Young adult fiction

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Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) – Marissa Meyer

Published November 11, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

What did I think?:

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my arguments for giving a series another shot. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the first book in the series, Cinder but I was persuaded to carry on and after Scarlet and Cress, I became quite the fan. Fairest is another fantastic addition to the world that Marissa Meyer has created and is in fact, a novella that should ideally be read between the third book, Cress and just before the final book in the series, Winter. I don’t think you should feel obligated to read this short tale (I know not everyone loves novellas) and you won’t miss out on anything important but personally, I thought it really brought something special to the series as a whole and if you have the opportunity and the inclination to read it you definitely should!

I say you won’t miss anything if you choose not to read it because in Fairest we actually travel back to the past, more specifically the past of Queen Levana, following her childhood and adolescence with absent, cold parents and the events that precipitated the horrific accident she had which leads her to hide her true self away from others by using glamour. I don’t really want to say too much about what happens in her life but the reader certainly comes to understand why she has become such a wicked, calculating villain in the most recent novels. Levana certainly goes through some harrowing experiences which may even lead to you feeling some sympathy for her as a character but in fact, it is the way that she deals with these issues and wreaks her revenge that leaves you with little hope for her redemption.

This was such a fascinating insight into the heart and mind of the Lunar Chronicles’ most despised villain and even though it is brief, at merely 222 pages, it packs an almighty lot of action, intrigue and emotion into those pages making it feel much “meatier,” as a result. I love to hate Queen Levana in this series but I was so impressed how Marissa Meyer managed to elicit my pity and sympathy at points in the narrative when she faced certain trials in her life. Not for long, mind you. By the end, she was completely back to the mean, nasty and despicable character that we know and appreciate from the full-length novels in the series. I just have to mention the cover art as well for this series which is truly magnificent and was a huge factor in me picking up these books in the first place. The Lunar Chronicles is due to finish with the final novel, Winter which I’m eagerly anticipating but have to admit to feeling a bit sad realising this is soon all going to be over! Until the re-read that is.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Banned Books 2017 – OCTOBER READ – ttyl by Lauren Myracle

Published October 30, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the ninth banned book of 2017! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. If you would like to read along with us, here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

NOVEMBER – The Color Of Earth – Kim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

But back to this month….

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

First published: 2004

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2011 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: If you’ve been following our Banned Books series for a while now, you might remember that I don’t see any reason for a book to be banned outright. Handled delicately in certain situations – yes, of course but banned? Never! Then there’s the other books that pop up on our list where I can see no reason on earth why they should be banned/challenged and ttyl is one of those cases. I don’t remember there being much offensive language to be honest, but if there was it wasn’t overly offensive to me if I didn’t even notice it. Certainly, it’s no worse than what teenagers would hear on a daily basis – at school, on the streets, on the television…need I go on? And excuse me, we are challenging a book for having a religious viewpoint now?! I’m not particularly religious myself but I quite enjoy reading about different religions (especially if it’s done in a non preachy type way) so I could never accept this as a reason for preventing access to a book.

CHRISSI: I don’t agree with any of the reasons for this book being challenged at all. To me, it just read like a realistic conversation between three teenage girls. Challenging it doesn’t sit well with me because it’s completely sending the wrong message. Why should normal teenage conversation be censored? It’s not a surprise to me that teenagers discuss sex and swear a little. As for the religious viewpoint, that’s ridiculous. Religion isn’t a strong topic within this book!

How about now?

BETH: It’s been thirteen years since ttyl was first published and I don’t think attitudes have changed extraordinarily in that time. When I first came to this book I thought the reasons for challenging it would be entirely different and I was surprised to read what they were. I guess because this book is written as a series of messages between a group of friends and a small portion of it is written in “text-speak” or acronyms like ttyl (talk to you later), I assumed that the main complaint would be that it encourages poor communication between teenagers! Imagine my surprise when instead they quote sexual explicitness and inappropriate for age group reasons! I don’t believe that you’re going to find anything in this book that is shocking or not what normal, healthy fifteen year old girls talk about with their close friends.

CHRISSI: No. This book should not be challenged in my opinion. Like Beth, I could understand if there was a problem with communication/text speak as that’s something that does annoy me (not enough to challenge the book!). I actually wondered if it might be about internet safety and that something terrible might have happened (even then those books have a place, an educative place!) but no… it was normal teenagers speaking about normal things in their lives as they grow up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  I have to say, I approached this book with slight trepidation – I wasn’t sure I would enjoy an entire novel written in message format and I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this book! It’s not really for me, to be honest but I can see why teenage girls would love it and I really appreciate the strong female friendships that the author wrote about which are so important in the turbulent time of adolescence.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of this book. It took me a while to get through and I found it a little bit tedious in places. Remember though, I’m not the target audience for this book. I can totally see why teenagers would enjoy this book though. I love that the characters have such strong friendships. So whilst it wasn’t for me, I’m sure others would love it!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes! (to teenagers)

Join us again on the last Monday of November when we will be talking about The Color Of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa.

