SST June Review- The Revenge Playbook

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Here is my review for one of the Sunday Street Team‘s books for the month of June: The Revenge Playbook!

You can enter to win The Revenge Playbook by clicking this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

Release date: June 16, 2015

368 pages

My rating:

 

In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.

Don’t get mad, get even!

In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.

Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.


As I’m sure I’ve mentioned various times on my blog before, I’m not really a fan of contemporary novels. However, I tried to put aside my dislike of contemporary fiction in order to be able to write a fair review for this book. This novel tells the story of four high school girls living in a small Southern town where high school drama is just about the most important thing in the planet. The football team is the town’s pride and joy, and so they get to do whatever they want and treat people however they want without facing any consequences. Every year, the varsity football team does the Ranburne Panther Scavenger Hunt, a crazy scavenger hunt that involves condom water-balloons and peeing on giant rocks and hugging bikers (don’t ask me to explain because I don’t know that I’d be able to). To get revenge on them, the four girls (Liv, Ana, Melanie Jane and Peyton) attempt to beat the boys at their own game.

First of all, I’d like to talk about the characters. In my opinion, the characters were pretty forgettable. Putting Ana aside because she is Portuguese, there isn’t really anything that sets the three other girls apart from one another. They’re all white girls going through some kind of boy trouble. Their voices as narrators are fairly similar; so similar, in fact, that I had trouble remembering which character was which. “Is this the girl that was slut shamed, or is this the girl that is missing the tip of her pinky?” was a question that actually ran through my head at one point. Aside from that, I liked their dynamic as a group. They had a crazy adventure, and they supported each other throughout it all. I found Ana to be the most likable out of the entire group because she was different: she hung out with “nerds” and reenacted Game of Thrones scenes and dressed differently than the other girls. Also, her motivation for getting back at the team is the most heartbreaking and real. Of all the issues covered in this novel, I think the one that Ana faces is the most important.

As for the setting, it comes with all the wonderful “perks” of living in a small town in the South: there’s homophobia, there’s a little bit anti-semitism, there’re attempts to cover up an attempted rape in order to preserve the image of the football team. About that last one, if I had read The Revenge Playbook a year or two ago, I probably would have thought that the amount of power the football team has in this book is unrealistic. Now,  having read stories like the Steubenville High School rape, I know now that this is actually real. That there are places where schools look the other way to protect their athletes. And I applaud Rachael Allen for deciding to talk about this heavy subject in her book.

This book was a fairly light read, despite the heaviness of the topics it covered. There are several moments where the girls’ shenanigans will make you laugh out loud. Their determination to take action against the injustice they see is admirable. If you’re looking for a quick read with some “girl power”, a little bit of romance, and some hilarious antics in it, then The Revenge Playbook is for you.

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About the Author:

Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two children, and two sled dogs. In addition to being a YA writer, she’s also a mad scientist, a rabid Falcons fan, an expert dare list maker, and a hugger. Rachael is the author of 17 FIRST KISSES.

 

Alive by Scott Sigler (Review)

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Alive by Scott Sigler

Release date: July 14, 2015

368 pages

Courtesy of NetGalley

My breath catches.

I don’t know my own name.

I thrash and pull, yank desperately at the unforgiving bars holding me down.

“Someone, help me!”

No one answers.

I scream so hard it tears at my throat. Someone had to hear that. Someone has to come get me, come help me.

I wait.

Still nothing.

I lift my head- my forehead clonks against something solid and unmoving. That’s why my voice sounded funny: there is a board right in front of my face.

No, not a board…a lid.

I am in…

…oh no, oh no…

…am I in a coffin?

I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes now trying to figure out how to describe this novel in a way that encompasses all of its uniqueness and awesomeness, and I am failing. This book is different from anything you’ve ever read before. Yes, there are parallels between Alive and The Maze Runner. And yes, the story follows a group of young people, just like practically every young adult novel ever written. However, Alive is the darkest young adult novel I’ve ever read; there are seriously creepy moments throughout the entire book. Despite the fact that for a majority of the novel, a direct threat was never present, neither the protagonist nor the readers ever feel like they are entirely safe. The novel is jarring, and disturbing sights are hidden around every corner.

An interesting aspect of this novel is the fact that the protagonist and the reader become connected in that neither of them completely understands what is happening around them. In the beginning, the protagonist knows nothing about herself or where she is, and she slowly begins to find out more and more as the story progresses. We join her in her journey. We know only what she knows, and so the entire picture becomes more clear for both reader and character as the story goes on.

I love the diversity in this novel, and I love the conflict that exists between the characters. This conflict, however, is not a result of differences in skin color or gender or anything of the sort. Instead, it is a conflict of leadership. A conflict that arises because the characters must figure out how to keep their group alive. This adds to the novel because, not only do the characters have to fear what/whoever put them in this mysterious place and took away their memories, they also have to fear each other. There is a constant tension and sense of mistrust between them that makes the reader almost feel as if no one can be trusted.  Aside from the external conflict between the characters, the protagonist also has internal conflict that she has to come to terms with as well. Despite all of this, it is clear to the reader that there are potential romances building, although it seems as if that is not yet apparent to the characters themselves.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Alive, and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series. If you’re looking for something different, or for a novel that combines elements of science fiction and mystery, this book is for you.

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Hold Me Like a Breath (Review)

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Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Released on May 15, 2015

ARC courtesy of NetGalley

First things first, I’ll start with the protagonist. Essentially, she was one of the main aspects of this novel that made it a little more unique. Because she has Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, she is unable to touch or be touched without obtaining various, often painful, bruises on her body. As a result of this, her family is extremely protective and she is forced to live her life in a gilded cage; she is often unaware of what is happening around her, and made to feel like a priceless heirloom rather than a member of the family. While this is understandable, I was deeply annoyed by how how spoiled she was. On one or two occasions in the novel, she threatens other people through the use of her father’s power and authority. The fact that she was spoiled makes sense, but nothing annoys me more than a character who pulls the “wait until my father hears about this” card. My annoyance only increased as the novel went on, because I quickly came to realize that all of her problems were solved using either money, or her connections to some higher-ups.

As for the romance, the insta-love in this novel had me rolling my eyes from the start, because it was a typical “love at first sight” sort of relationship. Maybe some people like to read about those kinds of relationships, but in my opinion, they’re just cheesy and unrealistic. While there was a small semblance of a love triangle, it didn’t really develop (although it looks like it could in the future).

Aside from this, I found the writing to be somewhat poor. Rather than trying to deal with the complexities of the plot line in an interesting way, the author made certain situations too easy or convenient. I often found myself wondering, “What is this person doing here?” or “How did this character manage to do what he/she just did so easily?”

Other than my various complaints about the characters and the storyline, one of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed was the fact that the protagonist’s family was operating in the organ selling business. I have never read any other young adult book like this one in that regard, and I appreciate this originality. Also, the fact that her family business is illegal makes things more complicated for the protagonist, although I wish the author dealt with these complications more smoothly.

As you can probably tell by now, this book just didn’t do it for me. While I was able to get through the entire novel, I don’t ever see myself recommending it to anyone. All together, it was a forgettable reading experience.

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