Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of Out

February 6, 2017 / 5 Comments / Mini-Reviews, Review

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Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of OutWires and Nerve

Goodreads
Author: Marissa Meyer, Douglas Holgate
Also by this author: Cinder, , Scarlet, Winter, Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5), Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5, 0.6, 1.5, 3.1, 3.6), Heartless
Series: Wires and Nerve #1,
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: January 31st 2017
Source: Purchased at Chapters Indigo
Format: Hardcover
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | IndieBound | The Book Depository | iTunes | Google Books | B&N

The first graphic novel from #1 NewYork Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer!
In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new,action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

What a delight to finally get a story from Iko’s perspective. I really enjoyed Wires and Nerve, Vol 1, the first installment of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles graphic novel series.

Even though it’s the first book in the series, I would not recommend reading these without reading the Lunar Chronicles books. You won’t have the emotional attachment or the backstory needed to get into this graphic novel. That said, if you’ve read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, you will really enjoy this extra story.

Set between the end of Winter and the final story in Stars Above, Iko takes on a special mission to try to find and apprehend the stray wolf-hybrid soldiers leftover on Earth after Queen Levana’s reign. It’s a dark book in some ways, because it’s a reminder that war doesn’t just end when the white flag is raised. There’s still more to do, and rebuilding that needs to happen before a full peace can come.

Fans of the series will LOVE getting to see all their favorite characters again in Wires and Nerve – everyone makes an appearance at some point. I enjoyed Doug Holgate’s renderings of the characters in comic form. While there were a few moments where I felt like the facial expressions could have been a little more detailed, but for the most part, I thought the visuals were a helpful and strong part of the book. The dialogue is excellent and well-thought out, as always with Meyer, and I really liked being in Iko’s head.

I will say that I missed a bit of the description of the Lunar Chronicles books – especially with the romantic scenes. Meyer is so great at setting the stage for swoony romantic moments with words, and I felt that was lost a bit with the visuals speaking for her.

Overall, though, this is a worthy and fun start to a new Lunar Chronicles series. I whipped through it quickly, eager to find out how it would end…and it’s a bit of a cliffhanger. Yeah, I know you guys are groaning, and I admit that didn’t expect it, but at least we get more Iko and Lunar Chronicles! Can it be 2018 now?

*****

Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of OutThe Inside of Out

Goodreads
Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | IndieBound | The Book Depository | B&N

When Savannah Gregory blows out her knee –and her shot at a gymnastics scholarship – she decides she’s done with the sport forever. Without gymnastics, she has more time for her best friend, Cassie. She’s content to let her fun, impulsive best friend plan a memorable senior year.

That is, until Cassie tries to kill herself.

Savannah wants to understand what happened, but Cassie refuses to talk about it and for the first time, Savannah has to find her own way. The only person she can turn to is Marcos, the boy who saved Cassie’s life. Being with him makes her see who she could be and what she really wants: gymnastics.

But Cassie doesn’t approve of Marcos or of Savannah going back to gymnastics, and the tighter she tries to hold onto Savannah, the farther it pulls them apart. Without Cassie to call the shots, Savannah discovers how capable she is on her own—and that maybe her best friend’s been holding her back all along.

Despite the synopsis, Diana Gallagher’s Lessons in Falling is not really about gymnastics. I would say the bulk of the story is about protagonist Savannah overcoming her fear of failure and taking chances. This extends to gymnastics, yes, but more to her long time friendship with her best friend, Cassie. It’s a book that’s primarily about Savannah trying to move forward after a possibly career-ending injury, and the people who both help and hinder her.

What I liked about this book was the realism of the friendships in it – from Cassie to Savannah’s former teammate Emery, to her love interest Marcos. The characters are rounded and sympathetic – at least those four are.

