Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants. A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this book. The cover is quite disturbing, and, since the book is classified as horror, I was worried that it was going to involve brutal killings of children—while children do die in this book, it’s not shown in horrific detail. *huge relief*

I ended up liking this book, but I’ve had the worst time trying to articulate why. The characters were interesting, but could have been fleshed out a bit more. The plot was gripping, but confusing in places. So I ended up making a list of the pros and cons.

-Some of the visual details were confusing. Or, maybe it was more that they were overwhelming. Either way, I sometimes had to re-read passages to get a complete image of a scene.

-I never did figure out why Alice was so interested in Mackie.

-Tate’s hot and cold mood swings are a bit disturbing. I understand that she’s upset and frustrated over her sister, but it pulled me out of the story when she threw herself at Mackie anytime he said something she wanted to hear.

-Mackie’s family knows he’s a changeling, but they love him anyway. In fact, they go to great lengths to keep him from being discovered by the rest of the town. This is pretty unique—in most stories, the family thinks they’re raising another human (like in Tithe by Holly Black), and they love the changeling anyway because they’ve always loved him/her. But in The Replacement, Mackie’s family has always known, and they still accept him. I loved this.

-Because Mackie has been raised to not bring attention to himself, he tends to do exactly what everyone else in town does—ignore the fact that faeries steal children every few years. He lives in constant fear of discovery, and, as a result, feels like an outsider. He ends up finding himself and his place in the world through sacrifice. I loved this, too.

For me, the pros outweighed the cons, partly because I connected with Mackie through my own personal experiences. And I’m looking forward to more books by this author.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week, 2010

The ALA is celebrating banned books this week and next. I’ve never been a loud advocate of banned books because I’ve never known what to say other than “it’s wrong.” Yeah, inspiring. :)

But then one individual compared the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson to soft pornography, and, because of that, he thinks it should be banned.


Anyone who has read Speak (and probably many who haven’t) knows that it’s about rape. And rape most certainly isn’t pornography. So, in addition to showing my support for the author, I decided to speak up about banned books this year.

Quite frankly, I don’t understand the point of banning books. I mean, people ban books for various reasons— inappropriate or explicit sexual content, offensive language, promotes violence or drug use, etc—but really it all comes down to one: The content of that book is too controversial.

Basically, controversial books introduce something outside the norm. And it’s always something that exists in real life, such as drugs, sex, witchcraft, violence, language, occultism, various forms of rape, etc. Some people find the introduction of this information okay, and some don’t. And that’s okay. Diverse opinions are what make the world an interesting and dynamic place.

But this is what I don’t get about banning books:

Subjects outside the norm have the potential to make our way of life stretch and grow. Look at aviation, electricity, internal combustion, architecture, etc. Before the Wright brothers succeeded, most people would have considered their efforts a waste of time. But, because of their success, we now have a completely different life. If it hadn’t been for the bravery and determination of these individuals, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

When someone writes a book about something that’s outside the norm—as in, explicit scenes about sex, violence, drug use, etc—that book is taking real elements of the world and putting them out there for others to ponder. If a teenage girl has been through some form of rape, or has a friend who has been through it, then reading a book on the subject may help her to deal with it. Or, if a teenage girl hasn’t experienced rape, then reading about it may help her know how to recognize the warning signs and then get help. Or, at least, how to avoid the situation in the first place.

That’s not to say that kids should be exposed to any subject at any time. Only parents can know whether or not their children are ready. I know what my kids can handle, and I definitely know what they’re not ready for. But they will eventually be ready, because I know them and I know how they grow.

Banning a book is saying that no one will ever be ready for this kind of subject, and therefore no one should be able to read it. Well, that just isn’t true. Exposure to tough subjects at the right time in a child’s growth is more likely to help than hurt. Kids are smart and strong, and if they have some help along the way, it’s amazing what they can do.

