THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE: A Book Review

The problem with this book is that it isn’t I’ll Give You the Sun.

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If there’s one thing to know about little book blogger me, it’s that I’ll Give You the Sun is my favourite book in the world. I wrote a love letter to it, and whenever anyone asks me about it, I say simply “it sings the same song as my heart.” There’s no other way to describe my relationship to that book. Even though the description of The Sky is Everywhere didn’t really appeal to me, I decided I had to read it because Jandy Nelson wrote it and if it was even one iota as good as I’ll Give You the Sun, then it will be a great read.

And…. it was. I was genuinely surprised with how much I ended up liking this book. It starts off slow, but I ended up flipping pages quicker and quicker as I raced towards the end. I even stayed up late to binge the last 100 pages because I felt like I had to. The second half of the novel is definitely stronger, in my opinion, and a lot more emotions swirl about, resulting in more things happening. It’s not what I would call unpredictable, but it gives you the ending you want, and maybe even need.

Lennie, our fierce protagonist, is so lovable. She is broken, full of flaws and heartbreak, but you keep rooting for her. I was somewhat surprised with how young she comes off– until I realized that yeah, she is young. It’s refreshing to have a teenage voice that comes off so young and unwise compared to some of the more sophisticated voices found in YA. It makes Lennie’s story that much more heartbreaking (which, if you haven’t bothered to look it up on Goodreads already, is: Lennie’s sister died suddenly and she’s trying to cope with it, as well as dealing with her absent mother, and the fact that she’s been making out with her sister’s boyfriend while sort of falling for the new boy in town– it’s as cliche as you’d expect, yet it’s still heartwarming and beautiful, I promise).

I’m not much one for romance, but I am always here for the family plot. If Nelson knows anything, it’s how to write family. Lennie’s relationship to her grandmother and her Uncle Big is absolutely stunning. They’re all messy people, and they’re all strange and wonderful, and they link together so beautifully. This book is about loss, but it’s also about absence, and saying goodbye. Lennie’s family supports her, holds her up, and she does the same to them. The romance is sweet, yes, but read this story for the family plot. I was surprised to find myself crying as hard as I did– Nelson is so soft with family, and I love that about her books.

I could keep babbling on, but I think I will stop here. The Sky is Everywhere surprised me: I thought I would like it, but I didn’t expect it to touch my heart as much as it did. It’s a good book to curl up with, and to thaw that cold heart of yours. It deals with grief well, as it does with losing and finding yourself again. It’s a nice book about love, growing up, loss, and family. If you want to feel found, this is the book for you.

4 lost poems out of 5. 

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ALL FOR THE GAME: A Book Series Review

This series is not for the feint of heart.

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I went into The Foxhole Court, the first in the All For the Game series by Nora Sakavic, thinking I knew what it was about. I knew it was about a fictional sport. I knew it involved some dark themes and rough characters. I knew there was a gay relationship somewhere in there.

Turns out, I didn’t know anything.

This series is dark. It’s about a boy name Neil who is on the run from his father who is out to kill him since he and his mother ran away from him years ago. Because, you see, his father is a mobster. And he’s angry. Oh, and he’s called “The Butcher.” And that’s only the beginning. Because then there’s Kevin, who has a tattooed “2” on his cheekbone to always remind him that he’s number two; and there’s Aaron and Andrew, twins who can’t seem to stand each pother, and Andrew’s on anti-psychotics that just make manic and more psychotic. Then Nicky, Aaron and Andrew’s cousin and guardian after their mother died in an accident that might not have been an accident.

And those are only half the characters.

Through the fictional sport of Exy, Neil gets caught up in their world, and each one of them has dark secrets they’re trying to keep secret, and each one of them is wondering just what it is that Neil is hiding…. The web just gets darker and darker as the series goes on.

I mean it when I say that this series is not for the feint of heart. There are scenes that involve torture, and many more that involved violence and manipulation, and I sometimes found myself needing to take a break reading  because I was getting too hyped up and too emotional. I’m not trying to scare you off– there is definitely worse out there– but I am warning you that this series is less about sport and more about navigating through a world of darkness and learning to trust the people whose histories are just as dark and broken as your own.

I was surprised by the lack of sport play-by-plays in the series, but that’s because the books really aren’t about the game: the game exists as a binder, as way for them all to meet and heal and grow, a way from Neil to learn how to trust, and a way for relationships stronger than concrete to form. It’s kind of beautiful. You know, if it weren’t for all the murder.

The inevitable love story (if you can even call it that) is by far the softest part of the series, but it never feels mushy: it’s a story of two people learning to depend on each other when they’ve never bothered to depend on anyone before. It’s about trust, and acceptance, and really– it’s about learning to love.

I loved this series. As I said on my Goodreads review, the first book felt like a being dropped on a highway and being told to run; the second was driving 100 mph on that same highway and hitting the gas; and this one is like being pushed from an airplane. There’s this moment of softness, where everything is floating and you feel okay, before the panic sets in and you land smack into the ground.

If you like gritty and messy and dark and your characters to be broken assholes who don’t know the meaning of “nice,” then you will absolutely love All For the Game. If not, you might want to pass this one by, but I’m telling you, this series is worth its pain.

5 foxes out of 5. 

[First novel is The Foxhole Court, followed by The Raven King, concluding with The King’s Men]

CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY: A Book Review

I’m about 10 years late to the party, but let’s talk about Chaos Walking!!

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It only took two short months for Patrick Ness to become one of my favourite authors. His novels, the YA ones at least, never disappoint. The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in Ness’s trilogy, was his first young adult novel, and I am forever grateful he began writing YA because holy crap this series is a ride.

Summary for those of you who have somehow missed this book like I did:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is about a boy named Todd who lives in a world where everyone can hear everyone’s thoughts in what is referred to as “the Noise.” Oh, and the virus that gave everyone the noise also killed off all the women. Todd, the youngest boy in his town at just a few weeks before age 13 when he’ll become a man, finds a spot where there is no Noise: everything is quiet. He heads back to his home, and his parents immediately send him on the run, no explanation given except that Todd needs to leave now. And thus begins the chase.

The Knife is a great novel but it’s in the second and third books, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, where this trilogy becomes art. This series is highly morally grey. It makes you question what is “for the greater good” when everyone is simply working for themselves: including our beloved hero, Todd. You will question everything reading this series. It is so hard to distinguish what is right, and what is wrong, and what the truth is, and if there even is a truth. It changed my perception of everything, and presented my absolute favourite kind on conflict: how can we possibly trust our own judgement on right and wrong?

Along with absolutely breathtaking themes, this series is fast past. Seriously. It was a piece of cake to read over 100 pages a day, and often, you’d read them without even noticing the time go back. Your eyes run across the page, bouncing from word to word, as you try to discover the secrets and figure out what’s going on.

If anything, read this series for the third narrative voice that appears in book three (no spoilers from me but holy crap x2 this character is one of the most interesting I have ever encountered in any work of fiction).

If you need a second reason to read it, read it for the ending. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. It had be screaming: I had to put the book down and pace around my room before reading the last few pages, and the very finally words had be sobbing…..

These characters may not capture your heart (they captured mine), and it might not rush to the top of your favourites list (it did for me), but this is a series that demands to be read. Question your own reality, your own choices, and those of everyone around you, and read this series. You won’t regret it.

Did I mention there’s a talking dog?

5 knives out of 5.