Monday, 21 April 2014

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Book Summary : Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Review : “Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.”

This Song Will Save Your Life is one of those very few books that engages your interest despite not having unexpected twists and turns, or sword and sorceresses.

In a sense, this particular book has the appeal of a long winter. The prolonged bitter-sweetness that lays the foundations for the different emotions throughout the pages, to live the effects and experience the phenomena same as its characters, to muse and dwell in silence as the lingering aftereffect of reading this book.

Without going into tedious dissection of characters arcs and plot, I will try to delineate my thoughts in simple words.

This Song Will Save Your Life is story of an outcast, who sucks at making friends, who lacks social adequacies. I had never been an outcast in my school, nor was I a star. But despite being surrounded by a small group of faithful friends, I often found myself in a world that refused my presence, always longing for an escape. However, my school life wasn't an exact sketch that of Elise’s, but at some points it was quite similar. While I took my solace in reading, for Elise’s it was DJing.

What I liked about This Song Will Save Your Life is its writing, bestowing an unforgettable level of profound honesty. The author, Leila Sales, is a master craftswoman—her way with words is simply remarkable. Every character she etched in the pages seemed to leap right off in reality. It took me only few minutes to immerse myself into the depth of the story, and after an entire evening, I emerged soaked with muddled sentiments.

And I hope you will too.

Truely. Deeply. Immensely.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

Summary : In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare

Set on the backdrop of alternative England, the book is Sally Green’s ingenious take on the old concept of witches and the ever going battle between good and evil. By drawing a distinction between light and dark with great √©lan, the story is replete with ingredients such as angst and romance and blood and a race against time, and the plot manages to infuse in originality. My only regret is that a book about witches didn't exhibit the flair of magic I had been highly anticipating.

“Niall catches me on the side of the head with the brick and Connor is clinging on to me.
Then I get rammed in my back, which must be with the brick again.
It reverberates down my spine and stops me dead.
I’ve been hammered into the tarmac like a nail.”

In a society of White Witches those are prone to revile Black ones, Nathan is a half-blooded witch locked in a cage, constantly being taunted, tortured and bullied. His only crime was being born to a father who is not only detested by his clan, but the entire White Witch community—an evil Black Witch named Marcus, murderer of hundred. Even Nathan’s elder sister Jessica despises him beyond any measure. Though some of his other siblings, Deborah, and Arran, and his grandmother try to protect him, they can’t really do much in that department. As his 17th birthday draws nearer Nathan must escape to receive three gifts from his father, or else he will die. And his time is running out.

As a main character Nathan is well-drawn and leaves an impact on the reader’s mind. He was successful to hold my concern and sympathy. While reading, I found myself often screaming with rage and desperation for him to stand up against the unjust he was facing.

Thankfully he has a sweet girl—a pure blooded White Witch named Annalise to offer him solace in all his peril.

“Annalise has long blonde hair that glistens like melted white chocolate over her shoulders. She has blue eyes and long pale eyelashes. She smiles a lot, revealing her straight, white teeth. Her hands are impossibly clean, her skin is the color of honey, and her fingernails gleam.”

My objection is with their romance being short. The inadequacy of emotional intimacies in the romance felt very distant to grasp, therefore unreal. I craved for more of Annalise’s involvement in Nathan’s life.However, she made very little appearance in the pages, which wasn't enough to leave an impression. I wanted her to grow as an individual character rather than the girl Nathan fancies.

In a hidden world of witches that discriminates between Black and White Witches, where violence collides with love and destinies are drawn in blood, I expected an environment strikingly extravagant, blended with fiery spells and evocative magic, and what I got was rather simplistic. The central story being largely focused on Nathan and his quest and how he is being abused (which drags halfway across the book), provides a very little background information despite the occasional stories of Witches and Hunters we stumbled upon.

Also, in my opinion, another drawback was the slow pacing. With such interesting premise the story ought to have been a gruesome, fast-moving and action-packed thriller, but I found myself yawning very often. For the first half of the story nothing happened except Nathan being tortured and making plans. And the second half also fizzles out after a good start.

However, after that ending (where a character from Nathan’s past made an unexpected reappearance) I'm really curious to find more in Half Mad.

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