Monthly Archives: May 2014

ARC Review – Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

17924987Title:  Fan Art

Author: Sarah Tregay

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend.

As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn’t sure if that’s what he wants—because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay is a such a cute love story. I love stories about people who are confident in who they are (for the most part), but understand that not everything is as it seems, especially when it comes to falling for your best friend. That’s pretty much the entire story of this book, and while it was adorable at times, I had a few issues with it.

I feel like a good book needs to have a good balance of showing versus telling and Jamie is a teller, not a shower. In fact, about 90% of this book is Jamie telling events instead of the reader engaging in them, which didn’t always appeal to me. The writing was very flat at times as well, and think a lot of the wit that Jamie attempts to posses didn’t always translate well due to the flatness in the text. I wanted more emotion, more drive, and I felt like everything in this story was just a bit too easily handled. In fact, I think that’s my issue with the story — everything seems too easy.

While Jamie and Mason are cute, I didn’t always feel like I understood their attraction for each other outside of their “hotness,” which was what was frequently mentioned. I felt like we knew so much about Jamie and his life, and Mason just didn’t quite measure in comparison — I didn’t feel like I fully understood the appeal, whereas in a book like One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva, you totally got the connection and how deep it was between Alek and Ethan. For a romance novel, I think I was just expecting more than I got from the characters, and truthfully, I didn’t always feel connected to them.

However, I will say, there are tons of really sweet romantic scenes in this book, and some of the social issues are well placed and explained and that I enjoyed immensely. I thought the ending was very sweet, if a bit too simple, and I loved how imperfect Jamie was, because when he explains stories from his past, he’s easy to understand and be sympathetic towards.

While I was iffy on the poetry elements, I thought overall they were done very well and they did have the feeling of the kinds of poetry teens would write in high school. I adored the comics that were inserted into the story and I thought that was a beautiful touch. Fan Art is really, really cute, and is worth checking out if you’re not expecting too much from a very sweet and simple male-male love story.

Bout of Books Readathon 10.0 Wrap Up

BoB10-200x200I am amazed I actually found time to do this little readathon and I’m super late in sharing my results. That’s what happens when life takes over too much of one’s reading and blogging time! Any ways, here’s my results. 🙂

Books Completed: 

– Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick (224 pages)

– The Chaos of Stars by by by Kiersten White (288 pages)

– Take Me On by Katie McGarry (544 pages)

– The Blue-Haired Boy by Courtney C. Stevens (71 pages, eNovella)

– The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (280 pages)

Total Pages Read: 1407 pages.

I have to say, I’m proud I managed to read five books (one more than four, yo!) and I can honestly say I liked the majority of what I read.  I can’t wait for another readathon to happen so I can try to bump up my progress and do better! How did you all do for the readathon if you participated? Did you make your goals?

 

 

Book Review – Summer Days, Starry Nights by Vikki VanSickle

17701021Title:  Summer Days, Starry Nights

Author: Vikki VanSickle

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: A famous rock star, a family secret and a boy with a great smile make for one unforgettable summer.

It’s 1962, and thirteen-year-old Reenie Starr comes alive the minute guests begin to arrive at her family’s summer resort. She dreams of the day she can run Sandy Shores, and she spends her time helping out at the resort, swimming, climbing trees, and singing under the stars.

One day, Reenie’s mother announces that she thinks the resort could use some entertainment. She invites Gwen, her best friend’s almost-grown daughter, to come and teach a dance class. Although Gwen seems sad and remote, Reenie’s thrilled to have her there.

As Reenie starts to learn more about the world beyond Sandy Shores, she comes up with a plan that could really put it on the map. She also finds herself caught between the simpler world of her childhood and all of the wonderful new discoveries (boys) and heartaches (boys) that growing up can bring. Reenie thought she wanted Sandy Shores to never change, but after this summer nothing will ever be the same again.

Sam’s Review:

It’s not secret that I adore middle grade books, especially ones that are realistic and thoughtful. But you know what I love even more? Middle grade novels that tackle the past, in this case in the late 1960s in Ontario. Vikki VanSickle has written a wonderful story about a young Canadian girl looking to learn the truth about her family, and one remarkable summer she may never forget.

First odd, I loved Reenie. Her voices was clear, infectious, and I loved how methodical she was. She wants a role model, she wants someone to look up to, and when her mother walks out on her (for a week, interestingly), she has a hard time trying to understand what would make her favourite role model just up and leave her.

