Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Synopsis: A new teacher at a New England prep school ignites a gender war—with deadly consequences—in a provocative novel from the bestselling author of The Passenger and The Spellman Files series.
What do you love? What do you hate? What do you want?
It starts with this simple writing prompt from Alex Witt, Stonebridge Academy’s new creative writing teacher. When the students’ answers raise disturbing questions of their own, Ms. Witt knows there’s more going on at the school than the faculty want to see. She soon learns about The Ten—the students at the top of the school’s social hierarchy—as well as their connection to something called The Darkroom.
Ms. Witt can’t remain a passive observer. She finds the few girls who’ve started to question the school’s “boys will be boys” attitude and incites a resistance that quickly becomes a movement. But just as it gains momentum, she also attracts the attention of an unknown enemy who knows a little too much about her—including what brought her to Stonebridge in the first place.
Meanwhile, Gemma, a defiant senior, has been plotting her attack for years, waiting for the right moment. Shy loner Norman hates his role in the Darkroom but can’t find the courage to fight back until he makes an unlikely alliance. And then there’s Finn Ford, an English teacher with a shady reputation who keeps one eye on his literary ambitions and one on Ms. Witt.
As the school’s secrets begin to trickle out, a boys-versus-girls skirmish turns into an all-out war, with deeply personal—and potentially fatal—consequences for everyone involved. Lisa Lutz’s blistering, timely tale shows us what can happen when silence wins out over decency for too long—and why the scariest threat of all might be the idea that sooner or later, girls will be girls.
I’ve enjoyed all of Lisa Lutz’s books, so when I was approved for The Swallows , I was over the moon. I easily breezed through it in two sittings and while it’s not my favorite book by her I still liked it for the most part.
While the whole “boys against girls” trope has been done many times, especially in the #MeToo” era, Lutz puts her own unique and darkly comedic spin on it. In a perverse way it’s nice seeing girls using dirty tactics.
I do think the storyline needs some tightening up though. There are some extraneous characters and scenes which bogged down the story here and there, and they could have easily been done away with. However, these didn’t slow things down too much and the last few chapters in particular are quite exciting and the haunting ending will stay with you for a long time.
Overall, The Swallows is a successful satirical look at how frequently women and girls are sexually objectified by men, both intentionally and unintentionally. While some have classified this as a YA novel because of its boarding school setting, it’s really not (although I don’t see any reason why older teens couldn’t read this). It’s a character-driven story told from the perspectives of four participants that I think will have wide appeal, and I can easily see it being adapted into a movie.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Synopsis: NYT bestselling author Wong takes readers to a whole new level with his latest dark comic sci-fi thriller, set in the world of John Dies At the End and This Book Is Full of Spiders. Dave, John and Amy recount what seems like a straightforward tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that is stealing children and brainwashing their parents, but it eventually becomes clear that someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators.
The novel you’re reading is a cover-up, and the “true” story reveals itself in the cracks of their hilariously convoluted, and sometimes contradictory narrative.
Equal parts terrifying and darkly comedic in his writing, David Wong “will be remembered as one of today’s great satirists”. (Nerdist)
If ever a book was more aptly titled, this would be it! Like it’s two predecessors, What the Hell Did I Just Read is a crazy thrill ride unlike any book you’ve ever read!
David, John and Amy once again find themselves involved with yet another “otherworldly” occurrence. And of course that puts them at odds with the police, the FBI, a motorcycle gang, a kick-ass woman who’s prepared for anything, and an ex-special forces man. And from there, hilarity ensues with the use of some spectacularly odd weapons like flying dildos filled with sulfur and blue beams that erase minds.
And of course no adventure would be complete without John and Dave imbibing that special Soy Sauce, which adds to the sheer craziness of the story. Thankfully, the sweet yet totally badass Amy is there to keep everyone grounded.
With What the Hell Did I Just Read, once again David Wong has dreamed up a highly imaginative tale that brilliantly combines horror and satirical humor. It’s an absolutely bonkers trip that in my opinion not only is his best book yet, but also solidifies Mr. Wong’s place in literary fiction. Although you can read this as a standalone, I recommend you read the previous two books in this series if you haven’t already, in order to get the full effect of this of this dauntless trio and their zany adventures, before jumping into this. Otherwise, I HIGHLY recommend this for fans of slapstick comedic horror. As the author states:
You want to hear a story? Well, buckle the fuck up!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt For Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: July 11th, 2017
Synopsis: Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama–and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.
Waste of Space is one of the wackiest books I’ve read in a long time, but in a good way. I’m not a big fan of reality tv unless it’s a talent show, so as soon as I read the premise, I was immediately intrigued by how this satirical look at the industry would play out, and Damico more than delivered. Everything is over-the-top, from Chazz, the narcissistic, smarmy producer, to the blatant product advertising, to the outrageous stunts the cast is forced to take part in to make Waste of Space “must see tv”. But it’s not long before things begin to go seriously awry, and the only thing that is clear, is that everyone is lying: the producers, the scientists, and even some of the contestants. At first, the contestants seem to represent your stereotypical, one -dimensional reality stars, but as the story progresses you learn there’s much more to them than they seem.