The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James

Published October 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

How many times can you lose the person you love? 

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

What did I think?:

I really love having a sister who is also a book blogger. She understands the excitement of review copies and makes some brilliant recommendations that, because she is my sister and obviously knows what I like, I’m certain when she raves about a book that I should expect great things. This was the case with The Next Together, part of a duology and encompassing so many genres that you would think it would feel a bit muddled. Not in the slightest. This novel is part historical fiction, part science fiction, part fantasy and part romance and manages to slot into each of these categories with ease and grace making it such an exciting and rewarding reading experience.

This is the story of Katherine and Matthew who have lived many lives/reincarnations, from the The Siege of Carlisle and The Crimeon War in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively, to the near futures of 2019 and 2039. Each time they live their lives they encompass different roles i.e. a noble lady and her servant, an ambitious journalist and his eager assistant, two talented scientists who make a breakthrough discovery and finally, two teenagers who are attempting to find out more and clear the names of the scientists who pre-dated them. In each life, they meet each other and fall deeply in love and then are torn apart when something happens in that particular time period to kill one of the pair. The story based in 2039 is critically important and may shed some light on why Katherine and Matthew can’t simply have a “happy ever after,” but we get some wonderful glimpses of those three other past lives that are both poignant and heart-warming.

As I mentioned before, this book has got a bit of everything genre wise, and I loved how the author combined all the elements to make this a fascinating, exciting and at times, nail biting read that I thoroughly enjoyed. As with all romance novels, I’m always worried that the romance could come off as a bit cheesy but I had no need to worry with The Next Together. Katherine’s wonderful and hilarious sense of humour and Matt’s strong, dependable persona made their relationship a delight to read about and wasn’t at all sickly sweet or unbelievable. I adored how Lauren James told the story in a mixture of notes, emails etc between Katherine and Matt which provided a lovely modern contrast between the more historical sections of the narrative and again, for me, made the love between them feel all the more authentic. I’ll be reading the second novel in the duology, The Last Beginning very soon and cannot wait to get started (especially after the gripping ending!) If it is in any way, shape or form as beautiful as The Next Together I’m in for a huge treat.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Blog Tour – Fire Lines by Cara Thurlbourn

Published September 24, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the lovely Faye for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Bewick Press for providing me with a digital copy of this thrilling debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I would not be exaggerating when I tell you that Fire Lines is the most action packed story that I’ve read for a long time. Seriously, at times I was on the edge of my seat not knowing what was going to happen next and with the addition of a magic-based plot, a dastardly villain and a strong female lead it’s the perfect read for anyone who loves their fantasy narratives.

The amazing world that Cara Thurlbourn has created is composed of four different cities and a variety of cultures although when we first meet our heroine Émi, she is ensconced in the land of Nhatu which is surrounded by a gigantic wall, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The city itself is divided into a number of quarters which is associated with social class and after Émi’s father is taken prisoner for an infraction, she and her mother are moved into the lowest quarter, The Red Quarter where food is scarce, their lodgings are decidedly dodgy and they are forced to undergo random inspections without warning. The law makers in this land have made it known that the giant wall is there for protection since the evil Mahg started using black magick for his own detestable means. As a result, anything magical is expressly forbidden and anyone who is seen to possess powers or instruments that could be used for magic is punished in the most brutal manner.

Of course, you might have guessed, our heroine discovers that she does possess some magical know how but has no idea how to control or harness it. When the cruel Cadets discover that Émi might have strange abilities she is forced to flee and for the first time, manages to get over the wall and discover the fantastical new lands she had previously believed to be just myths. This is when Émi discovers who she really is, that she has a twin sister called Ava and that it is imperative that she find her to stop our villain Mahg completing his wicked plans. With the help of her new friends The Watchers, Émi must draw on all her strengths and hone her emerging powers for the inevitable battle that is to come.

I have to say, the world building in this novel was really wonderful. I loved the different lands we saw through Émi’s eyes, particularly the city of Tarynne and the special bond that they developed with their elephant companions. Émi herself was a fantastic, independent female lead although rather reckless and impulsive at times which had me worrying at times what mess she was going to end up in next. I would have loved for the rest of the characters to be a bit more fleshed out – it felt like there was a lot of potential for characters like Garrett, Alyssa and Tsam to have more vibrant personalities, especially Garrett who I adored for reasons that I simply cannot spoil for anyone who wants to read this! As a “baddie,” Mahg was pretty brilliant and very well drawn although I’d love to have known a bit more of his back story and how he came to be as hateful as he is, perhaps this will be explored further in the second novel?

