I picked up The Sharp Edge of Silence because of the main plot—a rape at a private high school. As my debut novel, Lipstick Covered Magnet, tackled rape, acceptance, and healing, I knew this book would be for me.
The novel follows three narrators: Q(Quinn), Charlotte, and Max. They each hold a vital piece to the puzzle and offer varying perspectives on the culture (and secret organization) of Lycroft Phelps. As someone who has struggled with sexual harassment and assault, Q's journey and rage sat with me in a way only I believe a fellow victim can understand. Q's story was raw, painful, and honest about living with trauma, and I believe Rosenblum did a phenomenal job conveying the struggles of living through sexual assault and how—until you've healed—your body no longer feels like yours.
While Q's narrative was compelling and important, Charlotte's and Max's felt bloated. I enjoyed their commentary on jock culture and the secretive nature of Slycroft but ultimately felt their sections lagged and only offered something of real importance near the latter quarter of the novel. I also didn't need 20+ pages of Max rowing with the crew. After a while, I began glazing over those scenes.
Overall, I loved Q's plot—from depression to rage to eventual acceptance and healing. I just felt it would have been more poignant and rich without so much commentary from Charlotte and Max.
I recommend this novel to anyone interested in YA novels that tackle sexual assault, healing past traumas, or toxic sexual expectations.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for the ARC.*
Unexpecting is a YA novel about unplanned pregnancy, expectations, parenthood, and found family. While it is compared to Juno and Heartstopper, it is much closer to the former. There's a budding romance, but you'll be disappointed if you're expecting something reminiscent of Charlie and Nick's relationship.
Ben, the sixteen-year-old gay narrator who gets his best girl pal pregnant after a science camp experiment, is immediately adamant about keeping the baby, despite Maxie's (the mother's) wishes to give it to a couple wishing to adopt. While his intense drive to make young parenthood work, everything seems to stack against him. He lets down his team at the robotics tournament, consistently breaks dishes at his bussing job, and cannot seem to find the time to study on top of enrolling in parenting courses and sitting in on adoption interviews. In many ways, the constant wave of shit makes it unbelievable.
While the prose was written well and Ben was easy to empathize with, some plot points were too over the top, and Ben's drive to be a teenage father didn't make sense halfway through, given how many opportunities and academic programs he would have to give up—things he had been planning for since elementary school. I was also hoping for more when it came to his relationship with Gio.
Despite some of the issues, I thought it was an interesting read. I haven't read many novels about teen pregnancy, and never have I come across one written from the perspective of the expecting father. I commend Bailey for taking on this subject and would readily pick up her future works.
*Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for the ARC.*
Into the Light is a YA suspense/thriller that tackles the US fostering system, religious ideology, family, and finding your true place in a world full of prejudice, discrimination, and injustice.
I always love a culty premise, so I didn't hesitate to ask for an ARC when I found this on NetGalley. I found Manny's homelessness and defenselessness compelling and heart-wrenching. His mistrust of anyone willing to help him was sad but realistic, when you take into account the poor foster care system in the US.
Despite liking the premise and enjoying Manny's character, the pacing of the novel was all over the place. The first 75% was too slow; there was a great deal of repetition, and it felt like not much happened until the big reveal. From then on, it was a sprint to the finish. The book would have been more gripping if it had been shorter and Manny didn't spend so much time getting to Idyllwild.
The following contains some minor spoilers.
I didn't appreciate the unexpected reveal. Having a supernatural twist made the rest of the novel seem bland in comparison. If there was an otherworldly presence at the camp, why hadn't it ever been tapped before? Why not use that to bolster the cult's following and create an atmosphere outside of what can already be stripped from the headlines? I feel that, with the twist, the book lost a lot of weight.
End of spoilers.
Despite the pacing and twist issues, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading about religious camps, cults, and found family.
*Thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the ARC.*
Traces is a phenomenal debut. It is poignant, beautiful, and compelling. Aiden and Cole play off each other really well, and I felt their relationship was both heartwarming and the perfect amount of awkward.
Without giving too much away, Traces is a novel about Aiden, a girl who’s just learned she’s an empath. If you like YA fiction with a dash of magical realism and psychological fiction, I highly recommend it.
I’ll definitely be picking up Below, the second novel in the Traces trilogy., once I’ve worked through my current TBR.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a light-hearted novel about a teenage boy's online relationship with a mysterious boy from his school. I enjoyed the ambiguous nature of their budding romance and loved Simon attempting to piece together the clues "Blue" left for him.
Though the blackmail aspect grew tiring, I was happy Martin didn't turn out to be the love interest.
If this had been published when I was in high school, I believe I would have enjoyed it more. As a 28-year-old mother of two writing a YA romance, this didn't live up to my expectations--especially after all the hype the book and movie received.
Nevertheless, I'd recommend the novel to younger LGBTQ+ readers looking to see themselves in print.
Much like everyone else who read Twilight as a teen, I decided to scoop up this latest edition just to see if Meyer offered anything of note to the original plot. Even though I never cared much about Edward and Bella’s love story, I thought revisiting Forks through the eyes of Edward would provide me with a deeper understanding of who he is outside of his association with Bella. Despite setting the bar low, I was disappointed.
Admittedly, Stephenie Meyer’s writing has improved. Her prose is easier to digest and she offers adequate description and detail without bombarding you with the shit you don’t care about. That is, of course, unless you despise vampire baseball. There’s a whole chapter on that car crash of a sport.
From an editing standpoint, the end product needed to be passed over a few more times. I counted more than 30 typos, misused words, and just straight-up missing words throughout the book. One or two is common, but come on. Did the editing team want to be rid of it that badly?
Now let’s talk about Edward’s level of stalking. It’s somehow cute when he does it, but I’m sure Joe Goldberg creeping on a girl while she’s asleep would elicit a much stronger reaction.
Then we come to the realization that, despite Edward being 104, he has never had sex with another being, alive or dead. Sure, he never felt a strong connection with another vampire, but Tonya was more than willing to sleep with him. It’s unrealistic to think he never considered fucking someone.
When we get to know Bella a little more, we realize she still doesn’t have a personality. The fact that we waited ten years to finally catch a glimpse of the person hiding under the paper-thin Bella Swan we grew accustomed to is ludicrous, especially when you consider she’s nothing but a bland Mary Sue that every guy falls for… for essentially no reason. There’s nothing significant about her apart from the pure ecstasy that is her blood.
To keep it short and sweet, this book wasn’t worth the time. You don’t learn much more about Edward, and what you do learn is so insignificant that it never needed to be explored. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to pick up something more worthwhile.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The following post contains spoilers.*
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I was gripped almost immediately by the story; the way it was structured made it easy and pleasant to read. Where many novels make the back and forth of past and present timelines difficult to follow, Tell Me When You Feel Something does it in a way that doesn’t result in whiplash.
The main characters — Davida, Viv, and Tim — are given the amount of backstory needed for the plot to be effective. My only criticism regarding character development relates specifically to Viv; I still don’t completely buy what triggered her alcoholism. Sure, a need to feel in control is important (especially at such a young age), but there were many other ways she could have gone about taking control. She also mentioned never having drunk prior to that year; neither was she particularly close to the partiers. It didn’t jibe with everything else.
The latter section of the book could have been handled with a little more finesse. Sexual assault is such a controversial and triggering topic, and I feel it could have been a larger part of the novel. If the reader was offered the truth behind what happened to Viv closer to the beginning of the third act, there would have been room to expand on her emotions and trauma. Instead, we are offered this information knowing the book ends with her in the hospital. There isn’t much closure on Viv’s end which I believe a story like this needs.
All in all, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to YA readers nearing the end of high school.