book review

Growing Up, Getting Less Than What You Expected, and Canned Food: More Than This by Patrick Ness Book Review

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Tea and Paperbacks, posting every Monday. In this post, I would like to share with you my thoughts on an amazing book, More Than This by Patrick Ness. This review is spoiler free!

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Patrick Ness, oh man, where do I begin? This is my fifth Patrick Ness book, and I am still begging for more. I bought this book at Book Depository last year because I just knew I would love it. The story starts with our main character Seth dying, and then waking up in his old house he hasn’t set foot in years. He discovers he’s alive, but couldn’t find any other human being in the neighbourhood. It’s hard to define the genre of this novel: its a mix of young adult, dystopian, but also has a deeper meaning and content inside.

Title: More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher:Walker Books Ltd
Date Published: May 2014
Num of Pages: 480
Date Read: 9th March, 2017
Goodreads Link
Book Depository Link

This story was very different from what I expected. Well firstly, I didn’t really expect much from this book, I didn’t even read the premise other than what was written on the back of the book. I just knew that it was Patrick Ness, and that I’m pretty sure I would love it, just as I had loved all his other books. I mean, literally ALL. This is a young adult novel, and it has aspects of a dystopian novel that I would probably dislike if someone else had written it. Lately I’ve been in the mood for something more on the adult fiction side, more literary and developed than an action-packed, romance-packed book like the ones I used to love 5 years ago. Yet this book was able to just captivate me and make me not want to stop reading it.

Throughout the first part of the book, the character we find is only Seth. However even with reading about Seth exploring the new world he’s in, we also get glimpses of his past, we got to know him really really well and it made us feel like we don’t really need to have other characters. I will not discuss what happens in the last parts of the book, but I can assure you that it gets even better after that.

“I don’t believe in guardian angels,” Regine says seriously. “Just people who are there for you and people who aren’t.” (p.446)

The plot of the book moves slowly at first, but then picks up quickly by the middle. At the end, it’s so filled with twists and turns and there was almost never any time for the characters to actually have some time to rest. It has the The Knife of Never Letting Go aspects, in which it’s so filled with so many experiences back to back, that it’s both thrilling and also tiring. For some people it might not be their type of stories, but I loved it! Sure sometimes it got a little tiring to read, but most of the time, I just couldn’t take my eyes off the pages, wanting to read more.

You said we all want there to be more than this! Well, there’s always more than this. There’s always something you didn’t know. Maybe your parents didn’t love you enough, and that sucks, yes, it does, but maybe it wasn’t because you were bad. Maybe it was just because the worst thing in the world had happened to them and they weren’t able to deal with it. (p.368)

There are so many different themes that were explored in this book that were perfectly portrayed. From internal problems with the characters, like feelings of regret and sadness, to self-hatred and depression. Also relationships between the characters with others, like familial relationships, discovering your sexuality, your love for your parents but also your dislike towards them. It’s all so complicated and in the end as you read it in this book, nobody is really the “good guy” or the “bad guy”, the “villain” or the “hero”. Everyone is just human, with their own issues and insecurities, and everyone makes mistakes. Parents do the best they can, teenagers have problems that they think are huge but might not be that important compared to others. There also that feeling everyone gets, that hope for our lives to have something more than we already have, something more than this. It was all discussed in this book, and it’s educational and eye-opening but at the same time entertaining. On the other hand, there’s also the underlying knowledge of the possibility of escaping reality, a touch of science fiction on top of the realistic obstacles the characters faced, the possibility that in the future, such a technology exists where you can create a whole new world of your own.

It’s amazing how Patrick Ness can cram all these up into a single book, a young adult book that contains a lot of action, great dialogue and writing style, plus excellent characters (and character development). It has an amazing premise and the whole idea was executed brilliantly. I enjoyed every second I spent reading this book.

4 stars

What do you think of More Than This? Are you a fan of Patrick Ness? Let me know in the comments! Until the next post, see you!

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Dead Kings, Magical Forests, and Kisses: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater Book Review

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater is, as you all have probably know, the last book in the four-book series, The Raven Cycle. As most of you probably know as well, I am a huge fan of Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve read all her books except one, and I was so devoted to this series. It’s such a sad thing to see the series end, and I rated this book really high, but I did have some problems with it. Here are my thoughts.