Basically, I believe that banning books is equivalent to stunting our growth as a society. If no one is willing to step outside the boundaries and talk about the hard stuff, then dealing with it becomes ten times harder. And then we’ll never be able to move beyond it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Winner of the September book giveaway!

I know it's late, but it's still the 25th at least.  :)  Sorry all!  Been laid up with a pretty nasty cold.

Anyway, it's time to announce who won the ARCs of The Replacement and The Gardener. 

And the winner is...


Congratulations!!  I'll get those in the mail for you asap.

For everyone else, come back next saturday to see what I'm giving away next month.  Hint: two ARCs, one of which is releasing next month!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.
Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

Since its release, I’ve been hearing much praise around this book. Actually, I started hearing it even before it was released. But I never picked it up because I was kind of tired of this genre. Then, my husband and I had some extra time to kill before a movie, so we stopped at a bookstore. Paranormalcy was on the shelf, so I picked it up and read the first five pages.

I was laughing out loud after the first paragraph. In the bookstore! And I kept laughing through the entire first scene. When I reached page five, I was already convinced of Evie’s awesomeness, so I snapped the book closed and bought it. I finished it the next day, and the middle and end were just as good as the beginning.

The author has a fantastically clever wit that I love. Even though Evie’s tastes weren’t at all like mine, I still found many ways to connect with her. And can I just say that I love the combination of the girly-girl who can also kick butt? Awesome! Also, the romance aspect to the story was realistic and healthy, and unfolds slowly rather than them throwing themselves at each other. Very refreshing.

The paranormal aspect is incredibly unique and interesting. The author has invented a new form of paranormal beings, and it’s still not clear of what their place in the world is. But the story’s resolution was satisfying, and I’m content to wait until the next book to find out more about these beings.

Well written, great characters, unique story, what’s not to love? Go get yourself a copy! You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mentors And Mentees

Months ago, The Literary Lab did a great post on mentors. It got the gears in my brain working, and I wrote up my own blog post about it. And then...I forgot to post it. Duh. So, anyway, here it is.

I had an amazing lit professor in college. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be writing today because he pushed me to be the best writer I could be. All the time. And he would not let me quit. The standard responses I got from him went kind of like this:

Professor: See this part right here? Not strong enough.
Me: Okay. What about this other thing?
Professor: Yeah, yeah, that was good. But you can do better. Now go do it.

Every. Single. Time. If I ever did anything halfway, he’d call me out on it and make me go do it again. I learned very quickly that writing wasn’t easy (not by a long shot), but he was also giving me exactly what I wanted: direction. I looked for that kind of direction in high school, but none of my teachers offered it. They read my poems, nodded and smiled, and that was it. It wasn’t until college that someone recognized my enthusiasm and took me under a wing.

Do I need my old professor now? No, not really. But have I outgrown the need for any kind of mentor? Absolutely not.

Ever since my professor taught me how to seek out craft, bettering myself in any and every way possible, I’ve done it. Non-stop. Conferences, other writers, authors, agent and editor blogs, classes, reading reading reading. You name it, I do it. And I’ve learned a ton.

Last year, I hit a wall. It got increasingly difficult to learn and grow on my own, and I found myself struggling in the same ways I’d struggled in high school. When I signed with my amazing agent, she took me under her wing and opened all kinds of doors for me regarding craft. She is far more diplomatic and encouraging than my professor was, but she’s still all about the tough love. I love it. :)

Anyway, I knew those doors were out there, but I couldn't figure out how to open them on my own. With her help, I was able to explore the great stuff inside. I didn’t need her to walk me through everything, nor do I need her approval on the plans for my stories, but that little bit if guidance was amazingly helpful.

