Review: Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Crank (Crank, #1)Published: October 1st, 2004, by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Kindle Edition
Pages: 537

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.  But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place.  Bree is the exact opposite of Kristina – she’s fearless.

Through a boy, Bree meets the monster: crank.  And what begins a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul – her life.

Crank is a novel written in verse, so it is an extremely quick read despite its 537 pages. I ended up picking it up for my eReader when it was on sale, and while I enjoyed it, I think it’s a hard book to review in a lot of ways. There were some pretty horrifying and sad scenes, and Kristina could also be a frustrating narrator, but I finished the book in 1-2 days, so I guess it’s clear that I enjoyed reading it despite my issues.

I periodically found it a bit hard to follow, but was usually to pick things back up again after rereading a couple of lines. Reading it on the eReader was a little weird from time to time – I had the font size as small as it would go, but still had to turn it sometimes so that the lines would display the way they were originally intended. I think a paperback copy of this would probably be easiest to read, but I generally wasn’t too inconvenienced by the formatting issues because they were usually pretty easy to recognize and sort out quickly.

I didn’t really understand the alter-ego stuff with Kristina/Bree, but I eventually just accepted it. Bree almost seemed like a coping mechanism for Kristina at times, a way to distance her old life from the new. I found that interesting, but also sad. Knowing Crank is loosely based off Hopkins’ daughter’s experiences really makes parts of the book hit home, and Kristina’s decline is swift and disturbing. I am interested in continuing with the series, but Crank was a pretty heavy read despite being quick, so I may wait for a bit before continuing.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe

Earth & Sky (Earth & Sky, #1)Published: October 28, 2014 by Amazon Children’s Publishing
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong.  But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy.  Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us.  For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments.  Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help – but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there be no Earth left to save.

Earth and Sky gives us a different type of protagonist – one I couldn’t exactly relate to in some ways, but whom I liked nonetheless. Skylar is definitely different from a lot of other YA protagonists, and I liked that a lot. She’s definitely an unlikely hero in this story, and I liked seeing how she dealt with all that the story threw at her.

There is a love interest, of course, but no love triangle (Can I say YAY?!). Win is interesting, and he definitely isn’t without his faults, and I liked that a lot. While I wasn’t particularly attached to him, I did think he was likable despite some of the downright frustrating or rude things he does, so that was a plus. He may not be the most interesting love interest in YA, but I definitely thought he was on the more likable side of things, and I didn’t hate the romance. It isn’t overbearing, and there is no insta-love, either, so between the no love triangle thing and that, the romance gets quite a few points in my book.

Like other time travel stories, you may need to just throw aside your doubts and enjoy the ride. There were definitely times when I was a bit confused about the time travel aspect and how things would be affected or changed in the present, but eventually I just had to take things at face value, and this book is definitely more enjoyable that way. That said, while a couple of things did throw me a bit, I didn’t have too many issues on that front.

I wish we had gotten to learn a little more about Skylar’s life in the present, because by the end of the book, the details from the beginning were a bit fuzzy, having not really been reinforced since early on. I also wanted to know a lot more about the specifics of what was going on and why, but I got enough that it didn’t bug me too much.

I thought the technology used in the book was fairly unique and kind of fun, and I didn’t feel like too much of the science-y stuff went over my head, so that was good. This book was definitely a fun ride, and I am really looking forward to reading the second book in the series ASAP!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you for the opportunity to read this book!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Review: Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1)Published: September 13, 2013 by Hatchette Children’s Books
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336

This review is for the first book in the series Heart of Dread.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice.  Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature – freezing.  But some things never change.  The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestel, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out.  Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.”  They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise.  More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there.  Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other.  But can true love survive the lies?

Frozen was a really, really weird book. It has really (intentionally) odd punctuation, and capitalization, and in the end, I just couldn’t really get past that. I loved the idea of the world and I wanted to know a lot more about it, but I couldn’t get into the characters.

I really tried to get past the capitalization and stuff, but I had a REALLY hard time with it. It really annoyed me that I couldn’t seem to find a pattern or reason to it, and that kind of preoccupied me for a lot of the book. So while I tried not to let it affect my rating, it did in the end. I found it so distracting that I had a hard time focusing on the story.

I did enjoy the story (what I could focus on), and the world, as I mentioned before, but didn’t care for the characters much, and I’m a person who generally needs to care about characters to enjoy the story, so that was a pretty major problem for me, but I did enjoy what was there enough to want to continue the series in the future. Overall, I enjoyed where the story took me, though I was MAJORLY disappointed about one thing toward the end, something I thought could have been a really interesting twist, but then I was let down… a lot. :(

Another issue I had was that I kept forgetting the book was intended for a YA audience, not because of the writing or anything like that, but because I kept forgetting that the characters are supposed to be 15-17 years old, for the most part. I… did not buy that, at all. They act like teenagers at times, but most of the time, I didn’t feel like the characters were teens at all. Maybe that’s part of the point, that the world being the way it is forced them to grow up, but every time that was brought up I was kind of thrown for a loop. Definitely could have done without that, lol.

I wanted a bit more background on Nat and Wes, and how the world came to be the way it is in the book, but hopefully we’ll get more of that in future installments in the series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Review: Day 21 by Kass Morgan

Day 21 (The Hundred, #2)Published: September 16, 2014 by Little, Brown
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320

This review is for the second book in the series The Hundred.  There are some spoilers for the first book in the blurb.  My review for the first book, The 100, is here.

It’s been twenty-one days since the hundred landed on Earth.  They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries… or so they thought.  Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together.  Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost.  And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.

Once I finished reading The 100, I moved on to Day 21. I wasn’t a fan of the first book, but having already requested the second one, I figured I would read it next to get it out of the way. Thankfully, Day 21 was a significant improvement over its predecessor. Going into the book knowing it focused a lot more on the romance then on the science fiction aspect helped a lot too, I suspect. :)

A bunch of new characters are introduced in this one, some of them from the original hundred. I liked that we got to know more of them, but it felt like since the narrators were already semi-familiar with them, the reader never got a real introduction to them. It felt like some new names were just thrown in, and that left me feeling really confused for a while. I kept wondering if I should remember the characters from the first book, haha. But it was really nice to be introduced to more of the hundred, especially because I was hoping they’d be more likable than the main characters.

Day 21 has the same structure as The 100, with three POVs on Earth and one on the Colony. While I still felt like this was too many, at least the reader knows the characters now, and in Day 21, we finally get some of the much-longed-for character development that was more or less absent in the first book, due to the fact that the reader gets very little time with each character. I still didn’t really care for the main characters much, but it was still a pretty big improvement!

In terms of world-building, there is a bit of an improvement versus what readers got in the first book, at least on Earth, though I will still disappointed on the “savage Earth” front. One entire section of the ship still remains unexplored, though, so that was pretty underwhelming.

I honestly wasn’t too enthralled with this book, but about 2/3 of the way through, things picked up quite a bit, to the point that I’m interested in checking out the third installment in the series at some point. I still haven’t seen any of the TV show, but I’m considering it, since I’ve heard it’s better than the books. Day 21 was, despite its faults, a solid improvement over The 100, and I am happy that I am looking forward to learning where it’s all going in book three.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars