11 September 2017

What I've Been Reading: August 2017

My work schedule has been hectic so I haven't been able to read as much as I wanted to this summer. That being said, I have managed to read two books that were recommended to me by friends and I have some very strong, and quite controversial, reviews on them. 

'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' - Jenny Han

The first book I read this Summer was the 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' by Jenny Han. This is the first in the series of the Lara Jean trilogy - a series I'd heard so much about - so I was very excited to see what all the hype was about. I'll admit, my expectations were pretty high but I can't help but feel disappointed by what I read. The story follows Lara Jean, a young girl who lives with her father and two sisters and who seems like a hopeless romantic. Lara has a box of letters that she's written to every boy she's ever 'loved' - and I'm saying 'loved' very lightly as I don't see how you can know what true love is at that age. These letters are for her eyes only, she has no intention of sending them to anyone, but when her crush Peter approaches her with the letter in his hand she realises that her letters are no longer her little secret.

In terms of plot, I was very impressed - it's the perfect teen book and I know I would have loved it if I would have been 13. However, it was very poorly written and at times it felt like I was reading one of those awful fanfictions that we've all read when we've gone through an obsessive phase with a band. For me, one of the most important aspects of reading is having a connection with the characters but I just didn't find myself connecting with anyone - it was only towards the end of that story that I started to feel sympathetic towards Lara and if I'm honest with you, I'm very surprised I made it to the end. I think the main reason for the lack of connection was the poor description and imagery, I struggled to picture the scenes in my mind meaning it took me a while to really get into the story. Don't get me wrong, it's the perfect book if you're not an avid reader and just want something you can dip into now and again but don't be counting on it to be amazing because it really isn't. 

Despite the criticism, the ending was such a cliffhanger and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Do you ever finish a book and are so shaken by the ending that you just sit there clapping your hands in excitement, raring to find out what happens next? Because that was me. I need to know what happens to Lara and Peter - I know I would've been in love with Peter - and if Margot and Josh ever get back together. Jenny Han may not be the best for description but she must have been doing something right to make me want to buy the second book in the series. 

'Girl Online: Going Solo' - Zoe Sugg

The second book I read was 'Girl Online: Going Solo' by Zoe Sugg aka Zoella, an author, blogger, and YouTuber loved by her millions of fans around the world. This is the third book in her 'Girl Online' series, one of which I have followed and loved since it was first released. The story follows Penny and her adventures after Noah's departure in the second book. I remember that ending being another cliffhanger so I couldn't wait to see what happened to Penny and to see if Noah ever made a return. 

Overall, I was very impressed with the story and it's definitely her best written from the series. However, I did prefer the plot of 'Girl Online: On Tour', it had more twists and turns, was less predictable and I remember reading it very quickly. The story is very 'Uniquely Zoe' and although the plot is obvious in parts, I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was so nice to see the development of Penny as a character - she's really grown up in the same way her readers have. I think Zoe has got the perfect balance of keeping it as a young adult book whilst tackling modern day issues that affect the younger generation. 

If I could critique anything about the book, and this is only a very small criticism from a writing perspective, it would be that Zoe gives too much away. When we're in a lecture, we're always told to show instead of tell - an example of this would be if someone is sad, instead of writing 'Penny was sad' you'd describe her emotions. facial expressions and actions and then let the audience do the rest. If there's one thing I've learned from my degree, it's that you need to let the audience do some thinking work or else they'll get bored. Although the book was cringeworthy in parts, I'm very interested to see where it goes next. 

'To All The Boys I've Loved Before' - Jenny Han
Recommended: Maybe
Rating: 2 Stars

Recommended: Yes
Rating: 4 Stars

Lots of Love,


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