Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg is a Sociopath? 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cIFmnn47OoM

This is very interesting video that makes a good arguement about the character Greg Heffley from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. 

I have only read the first three books in the series, but I found Greg extremely unlikable. Even before watching this video I thought I was reading about someone with sociopathic tendencies. 

You could argue that in the real world a lot of kids are jerks. I agree and I’ve seen how mean kids can be. But I feel the way Greg seems to have no feelings of regret and empathy goes beyond that. 

I also thought the movies made Greg slightly more likeable because they at least showed him feeling some regret for his actions. 

So this is a great video that sums up how I feel about the character so I thought I would share. The only thing I don’t agree with is him taking a shot at Jeff Kinney (who seems to acknowledge Greg can be a complete jerk and represents the worst of himself). 

-Sadie 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman | Book Review

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman follows an unnamed narrator as he recalls strange/terrifying events from his childhood involving a young girl named Lettie Hempstock and her family.

Gaiman’s book is definitely different. It’s one of those books where things just kind of happen. The fantastical elements all come with little explanation. However, the book hints at some lore behind what’s going on (but there’s never really any detailed explanation, everything is vague. It is a short book after all).

I don’t think this is a problem for the novel since it ends up working. The story is still very captivating with all its strangeness. I thought the dynamic between the narrator and Lettie was very well done.

There’s a villain named Ursula Monkton that has some prominence in the story but she isn’t the only obstacle the narrator face. I thought she had the potential to be a great villain but the book doesn’t really do much with her by the end. So, that’s a slight flaw but I will say other elements make up for it. I thought the imagery was good, for example.

I can’t say this book is for everyone. Like I said, things just kind of happen. There’s many references to other worlds, creatures, etc. but nothing that goes into detail. I found that a bit frustrating but I think the book was meant to have a fairy tale type feel.

Even though I thought Gaiman’s book was a nice little read…it still feels like there’s something missing by the end. Almost like it doesn’t reach its full potential. That’s why I can’t see myself putting it on a favorite list or anything. Still, it’s a nice read. 3.5/5

 

 

Panic by Lauren Oliver | Book Review

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So, the most recent book I’ve read is Panic by Lauren Oliver. Oliver is one of my favorite authors and hasn’t disappointed me yet (except for, maybe, the third Delirium book.) Here I’ll breakdown what works in the book and what doesn’t.  (slightly spoiler-ish)

Idea/Creativity: When I first read the synopsis for this book I wasn’t so impressed – it sounded like it would be another Hunger Games rip off. Luckily, it turned out not to be. Panic is about girl in a crummy town that gets in on a local tradition among high schoolers. That tradition is a game called Panic which basically involves doing a series of dangerous stunts. The prize is a large sum of money. The main character, Heather, plays the game as her personal life is in turmoil. There’s also romantic tension between her and her friend Bishop along the way. A selected group of judges oversee the competition and their identities are kept fiercely secret.  This is the jist of the novel.

The idea isn’t bad. It may not be a Hunger Games rip-off but it’s not particularly original.  If I had to rate on creativity alone I can’t say I would rate all that highly. However, this doesn’t mean the book is bad – plenty of unoriginal books are still fun to read. I feel that the author does well with the premise although the basic idea feels like it’s been done before.

Story Flow: This is a pretty fast read. Much of the story revolves around the game, of course. But the characters still have a lot of personal conflict the story focuses (However, the threat of the game and when the next event will be always looms over their head) on. So I would say there’s never really a dull moment in the story since there’s always something significant going on. It also constantly switches between characters Dodge and Heather’s point of view and this helps the story move fast.

Characters: The main characters are Heather and Dodge, whose POVs the book is told from (mainly third-person limited). Dodge has revenge on his mind since his sister was paralyzed in the game during the final challenge. Heather wants to escape the town of Carp and give a better life to her sister, Lily. Both of them are good main characters. They’re flawed with good intentions, and I thought they would have made a better relationship dynamic than Heather and Bishop did.

The other important characters are Natalie and Bishop, Heather’s two best friends. Out of the main cast, Natalie is the worst. She was extremely annoying. Heather deserved a better best friend and Dodge deserved a better love interest. As for Bishop, he’s not as bad but he is boring. The relationship between him and Heather fell completely flat, in my opinion.

Main characters aside, the side characters are one of the biggest flaws of the book. There’s supposed to be other people in the game but we learn almost nothing about them – they’re essentially like nameless entities. There’s a character named Ray (that Dodge has bone to pick with) who lasts to the very end but we never get to know much about him – he’s completely one-dimensional like all the others outside of the main ones. Even Dodge and Heather’s sisters lack any true depth.

There is a kind woman named Anne who befriends Heather but she didn’t have much development either. Her main characteristic is that she has a farm. And there’s a couple tigers on that farm.

Setting: The story takes place in a town called Carp. It’s a boring, soul crushing place. In fact, one of the claims in the book is that Panic got started because the teens simply had nothing to do. There’s also a lot going behind closed doors with drugs and such (as seen through Heather’s home life). I thought the setting was well done. It really captured the dread that crappy small towns can carry.

Ending: Heather gets a pretty good ending but Dodge’s was a bit disappointing and there wasn’t much closure when it came to him. However, the narrative clearly favors Heather more so she’s the one that ended up finishing the final challenge. Which the story shows with some cool imagery involving a tiger. Even though Dodge deserved a better ending, I think the book had a decent end regardless.

Final Thoughts: Panic is a good book. It may not do anything new and has its flaws but it’s a good book. Following Heather and Dodge is fun and intense to read about. Some of the challenges are cool but I mostly like how the game is incorporated into the sadness of the main characters.