The problem, though, was that I didn’t feel like there were smooth transitions between Savannah’s interactions with each of them and the plot of the book. There was just a little too much going on here, and the packed in themes of moving forward, how much to expect of a friendship, mental illness, racial tensions, and taking chances felt a bit muddled. I think the themes needed a little bit longer to bake because it just didn’t feel like every word in the book was working towards the same goal.

Still, there’s promise here, especially in the complexity of the race relations and the way that the friendship between Cassie and Savannah is portrayed. I would love to see another novel by this author with a little less going on.

*****

Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of OutRomeo & What's Her Name

Goodreads
Author: Shani Petroff
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 7th 2017
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | IndieBound | The Book Depository | B&N

An unprepared understudy is forced to take the stage with her secret crush in this romantic YA comedy of errors from author Shani Petroff.
Understudies Never Get to Perform
...which is why being Juliet's understudy in the schools yearly "Evening with Shakespeare" is the perfect role for Emily. She can earn some much-needed extra credit while pursuing her main goal of spending time with Wes, aka Romeo, aka the hottest, nicest guy in school (in her completely unbiased opinion). And she meant to learn her lines, really, it's just:a) Shakespeare is HARD,b) Amanda aka the "real" Juliet makes her run errands instead of lines, andc) there's no point since Amanda would never miss he chance to be the star of the show.
Then, Amanda ends up in the hospital and Emily, as the (completely unprepared!) understudy, has to star in the most famous scene from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet opposite the guy of her dreams. Oops?

Very mild spoilers for the book.

Romeo and What’s Her Name gets an extra half point for making me laugh at two scenes. The author definitely has the ability to write slapstick comedy – and I honestly think she should keep going with that.

The rest of the book was completely predictable, with flat prose and painfully shallow characters. There isn’t any growth in any of them. It’s like reading the lightest fluff possible – so light that if you breathe a little too hard, the entire story will blow away like dandelion weeds. The prose was cliched (“those giant brown eyes, that little dimple in his right cheek that’s so deep you just want to poke it, the chiseled jawline that ought to belong to a Disney Prince” – and that’s just on the first page), and I guessed almost every second of the story – except when it was going to end. I considered DNFing at 50 per cent and then again at 60, 70, 80, and 90 – each time thinking the story would end there. But it didn’t.

The other issue is that the synopsis deceives you into thinking that this is a book about a girl learning to love Shakespeare. Let me just set that straight right here: it’s not about Shakespeare. It’s never about a love of literature. That whole thing about her doing the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet? It only goes on until about 35%! The rest is just the hijinks of Emily trying to get the guy. It reads incredibly young, and sadly there’s really nothing that makes Emily likeable or interesting.

What kept me going during this hot mess was a perverse desire to see how this train wreck was going to end. And thank goodness there is a little bit of circularity to the ending. But honestly, this is one of the worst books I’ve read in awhile. If you’re a younger teen or even a middle grade reader who only wants fluff, this might be for you. But I need at least a little weight in my books, and this one has none.

*****

Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of OutThe Inside of Out

Goodreads
Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Source: Purchased at local independent bookstore
Format: Hardcover
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | IndieBound | The Book Depository | B&N

For fans of Stephanie Perkins, Meg Cabot, and Glee comes a hilarious, romantic, whip smart young adult novel about your best friend findinglove before you do, and the lines you ll cross to stay part of her life. When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is all set to let her ally flag fly. Before you can spell LGBTQIA, she s leading the charge to end their school s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It s all for Hannah, right? It s all for the cause. What Daisy doesn t expect is for the cause to blow up thanks to Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his college newspaper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy s good intentions, and Daisy s attraction to Adam practically written in lights, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth. A Clueless or Emma for the modern age, this is a breezy, charming, incisive tale of growing up, getting wise, and realizing every story needs a hero sometimes it's just not you.
"

The Inside of Out will make you uncomfortable, will help you question your privilege, and will make you a better ally.