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Warning that this review might contain spoilers to this book and the previous books of the series.

Let’s start with the things that I loved about this book: the characters. Oh my God, if you ask me why I love this series so much, I’d answer with the characters. Stiefvater has this way of crafting unique and human characters and make you fall in love head over heels for them. I love everyone from the gang – my favourite is probably Gansey, and in this book Gansey just breaks my heart. But I love all the other members of the gang as well. I love the development of Adam’s character, from when we read him in the first book to where he is now in the epilogue. I adore Blue, she’s like my heroine and I love how Stiefvater created an embodiment of women’s strength through Blue, not in a typical young-adult way, but in her own unique way.
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“I don’t care to be pretty,” Blue shot back hotly, “I care to look on the outside like I look on the inside.”

I adore the relationship between the characters as well. Gansey and Blue has been a huge ship for me, but in this book, Pynch shines above them. They make me smile and cry, they are the cutest things in the world and I want the two of them to grow old and have babies and make each other happy forever and ever!!! Other than that, Blue and Ronan’s friendship, Gansey and Adam’s relationship, and all the other side characters were so fun to read. Even so, I sort of felt like the villain of the book, the demon, but also Piper, was not very real to me. They didn’t feel too villain-y. And other relationships that we saw a lot in the previous books, like Blue and Maura’s, or Maura and the Grey Man’s, and the addition of some side characters I liked but didn’t really care about (Henry Cheng), weren’t really done well. I missed the banter and love between Blue and the ladies from 300 Fox Way, and the interesting relationship between those ladies with the Raven Boys.
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Adam smiled cheerily. Ronan would start wars and burn cities for that true smile, elastic and amiable.

Anyways, moving on to the plot. This book was not as slow as a lot of Stiefvater’s other books. It flowed awesomely, but at the last parts I sort of felt like the climax was sort of an anticlimax, and the real climax fell a little flat. Even so, the execution was done well and the ending, felt a lot like the ending of The Legend of Korra, where I expected more of the ending of The Last Airbender – if you understand what I sort of mean. I have not problems with how the series ended, though. I thought it was lovely, where everyone ended up.

Another thought I had while reading the book was the writing style. I could cry from Stiefvater’s amazing narration. Some parts, were so lovely and I just want to quote the words over and over again. And can I just say, Stiefvater makes THE BEST KISS SCENES EVER! From the “not-really-kiss” scene in the previous book, to this PHENOMENAL and so anticipated kiss scene, they were both so different to each other but also to any other kiss scenes I’ve read, but also written so uniquely that it’s not like a normal descriptive writing, but like a piece of poem that you want to cut out and glue in your bed so you can read it every day. I just love them so much!!!

Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date Published: April 2016
Num of Pages: 439
Date Read: 25th May, 2016
Goodreads Link

To be honest I don’t really have that many things to say about this book. I have loved the characters for so long, and I sort of knew that I would love it no matter what. And although there were some problems, a few plotholes, and some things I’d like to change, so many aspects of the book was just so beautiful that I can’t help giving it a 4.5 stars.

4.5 stars

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Triple Book Review: Mystery! One Good Turn, And Then There Were None, and The Girl on the Train

I recently read three books from the same genre – I don’t even know why and how come, this rarely ever happens to me! But I decided to make a triple review of these books in the same post, while also comparing them! Here are these books.

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

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This is the second book in the Jackson Brodie series, in which I read the first book a few months ago from a random secondhand sale. I really liked the first book, Case Histories. The character were meh, but I liked how Kate Atkinson would unravel a thread of three different cases and have them interconnected with each other. Not to mention the wonderful writing style – it was very different from the normal mystery books, and some people would even consider it a literary mystery novel.

Unfortunately, this second book did not suit so well for me. It was all over the place and I didn’t like how Atkinson tried to do a similar thing as she did in the first book, using different crimes and linking them to one another as if by accident. In here everything seems like a weird coincidence and I couldn’t really like any of the characters.

