“Written in the Stars” by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars(Author: Aisha Saeed) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I had absolutely no expectations going into this book. I remember seeing the pretty cover and thinking it might be worth checking out, so it did end up on my shelves and stayed there for a long time.

However, after reading the first few chapters, I was surprised by the direction and the tone of the book. The beginning was mild enough and innocent enough, as we followed the hardships of an American-Pakistani girl, who is struggling with hiding the fact that she has a boyfriend, despite the orders of her conservative parents.

The book quickly changed its tone, surprising me yet again. With Naila going back to Pakistan and staying with her family there for the summer, I was baffled as to the idea of the book and it took me longer than usual to figure out where things are going.

Once it came to me, though, I couldn’t help but feel helplessly furious. Not just at the idea of this book, which is positive, more or less, but at the injustices and abominations on the female personality that are allowed to exist even in our times. The author condemned the situation the main character was in, but also, setting her personal example, kind of tried to make excuses, which made me even more angry, as I think this is something inexcusable.

Since it might be a spoiler, please continue reading only if you don’t mind knowing the main storyline of Written in the Stars.

S P O I L E R S     A H E A D

So… arranged marriage, huh? Can anything positive really be said about that? I don’t think it matters what your religion tells you, how pious or conservative you are, what social order and norms you are used to, taking someone’s right to choose who they share their life and bed with is abominable. I am sure that no matter what I say, I would not be able to convince otherwise a person who believes in arranged marriages, however, I would compare that to rape. It is rape. It is forsaking your own child to be raped and continue living with the person who did that to them.

And no matter how this book was supposed to be received, the only thing it positively succeeded into making me is feeling angry. While reading how happy Naila’s family was to send her to that man’s family, I was angry. By seeing how his family treated her, I was angry. I am still angry that someone on this planet there is even one single person who is living in this terrible situation. And lastly, I am angry because of the hypocrisy of women’s movements nowadays. Western women fight for their right to show their nipples on Instagram, but they don’t fight for the millions of women who spend their lives married to their rapists. If your argument is that Islam praises arranged marriages, please go away, because this is just some perverted way of reading something that has a completely different meaning, exactly the same way as Islam only encourages men taking second wives in order for widows not to starve to death, and not in order to help out a man’s virility and the wider variety in his bedroom.

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“Kindred Spirits” by Rainbow Rowell

Kindred Spirits(Author: Rainbow Rowell) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I usually like Rainbow Rowell’s books, but this small novel was not my cup of tea.

For starters, the story of Kindred Spirits was rather unusual for me. I’ve never been big enough of a fan of anything to wait in a line for days to see it. As a matter of fact, this line culture doesn’t exist in my country at all and people almost never go that crazy over the things they like.

As an outsider to American culture, I would say that it’s something very specific to America to reach this level of admiration towards some aspect of pop culture. To me, that seems rather excessive. Of course, all over the world, there are people who are fans of, or even completely obsessed with something. However, I don’t think it exists as a group behavior on so high of a level.

On the book itself, it was too short to really start caring about the characters. They didn’t have enough time to have fully developed personalities and their back stories were lacking, as well. Mainly, two sides were told of the same story and it was rather hard to choose which one to believe, because basically the two main characters had completely opposite views.

What I liked about the book was the snappy humor. The one-liners were pretty good and very, very dorky, which I fully support.

“The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)(Author: Michelle Hodkin) + (Year: 2011) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I keep YA novels as my refuge for whenever I am feeling down, or whenever I have read a particularly bad/boring/tough book. That’s how this entire series ended up staying on the last page of my Kindle for years.

Well… I could have gone several more years without it, to be honest.

The premise of the book is quite good and at the beginning, I was pretty excited by the mysterious and ominous atmosphere. And that’s where things ended.

I really could make up my mind about what this book was supposed to even be. Romance? Horror? Parody?

I guess I will go with… a dream. It’s the author’s dream of what she’d like to have in life. The main character is a rather dull, very unsociable and awkward teenager. After losing her best friend, Mara moved to a new school where from a total nobody, she turned into a superstar because of her charmbrainswits… Errm so it might be because of…

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Which is the only compliment anyone ever gives her, outside of her boyfriend.