This book has a lot to do with family secrets, and while they aren’t difficult to figure out, I love the overall approach. Nothing is ever easy to learn or accept and Reenie and her sister really struggle throughout this story to understand a lot of their mother’s odd behaviour. There’s just so much heart in this story, and while the warm and fuzzies don’t appear until the very end, the book plays with your emotions on numerous occasions, reminding the reader that nothing is ever simple.

I devoured this book in an afternoon and it’s a great summer read. I loved the choice of setting with it being a family-owned resort, because those are so typical in Canada as summer “getaways” for people who really can’t afford big vacations. At the end of the day VanSickle writes a beautiful and thoughtful story about growing up and comes to terms with newfound changes that are… unexpected shall we say. I honestly cannot wait to track down her Words That Start with B series, because I think I will probably be in love with it too.

But honestly, if you want and sweet story with a loveable protagonist, Reenie really is your girl. Her whole family truly is a joy to read about, and the secrets are worth the discovery.

ARC Review – Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

20359699Title: Poisoned Apples

Author: Christine Heppermann

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A devious poetry collection by  author Christine Heppermann. 

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

So I have to say, Poisoned Apples was a pleasant surprise. The poems attempt to blur the lines between fairy tales and reality and have to say, a lot of them the poems do a good job in justifying this. I think poetry collections can be a real tough sell, but the poems weave into each other surprisingly well that you felt like you were reading one large poetic narrative.

Also it’s feminist poetry. That’s an area I can say I completely approve of. I loved that Heppermann poked fun at tampon commercials, beauty, fashion, body images, things that are supposed to “make a woman.” A lot of the poems argue that none of these things make you a “true woman” and if anything it’s silly to even consider it. There’s a very dark and playful tone to a lot of the poems — in fact, I even found humor in a lot of them. There’s quite the cleverness in this collection, and no you don’t have to be well versed in fairy tales to appreciate it.

There’s a lot to like in this poetry collection, and I think the poems coupled with the photography and artwork is a great touch. I definitely want to see how a finished version of this book will look like when it releases in September. Honestly, check it out — there’s so fun and trouble to be found here.

Five Books I Need to Get Off My Butt and Read

So River and I get a ton of ARCs that often take priority over our personal reading lists. This bugs me sometimes because I try to prioritize and it often never works because more goodies appear. I should never complain, and I am always eternally grateful that publishers love to hear from us. However, what about those awesome books I bought that have been neglected on the shelf? Well here’s five books that I clearly need to get off my butt and read because I am apparently missing out on some awesome.

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

So everyone and their grandmother has read this excerpt me and I hear this series is one of the best in young adult fantasy right now. Also female assassin rising from being imprisoned to fight in the stead of a prince? Count me in. Seriously, I haven’t met a single person who has told me this book isn’t awesome.

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Golden by Jessi Kirby

I have read Moonglass and In Honor by Jessi Kirby, and this is one of River’s favourite books. I don’t know why I didn’t get to it last summer and I know I need to remedy this because it’s looks and sounds amazing, plus it’s a road trip story and I LOVE those. Especially when it’s the story where a character is reflecting and coming to terms and even growing. Very excited to tackle this one.

17233800Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

This is the only book by Katie McGarry I haven’t read yet, and this one happens to be River’s favourite in the series so far. It’s about Isaiah, which baffles me that I haven’t gotten to it because he is one of my favourites in this series (doesn’t quite beat Beth, but pretty close). Sometimes I want an intense romance novel to read, and Katie McGarry just knows how to get it all right and make it so easy for me to just turn the pages. If you like intense contemporary young adult novels, she’s really an author you should check out.

11544476When We Wake by Karen Healy

One of my darling friends, Katherine @ VENTUREADLAXRE spoils me rotten (and vise versa, I am just as bad), and this was one of the last goodies she sent to me. The premise of this book sounds crazy and amazing and I keep staring at it. I love what-if stories and considering Tegan dies and wakes up a hundred years into the future, that is the kind of story that just sounds creepy and fascinating at the same time (though truthfully, I just want to read all the books Katherine sends me. They always have unique premises).

21448330

Crudrat by Gail Carriger

“Crudrat” was the first thing I ever kickstarted, so I am delighted that I have both an ebook and an audiobook to enjoy for this. I feel like I should hook the audiobook up to my mp3 player and just go for a walk and listen to a chapter a day. I feel like that would be motivating! Any ways, Gail Carriger is one of my favourite authors — she knows how to make readers laugh and feel completely entertained. I love authors that don’t always make every thing heavy handed or forced, and humor is always a plus for me.