Daisy is a deeply flawed main character whose best friend comes out to her as a lesbian. Wanting to show her support for Hannah, Daisy jumps in with both feet, signing them up to be part of the school’s LGBTQ Alliance (which is definitely NOT a gay-straight alliance). To prove her worth to the students, Daisy decides to take on the school board’s ban of same-sex couples at dances. What happens there spawns a national movement, public interest, and a lot of questions about who Daisy is and what she’s about.

I was uncomfortable throughout the reading of this book, because Daisy’s main characteristic is taking things too far and making things too big. Her best friend, Hannah, is her only friend, and instead of asking her what she wants, Daisy immediately co-opts her gayness and turns it into her own issue.

It’s fascinating to see how author Jenn Marie Thorne navigates this without overstepping – making Daisy so unlikeable, but also understandable. There are sub themes of bullying and privilege that make this book intersectional and realistic. That is, this isn’t an issue book or even a one- theme book. Everything is tied to context, making the characters rounded and real.

That said, Daisy’s motivation for becoming a spokesperson for LGBTQ was so muddled and silly that it took me a long time to believe her. I never fully related to her because she was such an unusual character, a person who acts very differently from me – who inspires big change but falls flat on her face because of it. I think she will be hard to relate to for teens.

Weirdly, the characters you will feel for the most are all secondary characters. The Alliance characters are especially relatable – from bullied, shy Sophie to legal brained Raina, from gay musical lead Sean to young freshman Kyle. They were so different from one another – divided in opinions and how to handle their own orientation. I liked that Daisy became their de facto spokesperson, but they also recognized just how wrong that was while not being willing to take the heat themselves. It’s scary to be out there on your own.

I liked that Hannah and her girlfriend didn’t want to participate, and that honestly? Hannah and her girlfriend are both pretty horrible at times. Everyone is deeply flawed in this book, and they’re all just trying to navigate as best they can.

It’s hard for me to know how to rate this book. On the one hand, it’s trying so hard – and doing a good job showing how being an ally can go wrong. On the other hand, it’s so hard to deal with Daisy sometimes and there were stretches in the middle where I wanted to put the book down because I was so frustrated. But I think that was the author’s intention, so I can’t fault that.

I will say that there is no other book like this on the YA market right now – that tackles appropriation, privilege and unlikeable characters like this. It’s an impressive and important read, even if I didn’t love reading it. But sometime we read to get uncomfortable, to push ourselves out of our safety zones. The Inside of Out will help you do that. Thorne takes these issues to the extreme to make this happen, and the payoff is worth it.

Oh, and in case you didn’t think there’s any fun at all…I promise there is! There’s lightness in the super slow burn romance, and the planning for a homecoming dance. It’s a hard read, but one that earns its ending. A solid sophomore novel by a smart contemporary writer.


Have you read WIRES & NERVE, LESSONS IN FALLING, ROMEO AND WHAT’S HER NAME or THE INSIDE OF OUT? Did you like them? Which of these are you most eager to read? So curious to hear thoughts on these ones!


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5 responses to “Mini-Reviews: Wires and Nerve, Lessons in Falling, Romeo and What’s Her Name, The Inside of Out

  1. I absolutely loved The Inside of Out – I thought it was such a fun, yet powerful book. I was really interested in Lessons In Falling after reading Tumbling by Caela Carter – I thought the fact that the book centered around gymnastics was great, but it’s a bummer to know that it isn’t really the main focus of this book.

    • I haven’t read Tumbling yet – I finally got a hold of it, and I’m really excited! Did you like it?

      Yeah, it’s not the central focus of Lessons in Falling, but the parts about gymnastics were actually my favorite parts. If you’re hardcore into gymnastics books, you could try it out. One of the best things about Lessons in Falling is that it’s about a gymnast who’s trying to go to college, so it’s not, like, elite Olympics stuff, which made it really believable. Not every kid can be the elite level, but even the ones just below that like Savannah are pretty amazing.

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