Can it really be the fifth month of the year already?
No complaints here! May is one of my favorites, and not just because it happens to be the month I was born. The air smells amazing, the sky is brighter and the temperature inside a sun-soaked car feels like a warm blanket rather than a sub-zero freezer or, in the case of Arizona a couple of months from now, an oven hot enough to bake cookies.
Some things I’m excited about in May 2014 specifically:
- Celebrating the birthdays of several special people (some without blogs to link to!)
- Celebrating my parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary
- A visit from my aunt and uncle
- A visit to my grandma and mom’s family in St. Louis
- Finalizing plans for and exploring Ireland!
It’s going to be a good month, I can already tell. What are you looking forward to in May?
Despite the fact that I haven’t blogged about it since February (whoops), I have been keeping up with my fictional page goal for this year and am excited to be on track to go far beyond 15,000 pages through December.
I read a lot of great books in January and February, but the momentum slowed down in March due to the aforementioned “madness.” In April, I was happy to pick things back up again with yet another addicting book series. Big thanks to Nicole for giving me the final push I needed because as soon as I started reading, it was absolutely impossible to stop. I’ll only be reviewing the first book in this post so as not to give anything away!
Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.
A bit more from Amazon:
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistakes.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?
First things first: Lauren Oliver is an absolutely beautiful writer. The way she describes the world around the characters is like poetry – seriously! Secondly, the concept of this series was so interesting to me. Essentially, the idea is that love and hate – basically, anything on either side of a spectrum of indifference – have led the world to obsession, violence and destruction. A “Cure” has been discovered that can remove these dangerous emotions from the brain, and so upon turning 18 people are now forced to have the procedure, which will essentially render them safe, emotionless members of society. Until then, contact between boys and girls is strictly forbidden – once cured, you are matched with someone the government chooses for you.
Sounds lovely, huh?
Of course, it’s easy to assume that the primary question this YA dystopian book sets out to answer is, “What happens if you fall in love before you’re cured?” And you’d be right – but there are many more layers and conflicts that are explored throughout the series, and summing it up with only that question wouldn’t be doing it justice. The books deal with very heavy issues – loyalty, revolution, death, jealousy – all of which ultimately relate back to love.
I will say this: the ending of the last book, Requiem, left me wanting just a little bit more. I likened it to how I felt after reading the epilogue of The Hunger Games. I really enjoyed the journey but upon realizing there were only 1-2 pages left, I started to panic and wonder how it could possibly wrap up that quickly. It seems a lot of reviewers felt the same way.
That said, I highly recommend this series. The points made throughout all three books had me nodding my head and highlighting like crazy. I read book three in a day because I just had to know what was going to happen – I love it when a series has that effect.
TIP: You should also plan to read the four novellas in between the full books, if possible: Annabel, Hana, Raven and Alex. The first three are available as e-books or paperback. Alex is only in the hardcover version of Requiem, but if you Google it (I’m not saying you should…), you’ll find many people have scanned and posted it online. The novellas aren’t essential to the story, but they do provide some interesting twists and details you won’t get in the full books and are also fun because they are told from other characters’ perspectives.
A few of my favorite quotes:
“You can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes.”
“It’s so strange how life works: You want something and you wait and wait and feel like it’s taking forever to come. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.”
“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it’s the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke – like the end and the beginning of something all at once.”
Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
I read this series from Gayle Forman after reading Just One Day and Just One Year, and although it seemed impossible at the time, I fell in love with it even more. Like those two books, the first book in this series is told from the female protagonist’s perspective (Mia) and the second book switches to the male protagonist (Adam). Unlike those two books, If I Stay and Where She Went take place several years apart from one another rather than describing the same time period from each person’s perspective. I ultimately liked this better because I thought both the characters – and the story itself – had even more depth as a result.
In If I Stay, we learn that Mia lives a pretty great life – she has an incredible family, is a talented musician and is dating her first love, who seems like a genuinely decent guy. Then comes a heartbreaking car accident – a split-second tragedy that feels equal parts unimaginable and terrifying because in reality, it’s a fictional plot that unfortunately could actually happen to any of us.
The book switches back and forth between memories from before the accident and Mia’s current battle for her life. She essentially steps outside of her body at the hospital and is able to “see” everything going on while she is in a coma. It’s up to her to decide whether to stay – and wake up in a world where everything she felt certain about is gone.
Believe it or not, as great as the first book was I enjoyed the sequel from Adam’s perspective even more. And I was so excited to find out that this series will be headed to the big screen in August. If you aren’t convinced that you should read it yet, I encourage you to watch the trailer!
One of my favorite quotes:
“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”
Other books I’ve read lately:
- Cress by Marissa Meyer: This is fast becoming an all-time favorite book series. As the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cress perfectly balances the continuation of the story set in motion by Cinder and Scarlet while also setting up what promises to be an epic finale in Winter. The main characters on Cinder’s side are all so lovable and unique (Thorne! Wolf! Cress! Scarlet! Kai!), while those on the side of Queen Levana are as menacing and frightening as ever (Sybil Mira…enough said). If you haven’t picked up this series already, now is a great time – although waiting until 2015 for the last book will be a true test of patience.
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: Read my review here.
- Looking for Alaska by John Green: Another winner from him, though nothing tops TFIOS.
- The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: Read my review here.
- Legend by Marie Lu: Our pick for this month’s book club! Read my review here.
I’m currently reading Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, which as you can probably guess is a modern twist on all things Oz. It’s another series and this first book was just released, so if all goes well I am sure I will be
impatiently waiting for the next installment here, too!
What have you been reading lately?