Monday, December 1, 2014

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Very strangely indeed, the only time I feel inclined to visit my blog is after I read a Lauren Oliver book. This is very, very strange. At this rate, you will have to wait another year or so to hear from me again. Oh well lol.

Rooms begins when Richard Walker dies and his disconnected family is forced to come together again and confront their past and their secrets. The story is told through his family members' points of view as they recollect what they thought they knew. It is also told in the perspectives of Sandra and Alice, two ghosts who previously lived in the house. Their stories intertwine as they rediscover their secrets and the truth.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book and how the stories were woven together. Two-thirds through the book I asked myself, "Is there some way that this is all supposed to come together?" And it's pretty awesome and heart-breaking at the same time (not cry-worthy though) when it does.

The only critiques I have are that it was a little difficult to keep track of who was who between the two ghosts and I was easily confused because of all the characters whose names began with the letter "M". I also wish that that story had been longer with just MORE so that I could closer connect with each of the characters and really feel their struggle. The chapters are so short that the reader barely gets time to feel sad or connected with one character before the story moves on to a different point of view.

This is a strange story with some sad, sad topics. Don't let the low rating of Rooms fool you, it really isn't that bad. I assume it got such low ratings on this website because the readers are comparing this book too much to Oliver's previous works. Oh well, I still think it's an intriguing story that's worth the read. 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Hello! It has been quite a while. I find it ironic that my first post in months is about a book written by the same author as the last post. Anyways, I had to get my opinion out about this one. By the way, the Goodreads genres this is categorized under are completely wrong. It is not dystopian, it is not science fiction, and is not fantasy. In any way shape or form.

Panic is a game that started one summer in a small town. During the school year each student is supposed to pay a "tax" of $1 a day which goes into the Pot. Anyone who doesn't pay would pay the prices. After the judges and the officials involved take their cut, the remaining money in the Pot is up for competition. Judges and those involved have hidden identities and the game is hidden from the police. Graduating seniors volunteer themselves for Panic and compete in increasingly dangerous tasks to win $67,000. Heather, our main character, begins the game out of helplessness. But as the game goes on, she realizes that there is so much more at stake. Dodge, our alternating viewpoint, also has his own reasons for joining Panic. But what about when his reasons for joining change?

The best thing about Panic (the book) is the characters. There are two main characters, Heather and Dodge, and two supporting characters, Nat and Bishop. Each is wonderful in their own way with flaws and quirks that make them extremely relatable to the reader. For example, Nat is described as petite and cute and lovable, but she also has some sort of anxiety disorder that I wish the author touched more upon. In the beginning, Heather seems weak and the reader is casting a skeptical glance at her. As the story progresses, the you root for her and love her all the same. As lovely as they all were, I would have liked to see more character development. I wish that the book was longer so that I could have seen Nat come to terms with her goals, Dodge come to terms with his sister and his motives, Bishop understand what exactly he wants. The story seemed to end too quickly without explaining everything. And I don't mind ambiguous endings, but there are some things that should be completed.

The plot is very quick and fast-paced. There was never a dull moment and I had a hard time putting this book down. I always wanted to know what happened next. The writing is also simple and nice, nothing too profound. The ending was a little rushed, and I wished that it could have been drawn out more and explained. It seemed a bit oversimplified. Another thing that I think would have made it better would be a longer explanation of the actual challenges. That's what draws the reader into the story, and once again, they seemed oversimplified and ending too quickly. 

I enjoyed the psychological aspect of the book. I found myself questioning, when will it be too much? And what would I do their positions? Is what they're being asked to do worth the money?

I found it to be very predictable. On page 32, I literally predicted out loud one of the reveals in the book. It didn't really matter though and I liked it all the same. 

Overall, I really did like this book. The author did a great job of explaining the atmosphere of the small town. The characters are wonderful and the plot is exciting. My main complaint is that it wasn't longer. I feel if it were about 50-100 pages longer, a lot more could have been fit in and it could be absolute perfection. I would recommend this one! 4.5 out of 5 stars.