Tag: young adult

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

“You know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.” When Sam’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine – the great love of his 

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

‘It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black.’  When Starr’s friend Khalil gets shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, her world is turned upside down. Already struggling to juggle two personalities – the person she is in her ‘hood, Garden Heights Starr, vs. the person she 

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: The Colour of Shadows by Phyllida Shrimpton

When Saffron discovers a briefcase in the attic of her family home, she discovers that her father has lied to her. Ten years ago, he told her that her mother was dead, but she’s alive and out there somewhere and Saffron is determined to find her.

Saffron runs away from home, unwilling to be around her father or his new wife Melanie for a moment longer. But when her oldest friend Tom refuses to let her stay with him, telling her instead to just go home, Saffron ends up sleeping rough and discovering there’s a lot more to life than designer labels and having a walk-in wardrobe.

I wasn’t a fan of Phyllida Shrimpton’s first novel, Sunflowers in February, but I decided to give The Colour of Shadows a chance. There aren’t many young adult novels that feature the characters running away from home or sleeping on the streets, but it’s a scarily common problem – over 100,000 young people asked for help regarding homelessness last year, according to Centrepoint.

However, it feels like Phyllida Shrimpton knew that she wanted to talk about homelessness and abandonment and had to string together a very unstable plot to allow her to explore the issues. It just doesn’t hold up under questioning.

If I found a briefcase in the attic filled with cards to my supposedly dead mother, I would assume that my father had kept them for sentimental reasons. I wouldn’t assume that it meant that she was actually alive.

Then again, if I was Saffron’s dad I would have disposed of the briefcase when I moved into a larger home with my new wife, rather than keeping it and risking one of my children discovering it…

Another aspect that doesn’t compute is Saffron’s age. Throughout the first few chapters I believed Saffron was supposed to be 13 or 14, but the way she was stomping around the house and refusing to let anyone speak screamed pre-teen behaviour. Then it was revealed that Saffron is actually meant to be 17. I was baffled. Some of her childish, spoilt behaviour can be explained away by her upper middle class background, but it makes the narrative jarring. I kept thinking I was reading a middle-grade book rather than a YA with a protagonist in her late teens.

Shrimpton gets points for discussing homelessness so cleverly, tearing down preconceptions regarding homeless people that I’m sure a lot of readers will unconsciously believe. She also explores the difficulties of being a young carer, although I hope she goes into this topic in more detail in a future release, as I can only think of one other YA novel focused upon the subject (Tender by Eve Ainsworth).

But although The Colour of Shadows is filled with important topics, I just can’t rate this novel higher than two stars. The plot is just far too transparent, and I feel as though the story needed to be stronger to make this book a success.

Alyce

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Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

‘Even when there’d been a whole universe to explore, Cloud Lake and Tommy had been my everything. “So that’s it?” I said. “I’m just supposed to go on living my life no matter how much the universe takes from me or how small it gets?” Dr. Sayegh nodded. “It’s what the rest of us do, Ozzie.” Ozzie’s boyfriend, Tommy, has vanished. 

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

‘I’m so unwhole. I don’t know where all the pieces of me are, how to fit them together, how to make them stick. Or if I even can.’ Self-harm is a sensitive subject, no matter what form it takes. Some people find reading about cutting triggering, while others find it makes them feel seen and understood for the first time in months or years. It’s difficult to write about, 

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

Review: Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas by Andrea Pyros

When Josephine’s mum announces that she has breast cancer, it turns Josephine’s life upside down. Instead of worrying about getting invited to the hottest party in school, she’s now counting down the days until her mum has to have life-saving surgery.

Josephine doesn’t want anyone to know, but her twin brother, Chance, has other ideas. He gets his hair dyed pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, and soon enough the entire school are planning to get their hair dyed in solidarity.

Well, the entire school except Josephine, who would never want to be the centre of attention.