To be honest, the story really came alive for me at the beginning where Émi is stuck under the hideous rules and regulations of Nhatu. At the end of the first chapter, I was captivated by the world which reminded me a lot of a harsh Nazi regime and was at times, quite difficult to read about. When Émi manages to escape, I felt the story lost some of the rich detail that was so exciting to me in the first few chapters although I did appreciate that the narrative had to move on and move on it certainly did – at a startling pace! From then on, the action ramps up considerably and doesn’t let up until the end which provides a tantalising glimpse into the second novel in the series. I think fans of fantasy, strong female characters and exciting/tense sequences will find a lot to enjoy in this story and I’m intrigued to see where things are going to go for Émi after the dramatic finale that the author leaves us with.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Cara Thurlbourn writes children’s and young adult fiction. ‘Fire Lines’ is her first novel and it’s a story she’s been planning since she was fifteen years old. Cara has a degree in English from the University of Nottingham and an MA in Publishing from Oxford Brookes University. She lives in a tiny village in Suffolk and has worked in academic and educational publishing for nearly ten years. Cara blogs about her author journey and in November 2016 she crowdfunded her first children’s book. 10% of its profits are donated to animal rehoming charities. Cara plans to write at least two more books in the Fire Lines series, as well as a young adult mystery series, and has lots more children’s stories waiting in the wings. You can sign up for Cara’s newsletter, for giveaways, updates and latest releases, here: http://www.firelines.co.uk

Website: http://www.firelines.co.uk

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/carathurlbourn

Thank you once again to Bewick Press for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Fire Lines is due to be published on 26th September 2017 and is available from all good book retailers now. Why not check out some of the other stops on the tour?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35581157-fire-lines

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Lines-Cara-Thurlbourn-ebook/dp/B075FTR12K

 

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) – Ransom Riggs

Published September 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.

What did I think?:

Surely everyone has heard of the Miss Peregrine’s series by now? If not, I highly recommend it. The first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the story of a young boy whom after looking at his late grandfather’s photographs is thrust into an unexpected adventure to an old house on a remote island with some very “peculiar” inhabitants. Like the first novel, Hollow City is filled with an array of weird and wonderful vintage photographs that the author Ransom Riggs came across from specialist collectors and he uses the photographs (and often the people within the pictures) to tell his story. I completely fell in love with this idea when I first heard about it and when flicking through them and seeing some of the oddest images I’ve ever come across, I instantly knew I was invested in the series.

Hollow City follows on where Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children left off but I don’t want to say too much about the plot for anyone who hasn’t read the first book in the series yet. Our teenage protagonist, Jacob Portman has left the orphanage on the island in very harrowing circumstances with a band of peculiar children and poor Miss Peregrine, who is in quite a different form, shall we say than how we expect her to be? Helped by their book and go-to guide Tales For The Peculiar, they enter a time loop and find themselves back in war-time London. Teaming up with a group of gypsies they must now travel to unknown places to find someone who can help Miss Peregrine whilst avoid being eaten by hollowgasts and ambushed by the vicious Wights.

The Miss Peregrine books is a series that just keeps getting better, in my opinion. It’s true, the eerie photographs do add a certain magic to the text – I mean, the girl on the front cover has a hole through her body, who wouldn’t be intrigued? However, the photographs are merely decorations to a gripping plot, some dastardly villains and some of the most compelling characters and creatures I’ve ever had the pleasure to read about. It’s filled with everything a great young adult novel should have i.e. action, drama, suspense, fantasy, darkness and above all, a beautiful quirkiness about it that really makes it stand out well above other books in the genre. When I’m reading a book, one thing I’m always looking for is for it to be memorable and for it to continue playing on my mind long after I’ve finished it. This series fulfils that brief and has gone far beyond the high expectations I already had for it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Mini Pin-It Reviews #13 – Four YA Novels

Published September 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA books for you – please see my pin it thoughts below!

1.) The Impossible Knife Of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

What’s it all about?:

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) Through The Ever Night – (Under The Never Sky #2) – Veronica Rossi

What’s it all about?:

It’s been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don’t take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe’s precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, can their love survive through the ever night?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

3.) Belle Epoque – Elizabeth Ross

What’s it all about?:

When sixteen-year-old Maude runs away to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Increasingly desperate for money, she answers a mysterious advert: ‘Young Women Wanted for Undemanding Work. Apply In Person To The Durandeau Agency.’ But the work is very strange indeed. Maude discovers she is to be a repoussoir – an ugly young woman hired by Parisian socialites to enhance their beauty.