I'm guessing that I'll eventually run into another set of doors like this, and I'll need some help getting them open. It’s the nature of the business—a great writer is also an inherent explorer, and sometimes you need a guide when travelling the unknown. I'm sure I'll be on my own here and there in the coming years, but I can't ever see a time where I will never need a mentor again. As long as I'm searching out craft, there will be stumbling and confusion, and then I'll need to find some help. Again. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him? Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

I’m not a huge fan of romance, especially the kind where the girl can’t rescue herself and instead has to depend on a boy to do it for her. As a result, this really interfered with my enjoyment of Halo because that’s basically what this story is about. So, if that's not your cup of tea, then this probably isn’t the story for you.

Bethany is an angel. Meaning, she’s a supernatural being with abilities that humans don’t have. She, along with two other angels, was sent by Heaven to improve life in Venus Cove. Gabriel and Ivy immediately set to work and get involved in the communities. Bethany goes to high school, presumably to help others. Except she doesn’t. She focuses on behaving like any teenage girl: making friends, doing homework, finding a boyfriend, etc. Which is fine—admirable, actually, because it helps her to better understand the humans she’s supposed to be helping.

But this is what I could not get over: I can count on one hand the number of times Bethany helps humans. And, each of those times, she didn’t set out to help them. Instead, she just happened to be in the area and reacted to the current situation. Not once did she actively seek out a way to carry out her mission. As a result, Bethany doesn’t drive this story. Not what I expect from an angel.

On top of this, she does nothing to save herself, or even protect the ones she loves, when a supernatural evil comes to Venus Cove. Since she’s an angel, I expected her to be on the front lines because she has to know that humans don’t stand a chance against that kind of power. Instead, she hides behind a human to protect her. Definitely not what I expect from an angel.

The idea of angels coming down to Earth (without 'falling') is so unique and intriguing, and I really wanted to like this story. If Bethany had been proactive (rather than reactive), then I think I would have. As it is, though...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Arr! Walk The Plank You Scurrrvy Scum...

Recently, Kristi at The Story Siren did a post about e-piracy. That is, taking content that’s copyrighted, scanning it into electronic form or typing it up in word, and sharing it with others in some way, shape or form. So, basically, the share sites where people download digital copies of books for free? Yeah, that’s illegal.

Kristi makes some excellent points about how much e-piracy hurts authors, and linked to some great articles written by authors who’ve discussed the same thing. If you haven’t read these yet, it’s definitely worth it.

From what I’ve seen, e-pirates justify their actions with these reasons:

This is the same as utilizing a library. Or, the same as me giving away a copy to a friend.
Actually, it’s not. When you borrow a book from a library, you give it back when you’re done. When you download a copy of a book from a share-site, you don’t give that one back. Also, if you give your copy of a book to a friend, that’s one book that you’ve paid for. Therefore, it’s yours to do with as you please. You can give it away, loan it, keep it, or even sell it. The only thing you can’t do is turn your one copy into two (or more) and then distribute it to others.

Some of these authors are so rich, they can afford to lose a few dollars.
Okay, let’s put this into a different perspective. Let’s say you collect something—rocks, cookie jars, antique jewelry, watches, whatever. You work hard to search these things out because you love them, and you love seeing all of them on your shelf (or in your drawer, or wherever). But what if someone else came along and said “You’ve got enough of these things, so I’m just going to take one.” Would you be happy about that? Probably not. In fact, I’m guessing you’d get downright angry. E-piracy is the same thing.

Before you say “But I paid for my cookie jars/watches/etc! Authors don’t pay for their own work.” Let me just say that authors have paid. Most authors can’t support themselves with their books alone. Most have day jobs, and the writing comes in our spare time. That’s time away from our families and friends, all so we can share something entertaining with you, the reader. Don’t think for a second that this time is worthless, because it’s not. Sure, it’s a choice. Just like it’s a choice to spend money on cookie jars or watches or sparkly rocks that you want, but don’t need.

Some readers discover new authors on these share sites, and then they want to read more by that author. So that makes them a good thing.
Not really. Readers can discover new authors at libraries, bookstores, and other legal environments just as well as browsing an illegal download site. And with the massive online bookstores available nowadays, with some pretty detailed searching capabilities, you’re just not going to run into the problem of ‘they didn’t have the book I was looking for.’