The narrative style flashes back and forth between the characters in the form of video and phone transcripts and blog posts. I did find this a little jarring at times, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the story. There are so many twists here that it’s literally impossible to put all the pieces together until the surprisingly bittersweet ending.
Waste Of Space, is a fun and humorous read, that also has unexpected deeper moments. It’s decidedly different from everything else out there, and makes for a memorable read. Due to some sexual situations, I recommend this for older teens, who I think will get a real kick out of it.
Synopsis: In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begins. A down-to-earth gardener finds his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.
Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.
Once the line between world’s is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights–or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.
I have to begin by admitting this is my first Salman Rushdie novel, although I’ve certainly heard of him. Now that I’ve read this, I must say his writing style is quite unlike any others’ I’ve read previously. At times it’s exciting and imaginative, and flows beautifully, and at others it devolves into convoluted rambling, which forced me into re-reading several passages.
I think part of the problem is the length of the chapters. I read this on my Kindle and most of them took at least a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to read. Each chapter relays information about two separate characters as well as providing multiple story backgrounds and world-building. Perhaps that if each character had gotten their own chapter, things may have flowed a little more smoothly. Instead, I was left with this rather haphazard and choppy storyline which made it difficult for me to relate to any of the characters. I’d just be getting to know one person, when snap, another one would be introduced, or more world-building would be revealed. To tell you the truth it left my head swimming at times.
I also had a difficult time relating to most of the characters. Some were wonderfully developed like Dunia, and the gardener, Mr. Geronimo. They were fascinating and I found myself disappointed when the story would abruptly veer away from them. The other characters seemed a little wooden, and underdeveloped which made it difficult to care about what happened to them.
I think what ultimately made this book a difficult one to read is that it tries to do too much in under 300 pages. The story spans millennia and encompasses the historical, fantasy, romance, and philosophical genres. There’s just so much going on it’s hard to focus on a particular character or event. Despite it’s flaws though I think many readers will be intrigued by Rushdie’s latest work, particularly if you’re already a fan. It is thought-provoking and slyly humorous and ties in with our own current events quite nicely. I’m actually happy I read this because it’s made me want to try some of his previous books like Midnight’s Children. If you’re new to Rushdie’s writing as I am however, I suggest you also start with one of his earlier books. I think familiarizing yourself with his style may make Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights easier to follow and more enjoyable.
Release Date: 4/14/15
In the near future thanks to “advances” in the field of “AstroThanatoGenetics”, people are able to know the exact day they’re going to die. Denton Little is an “Early” because he’s supposed to die when he’s only 17. His deathdate actually coincides with the day of his Senior prom. So, what’s a guy to do with the 24 hours left to him? Well, if you’re Denton, they’re not going to be spent in the house hiding. No. He’s going to live life to the fullest, even with that mysteriously spreading purplish rash which suddenly appears and questions that pop up regarding his deceased mother.
Denton Little’ s Deathdate is one of the most original YA novels I’ve read in a very long time. From the moment he wakes up with a killer hangover and a sinking feeling that he broke up with his girlfriend and slept with his best friend’s sister, to the weird purple rash that he thinks might have something to do with his impending death, to questions about his mother who died the day he was born, Denton’ s last day is never boring. In this world that is otherwise so much like our own, babies are assigned their deathdate at birth. Because of this wonderful scientific achievement, they can attend their own funeral, which is followed immediately after by a blowout party. The Sitting comes the next day which is when immediate family and close friends can await their death together. Good times! Actually, in Lance Rubin’ s talented hands, it’s marvelously entertaining. At times, hysterically funny, and other’s surprisingly touching, Denton pulled me in from the very first page. This lovable underdog is determined to make his last day count, and he moves from giving a rambling and rather incoherent eulogy, to wanting to leave a more positive and lasting impression before he leaves. Of course he has to survive long enough to do it. This is made difficult not only due to the aforementioned rash, but also because his girlfriend’s ex is a homicidal maniac, and for some reason, the affable neighbourhood pot dealer keeps trying to run him down. But never fear! Denton is supported in his endeavors by a wonderful supportive cast of characters which include his pot-smoking best friend Paolo, and Veronica, Paolo’ s acerbic sister. Rounding out an already compelling plot, is the mystery of the purple rash, and how it relates to Denton’ s mother. It’s not only spreading on his body, but a smaller version jumps to anyone he’s in contact with. It’s only when Denton’ s father gives him a letter his mother wrote to him shortly before her death, that things slowly become clearer. Well, sort of. The ending is a cliffhanger which leaves you hope that what previously was only hinted at, will be more fully developed in the next book. I’m sorry if I’m being mysterious, but I really don’t want to give away any spoilers. The only reason why I didn’t rate this 5 stars is because while as an adult, I understand that the prevailing message is not only to live life to it’s fullest, but also that nothing, and I mean nothing is set in stone, I’m not sure young teens would understand this. This book is targeted for ages 14+ which is an audience typically dealing with peer pressure, societal expectations, hormones, and a myriad of stress-inducing situations. When you add casual sex, drug and alcohol use, and rampant swearing, I’m not sure I’d recommend this to young teens. Maybe to 16-year-olds and up, who I think could appreciate the humorous and satirical nature of the story. Otherwise, I found this to be a memorable, irreverent coming of age novel and I can’t wait for the sequel.