Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Read for the September theme (comic novel) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Beauty Queens on Goodreads 

It has been years since I read any Libba Bray, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Beauty Queens. From the cover image, I expected some kind of Miss Congeniality/Hunger Games mashup. It skewed way more toward the former. It was a very light and easy read, considering these girls were fighting for their lives. I didn’t love how one-dimensional some of the characters were, but with so many of the pageant contestants stranded on the island, I suppose that was bound to happen. Also, honestly, this is not Lord of the Flies With Teenage Girls, which is the book I really wanted to read.

If this ever gets made into a movie, I would watch it. Having girls with impossible but humorous injuries pop in and out for comic relief would go over a lot better that way. In the book, it felt a little forced.

Recommend? If you’re looking for a comedy, sure.
To Read: This hasn’t persuaded me not to read The Diviners and A Great and Terrible Beauty, which were already on my TBR list.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

(Forgive me cleaning out my 2019 book reviews, half of which I had written and never posted.)

Read for the July theme (a retelling) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Pride on Goodreads 

I found this Pride and Prejudice retelling a bit restrained by being an adaptation of a well-loved story. Zuri is living with her sisters in a tight-knit neighborhood in Brooklyn that is experiencing displacement and gentrification, which brings the Darcy family into her world. 

After nearly a year I don’t remember what I didn’t love about this book, but I do remember having some difficulty with the balance between an interesting story of Zuri trying to dream bigger than she thought possible, live with the changes in her neighborhood and herself, deal with her fears for her family and her future…all while hitting the Pride and Prejudice plot points. I don’t remember feeling like these story elements conflicted, exactly, but I have to wonder if I would have liked it more as a stand-alone novel without knowing or expecting a well-loved story to be interwoven.

Recommend? Yes, if you’re not too attached to the Pride and Prejudice story
To Read: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Read for the April theme (read a book that involves time-travel) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Passenger on Goodreads 

I struggled with picking a book for this challenge, as I don’t really love sci-fi or fantasy novels, though I do enjoy books with elements of either genre. I picked this book knowing nothing about it from a list of time-travel books. Taking a chance on an unknown author in a genre I don’t love, what could go wrong?!

Actually nothing! Passenger was fine. The main character Etta is a time traveler, unbeknownst to her and she gets thrown into some hijinks when someone pulls her through a time portal. It sounds like a fun adventure, but the pacing is really wonky. The story only really seemed to pick up momentum about halfway through. Even then, there were fits and starts in the action that just felt weird. It seemed more like it should have been a screenplay.

I’m not sure I want to continue with the series. On one hand, it’s a duology, so there aren’t books upon books I’d need to track down to get to the conclusion. On the other hand, Wayfarer, the sequel, is over 500 pages and my TBR list is already ridiculously long. 

Recommend? If you like Bracken’s other work, yes. Browsing some of the reviews on Goodreads, it seems like people really love her or don’t. I didn’t love this, but I wasn’t pulling my hair out. If I wasn’t playing catch-up with my book club list, I might have felt differently about the languid pace. 

To Read: Wayfarer, maybe. 

To Watch: If this ever gets adapted into a movie, or maybe even a TV series that could explore the world and the families involved in the story more deeply, I’ll be all over it.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Read for the January theme (Read a Book that is Being Adapted into a Movie or TV Show in 2019) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | The Sun Is Also a Star on Goodreads

If you’re a lover of a David Levithan whirlwind, YA romance, I highly recommend also reading The Sun Is Also a Star. With Nicola Yoon’s previous book, Everything Everything, I watched the movie as soon as I was done with the book. It was such an intense page-turning kind of experience, I couldn’t help wanting to continue to live in the world of it. Then I watched it a second time with Julie. It has one of my favorite tropes, but I don’t want to give away the twist by telling you what that is.

Nicola Yoon did it again and I can’t wait to watch The Sun Is Also a Star when it comes out in May (trailer here). The cast looks interesting and I want to see how they deal with the pacing. It felt like so much was going on all of the time and I think it will have a dizzying but fun effect in the form of a movie.

I’m usually a movie-before-the-book kind of person. There is so much room to be disappointed with a two hour visual experience when it’s based on a much longer cerebral one. With a movie-book-movie sandwich of an experience, you have room to get all of the backstory of the characters and then like the movie all the better for it, provided it’s a half-decent adaptation at all.

Having read this one before the movie doesn’t give me much pause, though, since Everything Everything’s adaptation was so well done and I enjoyed The Sun Is Also a Star so much that even if the move is a little bit of a let-down, it will still be pretty good!

Recommend? If you don’t mind YA that is more romantic than realistic, yes. It may be too whimsical for some.

To Read: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet – a collection of short stories, Nicola Yoon is one of the contributors. Also, as soon as she releases her next novel, whenever or whatever it is, I’ll read that too.

To watch: The Sun Is Also a Star, coming out May 17, 2019.