I can’t afford to buy this book.
I can’t afford to buy every single book, I want, either. That’s what libraries are for. Real libraries, that is. Or, if you really want to own a copy of this book to read whenever you want, then set aside a little money each month. Even if it’s ten cents. If you keep saving, you’ll eventually get there. It’s what I’ve done my entire life, so, trust me, it works.

Everyone else is doing it.
Seriously? If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you do that, too?

This article by Brian Scott states that, if you violate the copyright of another individual, you could be brought up on two different kinds of charges: civil and criminal. The civil charges could make you pay the copyright owner up to three times the actual damages of that violation. In other words, if you gave out 1000 unauthorized copies of a book, from which the author normally would have gotten $1 per book, then you’ll have to pay that author $3000. Possibly more, if you have to pay his/her legal fees, too.

You know those FBI warnings you see on every single DVD/VHS/Blue-ray/etc available for purchase? The one that says the contents of this movie are protected under copyright, and any and all attempts to copy and distribute can get you up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Yeah, that one. These are the criminal charges, and they apply to books as well as movies.

Are triple damages, legal fees, five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine worth giving away someone else’s novel for free? I, personally, don’t think so.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there’s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends... when you’re immortal. But this time is different: Nastasya knows that this new town must hold her salvation—or her death.
Nastasya was born into darkness, and has embraced it her whole life. Four hundred years ago, a tragedy robbed her of her birthright, and she’s been living a lie ever since. Now, four centuries of exploring the depths and limits of dark power has left Nastasya feeling sickened unto death. If she continues down this road, she will end up as a very dark, twisted, evil thing—with unthinkable power. Or she can begin the long, painful road toward light, and reclaim the destiny that others tried to destroy. They’re rare. You may have never met one, never sat next to one on a plane, never eaten in the same restaurant at the same time. But the Immortals are there. Have always been there. Will always be there. Moving among humans, playing out their own cursed fate. Sometimes subtly, sometimes with huge, sweeping implications for mankind. But no one will ever know. Except you.

When I first picked up this book, I was skeptical. It didn’t really sound different from most of what’s already out there, but something about it made me want to give it a try. And, boy, am I glad I did.

Nastasya is such an interesting character. She’s both cowardly and strong, which makes for an intriguingly unique (and realistic) combination. She is independent and strong enough not to lose her head over Reyn, whose hotness is truly lust-worthy. It’s even more refreshing that she doesn’t do the “Why doesn’t he like me? What’s wrong with me?” whiny thing. Instead, she just accepts the situation for what it is and moves on. I loved that about her.

But she’s also a practiced coward. Born over four hundred years ago, she’s undergone some pretty serious loss, trama, and rough times. As a result, she’s turned running away into an art form. Before anyone even gets the remotest chance of getting close to her, she’s gone. She reinvents her appearance, adopts a new name, and self-medicates herself into oblivion. It’s only when she meets her fellow partiers—Innocencio, Boz, Stratton, Cicely, and Katy—that she forms some semblance of friendships. But they’re not really friends, because there’s no depth there. She doesn’t know them and they don’t know her, because she won’t let them in. And when Innocencio freaks her out by breaking a human’s back, she runs. Again. It’s so...Nastasya. :)

The self-assured Nastasya conflicts so well with the cowardly Nastasya that, once I picked it up, I could not put this book down. Nastasya goes on a reluctant journey of self-discovery, and ends up finding a place for herself in the world that she doesn’t want to run from. The road isn’t easy (not by a long shot), and it’s clear there is much more to her story regarding Innocencio, and even Nell, which I’m guessing will come in the next book.

Tiernan did a fantastic job of establishing Nastasya’s story and giving us the full picture of her life, while still teasing us about what is to come. This is one of the best examples of character development I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Writing vs. Storytelling

Last month, Nathan Bransford had an interesting blog post on writing vs. storytelling. He asked his readers what they thought was more important to the success of a story, and many people voiced their opinions. Including me. 

