“There are two things you know.”First line in Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Hi, guys. Today you’re getting part 2 of my O.W.L.s Readathon wrap up. Remember to check out part 1 if you missed it. Here in part 2, I have 4 mini-reviews for you so enjoy!
The Near Witch
Author: Victoria Schwab
Published: August 2nd 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: Witches, small village, sisterly love
O.W.L. Passed: History of Magic
Synopsis: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.
And there are no strangers in the town of Near.
These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.
But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.
The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.
As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.
Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
This was weird but in a good way. Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is quite different from her other works. Instead of missing “the usual Schwab”, I really appreciated seeing another side to her writing. It’s more reminiscent of fairy tales really, with a very atmospheric style and a great focus on nature. However, there were some slight imperfections in terms of the writing that revealed that she wasn’t the most experienced author at the time. For example, it became quite repetitive in some areas, but it never reached a level that bothered me very much while reading.
My main issue with the book was the romance which came out of nowhere. It kept feeling forced until the end, and I didn’t exactly see the point of it. Plotwise, a strong friendship would have accomplished the same thing. It was especially frustrating because I know that Schwab went on to write a YA duology without any romance in it, so I know she’s capable of it.
I still recommend this book if it sounds just slightly interesting to you. It has some great themes surrounding fear and what it can do to people. You also get some interesting family dynamics and of course, Victoria Schwab’s writing.
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: April 21st 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary
Buzzwords: mental health
O.W.L. Passed: Defence Against the Dark Arts
Synopsis: Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behaviour.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.
I don’t have much to say about this book. It was good without being great. I didn’t connect very much with the story or the characters but just found it interesting and educational. It’s a book that deeply explores mental health, and I really liked that Shusterman relied so heavily on metaphors. It worked really well and I had a great time trying to decipher them all.
If you’re suffering from severe mental health issues or know someone who does, I’ll highly recommend this book.
Author: Blake Crouch
Published: July 26th 2016
Genre: Sci-fi Thriller
O.W.L. Passed: Arithmancy
Synopsis: Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.
It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”
Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.
And someone is hunting him.
I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I was with this book. So many things about it didn’t work for me. The characters are flat which means I can’t connect to them. I especially found the MC quite annoying. He’s supposed to be this physics professor aka really smart but he very rarely prooved that. I kept figuring things out but then I had to wait for him to catch up. It gave me the sense that these things were drawn out for dramatic purposes but because the author had given the reader so many clues already, the revelations failed to be shocking.
The plot was based on an interesting idea and that’s what kept me reading. However, the detached writing style and the personality-less characters left me sort of numb to the events I was supposed to care about. The ending was also less epic than what I expected it to be.
Overall, I think this book might work for you if you’re a very plot-focused reader. For me, this was a great idea that I’m sure can be executed much better.
Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Published: May 30th 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary
Buzzwords: anxiety, web comics, secret online life
O.W.L. Passed: Muggle Studies
Synopsis: In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.
I wanted to read this for the anxiety rep and was in no way disappointed. The book really delivered on that front with descriptions of how it feels, what its consequences are and most importantly, how to deal with it. I couldn’t help but compare it to Fangirl while reading because they are so similar stories. Both in terms of anxiety and the online fame thing. Nevertheless, Eliza and Her Monsters handles it differently so I would say that the two books complement each other well.
I really liked that Eliza had a complicated relationship with her family because it felt realistic and remind me of my own family. I wasn’t completely on board with the romance though. I wasn’t convinced that they actually loved each other so I felt a little indifferent about them together. There were also some minor things about the ending that I didn’t care for which is why I ended up giving the book 4 stars. Still a book I would highly recommend if you want to read about anxiety.
And that’s all you get. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and if our opinions align or not. Otherwise I hope you’re all doing okay. Happy reading!