Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Flawless

Title:  Flawless
Author:  Lara Chapman

     From GoodReads, "Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame. 

On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking? 

This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws."

     Around the time that I graduated from high school or shortly thereafter a movie with Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah came out called Roxanne.  (I realize by writing this that I'm telling my age, but oh well.)  Anyways, the movie was about a guy with an incredibly large nose who is trying to get the girl of his dreams and this book reminds me of that movie except that it is a girl with a large nose and there is the added problem that the guy that she really likes happens to be dating her best friend who happens to be gorgeous.
     Flawless happens to be a retelling of the famous play Cyrano de Bergerac, which I haven't actually read or seen, but knew the basic premise.  The story follows main character, Sarah Burke (the girl with the big nose).  Sarah has been best friends with Kristen for years and that friendship is tested when Sarah falls big-time for Kristen's boyfriend, Rock Conway.  
     I loved that going after what you want and remaining loyal to a friend were at constant odds in this novel and I think that the reason I liked it so much was that it was so utterly believable.  Sarah's choices were gut-wrenching at times for her and I could totally see where she was coming from.  
     Also, I must say that Rock Conway, the boy that Sarah has feelings for in the book, is an amazing character and I have a novel crush on him as well.  It's rare that you see a guy character that is good-looking, intelligent, romantic, and cares how other people feel.  
     I also really liked the cover of the book and thought it was very clever that the actual nose is missing on the cover so that you could see how truly beautiful Sarah is without her nose. The one person that should have supported Sarah the most, her mother, was at times a baffling character.  I cannot fathom that a teenage girl's mom would leave her brochures about plastic surgery!  Wow!  I have no doubt that this kind of mother is out there though.  It made it easier to understand why she is the way she is when you read the book though.  I understand her better, but I don't condone how she treated her daughter at times.
     I think that this book will appeal to anyone that has something about them that they don't like.  (I guess that probably is mostly everybody!)  There is a huge (pun intended!) message in this book about accepting who you are that I think is a great message to be sending teens (and adults)!  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Enclave

Title:  Enclave
Author:  Ann Aguirre

     From GoodReads, "In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember. 

As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning. 

Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace. 

As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known."

     I have to admit that the initial reason for picking up this book was because some of the reviews said that this was for "fans of Hunger Games."  I read all three of the Hunger Games series and loved them all so I was anxiously awaiting my chance to read this book and I must say that Enclave grabbed me in the beginning in the way that Hunger Games did not.  It took about ten chapters for Hunger Games to get into the action bits of the story whereas this book got into it right away.  
     The main character, Deuce, is a Huntress and has trained all of her life to fulfill her destiny.  She is excited about the prospect of going out on her first Hunt until she finds out that she is partnered with Fade. Fade is a boy that was raised Topside, but came to the Enclave as a young child (they call them "brats" in the book) and has never really been accepted by the other society members.  What follows is a story that is full of action, unlikely friendships, and survival by any means necessary.
     I loved the characters of Deuce and Fade and really liked how their relationship developed throughout the story.  Deuce is one kick-ass female lead character.  She is strong, determined, and compassionate all at the same time.  Fade is mysterious, inquisitive, and brave, but has a true heart.  The way the two characters develop throughout the story is remarkable.  
     There were other characters in the book that were expertly written as well.  Even the characters that turn out to be bad guys and gals are so masterfully written that you just enjoy hating their guts.  I cannot say enough about this amazing book by Ann Aguirre.  This isn't a genre I normally enjoy all that well, but with the recent books coming out being so amazing, I may have to rethink my bias on the matter.  I am truly hoping that there is more to come in this story and the way that the book left off it leaves it open for more adventures to come.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

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