Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Description from Goodreads:

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

This book was interesting.  I liked it okay, but didn’t love it.  The world was really interesting and well built.  There were times that the slang was a little confusing and excessive, but I got used to it.

Harmony was interesting.  At times I thought she wasn’t right in the head, but I guess she was just supposed to be naive.  I wanted to know more of her backstory, but I guess that’s what the rest of the books in the series are for. :)

Melody was pretty judgemental, but I did like her.  I liked that she did seem to change for the better as the book went on and started to think for herself.

This was my first Megan McCafferty book.  I’ll definitely keep reading this series and want to go back and read the Jessica Darling series since everyone seems to love them!

Read as part of the 2011 YA Author Debut Challenge.

Good Oil by Lauren Buzo

Description from Goodreads:

A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.

‘Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I’m open to all kinds of bribery.’

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost…head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he’s 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

This book was so good!  I’ve liked most of the Aussie books I’ve read this year, so this isn’t that surprising, but this one was great.

I loved Amelia.  Her voice was so real and she was incredibly relate able.  Maybe that’s because I was so much like her at her age.  It made it fun to read her story.

I actually didn’t know that this book was alternating POV when I started it, so I was really surprised to turn the page and be thrust into his story.  I really liked it, though.  I liked that his writing was very different than Amelia’s.  I loved seeing the situations from his point of view.

The writing was just fantastic.  I was sucked in and couldn’t put the book down.  I wanted to read all night.  This is definitely an author I will revisit in the future.

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge. I received this book through the Go Aussie Book Tours over on The Unread Reader.  Thank you, Missie!

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Description from Goodreads:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb — males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape — to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I never really connected with the world in the story and I had a hard time feeling anything for the characters.  I was occasionally confused by exactly what had happened to cause everyone to get the virus at a certain age and why some people didn’t get it.

I found Linden interesting.  I wanted him to be good, and he was sometimes, but he also wasn’t good sometimes.  It made him an interesting character.

I didn’t like any of the girls that much.  Cecily seemed to be about 8 instead of 13.  Jenna just wasn’t likeable.  I never connected with Rhine.  I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but she just seemed too whiny, I guess.

I think my biggest problem with this book is that it was slow.  I’m used to dystopia coming with a lot of adventure and action.  This book didn’t have that for most of the book and I think it suffered because of it.

Wither is well reviewed on Goodreads, so maybe it was just me, but I don’t see myself continuing this series.

Read as part of the 2011 YA Debut Author Challenge.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Goodreads description:

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Oh my gosh I loved this book!  When I finished it, I didn’t want to send it back to Missie.  I will eventually acquire my own copy for my keeper shelf.

I really liked all the characters in the book.  The main characters were fantastic, but the secondary characters rocked just as much.  Lucy was funny, smart, and tough.  I loved that she punched a boy on her first date.  That was a great place to start from for her character.  I liked Ed a lot too.  I always go for the bad boy that ends up having a heart of gold. ;)  I liked the alternating POVs and how funny both of them were.  The friends were great too.   I liked Jazz and Leo so much.  The Daisy/Dylan relationship kept me laughing, but seemed sincere all the same.

The descriptions of the art were amazing.  I could totally see the graffiti and the glass in my head.  I loved the meanings that the graffiti had to Lucy, Ed, and Leo and the poetry was fantastic.  Very well written and engaging.

I read the Australian version of this book, but it comes out in the US next February.  I’ll definitely have to read it again then, so I can see what changed and relive the brilliance.

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge. I received this book through the Go Aussie Book Tours over on The Unread Reader.  Thank you, Missie!

Saltwater Moons by Julie Gittus

Goodreads description:

In the beginning it seems so simple. A poem in the mail. A weekend invitation to the coast. But when Sun says yes to a midnight walk, her life becomes suddenly complicated. Saltwater Moons tells the story of Sun Langley during her final months of Year Twelve. There’s the intensity of her first relationship, complicated by the fact she continues to exchange poems with her boyfriend’s best mate. It’s a story about love and betrayal, about constantly longing for the things we can’t have.

I really wanted to like this book, but I struggled with it a bit.  On one hand, it was beautifully written – super easy to get immersed in.  I liked that a lot.  On the other hand, the characters kind of drove me crazy.  :)

I liked Sun, but I was so mad at her for staying in the wrong relationship when clearly her heart was somewhere else.  I did feel like she was a very authentic character and most of what she did made sense in a teenage brain, but I just wanted to shake her and tell her there was something better out there for her.

