Book Review: Struck by Lightning

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal follows the story of outcast high school senior Carson Phillips, who blackmails the most popular students in his school into contributing to his literary journal to bolster his college application; his goal in life is to get into Northwestern and eventually become the editor of The New Yorker. At once laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously dark, and remarkably smart, Struck By Lightning unearths the dirt that lies just below the surface of high school. At a time when bullying torments so many young people today, this unique and important novel sheds light with humor and wit on an issue that deeply resonates with countless teens and readers.

(Goodreads)

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Title: Struck by Lightning

Author: Chris Colfer

Published: November, 2012 by Brown Books

Time it took me to read: 19 September – 20 September 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Carson Phillips is a high school senior with high ambitions. It is his life’s goal to be the youngest ever editor of the New Yorker and to be published in all the big newspapers. But unfortunately he’s from a small town called Clover where the high school is filled with High School Clichés and the former beauty queen turned guidance counsellor has never even heard of Illinois and he’s dying to get out. To escape from his depressed, alcoholic mother, absentee father and that horrible little town. He will do anything. Already president of the writer’s club and the editor of the school newspaper, he is looking for another challenge to spice up his college application. And thus he starts a literary magazine. But, being tragically unpopular and even a little (a lot) hated by the student body, Carson finds it difficult to find people interested in contributing. So how will he convince them? Well.. let’s just say that operation Clovergate is a go.

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Okay so I read this book in less than a day but I found it really hard to review. I’ve had this same problem with the Percy Jackson Series. I read a book and I think it’s pretty cool/great but then I just can’t get myself to write about it. I think that’s because even though it’s entertaining and fun to read, I don’t have a lot to say about it. You’ll notice that I never got around (or I just didn’t do it) to reviewing the rest of the Percy Jackson books. Boo me. But I am going to review this one because of reasons.

So let me just start off with saying that I hate Christ Colfer. I hate his beautiful, talented face. Seriously. The boy is literally my age and he has 3 published best-seller books, a star role on one of the biggest TV shows today and a stellar voice. And he gets to make out with Darren Criss. Hate Hate Hate Hate. Eugh.

No but seriously, Struck by Lightning is a fine book. It’s entertaining and funny and cynical (which I love). But it’s also for the younger readers. I am sorry to say that it’s not especially thought-provoking or life changing. You read, laugh and forget about it. It’ll be a while before I think to pick it up again.

It got a lot better towards the end when Carson turns to look at himself and at his own behaviour. I especially loved the Literary Magazine that was part of the book itself. You’ve gotten to know these characters as the people who Carson hates and is mistreated by but then you get to look inside their minds and lives a little bit and you get to see things from their point of view. That was really cool. A good bit of writing if you ask me.

The very best part is the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, don’t worry. The ending is divided into two parts for me, one is related to his family, the other is the actual ending. When I first saw the movie (which I did before I read the book, yes shame on me) I got so so so so so so so angry with what happened with his family that I felt the need to actually write out a speech of what I wanted Carson to say to that particular person. Do you ever get that? That feeling when you come across something in a book of movie that is so unjustified that you get angry when the protagonist doesn’t get as mad as you want them to? I’ve only had it this bad when I read New Moon and Bella didn’t get angry with Edward. Bleh. Anyway, it was horrible. Especially when you arrive at the true ending of the book. It’s all just so unfair. I do admire Chris for having the courage to end it the way he did.

I have to say that I thought the movie was a little better. Especially since Chris played the role of Carson himself. It was very obvious that he got to play him exactly the way that he envisioned. I think Carson’s characteristics came across better on film than they did on paper.

I rate this book a 3 out of 5 because it was pretty good and entertaining but no more than that. I recommend this if you enjoy a light read to take your mind of things.

I do have to say that it was a quote goldmine.

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Book Review: Warm Bodies

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. (Goodreads)

♦♦

R is a zombie. He has been for a while but not that long because his skin hasn’t rotted off yet. He’s not your run of the mill zombie either. He feels bad when he eats the brains he moans about (“Braaaaiiiinnnsss”), he listens to Frank Sinatra records and he generally doesn’t like being dead. R doesn’t remember his name, just that it started with an R. His daily activities consist of shuffling around the airport where the zombies live and riding the escalators. Every so often him, his best friend M and some others go into the city to get a bite to eat.

One day, when they eat a group of kids, R gets hold of Perry’s brain. When zombies ingest a brain, they get to see parts of the life of the person who belonged to the brain. When R eats Perry’s brain, he sees bits and pieces about Perry’s relationship with a girl. Julie. The same girl that is about to get eaten by M but R saves her and gets her back to the airport to keep her safe.

Little by little, R feels that he’s changing. He can feel again, he can walk more fluently, he can talk better, he can even dream. He is curing himself.

♦♦

//Warning: Contains Spoilers even though there’s not much to spoil//

When I first heard about this book I thought that it was going to be Twilight with Zombies. But then, I read a lot of reviews that basically said that Warm Bodies was not the zombie version of Twilight but was much better. Because of this, I started reading it. My conclusion: I don’t agree with these people. Maybe it’s not exactly the same as Twilight but it’s definitely in the same category. Let me tell you why:

First of all,  R is a zombie with a conscience. He feels guilty about the people he eats and he doesn’t like it. He rather want a normal life, like the one he had when he was still alive. Does that sound familiar, anyone?

Julie is a girl who gets kidnapped by a zombie but seems strangely cool with it. Sure, she’s a bit scared but when he claims that he will “keep.. you.. safe..”, she doesn’t fight or run or whatever. She’s happy as a clam sitting in his ‘house’, eating canned thai food and listening to Frank Sinatra. Only difference between her and Bella is that she kicks ass when she has to. When she does decide to leave, she decapitates 4 zombies when they try to eat her.

There’s not as much psychological fuckery in Warm Bodies as there is in Twilight but there’s definitely enough of it. For example; there’s the fact that Julie becomes attatched to a freaking zombie and asks about kissing him several times. Also, apparently Julie is completely OK with R killing Perry.

“Anyway,” she says, “whoever killed Perry… I just want you to know I don’t blame them for it.”

I tense again. “You… don’t?”

“No. I mean, I think I get it. You don’t have a choice, right? And tot be honest… I’d never say this to anyone, but…” She stirs her food. “It’s kind of a relief that it finally happened.”

Her reasoning for this is that she can finally stop dreading the inevitable. This get elaborated later by Julie’s friend Nora who says that they have decided that they weren’t going to hold grudges for things they can’t control. R is a zombie, zombies eat people, Perry was kinda suicidal thus inevitable. It’s cool, bro. No hard feelings. Wait, what?

R, come on,” Nora says, mock-slapping the side of my head. “You’re a zombie. You have the plague. Or at least you did when you killed Perry. Maybe you’re different now – I sure hope you are – but back then you didn’t know you had choices. This isn’t ‘crime’, it’s not ‘murder’, it’s something way deeper and more inevitable.” She taps her temple. “Me and Julie get that, okay? There’s a Zen saying, ‘No praise, no blame, just so.’ We don’t care about assigning blame for the human condition, we just want to cure it.”

Psychological fuckery, boys and girls. Doesn’t matter that my long term boyfriend is dead and that you killed him and ate his brain. You couldn’t help it so I’m just going to go ahead and fall in love with you now if that’s okay. *bangs head against wall*

The baseline of this book is that R is a zombie who meets this girl and apparently, together, they are special. R begins to change and cure himself and by him and Julie being together, this cure spreads to the other zombies. The cure is complete when R and Julie finally kiss. Instead of R’s venom infecting Julie, they fight it down and R becomes human again. Also, Julie’s eyes turn yellow.

Why? We don’t know. We’re never told what makes R and Julie so special, we don’t get to know what it is that cures zombieism, we don’t even get to know what made the zombies in the first place. There’s some talk about a ‘plague’ but that could just as easily be the name that they have given it, not the cause. It’s the most random thing in the world.

Basically, this story is about ‘the healing power of love, man’. It has some glaring plot holes, it doesn’t have a lot of depth and the end leaves you with a feeling of “ehm.. okay”. Some things in the book are just weird. For example, the zombies don’t remember anything about their lives, what they did, who they were, nothing. But, somehow, they do seem to remember what Wasabi was, how to operate a record player, who Frank Sinatra is. They also have sex (or some basic version of it), marriage, adoption and schools. It’s just.. how does that fit in with being a zombie?! Also, throughout the book it’s made pretty obvious that zombies have some physical issues. They get bits and pieces blown off by shotguns, flesh rots away etc. Even R falls down sometime in the story and seemingly breaks his back. Shouldn’t these injuries kill the zombies right after they are cured? Seeing as R started bleeding from a wound Julie gave him when they first met, thus implying that the wounds and injuries don’t heal with being ‘cured’. Watch out for infinite plot holes.

When I was reading other reviews about this book (namely the ones that weren’t raving about this book) is that the comparison to Romeo and Juliet is even more glaring in this book than it was in Twilight and let’s face it, it was pretty damn obvious in Twilight so that’s saying something. I didn’t notice this while reading because I don’t think about these things and to be honest, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the book anyways.

Anyway there’s R(omeo), Julie(t), M(ercutio) and Julie’s best friend Nora who is studying to, wait for it.., be a nurse. Only difference is that they didn’t kill themselves to be with each other, they ‘bring themselves back to live’ by doing something that should have killed them. Joy.

In conclusion: It’s not a badly written book. It’s very YA and I can see how it can appeal to this age group. It’s very Twilight-y with it’s shallow, romantic story but it’s somehow still kinda entertaining. But not that much. I probably won’t read it again. If there had been ANY plot development or explanation or SOMETHING AT ALL that would explain the ‘why’, it would have been a whole lot more interesting. Who knows, maybe Isaac Marion is planning a second instalment.

Rating: 2/5

Post-Christmas Post!

Hi Everyone! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas!

merry-christmas-wallpaper

I always spend Christmas with my family. We have a tradition of playing loads of boardgames and I always really enjoy that. Besides that, I was in charge of cooking the main course of the Christmas dinner this year, which I was really excited about. I made a rack of lamb with herb crust, green asparagus and potato gratin. I really love cooking and (if I may be so bold) I’m not bad at it, so I was looking for a bit of a challenge. I have to say, it was a bit frantic but in the end it was really delicious and I was extremely proud of myself. Are you noticing that humility is also one of my better traits. Anyway, it really was an enjoyable and great Christmas.

I’m going to be doing a couple of things today, blog wise. I’m going to be continuing the 30 day book challenge of course and I’m also going to be writing the review for Memoirs of a Geisha, which I’m reading for the Eclectic Reader Challenge and I have just finished. So you can expect that to come up later today.

Well, I hope that you all have had a good Christmas and that you are enjoying boxing day, second day of Christmas, 2e kerstdag or whatever you want to call it. Enjoy the rest of the day!

I’ll see you soon! I’m going to do the Time Warp now!