The Duff by Kody Keplinger

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I honestly don’t know how to talk about this book without screaming, but I’m going to try.

I attempted to pick up this book the other year when the film came out. I got about three pages in and returned it to the library, decided it was not my thing. But, I am a glutton for punishment and like liveblogging books that look ridiculous, so ended up getting it out again and reading it. All 341 pages of it.

The annoying thing about this is that most of the writing was good. There were some moments of ‘what?’ (‘He glared at me for a few minutes.’) (‘and suddenly we were having sex.’) but most of it was readable. The things that pulled this book down was…

well…everything else.

Lets start with B, our darling narrator, who was the most bitchy, rude, self obsessed character I have ever had to deal with. Oh, and hypocritical. She calls herself cynical- actually makes a comment about ‘my cynicism is because of my intelligence.’ She’s not, though. She (or, the author, technically) confuses cynicism with judgemental. I don’t think she complimented a single person in this book- it was all ‘this girls a slut’ ‘this girls too skinny’. Not only that, she also calls herself OCD…*cringes* liking to fold clothes to calm yourself is not OCD, people. OCD is an actual mental illness. It’s not a fucking cute quirk you have.

*breaths*

Okay so B doesn’t like Love. She doesn’t believe that teenagers can love since it apparently takes years to develop. So when Wesley appears by her side at a teenage bar, she doesn’t take a shine to him. It doesn’t help that he ‘would sleep with everything that walks’. And when he admits he’s not there to actually flirt with her because she’s the Duff of her friendship group, everything goes wrong and the night ends with her throwing her drink at him.

1) like…please. Please never slut shame. It honestly doesn’t matter if you like having sex or not, or how many people you sleep with or don’t. Like…it’s that person’s choice, just as its yours to do something differently.

2) Never call someone a Duff, or Ugly, of fat, or insult them. Because guess what, they are real people and like, they have real feelings. Just like you! (sidenote to this one, being called a Duff upset B….but SHE THEN CALLED OTHER GIRLS IT LATER. DON’T. JUST DON’T.)

Of course, while still admitting she hated Wesley, they embark on a secret ‘affair’ in which she ‘uses him as her sex toy’ to distract her from all her family problems.

NOT. HEALTHY.

She stops talking to her friends and her dad and spends like every day with him- while always reminding him that she hates him.

Its stupid.

Thing is, I liked Wesley. He had a heart and morals and actually cared about her, even when she treated him like crap. He was the bright spot in this whole damned mess.

So she stops talking to her friends and then blames them when they get upset. Seriously there’s like a whole page of her complaining about their behaviour when she completely ignores them at school? Mind you, a friendship where there was not a single conversation not about a boy in a whole book probably means they aren’t that good friends (or maybe the author as never actually seen teenage girls talking?)

And this is just the start. If I could spend the next two hours typing out every single thing wrong with this book, I would.

The thing I hate most about this book, though, is that it is aimed at teens. And the whole way through the book, its basically teaching them that this behaviour is normal and good. That insulting other girls and putting them down is fun and cool! (its not) that throwing drinks- and slapping- and shouting at your love interest/boyfriend etc is normal (its not) that being boy obsessed is the only thing that matters (its really really not). That losing friends for a boy is the right way to go (nope) that keeping secrets from everyone who cares about you is fine (NO)

You can have a contemporary romance with a female main where she is still nice and strong on her own and has an actual storyline- it doesn’t all have to be like this. (read Anna and the French Kiss, so much better)

SO please, if you come across this book, do not pick it up. This is not a recommendation. This is an anti-rec.

Star rating:

one star

On the TBR Pile: Arcadia, by Iain Pears

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Henry Lytten – a spy turned academic and writer – sits at his desk in Oxford in 1962, dreaming of other worlds.

He embarks on the story of Jay, an eleven-year-old boy who has grown up within the embrace of his family in a rural, peaceful world – a kind of Arcadia. But when a supernatural vision causes Jay to question the rules of his world, he is launched on a life-changing journey.

Lytten also imagines a different society, highly regulated and dominated by technology, which is trying to master the science of time travel.

Meanwhile – in the real world – one of Lytten’s former intelligence colleagues tracks him down for one last assignment.

As he and his characters struggle with questions of free will, love, duty and the power of the imagination, Lytten discovers he is not sure how he wants his stories to end, nor even who is imaginary…

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD.
I… don’t know where to even start. I read this (at the time of writing this review) a week ago. I have managed to digest, absorb and think, and I still don’t know what I think of this.
It’s just…fanfiction- and yes, I’m aware JK didn’t write it and therefore it technically is fanfic, but there is a difference between fanfic and fanfic and this is the second one. It has all those ‘things to avoid’ cliches in it- time travelling, AU’s, the villains child (okay but as a fanfic writer can I just say I’ve done that last one but as a ‘nature vs nurture’ idea) and its so full of angst I just had to laugh.
There were times in which I sat there and thought ‘these are not the characters we all know’- Harry acts so out of character (I mean, you can’t tell your kid that it doesn’t matter what house they will be in, then turn around and say you wished they weren’t your son. Like…no?)
Saying that, there were parts I loved. Harry and Draco moments, Albus and Scorpius’ friendship (though seriously they should have gotten together, it read like that the entire way through) the weaponised library, and I found it interesting what they thought would happen if things had changed. (I’m disagreeing with Cedric becoming a death eater, but the evil AU was kinda cool. I wish there was more to see from that)
I think what I wanted more of was Albus’ actual years at Hogwarts. 19 years have passed- so how has the school changed? How have the lessons changed and what did they take away from the war and history? How to the children react and treat each other? What would Albus and Scorpius be like in their ‘normal’ school environment? There were so many questions about the next gen that were not answered that could have been interesting to look at, but instead they kinda just…relived Harrys years…
I’m not disappointed, per se, because the script will never be good read as that. We will not understand the characters as well, will never be able to imagine it as well- because all we have are their lines, not who they are. So I’m still excited to go and see it (april is so…far …away). I’m annoyed at the cliches- but then, that may work on stage.
Everyone who has seen it already has told me how amazing it is, so I keep my hopes up.
3/5 stars (mainly because I JUST DON’T KNOW)
three stars

Currently Reading: Thone of Glass

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After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

I have lost count of how many times I have read this book (and series), but this is the first time I’m reading from my hardback editions (You know you are addicted to an author when you have hardback and paperbacks and signed copies of all her books…)

Reason for reread? EMPIRE OF STORMS IS OUT IN LESS THAN A MONTH!

On the TBR Pile: Black Arts, by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil

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Elizabethan London: a teeming city of traders and thieves, courtiers and preachers, riff-raff and quality, cut-throats—and demons. When scrunty Jack the “Judicious Nipper” picks the wrong pocket at the Globe Theatre, he finds himself mixed up in an altogether more dangerous London than he could have imagined—a city in which magic is real and deadly.

An outbreak of devil-worship has led to a wave of anti-witch fervor whipped up by the Elect, a mysterious group of Puritans recognizable from their red-stained right hands, led by the charismatic Nicholas Webb, a growing power at Court. Rumour has it that he wants to purge the city entirely and build a New Jerusalem. Jack has his own reason for hating him: he saw him kill his mother.

Helped by Beth Sharkwell, the Thief Princess of Lambeth, Kit Morely, the Intelligencer, and Dr Dee, the Queen’s Wizard, Jack pits himself against Webb’s Puritans. But this is no straightforward struggle. Things are not as they seem. In fact, ever since his encounter with Webb, there has been something wrong with Jack’s vision. He keeps seeing things. Demons.

Vicious, by V E Schwab

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Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

Schwab is not-so-slowly climbing the ranks of my all time favourite authors.

She has a wonderful imagination, and a stunning way of telling a story- and a talent at making you love the morally questionable characters.

And boy, is this book full of morally questionable characters.

I’m not normally one for superhero type books. I don’t know why- not when I’m a huge Marvel fan and love X-Men style ideas, but with books, most of the time, they annoy me. Characters often become Mary Sues when they have powers- perfect and beautiful and loved by all, but with this being written by Schwab, I thought I would give it a try.

And I was not disappointed.

The book mostly follows Victor, switching between the present day, and various events in the last ten years. From him and his then friend Eli trying to turn themselves into ExtraOrdinaries, to it actually working, the fall out, and the reasons that they are now out to get each other (or, in Eli’s case, out to get every EO in the world). But throughout this whole book, you are never really sure that Victor is even the… ‘good’ character.

Morally questionable indeed- because both characters have murdered- and worse- in the name of their fight. They are both happy to use whoever they can to get what they want, and that normally ends up in more death. Throughout the whole book, I was sat wondering if our Main was actually the villain, because he was not exactly going to  best way around his plan.

But, thing about fiction, is the more  morally questionable a character, the more you end up loving them. Eli is awful. Even though he is an EO, he thinks he is more than the others, and doens’t care about the bodies he piles up behind him. He would happily stab his best friend in the back because of it all. And Victor isn’t much better. But that is what compels you to carry on reading. You want to know how it will end, which side will walk away and how, and you want to understand how the justify their actions to themselves.

Basically, the whole book is a wonderful mix of super-not-heroes, action, lies, friends and foes and it is honestly brilliant.

4/5 stars:

four stars