Sunday, July 24, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye (Sarah Dessen)

Color me surprised! I haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen before, but the titles of her books are somewhat off putting--bland and shallow. So when I read the first chapter and was captivated by Mclean's name-changing disposition, I was shocked.

Far from the overwhelming fluff I expected, this book contained believable characters with relateable problems. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing style and the characterization. I felt connected to the protagonist in a genuine way, and her journey toward self-discovery didn't feel juvenile. I did want her to stand up for herself a little more, but hey, she's in high school, so I guess that's forgivable.

Kudos to Sarah Dessen for making me both laugh and cry throughout a thoroughly enjoyable light read.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Uncommon Criminals (Ally Carter)

Uncommon Criminals is an OK follow-up to the first book, Heist Society. Do I love the series? No.

That’s saying something, because I love a good heist story. The ideas behind the books are fantastic, but the books themselves are lacking.

There are two major flaws with Miss Carter’s storytelling in this novel. First, she relies too heavily on “The Henley” from the first caper. Yes, it is an impressive and essential element of Kat’s back story, but the frequency of reference to that particular heist makes it into a crutch that is both repetitive and annoying. Can't this book stand on its own?

The second major flaw is characterization. Despite the fact that Ally Carter has written two full books about these characters, she doesn't seem to know them very well. Relationships between protagonists are flat, and interactions are insincere.

Despite all of this, the book may have reached the four-star mark if the moral of the story didn't bludgeon you over the head at the very end.

Overall, Uncommon Criminals gets just three stars, despite the author’s best intentions.