Maude is humiliated – but faced with destitution, what choice does she have? Quickly (and secretly) selected as the perfect companion for the Countess Dubern’s daughter Isabelle, Maude is thrown into a decadent world full of parties, glamour and astonishing cruelty. Maude finds that academic Isabelle is equally disenchanted with the Parisian social scene, and the girls form a tight bond. But when bohemian artist Paul and the handsome Duke d’Avaray are introduced into the girls’ lives, their friendship will be tested to its limits. The girls are about to discover the true meaning of being beautiful…

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) – Jessica Spotswood

What’s it all about?:

A gorgeous, witchy, romantic fantasy by a debut author! Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and the Beautiful Creatures series!

Everybody thinks Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship–or an early grave. Then Cate finds her mother’s diary, and uncovers a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. But if what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe–not even from each other.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP NEXT ON MINI-PIN IT REVIEWS: Four Thriller Novels.

Banned Books 2017 – AUGUST READ – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Published August 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the eighth banned book of 2017! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. If you would like to read along with us, here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

SEPTEMBER – Scary Stories – Alvin Schwartz

OCTOBER – ttyl – Lauren Myracle

NOVEMBER – The Color Of Earth – Kim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

But back to this month….

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

First published: 2007

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2012 (source)

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I always think of this book as a really recent release (maybe because of the series released on Netflix?) so I was really surprised when I saw that it had been originally published in 2007. Ten years is really not much time for attitudes to change in such a drastic way so my answers to this and the next question are going to be the same but I will go into some of the reasons why this book has been challenged/banned. Obviously, the drugs/alcohol/smoking thing does happen in the book but it’s never portrayed in a particularly “things to do that are cool,” way  and, to be honest, I think you’re going to be hard pressed to find a young adult book that doesn’t have an element of that lifestyle. Occasionally, I think it’s almost like a rite of passage that (some) teenagers have to go through to experiment/push boundaries and then decide that these things really aren’t for them. I certainly don’t see why this would be a good reason to challenge/ban the book.

CHRISSI: I read this book back in 2014, several years after it had been released. I had heard all of the hype around it and seen so many reviews of it around the blogosphere. So I knew before I read it that I was getting into quite a contentious read. I can understand why this book would be challenged as it has some particularly sensitive subject matter. However, should it be banned? In my opinion, no. There are television programmes that are contain much worse subject matter. Nearly every book for young adults contain ‘bad’ things as these are things that young people experience. I do understand that this book could be potentially triggering to some, but I believe it is a book that should be available. We should trust young people to make their own choices when it comes to reading a book like this. If literature is out there like this it starts a conversation. We need those conversations and young people to be able to feel like they can be heard and understood. 

How about now?

BETH: See previous answer! I also feel the same way with the “sexually explicit” reason. There are a couple of horrific moments in the novel that make for uncomfortable reading and may pose a few trigger warnings for anybody particularly sensitive to those topics but again, it really isn’t done in a gratuitous fashion and isn’t really heavy on the intimate details so again, not a great reason for banning the book outright – perhaps a gentle warning on the cover would suffice? Finally there is the element of suicide which is the main and probably most shocking element of the novel. To be honest, I’m not sure what to say about this. It’s never going to be easy reading about a young person killing themselves and all the reasons why they did it but I don’t think this book in any way glamorises suicide. In fact, it may encourage suicidal teenagers to talk about how they are feeling with someone before they try to harm themselves if used in the right way.

CHRISSI: I feel the same way. This book does centre around suicide and I know that’s not a nice thing to read about. It does make for uncomfortable reading. The sexually explicit content is also uncomfortable to read, but it’s not something that I think authors should avoid. As I said before, conversations need to be had. I personally don’t think that the author glamorised suicide.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really enjoyed this book. I had already heard mixed opinions about it from my sister and when I read the novel I could completely see where she was coming from. Hannah’s voice didn’t come across in the best way at times and I really wasn’t sure about her method of using tapes to tell people why she killed herself. However, then Chrissi watched the Netflix series and urged me to do the same. I watched the first episode earlier and thought it was pretty great (I understand there’s been a lot of controversy around this series too but as I said, I’ve only watched the first episode so far!). I think it’s like most hard-hitting books really. In the hands of more sensitive people who have issues with the topics discussed it might not be advisable but in the right hands, I think it could also help a lot of people too.

CHRISSI: I actually enjoyed this book more the second time reading it. I remember having some issues with Hannah’s voice when I read it the first time. She frustrated me a lot and I wanted her to do more for herself. I still had the same issue with Hannah’s voice, but I felt I could understand Hannah more this time around. I think over time I have come to understand mental health more. I think the Netflix series is absolutely fantastic. I know they changed some parts of the book, but I really appreciated how it was handled. It was uncomfortable viewing, just like the book is uncomfortable reading. As I’ve mentioned throughout this post though, both the book and the TV series are encouraging conversations and that’s what is vitally important to me.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Join us again on the last Monday of September when we will be talking about Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz.