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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld


Yes, I know I need to stop spamming this blog with my SW obsession, however, I see no end to it. Just hear me out here, because I am about to inform you of a vampire novel I actually enjoyed! Plus, it takes place during the supposed end of the world! I'm all over that. The Last Days is a sequel to Peeps, a book I haven't read, but that was okay, I still got the jist of the story. Here, I made a summary:

It's the hottest summer New York has ever seen. The streets are filled with rats, weird black oil, and garbage. A mysterious epidemic is spreading. It seems that all hell has broke loose. But to Moz, Zahler, Pearl, and Alana Ray, all that really matters is their new band. With an edgy sound and tons of potential, they have a shot at stardom. They recruit Minerva (a girl who has the epidemic) to be their lead singer. She has been staying in her house ever since she got a craving for human blood.

The world is ending, the city is in chaos, and Peeps (vampires) are taking over. With the apocalypse drawing near, the band might just be able to battle back because they basically rock so hard, they can can stop Armageddon. Without knowing it, they create the soundtrack to the end of the world.

Pretty intense huh? In short, this book was pretty cool for a vampire book. And I am pleased to say it was published pre-Twilight movie hype. Plus, you don't become a vampire from getting bitten. No, you get blood-thirsty qualities from getting an STD. Cliche? I think not. It's written in this cool, creepy way. It's funny too. The five band members are strong characters, and they trade off narrating the story. Minerva's point of view was the most enthralling. As a Peep, she had some interesting thoughts. I think "Mustn't eat Mosey" was my favorite line from the whole book, in the part where she is trying not kiss and/or kill and devour Moz.

I enjoyed the end-of-the-world vibe to the book too. Westerfeld's version of the possible apocalypse is unique, and the way the band saved the world was all in all epic. Though it got a bit confusing to me at some points, I was always entertained. It was kind of bizarre, but as long as you aren't creeped out too easily, you'll like it. Lots of cool stuff is worked into the story. For example, every chapter name is also the name of a band. And each section of the book has a little write-up about plagues and apocalypses. Thanks to this book, I now know that when little kids sing ring-around-the-rosey, they are singing about a horrible plague that occurred in the Middle Ages.

The ending was brief, but well-written. This a clever book and totally not your average teenage vampire novel.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
About as cool as a book can get when it involves rock bands, sexually-transmitted vampire diseases, the end of the world, and (spoiler alert) gigantic black monsters.
4/5 stars

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Goddess Games by Niki Burnham


Last spring break, I got a boatload of new books to read on vacation. One of these was Goddess Games by Niki Burnham. Reading chick-lit on the beach is kind of my idea of vacation, you see. So here's a self-written summary:

Claire, Seneca, and Drew are three very different girls who all have decided to take a summer job at King's Crown Resort, the most luxurious mountain getaway in Colorado. They each have their reasons for coming. For Claire, coming to King's Crown meant helping get her life back on track and restrengthening her relationship with God. For Drew, it meant getting to train in the mountains (she's a competitive runner) while escaping the trouble back home. For Seneca, the daughter of a famous movie actress, it means getting back on the A-list by kissing up to celebrity resort guests.
All 3 have different goals, hopes, and dreams, which makes it tough when they have to share a cabin. At first, their differences are all they can see, but somehow through fate, they learn to help and support each other.


Since the jacket of the book sends off a spa vibe, and claims that this book helps celebrate the goddess in us all, I assumed it would be a cute, inspiring read. Not exactly.
The book started slow and the first few chapters seemed to lag on. We meet former party-girl Claire, sad and determined Drew, and stuck-up Seneca. Things got a little more interesting once the girls move into their cabin together, but not really. I liked finally learning Claire's secret, which is revealed to us when she tells it to her ex-boyfriend, this was probably the most suspenseful part. We also later learn something about Drew.

So it is your typical girls-who-fight story up until near the end when they finally decide to be friends and bond over a special yoga class, "Goddess Yoga". I suppose this is where the book title comes from. It was weird to me how they suddenly just became friends all of the sudden. That part didn't really seem realistic. And leading up to that turning point, there is some guy drama and emotional issues circulating throughout the three of them. And that's pretty much the book. I wasn't particularly impressed in any way. It was good enough to keep my attention, but I feel that at points it got kind of predictable and lame.
I'd say the most exciting thing that happened was when Drew encounters a bear in the mountains. At least I can thank Niki Burnham because I now know how to fend off a bear if I ever cross paths with one.
One thing that drove me crazy? The fact that the word 'favorite' was always shortened to 'fave'. It was just annoying. I think I was able to tolerate this book due to the fact that I was relaxed at a resort myself while reading it.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
An okay book if you're on vacation and want something laid-back to read. But other than that, you can skip this one. Nothing amazing here.
2/5 stars