Tag: Realistic Fiction

Dangerous Lies

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Low expectations, guys, low expectations. Years ago, I read the highly recommended angel-love-story, Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick herself. I seriously expected a beautiful story that would have me obsessed as I was with, say, Divergent, but I ended up having mixed feelings about it all, especially because of the instant romance that fluttered with love and hate coming back and forth with each other. Later on, I was excited to hear that Becca moved from writing paranormal romance to thrillers. If you don’t know me by now, I LOVE THRILLERS.Everything about them just make my heart flutter and I occasionally get these outbursts where I need to read a hundred of them in a row. I still need to read Black Ice, which I own, but for now, Dangerous Lies did it for me. I really enjoyed everything about it, and it’s one of those books that you’ll want to spend a day reading because you constantly feel this outrage of tension, making you feel like something could happen at any moment.

Dangerous Lies has been getting mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I expected the worst, because I rather be pleased than disappointed in the end. There is a strong romance in this book, mixed with real-life events that could happen to anyone. Our heroine, Stella, who I adored, is in the Witness Protection Program, and that could seem like a minor detail in the plot, but I loved how Becca centred the story around that. Stella moves to a small town in Nebraska, which is a setting I have seen for the first time in a book, and it makes us readers feel this tension that anyone could find her. It’s interesting to read about settings like this because we don’t know what to expect. Some would prefer to hide in big cities where they won’t be found, while other prefer small towns in the middle of nowhere.

As mentioned, Stella is in the WPP after she witnessed a crime in her own house committed by her mother’s “boyfriend” drug-dealer, after he shot another man in Philadelphia, her old home. She moves to Nebraska and lives with a woman who she immediately feels connected to. And then she meets a cute guy, Chet, and their connection becomes bigger but of course, there’s a guy at home.

This book makes you think about how life brings surprises all the time. You could be living your life in a certain, ordinary way until something unexpected happens and everything you’ve ever known is taken from you forever, it seems. You could just have to move, like Stella had, out of nowhere for something that wasn’t your fault. This novel was part mystery, part contemporary, and I liked how there was just a bit of everything: mystery, romance and the life of a senior in high school. There was the looming tension that Stella’s mother would come out of nowhere, leave rehab and come and get there. There was the other part looming where Stella’s boyfriend from home, Reed, would show up. Every chapter literally brought something new up and I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages.

Becca Fitzpatrick’s writing is very simplistic, and for this type of novel, that’s the kind of thing I’m looking for. I look for a pretty interesting plot, mixed with good characters and a mystery that’s different—not your typical best friend murder story.

Some people have mentioned how Stella’s character is bit*hy. Yeah, she definitely is, but I actually loved that side of her, the arrogant, confident side that made readers be obsessed with her and wonder how she will solve her own problem. She’s extremely independent, perfect for this small-town-setting. I loved how Becca made her have a relationship with her coworkers at the diner. Agh. This was just so great and refreshing, my friends.

Now, let’s get to the romance. CHET AND STELLA ARE ADORBS TIMES A HUNDRED. Their relationship was not forced, as I have frequently read lately, and I love their carefree feeling, and how they could confide in each other. Go couples that tell each other their secrets and don’t create drama that gets in the way of the real point of the book! *cheers*

Dangerous Lies, from its cover (which defines the book perfectly), to the last page, is just satisfying. It’s one of the better mysteries I’ve read lately, and certainly one of the better books. I am seriously looking forward to what else Becca will be releasing in the future, and I just can see how this will make other readers go crazy. It took me long enough to read, though. By the way, there are tons of dangerous lies hidden in between the lines of the story, and you will be extremely shocked!

Althea and Oliver

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MY FELLOW REVIEWERS, I have a difficult question for you to answer: what are your issues with this glorious book? I have owned Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho for the longest time ever—perhaps since it was released. I think I remember purchasing it a few weeks after it was initially released because I needed another Eleanor and Park in my life. This is a riskier, wilder, but exactly the same real example of the Eleanor and Park that we readers all know and love. This is the story of two best friends who are so close that no one else understands them the way the other does, and how they need to rely on each other for so much. There is so much negativity, debates going around about how the author handled rape (which I do have my opinion on, I’ll get into it) and how the book was boring. But honestly? I didn’t see barely any negativity—this was just a great read that I’m so happy to own in my book collection.

Sometimes anticipation goes down the drain. That happens quite frequently with me. Sometimes, anticipation is totally worth it. I decided to read Althea and Oliver on a road trip where I brought all hardcovers, all books that scream “SUMMER” and “SUMMER COLOURS.” Obviously, yellow is a summery colour, so I just grabbed this one and went with it. I was super excited to read it. Thankfully my expectations were correct. This book just WOWed me. I am still shocked with the ending to this very day, weeks later. I am shocked with the way that Moracho handled the romance, how she didn’t take Althea and Oliver, two best friends who are as close as two peas in a pod, that she didn’t take them and implanted them into each other—make them a fictional couple who are so in love and are starstruck with why or how they did not notice the other person years ago. This went in a complete different direction and I promise you, if you decide to read this, you will agree with me: you never have read a book that ends like this.

Fluffy at times and all, where Althea and Oliver just cannot stop obsessing over each other as they are separated at two different parts of the country, this has a very complex set of themes and ideas that Cristina planned out perfectly. This is not fantasy—the fact that Oliver sleeps for weeks and wakes up out of nowhere—Oliver’s condition, Kleine-Levin syndrome is not fake. I searched it up after being so mesmerized with the topic, and it is a real illness that’s rare, yes, but that exists with many people. This is not a book about a boy having experienced something tragic and is undergoing amnesia. Oliver sleeps, out of nowhere, and loses the bits of his life that would be important to him if he was able to see it, or in fact, live it.

This is where the rape issue comes in. Many have deducted high ratings because of what happened between Althea and Oliver at one point of the novel, before he heads to New York City to be watched and monitored by that ultra-cool doctor of his. No one really mentions it, but Moracho hints at male sexual violence, in a way. Althea sleeps with Oliver, but he doesn’t remember any of it, his first time, when he wakes up, because he was half-awake, or however Oliver’s mother likes to call it. Althea should know half-asleep Oliver from fully-awake Oliver—I even noticed. Oliver didn’t really give consent, and after he woke up, he was pissed at Althea, which creates this horrible tension in the novel, and next thing Althea knows, her first love is in New York City, being treated for his condition without saying goodbye because he’s too upset at Althea.

“There are days that I remember, totally ordinary days when I was so happy just to be driving around in the car with you, just to have you there, and everything you said was funny and everything I said was clever and every song that came on the radio was exactly the song I wanted to hear” (327).

It looked like rape to me—but I wasn’t so annoyed. I just hated how Althea denied it—she thought that she was perfect and the best, never doing any wrong. Don’t get me wrong—I loved Althea as a character, but she was too arrogant, too much of a trouble-maker for me to believe that she didn’t mean it or whatnot. I see that many people are thinking the exact same thing as me. From the two, I loved Oliver and his story much more, comparing to Althea’s. And this was never mentioned, but I wonder if Althea just went to NYC to find Oliver to apologize. She was a crazy man-freak who really didn’t put that much emotion into her love for Oliver as Oliver did, you know? It was really, really interesting to see the twist on this story that people stereotypically see the opposite of.

From beginning to end, this was just so enjoyable. I finished reading this in one sitting, one sitting full of laughs, but mostly constant page-flipping because I was just so intrigued with Moracho’s writing. The writing was lyrical, poetic and so real. It screamed out summer, fall, and all of the seasons because as we got to know Althea and Oliver more and more, time passed by and they were caught with different things in their lives. The story starts off in North Carolina, a new favourite setting of mine where it’s basically summer all year long, and then progressed into NYC, my favourite city in the entire universe.

This book is the anthem for the power of books. Althea and Oliver is completely original, taken place in the 90s where we read about mixtapes (which are currently trending again), times with no cell phones and a different life that I, myself, hadn’t ever experienced because of my age. I just want to listen to The Backstreet Boys and jam, thinking about this powerful story that caused me to think about relationships, life and just… everything.

Althea and Oliver is mesmerizing, addicting and powerful. It contains a variety of messages, some that pop up to some people, and others that intrigue other people. It’s all about the perspective that you look at these characters, and how you treat life. It’s philosophical, real, and has no inch of fantasy that will make you doubt anything that happened in the plot. I couldn’t stop reading, and my mouth still has an “O” shape out of shock. That ending—that was unbelievably great.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

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Horror stories make me giddy, excited and really creeped out. REALLY CREEPED OUT. But for me, the “being creeped out” part is the absolute fun of it all. It makes me so happy, so excited and so obsessed with the book that I’m reading, showing that the purpose is being put to good use. Most likely, the author’s purpose of writing any horror fiction story is to entertain readers with a genre (especially in YA) that is rarely seen because some people cannot take it. I was definitely entertained with Grady Hendrix’s first YA-based novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I couldn’t stop reading, especially towards the end, and I knew, from the start, that it will turn out to be absolute perfection. Well, I wouldn’t call it perfect at all, since Hendrix did take a long time to get to the actual exorcism, the part that I knew would occur and that I was looking forward to the most.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism has the best setting ever: the late 1980s. I am a teenager, so I seriously have limited knowledge of the time where my parents were teenagers, except for the cheesy disco music that they still like to “ooh” and “awe” over constantly. From the gorgeous cover, mimicking a high school yearbook, to the actual references made in the novel, 1988 seems fantastic. Hendrix seems to have so much experience with this era, having lived in it as well, and it’s something new for us YA readers who are either used to reading about (a) the future, where everything is scientific and eerie, (b) the past, especially real historical times or (c) the present. There’s nothing about 1980 in any YA book, except for Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I would love to applaud Grady for this great premise.
It seems right to have this kind of book placed in the 80s era. That is the era where people were superstitious (not that they currently aren’t), where unimaginable things were believed in, where people didn’t have the technology that we are fortunate to have today, minus Abby’s creepy Mickey Mouse telephone. Me imagining these characters’ wacky hair and outfits is so intriguing. The setting of Charleston, South Carolina, which today is still known as one of the most haunted places in the world is just my favourite thing about the story itself… and of course, the aftermath of everything that happened to the two best friends (and protagonists).

“You know, Abby, this is one of those things that’s broken, and it’s not getting fixed. Some mistakes are forever, and you committed one. Welcome to the rest of your long, lonely life” (301).

This is all about what the title screams out at you: an exorcism of a best friend of someone. Well, that someone is Abby Rivers, who is our protagonist. In the beginning of the story, Hendrix explains Abby’s past and how she met her best friend, Gretchen. We quickly skip along Abby’s child and soon meet her sophomore year in high school where she notices Gretchen’s personality changing, and how harshly her parents treat her. The only explanation behind all of her weird antics and sayings? A demon named Andras.

AGH. The possession that Gretchen experienced in the novel is no surprise—we knew that it would happen, but we obviously did not know how. I wish there was more “horror,” more freaky moments in this story minus the ending where things really shape up. I felt that a lot of the story was filler, trying to get us to know the characters really well—perfectly, perhaps—but I didn’t need that. Abby spent so much time making excuses for Gretchen, trying to not realize that what was really happening was not an illness or anything like that, but a demonic possession somehow. Rape came into question, but the real answer was something supernatural that could definitely make you cringe. People have described this book as gory, as a little too much, but I would disagree with that in some points of the story. We honestly only got into the real fast-paced stuff in the last fifty pages. I would rate those fifty pages 5 stars, but everything else seemed like a three star rating. I had issues with a lot of things, but most of that was because of the plot.

It seems that Grady Hendrix has experience with writing things about Satan and demons. I scrolled through a list of his other books, and they all seem to be horror stories. I’m surprised that he rolled this one down a little—I hope it’s not for the reason that this was written for an young adult audience. Everything was just plain old high school drama that we constantly see in contemporaries these days. We see the characters experimenting with drugs, sneaking out, lying to their parents, having fun, partying—it’s nothing new, in that way. And when I look at all of the events from that perspective, it makes me wonder if the world really changed at all from the 80s, if this is Hendrix’s view of teenagers during that time. I guess the yearbook cover really did hint at “HIGH SCHOOL” all along.

“I love you, Abby. You’re my best friend, and my mirror, and my reflection, and you are me, and you are everything I love and everything I hate, and I will never give up on you” (322).

Cheers for the mega adorable friendship between Gretchen and Abby. I WANT SOMETHING LIKE THEIRS. Girl power? Yes. Romance? No. Thank goodness for that extra detail, too. Not every YA book needs romance, and I feel that some authors need to take that into consideration when they write books these days. People, like myself, prefer books that are unique over those that have been written over and over again, it seems.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism‘s ending, as well as its setting, were the best parts of the story. Your jaw will drop when you discover who will take the hands of the exorcism and sew everything together. Yay for independence (Abby’s character) and yay for a beautifully mended friendship between two girls who come from different families and different lives, but have always tried their best to stay/stick together. This contained a ton of filler that was just meant for readers to get to know the characters better, but you will see—it’s a little too much. I’M SO EXCITED FOR HORRORSTÖR NOW.