My main issue with Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas is that the ages of the characters don’t ring true. Josephine reads as though she’s either seven or eight, while Chance seems more like an older brother than a twin. It feels as though they were aged up to allow for the hair dying aspect of the plot (although most hair dyes don’t recommend use on under 16s, so take precautions if you’re inspired by the characters in this novel!).

The other issue I had was that Josephine’s mum’s breast cancer was treated as a subplot. I think Andrea Pyros was intending to show that teenagers have lots of different things going on in their lives, so if a family member gets cancer it’s just one of many difficulties for them to face, but Josephine came across as shallow. She’s more interested in Autumn’s party and maintaining her social status than her mum – she even admits to herself that she completely forgets about her mum at times!

As someone who lost a close family member to cancer at the same age as Josephine, I was expecting to be heartbroken yet inspired by Pink Hair and Other Terrible Ideas. Instead, I was rather infuriated: Josephine is self-entitled – outraged when her best friend is upset that she didn’t share her mum’s diagnosis – and self-obsessed, genuinely believing that Chance getting his hair dyed will put her at the centre of attention. In reality, Chance gets applauded and people forget Josephine’s even his sister, and she’s not happy with that either! It’s so contradictory and hypocritical, and if I’d rolled my eyes any harder I think they would have stayed in my skull.

This book wasn’t a terrible idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any teenagers who find themselves in Josephine’s position, because I don’t think it’ll come across as comforting or anything that they can relate to.

Alyce

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Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

Review: Scared To Death by Anthony Horowitz

“Why go digging up the past when all it will give you is dust in the eye?” Scared To Death is the first Anthony Horowitz book I’ve ever read, which should be impossible because he’s published so many. I’ve been recommended both the Alex Rider series and 

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Blogtober Day 17: Review: Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon

Rosie Loves Jack begins with a newspaper article detailing the story of a teenager with Down’s syndrome who has gone missing after running away from home to be reunited with her boyfriend. When we join Rose, it’s before she embarks on her cross-country adventure to Jack, 

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Blogtober Day 12: Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

‘You can plot a course that will get you to your destination, but you can’t predict what you’ll find along the way.’ 

Zorie has a plan for the summer, and it involves staying as far away from the Mackenzie family as physically possible. But when some of her mum’s mail is incorrectly delivered to their address, she’s the one that has to go and pick it up. In the process she finds herself face-to-face with her ex-best friend Lennon – the boy who broke her heart last year by ditching her at homecoming with no explanation – and discovers that her dad is having an affair. Awkward…

With no idea what to do with this information, Zorie accepts an invitation to go on a glamping trip. Little does she know that Lennon is also invited – double awkward!

After an explosive argument breaks out amongst the campers, the two of them are abandoned in the middle of nowhere. They find themselves with no choice but to hike back to civilisation, and on the way they begin to fix their fractured friendship, but what will happen when they get back to reality?

It was impossible to choose a word other than ‘perfect’ to describe Starry Eyes, as this is one of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. Not only was the romance between Zorie and Lennon a slow burn, enemies to lovers situation (one of my favourite YA tropes), the entire cast of characters was very well crafted. Both Zorie and  Lennon’s parents were realistic, bringing their own personalities and issues to the story, and it made things far more interesting.

The setting was gorgeous, the hiking was described well and it was both entertaining and educational: I never knew that you needed to store food in a special container to stop bears from being attracted to it!

I don’t have the words to say how much I loved Starry Eyes. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered Zorie and Lennon on more and more with every page: it’s impossible not to ship them by the end of the story. I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for Jenn Bennett’s other novels, and I won’t be surprised if I enjoy them as much as I did Starry Eyes. She has a brilliant writing style and a skill for crafting lifelike characters who really step off of the page, feeling remarkably real.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Starry Eyes, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!

 

Have you read any of Jenn Bennett’s novels? I’m looking forward to reading Alex, Approximately – I’ve heard so many good things about it.

Alyce

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Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

Blogtober Day 5: Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say by Leila Sales

When Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets an ill-advised joke about the skin colour of the latest winner, she finds herself the most hated person on the Internet… For a little while. But while the rest of the world are infuriated for a couple of