Due to how much I enjoyed the book overall, I will give it a solid 4.5/5.

Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp | Book Review

jane-emily

Jane-Emily is a short Young Adult horror/ghost novel about a little girl named Jane who goes to spend a summer at her grandmother’s house with her Aunt Louisa, whose also the narrator of the story. A girl named Emily who died at a young age previously lived in the house and unlike Jane she was a selfish, spoiled girl. Emily still lingers in the house and Jane can feel her, Emily also has some terrible plans for the girl.

This book was apparently out of print for awhile and now it’s back due to popular demand. Well I wasn’t alive when it was popular and I heard about it through recommendation. I thought the premise sounded cool and I love ghost stories when their done right. Was Jane-Emily done right? Kind of but overall I was a bit disappointed.

The build up was good, but the ending it built up to was disappointing. It ended way too quickly for me, I just didn’t feel satisfied. Still, it’s far from a terrible book I wasn’t bored while reading and there were some good scenes. The characters were decent even though I can’t say they were that memorable or anything. Emily was pretty interesting and the best times were learning more and more about her.

So in the end I wish it would of just wrapped things up better. 3/5

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia | Book Review

one crazy summer

 

One Crazy Summer is a middle grade book that tells the story of the three Gaither sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern. In the late 60s during the summer they go to Oakland to visit their mother, Cecile who had previously abandoned them. She’s very unwelcoming to them, viewing them as a distraction from her work. They eventually go to a Black Panther camp. The book is told from the older sister, Delphine’s point of view who has to take care of her younger sisters.

When I was suggested One Crazy Summer, it sounded like something that I would definitely enjoy reading. So I was very happy to get my hands on a copy. I was also impressed by the medals on the cover. And they are definitely deserved, the Gaither girls story is a great read.

I don’t know much about the black panthers so I can’t say how accurate everything is. But the thing is, at least in my opinion, the book doesn’t go into that much detail about the subject. This is one of the books flaws but it’s nothing major.

As for the characters, they were good overall. It was a great experience being in Delphine’s head. Fern was very cute and funny, Vonetta on the other was pretty forgettable. As for Cecile, she was horrible throughout most of the book and I didn’t completely get her, even when everything ended.

So One Crazy Summer has a few flaws but altogether it’s a great book, and I could see kids finding it entertaining (it’s perfect to use for schools) as well as adults.  4/5

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams | Book Review

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The Chosen One is a Young Adult book follows the story of a young girl named Kyra who lives in an isolated polygamist community. Unlike her family who follow all the rules of the community, she shows a bit of a rebellious streak by visiting and reading forbidden books from a mobile library and having secret meetings with a boy named Joshua. The women have no say in who they marry and to Kyra’s horror the prophet says that she must marry her sixty year old uncle who already has six other wives. As the story goes on it becomes more and more intense as Kyra faces punishment for her disobedience.

The book is a quick and easy read that most should find engaging. Everything’s pretty simplistic as in the book doesn’t really go deep into any of the concepts. The basic premise of how things work in the community is given but there’s not really much of in depth look into it. Prophet Childs and The God Squad are the bad guys of the story but not much is explained about them, we see them doing terrible things and for the most part that’s it. I would of like to have seen the psychology behind everything, if that makes sense. Especially Prophet Childs, being that he’s the evil prophet and all. The dreaded Uncle that Kyra has to marry in my opinion wasn’t looked into enough either.

Another issue is Joshua, he has next to no character development which caused me to care very little about him. It seems he just exists to give Kyra a big reason to rebel, but other than that he’s hardly a character at all, he’s just seemed like an afterthought. So basically, he was somewhat pointless and needed to be more fleshed out character.

With all that said, The Chosen One is overall a satisfying book. The writing’s also simple, I think most people should get through this in a day or two. The build of is great and the thrills keep on coming till the end. Kyra’s voice is pretty emotional and I never felt annoyed or frustrated with her. Although I sometimes forgot she was so young. The book’s pretty much pulls the reader in from start to finish so it’s definitely a good recommendation for someone who’s not sure they’ll like reading. 4/5

The Duff by Kody Keplinger | Book Review

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The Duff is a Young Adult book about a girl named Bianca Piper who is best friends with two beautiful girls and is “plain” by comparison. She gets labeled a Duff (designated ugly fat friend) by a popular, attractive boy named Wesley who’s known in school for sleeping around. Bianca throws cherry coke when he he gives her the label and claims to be repulsed by him. But things aren’t so good at home and soon sex with Wesley becomes a distraction for her issues.

This book is definitely a page turner, Bianca’s drama really pulled me in. I think many teens could relate. Even though I’m an adult now a lot of things in the book reminded me of my own teen years. Bianca’s bad attitude annoyed me at times, I understand why she was this way but it was still a bit much at times. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like her, she’s definitely a decent character and someone I could see myself being friends with.

Bianca’s friendship with Jessica and Casey (the pretty, popular girls) was something I really liked. I love seeing good female friendships in books and this book does a good job with that. They’re all supportive of each other and care about one another. Normally in books like this they’d make the pretty girls shallow and stupid but in here they actually have substance. Now as for Wesley, I liked him overall even though at times I wasn’t sure. I don’t usually like the whole falling in love with the jerk/man-whore thing but here it was somewhat tolerable.

Another great thing about this book is it’s stance against labels often given to women like “duff” and “whore” all meant to make women feel bad about themselves. It’s great to see a YA book without the slut shaming. The Duff has been on my “to read” list for a year now and I’m really glad I finally read it. 4/5.