It’s kind of funny that this is the topic for the week, since I very recently had a conversation with my boyfriend about re-reading (or re-watching) things we’ve already read (or watched). Personally, I love to re-read favourites and there are certain books and series that I’ve revisited so many times over the year. For him, it’s different because he has an excellent memory and can remember plots in great detail, so it’s never as fun as the first time. Part of why I love to re-read books is because it’s hard for me to remember all the details of what happened, so it can be fun to go back and remind myself. I also love discovering clues and small details that I may not have noticed the first time. Usually, when I pick a book to re-read, it’s because it’s something I already know and love, but sometimes it is because I know I’ve read the book but literally remember nothing from it. I re-read Go Ask Alice several times when I was younger because no matter how many times I tried it, I can still never remember anything about it. What’s harder to think about are books that I don’t want to re-read, since if I liked it, there’s a good chance I’ll want to revisit it at some point.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
1) The Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
I completely missed out on this series when it first came out back in 2010, around the height of the dystopian trend. At the time, I just wasn’t interested enough in the genre to read more than The Hunger Games and Divergent, and although I’d heard good things about this one, I didn’t care enough to try it. I finally decided to give it a chance this year because it was one of a few very popular series that I’d never picked up, and although I generally enjoyed it, I don’t think I would pick it up again. I really enjoyed Matched, but I found Crossed a bit boring. Reached was great, but felt more like a standalone that just so happened to feature the same characters since the plot had almost nothing to do with the previous books. My biggest issue was that both the world-building and especially the characters were underdeveloped, and I could not buy into the main romance at all because I didn’t think there was any chemistry whatsoever. When I read Matched, I’d commented that the romance felt rushed, and as the series developed, that impression never really changed. It seems like the characters just jumped into being madly in love for no real reason, and that was not very interesting to read. I’m glad I gave it a chance, but I don’t think I’ll care enough to re-read it.
2) The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
I picked this book up last year expecting to love it, and unfortunately it was not quite as good as I expected. I still ended up rating it 4 stars, so obviously I enjoyed it but I expected a little bit more. The book is about a young woman named Sara who is from Sweden and visits a small town in Iowa after corresponding with a woman who lives there about books. She arrives in town to discover that her friend has recently died, but the townspeople persuade her to stay anyway, eventually leading her to decide that the town needs a bookshop. Essentially, the book was about Sara opening her bookshop to try and provide the people around town with the books they “need” to read based on their situation. There were some scenes that I absolutely loved, such as the entire town gathering to see how long Sara would continue to read non-stop, but as a whole, I found it a little too boring in places to want to try again.
3) All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
I read this book earlier this year for a challenge prompt requiring a book written in second person perspective, which is very difficult to find! This book had been on my TBR for close to three years so I decided it was about time to give it a chance. It is about a girl named Judith who had been kidnapped and had her tongue cut out by her kidnapper, and returns home. The story is told in the form of letters that Judith writes to her crush as she talks about her experiences since coming home. I found this book a little misleading since nothing in the synopsis even remotely suggested that it would be set in a Puritan-style village. While that is something I would have been interested in anyway, I found it off-putting while I was reading since it wasn’t what I expected. The book was a pretty quick read and an interesting story, but not something that I’d be very motivated to try again. I think the fact that it took me three years to get around to it in the first place is explanation enough.
4) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I actively avoided this book for a long time because it seemed ridiculously overhyped, but finally gave in and decided to give it a chance. When I first heard of it, I was very frustrated by the complete lack of a synopsis because every single review commented that it was impossible to say anything without giving things away. The most I can share is that this book is about a wealthy family who spend their summers on a private island, where something has happened. This was another book that was very fast to read, and I generally enjoyed it but I was disappointed that I very easily predicted the twist early on. It was not a surprise to me at all, and I actually did not like the way the incident in question was executed because it seemed so unrealistic. Given that this book is so contingent on the twist, it would be hard to re-read it anyway knowing what happens, and I especially would not be too interested since I wasn’t such a fan of the execution.
5) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
This was another book that I eventually had to pick up because it was so heavily hyped. It is about a boy named Greg whose classmate Rachel is diagnosed with cancer, and his mother pressures him to rekindle their former friendship. Greg and his friend Earl decide to try to cheer Rachel up by making their own (terrible) films. It’s the kind of story that I generally would have loved, but I just found the characters so irritating. Both Greg and Earl were frustrating because their humour was just so immature and vulgar. I did not find it funny at all. I really loved how Greg’s emotions toward Rachel and her diagnosis were portrayed, including his reluctance to get involved and admission that he probably wouldn’t have hung out with Rachel otherwise. It was definitely very different from other YA cancer stories, and I appreciated it for that, but this book was nowhere near as good as I hoped, and I probably wouldn’t want to read it again.
6) My Life Next Door and 7) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I’m grouping these two books together since they are by the same author, and both had basically the same problem. I enjoyed them both as I read them, but they were ultimately completely unmemorable. My Life Next Door is about a girl named Samantha who falls in love with the literal boy next door, Jase Garrett, whose family is looked down upon by others in the area. What I Thought Was True is about a teenage girl named Gwen who is trying to move past mistakes she’s made over the past year, and is annoyed to find that one of the boys she is trying to avoid has taken a summer job on the island, where she can’t seem to escape seeing him. Literally the only thing I remember about My Life Next Door is that Jase had a huge family, and Sam’s mother was completely awful. I don’t remember much about What I Thought Was True at all, but I know I did not like it quite as much. Normally when I remember so little about a book I’m tempted to try it again at some point, but I doubt I’ll be too motivated in picking these up again.
8) Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
This was another book that I read because it was so hyped, and had been on my TBR for a long time. This book is formatted as a letter from a teenage girl named Gemma who was kidnapped by Ty, a man a few years older than her who claims to have fallen in love with her and takes Gemma away to the Australian outback to keep her forever. I was really looking forward to this one because it had received such rave reviews for it. I liked it, but didn’t love it. The format of the book didn’t quite work for me because the entire thing was formatted as a single, very detailed letter that describes absolutely everything. Most of the time, it did not really read like a letter so it was a little bit of an odd format choice. I think it may have worked better if the story had been split into several shorter “letters” instead. I also had a lot of trouble buying into the whole Stockholm Syndrome aspect of the story because it was impossible for me to look past the fact that Ty had stalked and kidnapped Gemma, even though as kidnappers go, he wasn’t so horrible. It’s another case where I’m glad I got it off my TBR, but probably wouldn’t read it again.
9) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
I’m a little more on the fence about this one since it is one that I can see myself eventually giving a second chance. I read this book because I really loved I’ll Give You the Sun and I was hoping this one would be as good. Unfortunately, this one didn’t appeal to me as much. This book is about a teenage girl named Lennie who is dealing with the loss of her older sister, Bailey. Lennie is torn between her sister’s boyfriend Toby, who seems to be the only person who understands her grief, and the new boy, Joe. My favourite part of this book were the scraps of notes and poems that Lennie left scattered around the city, which really gave great insight into her relationship with her sister. I just wasn’t a huge fan of the characters in general, nor of the love triangle. I can see myself giving this one another chance at some point in the future, but definitely not for a while.
10) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
I don’t know what it is with Lauren Oliver’s books, but they never reach past 4 stars for me. I always like them, but something always holds them back from reaching a full 5 stars. This book is about a catty popular girl named Sam who dies in a car accident on her way home from a party, but is forced to relive the day several times to try to change her life. It took me quite a while to get into this book because Sam and her closest friends were such unlikeable characters who were shallow, selfish, and bullies. I also found the book a bit repetitive since the restart of the day tended to use similar language before diverging based on Sam’s decisions. I thought the book really picked up in the second half, where more of the side characters started to get more fully developed. One of the strongest elements of this book for me was the very realistic portrayal of bullying, including the behaviours, the effects, and even the idea that sometimes it is for no real reason at all. It took a long time for Sam to start to recognize her own bad behaviour, but I really liked when she started to notice the hypocrisy and facades used by the popular crowd. Overall, I thought the book was a little too long for such a repetitive story premise, but it was also a lot better than I expected.