So there you have it! These are five books I have been wanting to read for like, ever, and just haven’t gotten to. I’d be curious to see what River comes up with if she were to make a list. 😛 So I want to know in the comments! What are some books you’ve had on your shelf forever and feel like you need to make the time for?

 

ARC Review – Divided by Elise Chapman

13649079Title:  Divided

Author: Elise Chapman

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life.

The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.

How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything

Huge thank you to Random House BFYR and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ve been mulling for days over what I want to say aboutDivided. Truthfully, I was simply ‘okay’ with Dualed and I found that while this book was better, I never found myself in love or into what I was reading. The world building still feels drab and confusing (but surprisingly much clearer than the previous book), the characters still feel one-note, but at least the story still had engaging parts… I just wish it had been engaging the full amount of time.

West is still aggravating, and while I get that she is not the best decision maker, I found myself grumbling many a times. I did appreciate that West was trying to redeem herself and that she didn’t want to be associated with being a murderer any more — but she really never catches a break. However, it’s a tad ridiculous how fast things move and the explanations often feel unclear as to where the plot is going or what is happening. 

I’m not going to lie, I was so proud of myself for remembering some of the abbreviations in this book because the first book was terrible at reminding the reader of what the abbreviations meant. I think Chapman took much more time to explain aspects of the story in this book better than she did in the previous and I love it when author’s attempt to create more clarity for the reader. Considering how vague her world building was previously, this book was much better considering she did a lot of re-establishing, but this also gave us more telling and not enough showing.

At the end of the day, this series is one I can see many teens gravitating towards because it has the right amount of action and a heroine who is pretty easy to cheer for. The other characters are not bad, I just didn’t find a lot of them as memorable as our plucky heroine. Still, I wanted more of this series, I wanted to stay engaged from start to finish and unfortunately, while this book is still inherently better than the first, I need more from it to keep coming back. That being said, I think Chapman’s writing greatly improved in this instalment and I’m still curious as to see where her next novel takes her.

ARC Review – Take Me On by Katie McGarry

18333898Title:  Take Me On

Author: Katie McGarry

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

Huge thank you to  Harlequin TEEN and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

After devouring Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, I found that Katie McGarry’s writing style just works for me. There’s something about how intense she writes her teens that I find my eyes glued to the pages. Take Me On was no exception to this.

Although I haven’t read Crash Into You yet, I must say that McGarry does a great job with still making the characters from that novel very accessible. Also, Isaiah. I love that boy and why I haven’t read his story yet is such a damn travesty because he was a favourite of mine in the first two books. I also enjoyed the subplot with West, Rachel and Isaiah, even though West didn’t always win me over with his behaviour or decisions.

It’s weird because at first I had a hard time with both protagonists. I didn’t find either of them interesting or likeable at first, but that seems to be the case with most of McGarry’s books. There’s this building process where you get pieces and pieces, and even though the full picture might be visible, there’s always this small little crack in the portrait that represent’s that character’s ugly past. Those little ugly moments were always my favourite for Haley and West. While I didn’t love these two as much as Beth and Ryan or Echo and Noah, I still liked their stand alone moments more than I did when the two were together.

There is a crazy amount of lusting in this book, which I wish wasn’t the entire focus of the book. I always have more of a preference when McGarry is breaking down relationships and showing all the pieces than I do when characters behind like they can’t keep it entirely in their pants. The action was a bit all over the place too and I wish there had been more with the MMA-style fighting since that’s a big aspect of Haley’s life. But at the same time, these two grew on me, just like the others.

While I don’t think Take Me On is the strongest of the books in the Pushing the Limits series (also the lack of sexy car made me sad), it was still a solid read with some fantastic moments that are intense, cringing and emotionally draining. McGarry writes some of the most heart felt, intense teens I’ve ever come across in YA, and I appreciate how she handles them as well.

ARC Review – #scandal by Sarah Ockler

18667034Title:  #scandal

Author: Sarah Ockler

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love.

Huge thank you to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I LOVED this! Going into it I was really worried because of some of the low ratings and meh reviews, but wow. This was SO much fun. #scandal is actually my 2nd Ockler book and I loved it SO much more than the first!

