Showing posts with label Thriller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thriller. Show all posts

Friday, December 1, 2017

Review: One of Us Is Lying

"Some people are too toxic to live. They just are."
-Karen M. McManus, One of Us Is Lying

Five unlikely students go into detention: Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper, and Simon. Simon, the creator of the school's most popular gossip app, doesn't make it out alive. Word on the street is that the day after he died, he was going to post juicy secrets about each of his four fellow classmates in detention, secrets that would shatter each of their reputations. Their secrets make them suspects in his murder. Or are they being framed? As police dig more into Simon's death, one thing's for sure: who would go the furthest to protect their secret?

I listened to this book on audio, and I actually really enjoyed it in that format. There were four different speakers for each of the narrators, making it easy to tell who's story you were on. Listening to it on audio also helped to build the suspense--who really did it?

The suspense was built really well with the plot, intertwined with plot twists and red herrings that drew your attention away from who the real killer was. At the surface, the characters seem to be just portrayals of typical high school stereotypes: the nerd (Bronwyn), the popular girl (Addy), the bad boy (Nate), the jock (Cooper), and the outcast (Simon). But as we learn the secrets each character is hiding, we learn there's more to their story than meets the eye. McManus artfully reveals each of her characters while the suspense is unfolding.

McManus's book is a bit like a modern day Breakfast Club with a murder mystery thrown in. If you're a fan of the show Riverdale and are looking for a twisty, high school mystery, this is definitely the book for you.

4/5 stars

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train cover
"There's nothing so painful, so corrosive, as suspicion."
-Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

I'm not usually one to see the movie before the book, especially if the book is one I've been wanting to read for a while, but this is one time I did things backwards. I saw The Girl on the Train a week or so ago with my mom, and afterward, I was finally able to pick up the book and read it. And let me say, I was not disappointed.

Rachel takes the same train to and from her home every day, fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple that she sees through the window. She thinks about them so much that she almost feels like she knows the couple. Everything seems perfect, until one day Rachel sees something that jolts her fantasy, so much that she goes to the police, but her testimony is unreliable. Rachel quickly becomes entangled in the investigation and the lives of the people involved. Is she really as innocent as she thinks she is?

This book is told from three different perspectives, Rachel, Anna, and Megan. And honestly, none of the characters are all that likable. I couldn't help but cringe at some of the things that these characters did; but that's what makes this book great. Kind of like Gone Girl in that aspect. This kind of portrayal of women, women who have bad intentions, indulge in bad habits, etc., is important because it reflects reality. All women aren't the same, so why should women be portrayed the same in literature?

The format of the narrative also helps to add to the mystery and suspense of the novel. Jumping around in time, place, and narrator leaves it up to the reader to piece together the story in a similar way that Rachel is. And Rachel's unreliability as a character makes you wonder if what she's seeing is really true, if she's someone we can trust to tell us the truth. These elements combined draw you into the story quickly and don't let go until you know the truth of what happened. In fact, this element of truth draws together every piece of the story, much like a running current throughout the book.

Overall, this is an engaging read that fans of Gillian Flynn would definitely enjoy.

5/5 stars

Monday, May 27, 2013

Postcards and Ghosts

Today was a day for reading, considering I finished two books. The weather wasn't very nice outside, and it was just a perfect day to stay inside, curled up with a good book or two.

Postcards From No Man's Land  by Aidan Chambers follows the story of Jacob Todd, a 17 year old boy who has traveled to Amsterdam to honor his grandfather, who passed away during World War II. However, he didn't realize that not only would he discover that there was more to his grandfather's story than he had previously believed (especially in the way of his caretaker, Geertrui), he also discovers a lot about himself, especially in the way of love and his sexuality. Told in alternating points of view between Geertrui and Jacob, Chambers spins a story that will keep readers engaged for the entire novel, always wondering what's going to happen next.

Once you get sucked into this novel, it's really difficult to put it down. Not only is Chambers an absolutely beautiful writer, he has spun a story that is unlike anything I have ever read, with characters who are intriguing, interesting, and always keep you guessing. Chambers also created such a beautiful and interesting picture of Amsterdam, which makes me want to go and visit all the more. I also wouldn't mind reading another one of his novels, if they are all as beautifully written as this one.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in the Shades of London series, which follows the story of a girl named Rory, who has moved to London from the United States to attend boarding school. However, while in London, she gains a unique ability that allows her to see ghosts. After the ordeal she went through in the first novel, Rory must now readjust back to her old life. But, with other murders happening around her school, it might be more difficult than she first thought.

This book I couldn't put down. I bought it today, started reading it, and finished it in about 2 and a half hours. And of course, Johnson ended with a cliff hanger, which means we will be left in suspense until the next one comes out, which is never fun. But well worth it. Johnson has created such a unique story, and paints such a beautiful picture of London, that I think a lot of people will have difficulty putting this book down. Not to mention, Rory is an awesome, strong, female main character that doesn't need a boy to complete here, which doesn't seem to happen often in young adult fiction. If you're interested, the first book in the series is The Name of the Star, and I would highly recommend reading it.