The mystery itself wasn’t very intriguing for me as well. It involved a little bit of murder and crime, but less mysterious stuff that makes the readers wanting to read more about it. I do like the main character, Jackson, but other than that the other characters were forgettable and hard to remember. I just thought the whole book wasn’t that entertaining or well written, and very different from the first book.

2 stars

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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One of the most famous mystery novels out there and my first Agatha Christie novel! I would first like to thank everyone from the Book Basilisks Book Club for making this a group read – without the book club I wouldn’t have read it (I’ve always wanted to read it but I’ve never gotten the push to do so). This novel is about a group of strangers brought together in an island and being killed one by one by a mysterious person.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It’s super intriguing, it has that aura of mystery throughout the whole book and the mystery itself was impossible for me to guess, even though when you finally find the real solution you think, “Why didn’t I think of that earlier? It’s so obvious!” and I think that was the best part of the book, because it shows that the author could really write well and disguise all the clues in plain sight.

The writing style was actually not very impressive. The whole book seemed very short to me – it could be because it reads so quickly but it’s also because of how straightforward the whole writing style and storyline is. As for the characters, we’ve discussed about how some of the characters weren’t very memorable and at first it was difficult for a lot of people to recognize who was who. But I do think that in the end it wasn’t very important for us to remember and like any of the characters – because we all know they will die anyway! And the main point is not liking or relating to the characters. Even so, I think if the book had been written with more detail and if we’d been given the chance to know each of the characters and know them enough to root for a character, it would’ve become an even better book.

But overall it was a super fun read. I read it during a readathon and I really thought it was a great choice. I would also like to recommend books like these to read for people who rarely read mystery or want to dive into the genre. It’s a great place to start.

4 stars

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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This novel is a very popular one last year, being dubbed as “the next Gone Girl” and all that. It is basically not just a mystery or crime novel but also a psychological thriller, and I’ve never read Gone Girl but I really liked this one. The story is about two women, the first one Rachel who always goes by train to London and watches a particular house on the side of the train road. One day she reads that that woman whom she always watches is missing and then the story revolves around that.

Compared to the other two books I mentioned above, this novel is more character driven and focus more on the three main characters. The story was told in three different perspectives and you can really read into both these characters’ minds and inner thoughts. I really like that we can really relate and know about Rachel, Megan, and Anna, but not really fall in love with them because they were all really messed up and annoying at some times. I also really like the whole plotline and the whole mystery of “whodunnit” and what actually happened. In the end the revelation of these mysteries were never a huge surprise for me, but while I was reading this novel I kept guessing and anticipating on the ending, to find out who did it. One of the problems I had was how the whole mystery surrounding the incident was how the main character just couldn’t remember what happened because she was drunk when it happened even though she was a key witness to the event. So it was more of a build up on the moment where the character actually recalled what exactly happened, instead of a real “aha!” moment on other mystery stories.

This novel also tackles a lot of issues that are more related to the character than the “crime” or “mystery” itself, like drinking problems, moving on from your ex-husband, unemployment, unhappy marriage, and various other things. Like I said before, in this novel the characters have issues and weaknesses that you can read from in their own voices. I really liked that part and how all the characters were flawed.

Other than the characters, the writing style was not bad as well. Paula Hawkins was a journalist and so she knows that part of the world and it shows in how she states the facts but also reveals the feelings and atmosphere of the current scene. Overall this is a super intense book with great parts. It’s not amazing, but I couldn’t stop reading it and I was hooked from the beginning till the end.

4.5 stars

Wrapping Up

So comparing these three mystery novels, of course there are the good and the bad parts. And I think it really depends on a person which kinds of mystery books they like. I really enjoy reading thrillers like The Girl on the Train the most, so I think I really need to explore more similar books. Even so, I really need to read more classical mysteries such as Agatha Christie‘s works, especially since I also enjoy short stories like the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. And although in a novel more than one mysteries could be shown, it didn’t work so well in One Good Turn. I realized that I also do enjoy the kind of detective slash police work kind of mysteries, although I still need to find a good enough book for that genre.

What about you guys? Do you enjoy reading mystery, crime and thrillers? Which of these three books have you read and enjoyed before? Let me know!

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