This summer Zoella has teamed up with WHSmith to produce a book club collection (a bit like Richard & Judy do every year but for a younger audience) and they’ve cleverly created a bundle where you can buy all of them for one set price of £34.99 which is a huge saving! The collection has eight books which are all young adult and/or easy romance, so since they’re right up my street (in theory) and some nice easy reading for my travels, I figured why not give them all a go and provide you all with a little review of each as I go?
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
This wasn’t at all what I expected but it was brilliant. Finch and Violet are both troubled teenagers who meet at the top of the bell tower contemplating their suicides, it was never going to be a fairytale story but the reality of the story made it something spectacular. Niven focuses on the difficulties of getting help to teenagers who are struggling with life; which I think more teenagers do than we acknowledge, and how important family and friends are to those individuals. There is a comparison created between Violet who has support and Finch who has disengaged parents with problems of their own. I really appreciated how Niven kept the story going though and spent time focusing on the aftermath of suicide and how people cope and feel guilt. Zoella definitely picked a good one right here!
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
God the name of this book is so perfect. Although I’m a little bit concerned that so far both of these books have had links to death this was another good pick. Set in the UK this time (which is always nice because soooo many books I read are based in the USA) Beautiful Broken Things tells the story of a teenage girl and her teenage struggles with balancing friendships and helping a friend in need. Cads is pretty fortunate and has always had her best friend Rosie by her side, however, when Suze moves to town she finds she needs to make space for another friend in their relationship, a friend who changes the dynamic of their friendship quite dramatically and puts them all to the test. The worst thing about this book is that I was sitting on a plane reading it and got really teary super awkward!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I actually read We Were Liars last February after spotting in on lots of ‘to read’ lists and it seems to have had overwhelmingly good reviews, however personally I just didn’t enjoy it. The story revolves around Cadence who was involved in an accident which has affected her memory and she can’t remember what happened and nobody around her will tell her. In my opinion, the premise was brilliant but the delivery was long winded and a chore, once you discover the ending you can truly appreciate how clever the narration is but whilst slogging through I just found it frustrating. Cadence was exceptionally self-pitying and I just felt as if she was a poor little rich girl. However, this book is obviously appealing to others as it has had a huge success and I believe it’s being made in to a film? Maybe it’ll be a rare film adaptation I enjoy more than the book!
Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
Madeleine is sick, she has SCID and lives inside a bubble her mom has created in her house to keep her away from harm and infection. She gets tutored online, has a nurse to check her vitals and reads lots and lots of books. When a new family move in next door it’s pretty much the highlight of her year as she starts to note their comings and going. Of course there’s a guy. All of a sudden the rules that Madeleine has happily followed for years begin to get broken. This is such an interesting insight into a world of isolation I would probably never even think twice about with the added benefit of a simple easy romance (although like a lot of YA books I think the romance is a bit sudden and doesn’t build and develop realistically). However, it was a nice easy and quick read which is what I expect from YA books so I’m happy, plus the twist was good!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl is a super geeky modern romance novel. Cath and her twin sister Wren move to University together, Cath is super excited about it until her twin sister tells her she doesn’t want to bunk together but she wants to go out and meet new people. Cath isn’t very good and meeting new people or dealing with new situations so for the first few weeks she generally hides in her room eating protein bars. Luckily her roommate Reagen takes it upon herself to welcome Cath to the real world and force her to become part of university life. Obviously there’s a guy, well actually there’s two. First of all is Nick who is her perfect geek counterpart and study partner, then there is Levi the guy she assumes to be her roommates boyfriend yet he is going out of his way to be nice to her. I really enjoyed the basic simple story Rowell is telling, however, I just wasn’t a fan of the Simon and Baz exerts in-between each chapter as I felt like they had little or no relevance to the story being told throughout the actual chapters, although I do think it’s pretty cool Rowell has then written it as an actual book. I suppose, I’m just kind of undecided what I thought of it or whether I’d recommend it.
The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
Let me just start by saying that this is for sure not a book I ever would have picked up myself if it hadn’t been a part of this book club, the blurb sounds horrific but I started it with optimism, and in it’s (and Zella’s) defence it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The story revolves around Samantha who is a teenager living in a family of struggling potion makers who has a fairly boring life until she is summoned to the royal palace where she receives an invite to participate in a challenge to save the Princess’ life after she has poisoned herself with a love potion causing her to fall in love with herself. Yup, rather far fetched I know. Of course there’s a boy; typically the one the potion was actually for, who likes her but pretends he doesn’t etc. There is also some drama as Samantha and her friends hunt down the ingredients they need for the potion. All in all, in my opinion the book is a little too far fetched without enough fantastical elements for me to appreciate it. It is definitely a book for the younger reader.
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I have wanted to read this book for so long, so when I saw it was on the book club list I finally had an excuse to purchase it. As I think I’ve previously mentioned I am currently working in a camp in Northern California so the location of the book was brilliant for me, it almost felt like I was living it alongside Lennie.
Bailey (Lennie’s sister) died suddenly and the family is trying to pick up the pieces of life after her death. Howeever, there’s also Joe; the new guy at school, who has an instant liking for Lennie making her feel guilty for not being constantly depressed. It seems like a straight forward love story until Lennie starts finding comfort in her sister’s boyfriend.
At times I found this book ridiculous but the ending sort of made up for it. It definitely could’ve been better though!
Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher
Another book I have been intending to read for a while but just never got around to (Zoella you’re getting lots off my wish list here well done). I was literally sold on this book in the introduction, talking about dolls and the spice girls etc. Fletcher’s writing style is so comfortable that I was genuinely wondering whether the introduction was to the character in the book or her directly and I think that is a genuine talent.
The book itself is pretty fluffy and fairytale like which I loved, it sort of gives a little bit of hope to everybody whilst we also know it’s never going to happen to us and is definitely unrealistic. I just found it so easy to read as it is written in such a conversationalist style I loved it. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to ready one of Fletcher’s books as I love her, I regularly watch her youtube videos and what not but I’m now mad at myself for not picking up a book sooner.
She has a real talent. Although this book doesn’t quite fit in with others on the list as it’s not quite YA it’s still a great pick.
That’s it. That’s them all. There were definitely some highs and lows as far as I was concerned, but they kept me entertained whilst at camp this summer so I’m truly grateful. I totally forgot to post this blog so it is pretty late but I hope you all enjoy my opinion.