Until next time, happy reading! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Gone Series

Back in 2008, I first started reading the Gone series, not realizing that it would still keep me hooked 5 books later. Since the last book came out just a few weeks ago, I decided to re-read the whole series, so I could better remember everything that had happened. Re-reading the books reminded me why I was hooked on the series in the first place.

Gone begins with everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappearing. At first, all of the kids are glad the adults are gone. But then strange things start to happen. Kids start to develop powers, weird creatures begin to appear, and worst of all, they all seemed to be trapped in a giant dome, something the kids name the FAYZ. The series follows, with Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear, and finally Light. Each novel presents a different difficulty for the kids, a new challenge that they have to overcome. Will they all make it out of the FAYZ? That is up to them.

At first, this series is quite unassuming. It just seems like a young adult superhero story. But I think Michael Grant makes it much more than that. As each novel progresses, things get darker and darker, and Grant creates twists that the reader never sees coming. Every time you think you know what's going to happen next, something completely different happens. That is what kept me hooked in the series. That, and I wanted to know what created the FAYZ. Grant also did a decent job at including a diverse audience within the series. There were representations from almost every race, gender, and sexual orientation. Any young adults could easily find a representation of themselves within the novel.

The one thing I think threw me off about the novel was the age of the children, which I think was the point. Often, while you're reading, you will forget that all of these people doing these horrible acts of violence, these things that any "rational" human being would do, are all being done by kids who are fourteen or under. This might be me over-analyzing the novel, but I thought of this as Grant possibly making a comment on childhood, either that we grow up too quickly now, or that anyone in a situation like that (life or death) is forced to grow up more quickly than we think is acceptable. It is an interesting perspective to look at the series as a whole.

Overall, if you're looking for an exciting, action packed summer read, I would definitely give this a try. The action is basically non-stop, and you won't be disappointed. Until next time, happy reading! :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Free Time!

It's finally winter break, which means that I will finally have some time to read fun things! Which I did last night. Until 3 in the morning. It was one of those situations where I just couldn't put my book down, I had to know how it ended before I went to sleep. And unfortunately, I had had quite a bit left to read. But no worries! I had nothing to do today, so staying up that late didn't affect me that much. And I finished my book. Which was fantastic, I might add. You're probably wondering what book I finished. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson. It was a fantastic way to end a trilogy. And I don't think there was a dull moment throughout the whole book. I loved it.

It's kind of hard to give a summary of this one without giving away The Girl Who Played with Fire. Hornets' Nest literally picks up right where it left off, so I'll give you a basic overview of what's happening in this book. Basically, Lisbeth has gotten herself into a lot of trouble, and Blomkvist has stumbled into a bigger mess than he actually thought. I won't say much more than that, because too much more will give it away. But hopefully, I sparked your interest. If you want to know more about what the whole trilogy is about, visit my previous posts on the matter, "Slow Beginnings" and "A Thrilling Read." They contain excellent summaries to get you started. :)

The thing that I liked the most about this book was the way Larsson wove different conspiracies throughout the book. The reader really has to pay attention to who's speaking at that part in the book, because it switches points of view a lot and sometimes it's difficult to keep track of what's happening. My absolute favorite part of the book came towards the end, at the trial of Lisbeth (this is on the back cover of the book, so I'm not giving anything away). The way Larsson wrote this part really kept my attention, and I found myself smiling at points. At this point, you know who you're rooting for, and when something happens in their favor, you just can't help but smile. At least, I couldn't. Everything in the book is building up to this point; everyone is scrambling to come up with an argument and defense for this trial. To see how it all came together was awesome. And definitely worth the wait.

Larsson also does a good job not leaving the reader with any questions. The book is quite long, but by the time you reach the end of the 600 pages, all of the loose ends have been tied up. And being that all the books are about this long, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up. The ending also doesn't really leave much for another book, which I think is a good thing, especially since Larsson is no longer alive to write anything else about Lisbeth Salander. And if anyone else tried, I think they would fail miserably. Overall, once you get passed the slow beginning of the series, you won't be disappointed. Because, from that point on, there is nothing slow about these books. There's never a dull moment in the life of Lisbeth Salander.

One interesting thing that I would like to mention is that I actually got to read the UK edition of the book, which I know probably doesn't impress some people, but I thought it was really cool. My sister had gotten the book from the thrift store we both work at, and I realized that it was the UK edition because the price on the back was in pounds. There wasn't all that much different in the book, at least I don't think there was, I just thought it was cool to have a book that was published in another country. And that really classifies me as a major book nerd. Anyway, next I'm not reading anything new because I really wanted to re-read the Hunger Games series before the movie comes out in March, and I don't think I'll have much time once classes start up again. So I'm currently reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. And if you haven't read it yet, I would highly recommend it. Another great trilogy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Thrilling Read

Considering all the school work, actual work, and other things I've had to do in the past few weeks, I haven't really had much time for reading. This makes me sad. There are a lot of books that I want to read...and school is getting in the way. I can't wait until winter break so I can catch up on some of my reading.

Anyway, I just finished The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Oh my goodness. Once the action started in this book, I just didn't want to put it down! The whole time Blomkvist and the others are trying to figure out the main crime in the novel, you're just as perplexed as them. And the way Larsson slowly gives you bits and pieces of just makes you want to keep reading until you're done. Not really a good book to read when you only have a little time here and there to read. This is definitely a book that I would want to just sit down and read the whole thing in one sitting. Alas, there are very few people who have time like this, so we'll just have to live with reading it in bits and pieces.

So this books continues the story of Lisbeth Salander, as well as Blomkvist. They're still the two main characters of the novel, but there are plenty of others introduced. At first, it was a little hard for me to keep track of who was who, but further into the novel I got a hold on what character did what. In The Girl Who Played with Fire, Lisbeth and Blomkvist stumble into another crime, but this time Lisbeth's own past is brought into it. As Blomkvist tries to steer the blame for the crime away from Lisbeth, Lisbeth delves into her past, trying to figure out who is responsible for the murders. Meanwhile, her own life is in danger. Will Lisbeth and Blomkvist figure out the answer before it's too late? You'll have to read and find out. :)

What I like about the way Larsson writes is he always keeps you guessing. At one point in the novel, I thought I had figured out in my head the solution to everything, but it ended up being almost completely wrong. Larsson doesn't give the reader any information before any of his characters figure it out, but boy, does he give you hints. You get little glimmers of information here and there, and it's enough to keep you reading. You want to know what all these little hints will eventually lead to, and you don't want to put the book down until you do figure it out. And of course, the book ends with a little bit of the cliff hanger, and I won't be able to get the 3rd book until I go home next. Sad face. I want to read it now!

I mentioned in my previous post that I really wanted to learn more about Lisbeth and her background. Well, you definitely get that in this book, and I expect you'll get even more in the next one, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Lisbeth is such an intriguing character, with a very violent and difficult past. Through learning more about her past, you can really see how she became the person she is and why she does the things that she does. We learned so much about her in this novel that I'm not sure what new information could be introduced in the next. But whatever it is, I'm sure it will be something that I didn't see coming.

There are quite a few new characters introduced into this novel as well, and I don't remember most of their names. But instead of making them all flat, secondary characters, Larsson gives them backgrounds and depth as well. Maybe not as much as Lisbeth and Blomkvist, but they are by no means flat characters. They add to the story, making all the more interesting and thrilling. If none of these people can figure it out, how are we supposed to as readers? It's how Larsson keeps you hooked on the novel. He makes the pace so fast, especially in the second half of the novel, that you're turning pages faster than you can process. This book may be quite a daunting size, but it goes really quickly. And once you get into it, you won't want to stop until you're done.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Until I can get my hands on The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, I will be reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I've heard good reviews about it, so I hope it proves to be a good book.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Slow Beginnings

Yesterday I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. What a fantastic book. I wasn't sure when I started it, since it was pretty dry at the beginning. But once you get into the story, you get roped in. Larsson weaves a story that you just can't get out of your head. And he creates characters that you can't forget.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo follows the story of two different characters, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is a social outcast and expert computer hacker, who's job is to snoop into people's lives. Mikael is a financial journalist who was just disgraced for publishing a story without credible sources. Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Venger, a well known businessman, to investigate the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger. The case has been going on for decades, and no new leads have been made in years. But Blomkvist, and eventually Lisbeth, soon get far into the case, which reveals some terrible horrors that are hidden in the Vanger family's past. Thrilling and fast paced, you'll won't want to put it down until you know what happened to Harriet Vanger.

Like I stated before, this book starts out very slowly. There's a lot of explanation of financial matters, description of the financial situation of Sweden, etc., etc. It's not really that exciting to read, but you are greatly rewarded once you get past it. Once Blomkvist begins investigating the Harriet Vanger case, the story starts moving at a faster pace, and it's difficult to put the book down. You just want to know what could possibly happen next.

Besides creating a great story, Larsson also creates characters that are unforgettable. Lisbeth Salander is one of them. Lisbeth is such a unique and quirky character that she intrigues you the first time that you are introduced to her. You want to know what happened to her to make her the way she is. Unfortunately, you don't really get that much about her past, at least in this book. Hopefully this changes in the later books, because I really would like to know what makes Lisbeth the way she is. Something bad happened in her past, and we don't know what yet.

Blomkvist is also an interesting character. As the reader, you get a little more insight into him than Lisbeth, mainly because he narrates more of the story. He is quirky in his own way, though not nearly as quirky as Lisbeth. Larsson seemed to have taken a lot of time to develop these characters, and it shows. They are very well fleshed out and very believable characters. I think that's what makes the novel. The characters. It's fantastic.

So, what am I reading next? The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Hopefully I can learn more about Lisbeth! :)