#scandal, with it’s trendy hastag title, is a layered story that touches on a lot of important topics facing many teens today. Not only does it deal with things like friendship, first love, heartbreak, and high school, it also touches on social media, online bullying, and slut shaming. And I thought the way that all of these topics were handled was not only well done and relatable, but really accessible too.

The story starts out with Lucy going to prom with her BFF’s boyfriend, Cole. Only, the problem is…Lucy’s been in love with Cole since he first moved to town. They’re pretty good friends, but she hasn’t done anything about her feelings because, duh, her BFF is dating him. So when BFF, Ellie, ends up with the flu and can’t go to prom, she begs Lucy to go in her place. Lucy isn’t really into things like prom, and she’d rather be playing video games on her computer or watching zombie movies. 

After prom Lucy goes to a party with Cole and ends up kissing him. Someone takes a photo of her doing it and then the next day a whole bunch of photos from the party wind up on Lucy’s Facebook… and it looks like she posted them. Lucy didn’t though, and soon finds that her phone is missing. This starts a chain of events that leads to a few mysteries… who stole her phone, who uploaded the photos, who TOOK the photos and… who’s Miss Demeanor.

Miss Demeanor? Think Gossip Girl on Facebook, focusing solely on Lucy’s high school, Lav-Oaks. Miss Demeanor posts about the Lav-Oaks’ gossip and even has a #scandal contest. Lucy’s photos are tagged for the contest, which causes them to go even more viral.

The photos not only cause Ellie to find out that Lucy kissed Cole, but it also causes a lot of kids to get into trouble with the school and their parents. And in good old high school bullying fashion Lucy is labeled a slut and a narc and everyone starts to do and say horrible things to her.

So I can’t say too much more without spoiling the rest of the book but I was actually surprised at the culprit. I had a few guesses, and none of them were right. I mean, I didn’t think it was who they thought it was, but once someone handed over the phone I figured it out. I was disappointed in that person, but could see why they did it. We also find out who Miss Demeanor is and I found the true identity to be HILARIOUS. 

The characters in this were great. Lucy’s voice was so spot on. She’s not perfect, can be judgy herself, and she’s super sarcastic and witty. I loved the banter that happened between her and ANYONE. Franklin was my next favorite, and he came out of literally nowhere. His interactions and the friendship that grew between him and Lucy was the best. I really really loved him. And then Mr. Freckles, the horse, the whole story about him was just too precious. Next I really liked (e)VIL (the school’s anti-technology/ conspiracy theory club). All of the members were so funny. Cole was really sweet and caring and I liked how he felt awful for hurting Ellie, but how he wanted to stand by Lucy’s side and stay true to himself as well. And Jayla Heart… I wont say anything about her, but the whole storyline that followed her was really well done too. 

Another thing I liked about this book was the writing. It doesn’t do much with the telling and there’s A LOT of showing and sometimes skimps on the backstory and a lot of things are presented to the reader like they already KNOW the backstory. At first I found this a bit jarring, and it does walk a VERY find line between giving you enough backstory and just letting you feel like you already know it. I personally love the feeling when I’m so into a story that I feel like it’s already familiar and this… had that feeling. I never felt that I had to ‘learn’ the world, but I never felt that I didn’t understand it. The beginning does just throw you into the mix though, so if you don’t like that kind of writing it might be difficult to really get into this book.

I really just had so much fun reading this. The blurb doesn’t really do it any justice, and if anything, kinda leads the reader to make assumptions that might not be met in the story and I don’t think that’s fair. So try not to put too much stock in the blurb and just read this and enjoy the hilarity that ensues.

 

ARC Review – The Swift Boys & Me by Kody Keplinger

18693363Title:  The Swift Boys & Me

Author: Kody Keplinger

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis:  Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.

Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?

Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.

Huge thank you to Scholastic and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’m a new Kody Keplinger fan, and since I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read by her, it was natural I was going to end up devouring The Swift Boys and Me. If there’s one thing Keplinger does well, it’s give us characters with very distinct voices and personalities, and Nola and the Swift boys follow suit.

What I loved about this story is it’s one of growing pains. Nola spends a large chunk of her life next door to the Swift boys, so she knows a lot about their difficult family life and hardships, yet never judges them for it. Moreover, when when she’s mad at Canaan in particular, there’s a part of her that is always waffling between forgiveness and aggression, and her emotions are so perfectly written. 

To be honest, I’m not sure why people are weary of Kelinger writing a middle grade novel, because I think she borrows her talents of making tough exterior characters and bringing them to a new playing field. Nola has so much growing and learning, much like Whitney in A Midsummer’s Nightmare, but has the spunk of Bianca from The Duff. She’s a fantastic little protagonist to follow — she knows what she wants, and she is always seeking to the do the best or right thing. I love that about her.

I was also in love with Teddy. He was just such a great character from the start. Wasn’t likeable right away, but he grows on you and experiences the same types of growing pains that Nola does. I also loved Canaan because he goes through a different kind of growing pain, and one that makes him so unlike-able at times, yet you feel for him. You feel for him from the start of the novel to the end.

Ultimately, what I loved is that The Swift Boys and Me captures growing pains with such ease, that it makes for a great read. The characters are fantastic, Nola’s voice eases the reader into the complications of her life and the life of those around her, but there’s always this glimmer of hope. If you love Keplinger’s YA books, don’t be afraid to try her first middle grade endeavour — it’s a beautiful story of friendship.

ARC Review – Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet

20388219Title:  Pills and Starships

Author: Lydia Millet

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: In this richly imagined dystopic future brought by global warming, seventeen-year-old Nat and her hacker brother Sam have come by ship to the Big Island of Hawaii for their parents’ Final Week. The few Americans who still live well also live long–so long that older adults bow out not by natural means but by buying death contracts from the corporates who now run the disintegrating society by keeping the people happy through a constant diet of “pharma.” Nat’s family is spending their pharma-guided last week at a luxury resort complex called the Twilight Island Acropolis. 

Huge thank you to Black Sheep and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Wow. Just wow. This book was beautiful, deep, poetic, though provoking, and bittersweet. Don’t be fooled by the low page count either, this is not a light, nor is it a quick read. It’s dense and will pull you in and not let you go. I was originally drawn to this book because of the title (it’s rather snappy) and the cover. While there are a lot of pills in the book, there aren’t that many starships so don’t be fooled into thinking that this will take place in outer-space.

The world in Pills and Starships is so well done. Global warming has reached and surpassed a tipping point and now the climate shift has become so bad that not only are people dying from new diseases and the failing eco system, but they’re also living too long and becoming too depressed because of the dying world. This is all managed by corporations, or ‘corps’ that control everything. These corps feed the dying population a steady diet of pills, called pharams, and the world is high or stoned or on antidepressants. And the older generations (who live well into their 100’s due to irradiating cancer and old age), they can’t stand to live in this dying world any longer. 

So the coprs have a system where if you want to die you have to take out a contract with them and let them kill you. There’s some stuff in the book about what happens if you DIY (your death, that is) and how it affects those you leave behind. If you do it the right way then the survivors (your family) will be okay and taken care of. So Nat and her brother Sam are both shocked and saddened an angry when their parents take out a contract to end their lives, leaving Nat and Sam behind. 

Nat and Sam are in the 1% which means that they live comfortably and have some money. They can afford to live in a clean condo, they can keep themselves fed and drugged. So their parents decide to go out in a fancy, rather expensive way, and they book a week stay in Hawaii for their ‘Final Week’. This is a week of closure, counseling, forgiveness, and goodbyes. As the week goes on Nat’s parents get more and more drugged and further and further away from who they used to be. Nat and Sam are dealing, but Sam, who’s a genius hacker kid, finds out that there is a lot more going on than just the generally accepted social structure and way of things.

I can’t say much more from here because this book took an unexpected turn that I was not expecting and I loved it so much. It was so hopeful and I don’t want to spoil anything. But in the beginning of the book I was horrified that Nat’s parents were leaving her and her brother, that they were being so selfish and then as things became more clear it was just… wow. Unexpected. The things that Sam and Nat learn and see and experience, it was just so sad and it scares me that this could be a future for our world.

The writing in this book is beautiful. It’s told from Nat’s POV and she’s recording the story in a journal. She imagines that she’s writing to a future survivor who lives in space (hence the starships portion of the title) explaining what happened to the world, her family, and herself. I thought this was well done because not only did it allow for a lot of backstory, it didn’t feel too info-dumpy (as it could have with this style of story telling). Nat’s voice was strong (though she did come off a bit younger than 17), and I really loved how she was always not only questioning the world around her, but herself and her own knowledge of it. 

If you like post-apocalyptic, dystopian, or just beautiful writing, check this book out. It will blow your mind.