YA Romance Reviews

When You Read TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone

time between usAll Anna’s ever wanted in her comfortable little life is to travel beyond her hometown of Evanston, Illinois.  All Bennett’s ever wanted is stability.  Normalcy.  He has the power to move through space and time but has grounded himself momentarily in Anna’s town for personal reasons.  As soon as he hears Anna’s name, he recognizes her.  He’s seen the older Anna…a woman who gave him a warning.

Now, what Bennett’s tried to prevent is happening anyway.  Their lives are becoming entwined.  But Bennett is from the future–sixteen years later in San Fransisco, California.  It would be much easier if there were only distance between them…but there is all this time.  Bennett can’t always control his power.  What if he couldn’t get back?

When you read Time Between Us, you will be reminded of what makes an otherwise good young adult paranormal romance great.  Bennett’s power serves as a vehicle to explore deeper themes of love and attachment.  The title itself points this out and is echoed through the book as both the time spent between the characters (tense or enjoyable) and the time that literally separates them.  There are other strong themes–questions of morality and consequence–but the heart of the book is in the developing relationship between Anna and Bennett.  Tamara Ireland Stone does a beautiful job of reminding us of what ties us to one another.  Our simple, close moments.

Michelle Joyce Bond

YA Romance Reviews

When You Read RELATIVITY by Cristin Bishara…

relativityScience fangirl Ruby Wright has a lovesick puppy of a father who moves her out to the middle-of-nowhere Ohio in order to cement his long-distance relationship–an act that simultaneously obliterates Ruby’s chances with the dream boy who’s recently rebounded into her waiting arms.  Ruby’s stepmother is flaky, her stepsister is psycho, and her “new” high school is crumbling into the ground.  Lamenting the long-ago death of her real mother and general suckitude of her life, Ruby wanders into a cornfield where she makes friends with a lone, creepy oak tree.  It turns out the tree is an entrance to a physics-defying wormhole–a hub between realities.   Is there such a thing as a perfect life…and will Ruby find hers beyond the wooden door?

When you read Relativity, you will question the effects of choice, chance, and fate in your own life.  You will also start looking for doorways in tree trunks.

Bishara takes her book to the next level, blending the young adult paranormal genre with elements of a psychological thriller reminiscent of The Butterfly Effect.  I absolutely love the protagonist whose cynicism, wit, and obsession with scientific facts color the way she sees the world.  I give this one five out of five creepy trees!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Photo credit: goodreads.com http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17286818-relativity

YA Romance Reviews

Microreview in Twenty or Less: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

imageFormerly average high school senior screws up, pumps up, and gets pinned with a crime he didn’t commit.  Read it!

Think you can write a better microreview of Twisted in twenty words or less?  All challengers welcome!  Alternatively, if you’ve read and enjoyed this book, please leave your thoughts below.  🙂

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Book Destroys Movie: Confessions of a Shopaholic

ImageRecently, I’ve been on a Sophie Kinsella kick and blasted through the highly entertaining Confessions of a Shopaholic in anticipation of watching it retold in the magic of moving pictures–or as close as I could get to “magic” with a library DVD, a grimacing husband…and my own creeping pessimism.  Because, really, my excitement had nothing to do with seeing a good movie.  No, my twisted anticipation was born in the surety that the thing would be a complete train wreck.

So was it as horrific as I’d hoped? Short answer: no.  Really, the film wasn’t terrible, but as I expected, it didn’t live up to the book.  Frowning, I dragged the cliché “the book is always better” from its moldy crypt and flailed it around while my husband promptly searched for the manliest movie with the most explosions possible to cleanse his tainted palate.  But, if the box office has anything to say about it, there are books that do quite well as movies.  Their narratives are more compact and work better in a two-hour squeeze.  They have plots that are driven by action or settings saturated with descriptive imagery.  Most importantly, these books include character arcs that are easily conveyed by external means–chiefly through the use of riveting dialogue or action. 

The failure of a book-turned-movie to do well on the big screen is usually–no surprise–the inability of movies to deeply submerge the audience in a character’s thoughts and internal conflict.  The real enjoyment in reading Confessions of a Shopaholic definitely wasn’t watching Rebecca Bloomwood, a.k.a. Becky, purchase gobs of designer clothes and other nonsense.  It was in listening to Becky’s thoughts–how she talked herself into every purchase, reasoning around her own self-imposed rules with outrageous justifications created on the spot.

The book was written almost as a series of vignettes wherein Becky would set out with a plan and a bounce in her step only to fail in the most embarrassing and, subsequently, most entertaining way possible.  In order to truly appreciate the absurdity of her failures, one must hear Becky’s thoughts and how, over the course of a scene, she reasons herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She makes us uncomfortable because she does not think like a heroine.  Most people who dislike the book cite an inability to identify with Becky.  She appears to lack any redeeming qualities and garners the attention of an attractive, intelligent businessman despite her obvious faults.  Really, the book is a study in how to write a well-developed anti-hero.   Identifying with Becky isn’t the point, though we may from time to time on a superficial level.  The point is to kick our heads back and laugh in disbelief as she continuously self-destructs. 

That said, the movie made a valiant effort to convey some of the internal narrative–most notably the mannequins that talk Becky into buying various overpriced apparel–but we barely scratch the surface of how broken she actually is. There are other points I could make about the Americanization of the plot and the changes that were made in the interest of playing up the book’s barely-there romance, but none of this matters as much as the film’s inability to give us the real Becky.