Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Review by Elinor
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyne
Rating: 5/5

Plot: If you start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy named Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.
(Taken from the back cover)

The plot of this story was absolutely fantastic. The frightening truths of World War II were told through the eyes of an innocent and normal boy, who really doesn't understand what he is witnessing. Living near one of Germany's concentration camps, he goes exploring one day and meets another boy just like him - except on the other side of the fence. Bruno doesn't know why the people are separated by a fence, or why they are treated differently, but he makes a friend and decides it best to keep it a secret. 

Characters: This story was about 200 pages long, which is shorter than most novels I read, so I'll admit that I was a little skeptical about how easily I would connect to the characters compared to what I'm used to reading. I was very pleasantly surprised, and I felt that the characters were easier to connect to than anything I have read for some time. I loved the way that the author followed the thought processes of a typical nine-year-old boy, and it endeared Bruno to me even more deeply.

Emotion: The entire story is portrayed through the eyes of a young boy, so for most of it, even though you understood what was going on for those on the other side of the fence, it wasn't paid much attention because Bruno didn't know what was truly going on. So about ninety-percent of the book is fairly light-hearted and carefree. But I must give you a fair warning, the last few chapters of this story are some of the most heart-wrenching words I have ever read. I can honestly tell you that I have never sobbed so hard over fictional characters as I did for this book.

My Thoughts: This story was truly a work of art, and something that I will surely read for years to come. There's really nothing more for me to say... it was simply amazing.

I'm really not sure about an age recommendation on this book. Nothing inappropriate for younger children was ever fully described, but even I could hardly handle the ending. Your heart will be broken, no matter your age, so I would simply suggest reading at your own risk ;). 

Thank You!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Reached

Review by Elinor
Title: Reached
Author: Ally Condie 
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: 12+

Plot: Now that the Rising has taken control of Society, the spreading Plague is swiftly being cured and freedom being restored to the Provinces. However, when an unexpected mutation if the Plague quickly spreads, the Pilot becomes desperate to save what he has fought so hard for, even to the point of pulling Ky, Xander, and Cassia into helping him find a cure.

This book was definitely the best one of the trilogy, and it really kept me turning pages. There were so many unexpected plot twists that made this book the one most suspenseful and exciting I've read in a while. I really enjoyed it, and even though it didn't end like I thought it would, the ending was amazing.

Characters: There was an incredible amount of character development in this story. Even though I thought that the characters had been through nearly all that they could handle, each one found their own way to persevere and to never give up, even when it seemed like there was no reason to hold on.

Emotion: Reflective of the characters' struggles, the main feelings of this book were suspense and perseverance. Even though their issues were very hard, and I didn't want it to all be over at the end, I didn't feel that this book was one that would make anybody particularly emotional (but it might possibly keep them up way to late reading).

My Thoughts: I loved this book, and I can easily say that it was the best one in the series. Even though nobody had a perfect ending, I was very pleased with the way it ended. I doubt that this book is one that I'll read again in the future, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who enjoys suspense and/or dystopian novels.

 My age recommendation would be 12+, because there was about three uses of d---, and the description of the symptoms of the Plague could be disturbing to a younger audience.

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Sabatoged

Review by Marianne
Title: Sabotaged
Author: Dani Pettrey
Rating: 5/5
Age Recommendation: Teen/Adult

Plot: Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and trouble-maker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now as they work search-and-rescue together for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.
Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown int a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life - but appears to be willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.
Copied from the back of Sabotaged.

   I thought that the plot of this book progressed and unfolded perfectly. Pettrey was able to balance the suspense and romance so that I wasn't entirely overwhelmed with either, and this turned out to be a really great book. I had never read anything by this author before and after reading Sabotaged I can't wait to read more from her! This book was the fifth book in a series, but a stand alone novel. Although I probably would have understood Reef's family and their relationships better had I read the others, I do not think that hindered me from fully enjoying this novel.

Characters: I loved how all of the characters in this book progressed. I loved the way their relationships unfolded and the way I could fully understand each of their feelings without having to read multiple paragraphs explaining them. I thought that even though I hadn't read the previous books about Reef's siblings, I was still able to connect with each of them.

Emotions: A large portion of the book Kirra is living in fear and what was basically depression over a past event, so about 3/4 of the book, she was having trouble really trusting God and allowing Him to pull her out of the mess. Therefore, a lot of the emotions are her struggles with this situation, however, there was also a good mix of humor, suspense, and hope.

My Thoughts: Over-all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really loved how the romantic relationships portrayed in it were very God-centered and appropriate. They were viewed as the couple walking with the Lord and serving him together, and it was beautiful. 

   Now I'll get to my age recommendation. I saw this book is a Teen/Adult book because of two things. 1. The violence. There was not an inappropriate amount, but it's a suspense novel so you can expect some. And 2. In the past, Kirra had been sexually assaulted. About halfway through the book to recalls the event and although it did not go into great detail, it was made clear what had transpired. I felt that this detail was necessary to get the point across that the author was trying to make: That God is always with you, even in the rough spots, and that there is nothing so terrible that God can not pull you out of it. Please keep in mind that I wouldn't particularly consider either of these things as a con, it was just clear that the book was intended for an older audience. That being said, I totally loved this book, and would highly recommend it!

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of Sabotaged from Bethany House Publishing Company for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed above are my own.