And don’t even get me started on the boyfriend. A.K.A the most perfect human that ever lived, or so says the author. Has a posh English accent, has read hundreds or even thousands of books, quotes entire pages of Lolita like it’s nobody’s business, drives a fancy car, has a multimillionaire/billionaire father, is worshiped by everyone in school, is handsome as hell, has beautiful eyes, has a lovely soft hair, is very possessive and willing to fight for his girl, is a great kisser, doesn’t kiss and tell, has superpowers. Excuse you. It’s not really like he’s a person at all. The author basically made a character who is 70% Ken doll and 30% British Captain America figurine.

And so this highly unlikely pair happens to match perfectly and create a super-duo. In a great lovestory adventure! Oh, wait… no. In a YA horror story? Not really?! So what are these two actually doing, even?

The entire supernatural story was not much more convincing than the love one. The events were rather scattered and random and I wasn’t even sure I cared to find out what’s going on because there was this general notion of:

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“New Boy” by Tracy Chevalier

(Author: Tracy Chevalier) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)


Review:

This is the description that I read and therefore decided to read the book: Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.”

Add to that the fact that New Boy is a retelling of Othello, and you have a pretty curious premise for a book. Right?

In reality, the initial idea of the author was not necessarily bad. Some of the points that she made were also pretty valid and interesting. Ones such as racism, politics and hormone-based relationships.

However, the fatal flaw of the book was the fact that it takes place in a single day in the sixth grade. The story of Othello has no place among such young children, and neither do the author’s musings on politics, race and sex. I was a child not that long ago and I do remember what my interests were in the sixth grade. I can assure you that it was not kissing boys, thinking about “going all the way”; or about radicalism, the void between being a child and being a teenager and how to abuse my teachers.

“(…) [they] had only kissed when they played spin the bottle during recess – and then only twice, as it was shut down by teachers once they found out what was going on. But her response to O was not experimental. This is what I have been waiting for, she thought. This.

Really? You’ve been waiting for meeting a boy in the morning in the playground and becoming his girlfriend by lunch? How long has the waiting been going on for? The entire 12 years of your life, or what?

It’s in no way realistic that such young children would be experiencing any part of this book, which renders the book itself not as good as it could have been. The reason for that is that it takes a toll on the reader to try to accept the book as a union between its content and the figures that are enacting it. Yes, Chevalier has a good point about, say, racism in schools in America, especially so in the 70’s. But would the situation really look like that in a group of such young kids? Would they make up sly and elaborate plans to destroy each other? More so, would this story really have the time to develop in the span of a single day? Or would O and Dee’s relationship really happen the way it did? Would it happen at all? Because even the most outgoing of kids at that age from my school in the 2000’s were not really kissing, dating and discussing sex, unless it was rumors about which of the much older kids from the school are doing it.

Therefore, New Boy was just so implausible to me that I couldn’t enjoy it without groaning and rolling my eyes at scenes that were so out of place and unrealistic.

“Geekerella” by Ashley Poston

Geekerella(Author: Ashley Poston) + (Year: 2017) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Geekerella is a pretty cute retelling of the classical fairytale. I was immediately drawn to it because I’m a sucker for this type of books. I can say that although I have enjoyed similar novels more, I still liked Geekerella.

Since we are all familiar with Cinderella, I will not get into the story behind Geekerella, except that it’s obviously a modern-day version of the story, pumpkin truck and all.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between this and A Cinderella Story, one of my favourite movies during my pre- and early teens. Both movies approach the story in a modern way, but they don’t have much more than that in common. So in this sense, Geekerella succeeded in adding originality to the famous narrative.

I also liked the way the author built the main characters. They were well-written and thought-through. My favourite character, however, was one that might have gone under the radar. The dog. He was amazing. No… he was… a good boy!

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The characters that I didn’t like were also the ones that were not very well written, in all honesty. Like Elle’s mother or Darien’s father. They were pretty important to the plot. Just as Chloe was. And yet, all “bad” people in the book seemed a bit shallow and there were no real reasons for their actions. This was probably the main drawback in Geekerella. Once the story was adapted to modern days, it needed a valid reason to be the way it is. In the fairtytale, a character like the evil step-mother makes sense, but that’s not exactly so if the setting is contemporary. It needs a lot more explaining in order to seem as plausible as the feelings of Elle which were the result of her step-mom’s actions.

As for the fandom story. Well… I do believe in the power of the fandom, and I have been and still am in some fandoms myself. Yet, it seems a bit hard for me to actually imagine passion as strong as Elle and Darien’s. To know everything about a show in such extent, as well as to be completely submerged in the world of the fandom, seems a bit excessive and while I’m not judging or mocking anyone, I do admit that I simply have a hard time understanding it.