I loathed Mark.  Seriously loathed him.  He was just not a good person and he didn’t treat Sun well.  See last paragraph about shaking Sun and telling her there was something better out there.

Tycho I did like for the most part, though I didn’t understand why he continued to exchange poetry with Sun if he wasn’t going to do anything more.  I really liked the poetry in the book and how well it fit in with what Tycho and Sun were going through at the time.

Overall, it was good and a real story of Sun making mistakes and figuring out who she was.

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge. I received this book through the Go Aussie Book Tours over on The Unread Reader.  Thank you, Missie!

Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse

Description from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year old twins in Candy-Store crime spree. Twins, Paisley and Beau Argent are in the headlines again. Last time, they were the ‘wonder twins’, when as six-year-olds they were found alive in woods after three days missing following their mother’s death -three days spent looking for their dad. Now at sixteen, life’s not so wonderful. Out-cast and exploited by their money-grabbing grandmother, they’re still clueless about their dad’s whereabouts. Until they discover an old letter from him. That’s when they decide to hit the road – and make headlines again. Holding up fast-food joints might seem extreme but if they can get on the news, and tell their dad they need him, they might get the dream reunion they thought could happen.

I had really high hopes for this book.  It sounds like a fun adventure.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me.  I really didn’t like either of the main characters.  Paisley was over the top bitchy and ridiculously impulsive.  Beau was spineless and annoying.  Basically the whole book was Paisley pulling them into some ludicrous  plan that Beau didn’t want to go along with, but he did because he wouldn’t say no to anyone.

The other problem I had with the book was that it was written by a British author, but set in the United States.  Anyone that knows me knows I am an Anglophile, so British wording/spelling doesn’t generally phase me, but when it comes out of supposedly American characters, it was distracting.  I read the British version of the book.  I’m interested to see if those things are changed when the American version comes out later this year.

Read as part of the British Books Challenge.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Description from Goodreads:

In the beginning, there’s a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

I haven’t really been a fan of the recent YA Angel books that I have read.  I was a little hesitant to read this one, but I kept seeing positive reviews for it, so I decided to give it a try.  I am so glad I did – it’s really good!

The writing was fantastic.  I found myself sinking into the story and completely captivated.  I love when the writer’s style keeps me in the story and doesn’t pull me out of it because I’m thinking about how they write instead of what they wrote.  No problems here.

The angel mythology was really interesting and believable.  I really liked that the girl was the supernatural creature in this book instead of a boy.  I think that made me love Clara even more, but there were lots of reasons to love her.  She was intelligent and interesting.  I liked that she was focused on her goal, but also a pretty normal teenager.  I liked that she had normal and not normal friends.  I loved her relationship with her brother.  Her mom was kind of frustrating to me, but I did like her.

I had a hard time with Christian.  Clara finds him interesting, so I was supposed to find him interesting, but I kind of didn’t.  By the end, I liked him more, but at the beginning, I thought he was just an obnoxious “mean guy” that was going to hurt Clara.  Tucker, on the other hand, I loved from the beginning.  I loved Clara’s relationship with Tucker and how it grew.

This was clearly the first in a series and I will be totally on board for the next book!

Read as part of the 2011 YA Debut Author Challenge.

Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

Description from Goodreads:

Imagine your name is John Lennon, only everyone calls you Beatle.
And then you meet your dream girl and her name is Destiny McCartney.
But what if you’re already with the perfect girl?
A novel about change, chance and everybody doing the wrong thing.

This book was a lot of fun.  I liked the characters a lot.  Beatle and Destiny were both very quirky and funny.  I was a bit frustrated with Beatle at times because he had a girlfriend while pursuing a relationship with Destiny, but I still had a hard time faulting him for it.  Beatle and Destiny just seemed so perfect for each other while Beatle and Cilla weren’t.

I loved Destiny’s family.  It was big and funny, but also really realistic.  Their names were pretty awesome, too.  I had a hard time liking Beatle’s mom, but really liked Winsome.  I think I relate well to characters with bad attitudes!

I loved the When Harry Met Sally-esque twin stories.  They were really funny and interesting and really added a cool dimension to the story.

