Tuesday, 12 April 2016

If I could turn the page, in time then I'd rearrange, just a day ortwo, close my, close my, close my eyes

 Seven Ways We Lie
Publication Date: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Amulet
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—whether it’s Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage; or Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change

Seven Ways We Lie is a very character centric story, there are seven perspectives, some perspectives are more frequent than others, but most of them stand out and you can tell which character you're reading from, their characteristics are clear and that was done amazingly. There is a lot of inner monologue and getting to know the characters and their family lives, there isn't a lot of plot or story other than the ongoing teacher student relationship.

Despite that, Seven Ways We Lie handles a lot of heavy topics. Like holy shit I won't name them all because some are a surprise, but we have the different types of relationships, what we already know, a student and teacher relationship, sexuality and the obvious that comes along with that, slut shaming and double standards. Let's start with that one, shall we?

 Olivia is a little lonely, so she'll hook up at parties etc, and yeah, there is an underlining meaning there for why she wants to do it, but at the end of the day, it's her body to do with whatever she wants to do, and people give her shit, but for what? Because she likes sex? Because she's a woman who likes sex? Because women can't like sex, right? So gross. She's a total slut. But hey, see that guy over there that hooked up with two girls in one night? Yeah, you know, that dude, a total hero, right? Double standards. The worse thing though, even her own friend thinks it, too. (Whatever, Claire, just because you aren’t getting any.)

 Speaking of...

At first I wanted to give Claire a chance, hoping she would grow, because we're all insecure in our own ways and I don't know a person who compares themselves to somebody else, like when I see people who are confident, I wish I was more like that, but the obvious thing to wishing we were more like somebody else is we don't actually know if that person feels confident, they could look it, but looking and feeling are very two different things. So yeah, I wanted her to figure that out, but then she just got worse and when somebody finally handed her ass to her, what she did next is absolutely fucking terrible and it is not okay, because what she did? There's a line, and Claire went too far over it to see it, and I don't care, she never redeemed herself.

The teacher/student relationship plays a little like Ezria's in Pretty Little Liars. They met outside of school, didn't know he was a teacher she a student etc. at a few years older than the student, would it seem like such a big deal? Not as much. The thing with this student and teacher relationship though is more to do with the abuse of position and responsibility, because it didn't make it weird or seedy because she's underage, they haven't had sex.

Seven Ways We Lie also deals with different aspects of sexuality and sometimes lack of sexuality. I'll hide this part, it's a little spoilery, since one is subtle and the other you don't know about straight away

Valentine is asexual? There are a lot of things pointing that way, but it's not actually said. And the way he is (takes things at face value, blunt, things that he says at the way he says things point to being on an autism spectrum (AS?) but again it's not actually said. Lucas is pansexual, but he describes it more along the lines of bisexual because it's easier for people to understand) but I love how it was handled, both of them because we don't get Pan or Asexual in books much, and I've only come across one YA with a character being asexual.

While I didn't connect to some of the characters and some issues didn't get as much light as they should have and feel a bit left open, Seven Ways We Lie nailed diversity and debunking* stereotypes.

Rating: 4/5


 *So, I was talking about writing reviews with Amber, and she gave me a word I had to use in my next review, so debunking it was. Anybody want to give me a word to include in my next review?

Sunday, 3 April 2016

And I'm a little bit scared tonight, I need to run just far enough, so I can smile again, smile again, so I can smile again

The Steep & Thorny Way
Publication Date: March 8th 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
~A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review~

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

The Steep and Thorny Way is exactly what I've come to expect from Cat Winters, if you've read and loved one of her books, you'll know you get rich, authentic setting, it's history well researched and a book full of meaning, and The Steep and Thorny Way is no different.

 The Steep and Thorny Way's stories are important to be told, from Hanalee and her parents, to Joe and a small town taken over by the KKK and the way minorities and people of a different religion, and people who 'don't quite fit in' were treated. And it's brutal and horrific and I'm sure, since it's YA, that it's less violent than it would've been, but it still has its impact, because it's hard to read it when you want to hurt characters every few pages, and believe me, you'll want to hurt certain characters every few pages.

However, the mystery surrounding Hanalee father’s death left me bored, even with the ghostly paranormal twist Cat Winters has, because it's more of a slow going plot, but it definitely went a different way than I was expecting it to, but it also went an important way that showed the way minorities were faced.

Setting aside the violence, there's also the fact that minorities had no rights or control over their own lives. No rights over who you can date and marry, if you can have children. 

The Steep and Thorny Way shows you how far we've come since the 1920's, but it also shows how we haven't come far enough.

Rating: 4/5