I’ve had some time to think on this, and I’ve expanded my opinion a bit. I think the importance of writing vs. storytelling depends on your audience.

For a non-writer, I can see this depending on personal preference. Some people are more forgiving of adverbs or questionable grammar when the story has a break-neck pace with lots of conflict. Those people would probably say storytelling is more important. Others get lost in poor writing and it interferes with their enjoyment of the story. Those people would probably say that writing is more important. One could make a compelling case for each, depending on your personal preference.

But for writers, it’s different. I think writing and storytelling are equally important. A good writer needs the skills that find the best parts of a story and weave them together such that the reader can’t tear himself away. He also needs the skills to put it on the page such that the reader can connect to everything and everyone, and that requires good writing. I don't see how it's possible for one to be more important that the other.

That brings us to a similar topic: balance.

There is so much that goes into writing a book. Characters, story arc, subplots, tension, dialog, voice, transitions, pacing, description, setting, the list goes on. All of these pieces are equally important. You can’t have truly believable characters without great dialog, a great plot without tension, a vivid setting without appropriate description, a flowing story arc without smooth transitions, etc.

It stands to reason that storytelling and good writing are also equally important. Good writing means nothing if the story is all over the place, and a great story will fall flat if the writing is loaded with purple prose, adverbs, poor grammar, etc. It’s possible to have amazing storytelling and writing that is good enough, and that will likely be a success. It’s also possible to have fantastic writing and a story that’s good, though I think that’s less likely to be a success. But there is still a certain level of quality needed on both sides for your story to work.

I think the truly amazing stories are the ones that manage to balance everything—great storytelling, fantastic writing, life-like characters, gripping plot and pacing, vivid setting, etc—and still create a strong connection to the reader. This is really hard to do, and I always end up with a healthy respect for any author who can do this. :)

Saturday, September 04, 2010

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is an exploration of what books I brought home this week, and is organized by The Story Siren.

I got a few interesting books this week.  Two for review and one I bought.

ARC of Blue Fire by Janice Hardy
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.
Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

ARC of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.
What did you bring home this week?

September Book Giveaway!

September is here and I've got more books to give away.

ARC of The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.
A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?
ARC of The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener. Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?

To enter, fill out the form below, then come back here on September 25th to see if you've won. Good luck!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thief Eyes by Janni Lee Simner

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector.
When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari.

The retelling of Icelandic sagas and Scandinavian mythology is what drew me to this story. There are hardly any of these retellings, which is a shame because there’s so much great material there. So I eagerly awaited my copy of Thief Eyes.

Overall, it was interesting. The author’s spin on Hallgerd’s story is clever and intriguing, and shows Hallgerd as more than the evil, selfish girl painted by history/lore. The magical aspect of the story, however, is a bit too confusing. I couldn’t figure out why the story unfolded the way it did, except that it had to.

I did like that the other magical characters were individuals with their own agendas and purposes. Even though some of them helped Haley, they were still working toward their own goals. It added a layer of believable and interesting tension. Though I didn’t understand the purpose of bringing Odin into the story, since his appearance is very brief and there are no consequences as a result. It seemed like an extreme way to get rid of the uncle.

The one aspect of the story that I couldn’t get around, though, was the way Haley interacted with Ari.

Slight SPOILER warning here...

She scorned her father for cheating on her mother, and now she’s basically cheating on her boyfriend. I think introducing these feelings to her was a very good thing, but they were never explored. It should have created an understanding of her father’s actions, and how stupid things happen sometimes. It also should have made her angry at herself for doing exactly what she hated her father for. Instead, she went with it, and then magically worked things out with her boyfriend so that everyone is happy. Life is never that neat.

Still, it was a pretty enjoyable read. I think the language could have been toned down because the story’s content isn’t edgy enough for it, and that could have opened up the audience to younger teens.