This was a really fun fast read that I’d recommend!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge.

So Shelly by Ty Roth

Description from Goodreads:

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly’s ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly’s body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last “so Shelly” romantic quest. At least that’s what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly’s and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.

I really wanted to like this book.  The premise sounds really interesting.  Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it.

Gordon drove me nuts.  Ya know those Dos Equis commercials about the Most Interesting Man in the World?  I HATE those commercials, but that is exactly what Gordon was.  Everything he did turned to gold.  Everyone loved him.  But really he was a complete asshole.  He was self centered and treated everyone around him like crap.  I had zero respect for him and was frustrated that the book was almost completely his story.  His sexual exploits grew pretty tiring after a while.

Shelly… part of me felt sorry for her and I did understand her more than the other characters.  I didn’t get why no one intervened when she was obviously depressed – John, or a teacher, or someone.

And finally John.  Sometimes I forgot that John was a character in the book and not just the narrator.  He was just there, but not really involved in the story.  The stuff about his family just seemed kind of random and unrelated to/unnecessary for the story.

Really, that’s another thing that bugged me about the book.  Some of the stories just seemed so random and not necessarily related to the story as a whole.  It kind of made the book feel disjointed.  After reading the information about the real poets at the end, I do understand that the author was trying to incorporate many aspects of their lives into this story, but I  don’t feel like it worked that well.

I did like that the writing wasn’t dumbed down just because it is a YA book.  The author wasn’t afraid to use “SAT words” and I really appreciated that.

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

The award-winning author of Finnikin of the Rock and Jellicoe Road pens a raw, compelling novel about a family’s hard-won healing on the other side of trauma.

Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca – but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either? An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again.

This book.  Wow.  I don’t even know where to begin.  It was so beautiful and so broken.  Just wonderful.  I’m totally gushing, but I can’t help it.  :)  It was just that good.  This is the story of a broken family and a broken boy.  Their story of healing is so real.  It isn’t trite.  There are no easy answers and everyone’s reactions (or non-reactions) are completely believable.  Other reviews I read described this as an emotional roller coaster and that is the best way to say it.  I laughed a lot and I cried at really inopportune times, like in the cafeteria at work and in the stands of a baseball game during a rain out.

Since Saving Francesca, Tom’s world has fallen apart.  His beloved uncle is dead, his father is an alcoholic that has disappeared, his mother has moved away with his sister, his tight knit extended family is estranged, he ruined his relationship with Tara Finke, and he has pushed away all his friends.  Tom has hit rock bottom, and there’s no where to go but up.  I love that he doesn’t make the decision to pull himself back together.  He actually kind of fights it, but it just happens to him slowly as the book progresses.  There were times I wanted to slap him and times I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him that everything will be okay eventually.  I loved that he started reconnecting with Frankie and Justine at the pub and slowly but surely the relationship he had with them in Saving Francesca began to creep back out.  Tom and Tara’s relationship was frustrating, but I loved that it moved slowly.  It was so realistic that they didn’t just come straight back together.  Brilliant.

This book really could have been just about Tom, but I loved that it was about his family and their road to healing from tragedy.  Aunt Georgie was amazing.  Not only was she dealing with the loss of her brother, but she was also dealing with her emotions with Sam.  I think the things that happened in the past with Sam helped her deal with Dominic and Tom.  She understands how  you can lose someone without losing them the way they lost Joe, and she doesn’t want that for Dominic and Tom.  She wants to push them back together, but knows that that isn’t the best thing to do, just like she and Sam have to work through the emotions to figure out what their relationship is.  The entire family is a mess with people not being honest with each other and skirting around the truth and not sharing their hurt.  I know I keep saying this, but it just felt so real.  I sometimes forgot I was reading about fictional characters. I liked that the end doesn’t just tie everything up in a bow.  The foundation is laid for everyone to be in a better place, but the end of the book isn’t the end of the family’s healing.

Overall, this book skirted the edge of YA.  It was a very adult book, but still one that I think young adults would understand.  This is also the first book in a while that has taken me a full week to read.  I usually fly through books, especially those I love, but I am glad my schedule this week made me slow down and savor this book.  I can’t wait to read the rest of Melina Marchetta’s books, though I think I will be sad when I reach the end of them!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge and my Melina Marchetta challenge.