of it across the room (don’t worry – I restrained myself), but I did like the pacing, exotic setting, and fun themes. Overall, though I wouldn’t exactly recommend this novel, it did have its moments.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Published by Delacorte Press on October 6th 2009

Pages: 384

Genre(s): YA Science Fiction, Dystopian, Action & Adventure

Rating: 2 stars

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

-Goodreads.com description

Yup, I know. I only gave it 2 stars. And that was me being generous.

This book isn’t completely horrible, but I had a lot of problems with it. When I first started reading this, I was SO excited. I had been begging my parents to buy this book for me for weeks, and they finally did when I met a goal time at the Junior Olympics. It sounded amazing: a boy waking up in a maze with no memory of who he was or how he got there, the weird but awesome-sounding slang, and, most importantly: a girl.

So, those were my expectations for this book. My thoughts after finishing it? Read on to find out.

The Characters: All the characters felt incredibly boring and bland, especially Thomas, the main character. They all showed pretty much no personality, and I like my characters realistic, interesting, and flawed. I was obviously let down in this department. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and the deaths of some of the characters didn’t evoke any feelings in me. This may sound harsh, but it’s true.

There was also NO character growth or development at all. Instead, the characters conveniently “remember” important information in order to move on with the plot, which really annoyed me.

Also, the characters are described as being “incredibly smart.” Well, maybe you should prove that to us, Dashner! Because as far as I could tell, these “incredibly smart” did nothing that actually appeared “smart.”

The Plot: This plot may have seemed slow-moving to some readers, and while I DID get a little bored in some parts, I was eager to finish it in order to find out how Thomas got put into the Maze in the first place. Unfortunately, the “big reveal” didn’t shock me or surprise me at all. Honestly, I was just thinking, Really Dashner? That’s the best you can come up with?

I was also really looking forward to the “scary” aspect of the plot, when, in my opinion, there was actually no scariness involved. I mean, seriously. The villains: giant mechanical blobs. And that’s supposed to freak me out? Nice try, Dashner. I like reading scary books, but this one definitely doesn’t qualify.

I was also extremely annoyed with the atrocious made-up slang. I mean, sure: it was okay at first. But when you start using terms like shuck-face and klunk every other sentence, it does get quite tiresome. Seriously, is that supposed to be cool or something?

And, most importantly: Where is the romance?!! You promised me romance!!! Just look at the synopsis: Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. You can’t just say something like that and not give us even a little romance!

The Writing Style: I didn’t enjoy the writing style in this one at all. The dialogue seemed forced and unnatural, and the action scenes felt contrived and fake. Oh, and also? Dashner uses that tiresome old writing technique called “withholding information” to move the nonexistent plot along. Literally: nothing happens. The whole plot is built around a single mystery, the meaning of the Maze, and the explanation of it really isn’t that mind blowing at all.

Quotes:

“If you ain’t scared… you ain’t human.”

This was the tagline that caught my attention in the first place. I was looking for an action-packed dystopian thriller novel, but I was left sorely disappointed,

***

“You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!” 

I repeat: is this supposed to be cool or something???

***

“I promised him!” he screamed, realizing even as he did so that his voice was laced with something wrong. Almost insanity. “I promised I’d save him, take him home! I promised him!”

Ooh, emotion! Let’s have some more of this, kay?

***

“Just follow me and run like your life depends on it. Because it does.”

Another eye-catching quote that got me overly excited for reading this book.

Final Thought: Though I don’t exactly recommend this book, it wasn’t completely terrible. I know that I have a very unpopular opinion about this book and I may have said some harsh things in my review, but I actually was interested in the mystery behind the Maze. I did enjoy some parts of the book, like waiting in anticipation to see how it ended. Just because I didn’t enjoy the ending as much I could have doesn’t mean that I absolutely hated this book.

So….let’s talk. Did you enjoy The Maze Runner? What were your thoughts on it? I’d love to hear your opinion!