Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Paperback, 303 pages – Published April 7th 2015 by Penguin

This was really a wild ride. I think this book managed to get me out of a mini reading slump (yay!).

The book starts off with Simon’s private email being read by some guy in his drama club. This may not seem like a huge deal, except Simon’s secretly been emailing this guy who he’s maybe in love with. But they don’t know each other’s real identity, and neither of them have come out yet.

So Simon has to help the guy – Martin – get with one of his best friends. Only she isn’t interested (at all). At the same time, Simon is falling for Blue more and more with each email, and is becoming desperate to find him in real life. He starts to decode the clues in an attempt to figure out his identity – only for Blue to beat him to it.

Simon’s also struggling with tons of friendship issues, a big play coming up, and his family (and the entire school, for that matter) finding out about him being gay. He doesn’t want any of it to be a big deal. But it is.

He’s a great character, portrayed to be a normal human being. His relationships all seem pretty realistic (though I’m sceptical about the situation with Blue. Would anyone really be that lucky?). I really felt for him throughout the novel, and I was so unbelievably pleased for him at the end. I’m so not used to such great, adorable endings.

My biggest issues are that sometimes the teen voice was being pushed a bit too hard – we don’t always say “freaking” or whatever. And the scenarios seemed a little too far-fetched sometimes. (Seriously, has anyone ever experienced people dancing in the crowd at a school talent show?) But generally this was a good representation of life, and I really enjoyed reading it.

very nearly marked this as a favourite, but decided on just 4.5 stars in the end. I loved the book, but there were a few minor details that put me off just a little bit. It is most definitely a fantastic book, though! I’d definitely recommend this book for the YA audience.


Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty


The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (Summer #1) – eBook, 288 pages – Published June 3rd 2010 by Penguin

I remember reading most of this book a few years back, but for some reason, I didn’t quite get to the end. This time, I did!

The general storyline is that during one summer down at Cousins Beach, “Belly” finds this slightly different to normal. Mainly because she has grown up and become more attractive. Her age-long crush on Conrad, a brotherly figure who stayed at the summer house with his brother, makes things a little awkward at times. But now Belly is old enough to attend parties and even get a date. Who knew there was already someone interested in her?

During the novel, Belly revisits old memories of herself, her brother, and the two other boys. Her mother is often seen trying to help and comfort Susannah, her best friend, who is repeatedly battling cancer.

It’s a very summery read (obviously!) and is honestly a little immature in my personal opinion. But it’s a nice, easy read, even if it is a little too teen-romancey and overdramatic at times.

I could have read this a lot quicker than I did – most of it went by within the last 24 hours anyway – and I am slightly tempted to check out the sequel(s?) sometime soon. As for a rating, I think 3 stars is fair.


Book Review: And Another Thing…


And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #6) – Paperback, 368 pages – Published May 27th 2010 by Penguin

I adored the first couple of books in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, and although this isn’t by the same author, I was still pretty excited to read it.

Colfer has managed to capture the voice of Adams incredibly well, including the same nonsensical tone and randomness that made the first books so popular. The main difference between the writers is the length of the book; this addition to the series is considerably longer than the originals.

All our favourite characters are back, including the mean green dude who’s insulting everyone in the universe. This guy, who we discover is named Bowerick Wowbagger, has a surprisingly important role in this novel.

Arthur, Random, Trillion, Ford and Zaphod are all causing havoc yet again, unintentionally as per usual. They find themselves on Nano, a new planet colonised by the last remaining Earthlings after the destruction of Earth. Thor becomes Zaphod’s client, the immortal Bowerick has his mind set on death, and Trillian finds herself strangely attracted to this suicidal being. So yeah, everything’s normal.

I did get a little lost and uninterested during certain parts about Nano, but some of the little bits of dialogue or subtle jokes are just fantastic. If you didn’t already know this was by a different author, you may not have even noticed.

I’m not sure the series needed to be six books long, as the best books are definitely the first couple. But none of the books in this series are bad, and are all worth reading in my opinion. Sometimes I wasn’t sure this book deserved more than 3 or 3.5 stars, but by the end I decided it should get 4.


Book Review: Reached


Reached by Ally Condie (Matched #3) – Paperback, 512 pages – Published November 30th 2012 by Penguin

So Reached is the final novel in the Matched series, written by Ally Condie. It’s by far the longest of the three, which can be a little off-putting to some readers. However, I managed to get through it all and enjoyed it a lot!

In this novel, the Rising finally comes into power, overtaking the Society. Cassia, Ky and Xander each play their individual parts, whilst trying to find one another again.

The Plague, designed for the Enemy, infiltrates the water of the Society, leaving thousands of people still. The Rising has a cure, and quickly gets to work curing everybody. Until an unexpected mutation develops, leaving people uncurable and even dead.

The three young people are finally reunited when the Pilot, leader of the Rising, gathers them together to begin creating a cure for this new Plague. But will they do it in time?

