By Ally Condie
Publication date: Oct. 28, 2014
Dutton Children’s, 368 pages
Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.
Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.
— Goodreads.com description
Atlantia, the latest from the author of the Matched series, kicks off with a heavy dose of it when Rio’s twin sister, Bay, unexpectedly chooses to live in the Above (on land), separating them forever.
You see, Rio lives Below aka below land aka an underwater city aka MY CHILDHOOD DREAM. If you only knew how often I daydreamed about this as a kid…
Anyway, immediately you want to dig into this book and uncover all of the secrets of the Below and of Rio’s family, which was a great feeling.
I also adored how Rio’s loneliness really matched the setting’s deep, dark depths — there was a really cool sense of pressure as you read. Oh, and there’s witches and romance and lots of other good stuff.
And another nice thing about this is that it’s NOT a series (at least, as far as I can tell). I know, what? Who does that these days?
On the downside…it’s not a series. By that, I mean it was wrapped up a little too quickly and with too much prothletising and “here is the moral” for my tastes.
Overall, though, I thought it was creative and a good read. And, in the end, I am sooo #TeamAbove. An underwater city is awesome, sure, but ewwwww sea creatures and dampness. No, thank you. Blech.
By Lauren Oliver
Publication date: Sept. 23, 2014
Ecco, 320 pages
The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition ofThe Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways.
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.
What! A review of an adult novel on Anna Reads?! WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE!
I know. BUT…it’s Lauren Oliver so I knew you guys would be interested. Rooms is her first adult book and I was pumped to get to read it early.
I’ll be honest: It’s not my typical type of book. Beyond the fact that it’s adult, it’s quiet and has multiple narrators — two elements of books that tend to trip me up. So it was slow going for me.
But those of you who are big Lauren fans, fan of complicated characters and, moreover, fans of literary fiction will want to check this out. Oliver’s writing, as always, is lovely, as is the concept that there is history and life and secrets and character within the rooms of a house.
I dog-earred a few passages that I thought capture the spirit (ha-ha, see what I did there? The house is haunted) of the story:
People, Caroline though, were like houses. They could open their doors. You could walk through their rooms and touch the objects hidden in their corners. But something–the structure, the wiring, the invisible mechanism that kept the whole thing standing–remained invisible, suggested only by the fact of its existing at all.
About Lauren Oliver:
Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com.
Can’t Look Away
By Donna Cooner
Publication date: Aug. 26, 2014
Point, 272 pages
Donna Cooner establishes herself as our own Jodi Picoult in this timely tale of sisters, loss, and redemption.
Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident — maybe because of Torrey and her videos — Torrey’s perfect world implodes.
Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?
— Goodreads.com description
I adored Donna Cooner’s Skinny (click to read my review) and was thrilled that I enjoyed Don’t Look Away just as much.
This book is about Torrey, a popular beauty vlogger who has quite a bit to deal with: a backstabbing ex-bestie, a new school, haters on the Internet, a struggling mother and, most of all, the recent death of her little sister.
Despite the serious subject matter, in reading over my notes, I used the word “adorable” an awful lot. LUIS! It’s all his fault!
Torrey, meanwhile, gosh what a SNOB. This book has a lot of mean girl action, but I enjoyed watching Torrey turn the other cheek, see herself and her actions more clearly and begin to work through her grief.
And I thought it was really interesting and unique how Cooner used the Day of the Dead motif to help Torrey heal.
Two books in, I can definitely say I’m a big fan of Cooner’s work. Fans of contemps, especially with interest in grief and/or Internet fame/bullying, you’ll like this.
The Bridge from Me to You
By Lisa Schroeder
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Point, 336 pages
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.
Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible–something to truly believe in.
— Goodreads.com description
What I love most about Lisa Schroeder’s books is how wonderfully READABLE they are. Her verse is beautifully written but not overwrought and I just seem to breeze through them.
The Bridge from Me to You was a wonderful book that kept me just enough in the dark about Lauren’s past to be intrigued but not annoyed. I loved Colby’s friendship with Benny and loved Lauren’s extended family — her aunt and uncle and cousins were all so sweet.
The romance was adorable — though Lauren and Colby have an instant attraction, they get to know each other as friends before they take it to the romantic level. It built and it grew until I was really rooting for them.
The character growth is definitely my favorite part of The Bridge from Me to You. Lauren and Colby learn to believe in themselves and follow their hearts in this story, and you can’t help but love that in a good YA. Definitely, definitely, recommended.
By Erica O’Rourke
Publication date: July 22, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 496 pages
Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.
Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.
But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.
— Goodreads.com description
Dissonance is set in Chicago, which I loved (in one scene, the characters even walk by my office). And the concept is great — it sort of reminded me of Pivot Point by Kasie West. Del’s part of a special group of people who can walk through the multiverse, follow alternative realities that pop up based on the decisions people make.
It was a long book (nearly 500 pages!), but I made it through with no problems and will absolutely read more of the series.
But, and this is a big “but” for me, I think I was a little too slow on the pickup of certain plot points. The science behind the multiverse concept was tricky, and I never quite followed along. Honestly, it made me feel a little stupid as I struggled to keep up.
So, not a total win and “OMG WOW” reading experience, but like I said: It piqued my interest enough that I’d absolutely try the second book.
PS: For those who read it…my notes say “Addie & Monty intrigued, gay thing?” What the heck was I talking about?!?! Must’ve been a typo?