I’ve actually really enjoyed this trilogy. I know some people aren’t so keen on it, and I wasn’t sure how interesting this last book would be. I expected it to be a bit dragged on as it’s so long, but I didn’t find myself bored whilst reading it at all.

The love triangle between Cassia, Ky and Xander is finally brought to an end at the end of this novel. It’s nice how everyone ends up happy, and although they separate again everything is good.

They all play very important roles throughout the Rising’s takeover, and the hunt for the new cure. The book is written alternately from each main character’s point of view, giving us an insight on everything that’s happening with each person.

Condie seems to have a very unique writing style. It’s very to-the-point, yet expressive and romantic. I really like her writing, and I applaud her for writing such a long book without losing the interest of the readers.

So basically I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It’s a nice conclusion to the trilogy, leaving room for the imagination after the last page. Everything sort of works itself out, and although there are tons of losses and problems, the characters all find a sense of peace at last. 4 stars!


Book Review: Crossed

Crossed by Ally Condie (Matched #2) - Paperback,  367 pages - Published June 7th 2012 by Penguin

Crossed by Ally Condie (Matched #2) – Paperback, 367 pages – Published June 7th 2012 by Penguin

I’m going to have to keep this relatively short, but if you want to read my review of the first book in the series, it’s here.

Crossed follows Cassia and Ky after their separation, alternating between each character’s point of view. This gives the reader a decent insight into both character’s thoughts and stories throughout the entire book.

The couple are each sent to a village in the outer provinces, where the Enemy attacks regularly and they are supplied with no working weapons. They then venture into the Carving – a vast maze of caverns and canyons – in search for each other, accompanied by people they have befriended along the way.

They search for the farmers, and come across an abandoned settlement where they collect food and maps. But after entering the Cavern and disturbing the contents, the Society begins to hunt for them. Desperate to escape, Cassia decides to flee the Carving and search for the Rising; a group rebelling against the ways of the Society.

The plot of this book sounds simple, but there are numerous sub-plots that make it an exciting, interesting read. Cassia is confused about her feelings for Ky and Xander, Ky is keeping secrets, and they can’t agree on whether to join the Rising or not. I think I liked this sequel a little more than Matched; 4 stars for Crossed by Ally Condie.


Book Review: The Bunker Diary

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks - Paperback, 268 pages - Published March 7th 2013 by Penguin

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks – Paperback, 268 pages – Published March 7th 2013 by Penguin

The whole idea of this book really intrigued me. A 16-year-old boy, Linus, is kidnapped off the street and stuck in what appears to be an underground bunker. The book is written as his diary, like the title suggests. There are a few diagrams to help the reader visualise the scene, and it’s full of Linus’s thoughts and ideas as well as the events that take place.

The ending was so unexpected, and I absolutely adored it. It wasn’t a typical happy ending. It wasn’t even a resolved ending. Everything sort of just fades out, and it ends mid-sentence followed by numerous empty pages. I suppose this is what makes it more realistic, and more like someone’s diary.

Linus is followed by five other people in the bunker; little Jenny, Anja, Fred, Bird and Russell. Tensions are high, and they’re faced with numerous horrific problems. They can’t find a way to escape, and although things are bearable at first, The Man Upstairs soon stops sending down food supplies or providing heating or energy. Everyone is struggling to survive, to keep up hope. But there doesn’t seem to be a way out, a way to contact the outside world.

Eventually, things start to really go downhill. People start to lose their lives in numerous horrendous ways, and there’s only so long a group of people can survive for without food, water, heat, or electricity. The pain seems endless.

This is such an exciting book, where you never know what’s coming next. It was even rather emotional, and extremely hard to contemplate being in such horrible circumstances. I really enjoyed The Bunker Diary and all the plots it includes. An easy 4 stars for this.


Book Review: Matched

Matched by Ally Condie - Paperback Cover

Matched by Ally Condie – Paperback, 366 pages – Published June 2nd 2011 by Penguin

Do not go gentle into that good night

I was not sure what to expect from this book. A story of love? A story of finding freedom? A story of loss and desires? In the end, it turned out to be all of these things, and more.

Cassia’s Match Banquet is extraordinary; it is extremely rare for it to turn out the way hers did. And she’s happy. She’s really, truly happy.

But then something happens. Something even more unusual, something that sends Cassia’s world tumbling. She could choose to ignore it, simply dismiss it as a mistake of the Society.

Or she could fight.

The Society rules the lives of everyone – it takes care of their choices, both good and bad. Everyone is used to it; they know it’s for their best interests. They would never dare to think otherwise. But…

What if it isn’t for their best interests?

Matched reminds me very much of the Divergent trilogy, in the way that the Society is so much in control of everything. Freedom is something nobody ever even thought to fight for, until Cassia is faced with a terrible and rare decision. This is a book about love, but it also about fighting for what is right, and making choices in a world where there is none. 4 stars out of 5 for this piece of work by Ally Condie.