Book Review #24: Genius: The Game

30532527This book needed some mayonnaise or BBQ sauce because it was dry!

STORY:

“Cameras are eyes… Microphones are ears… (pg 294)”

In Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout (320 pages), Rex Huerta’s a regular sixteen-year-old boy who has a knack (and need) for hacking. Unfortunately, his parents are at risk for being deported from the U.S, Teo, his older brother, has run away from home, and school isn’t much fun for him. With all these things weighing on Rex’s shoulders, the announcement of the genius Kiran’s youth-hacking competition sounds promising, not to mention he needs a quantum computer. Of course, Rex’s internet hacker friends Tunde and Painted Wolf are going to be there for their own reasons.

This book needed more detail. To know a character is “tall, thin, and broad-shouldered (pg 125)” is not enough for me! Does the character have dimples, sunken in cheekbones, and are their clothes loose or ironed to perfection? These are the things I want to know!

The visuals like the diagrams, drawings, and photographs were a nice aesthetic, but they felt like a crutch sometimes.

Also, Rex’s—actually, everyone’s— narrative was dry. And there were too many info-dumps that could’ve been weaved into the story better.

There’s a little attraction between Rex and Cai (Painted Wolf). I mean they were alright. Depending on how old Kiran was, I liked him with her better if only for the Batman/Catwoman angle.

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CHARACTERS:

This book has a bunch of diverse characters! Yay! The three main leads are respectively Mexican, Nigerian, and Chinese! Within the Genius competition, there are South Americans, Egyptians, South Africans, and Haitians and others.

Still, I had no favorite character.

Rex is okay, I guess. But he doesn’t really have a personality. He just reacts to the things that happen around him.

“I do not like the term junk. It implies inherent uselessness and I have come to find that nothing is inherently useless. It is only a matter of finding the time, functionality, and place of the object” (pg 40).

I did like Tunde the most due to his sense of wonderment. I didn’t mind his not-translated Nigerian lingo because I could figure out most of it from context.

Cai (Painted Wolf) was supposed to be this baddie/vigilante chick that I just did not get or care about.

Kiran was interesting just a smidge.

OVERALL:

I’m sorry guys but I could not wait for this book to be over. It took me 9 days to finish this because I had to force myself. It was almost a DNF, but I hoped it would get better.

Not a bad idea but I wished it could have been executed differently (and with more detail)! I might read the sequel.

Book Review #23: Recess Warriors: Hero is a Four-letter Word

29772862This book was so dumb in the best way possible. It had a Codename: Kids Next Door meets Teamo Supremo meets Recess feel. The story’s so surreal! The line between what’s real and imaginative is seriously blurred and that makes things so entertaining!

STORY:

“I love the beginning of things…I just hate endings” (pg 123).

In Recess Warriors: Hero is a Four-letter Word by Marcus Emerson (144 pages), recess is serious business because it’s when Bryce a.k.a James Scrap (minus the James) does his vigilante business. He’s accompanied by his much more qualified best friend— sidekick— Yoshi (Caitlyn Yoshimura), and the two have to navigate through a cooties epidemic that’s affecting both boys and girls and a shady pirate gang.

This book evoked a sense of nostalgia in me, and I felt like I was a kid again in my bedroom eating goldfish crackers and downing a Capri Sun. Everyone probably won’t have that same sentimental feeling, but I did find the storyline silly and interesting.

CHARACTERS:

Bryce/Scrap is indubitably dumb and funny.

I liked Yoshi a lot! Even though she was a great leader and a skilled fighter (she can do some serious biz with her jump rope), she didn’t come off as a know-it-all or a brat. Sometimes, she’s just as confused as we (read: readers) with the junk that goes on during recess.

Clinton was my favorite. Anti-heroes are always cool in any form.

Juliet should have been a grating character, really, but with how she was presented I was able to take her lovesick personality.

ART:

I like the wonky, blocky, and angular style. It has that Saturday morning cartoon feel. Sometimes, the faces look a bit sunken in during close-ups though. The backgrounds and color direction are vivid and fun.

OVERALL:

Some kid (or adult or teen or elder or alien or….) is really going to have fun reading this. I am excited for the next book in the series.

Book Review #22: Learning to Swear in America

23018259I saw this on display at my local library, so I decided to read it.

STORY:

“So he had two problems. He had to save the world, and he had to save himself” (pg 50).

In Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy (346 pages), Yuri Strelnikov’s been brought from Russia to stop an asteroid from utterly destroying California. Along his two weeks, he has to deal with condescending NASA workers, freeing his emotions, and a Russian professor back home trying to steal Yuri’s life research on antimatter. Not to mention he finds a cute girl with brown and yellow hair, a tongue stud, and hippie parents, and NASA bureaucratically kidnapping him.

I really liked the artistic/creative way Dovie (and her family) tried to teach Yuri to deal with his emotions.

The first half of the story was great, interesting and a bunch of anticipation. However, I didn’t like the other half, and it was a struggle to finish. I started skimming through pages that I should have wanted to devour. I like a little romance in my books a lot, but I just did not care for the romantic subplot that began to take over the main plot. Like, why would someone goof off at a high school with their GF when the fate of the world is in their hands? SN: Dovie caught feelings for Yuri way too fast.

There were a few “suicidal” jokes that albeit weren’t particularly bad, didn’t need to be made.

CHARACTERS:

“He wanted to cry. It was okay to cry, he told himself. It was work-related, and men could cry because of job stress. But his cheeks were dry as he fell asleep” (pg 45).

Yuri was okay. Nothing startling interesting about him, but nothing really upsetting about him either. Maybe he was a bit hornier than expected. I like that though he was a foreigner he wasn’t truly the funny foreigner trope. Of course, he didn’t get every American idiom (but not in a way that undermines his intelligence), and he very much wanted to learn some English curse words.

Dovie, I liked and disliked. Sometimes, she seemed so nice and other times a little jealous/petty. She kind of hated this big-breasted girl for getting better grades than her in art class (but good art can be subjective at times, you know). Like, do you hate the unfair grade you received or are you just mad a girl chose to wear a low-cut shirt? Anyway, I enjoyed Dovie when she was a cameo, but then she started taking up too much of the story’s focus.

I didn’t care too much about the cast of characters.

OVERALL:

The beginning started promising, but it ended on a flat note for me. You might think differently though, so check it out for yourself!

Mini Review #5: American Street

30256109STORY:

“Chantal is Brains.

Donna is Beauty.

Pri is Brawn.

I am Brave. No one has to tell me this. I know it for myself” (pg 317).

American Street by Ibi Zoboi (336 pages), was…Whoa. I thought it was brilliant. A real thriller with some gut punches.

I disliked Fabiola’s cousins except for Chantal. I just…Even though they were joking, they just came off as awful a lot of the time.

I loved Kasim as much as Fabiola.

It had a bit too much cursing, but I enjoyed the storyline immensely. And Fabiola was such an adorable, sweet girl.

SN: Donna and Dray were mad dysfunctional.

OVERALL:

This book definitely has to be added to your tbr (to-be-read).  Even with that ending, I liked this story.

Book Review #21: The Sweetest Sound

29280882STORY:

“You know, church is like that. Sometimes the pastor is talking and all you can think about is eating pancakes when he is done. But sometimes he says something and, just like that, it feels like he’s talking absolutely, positively to you!” (pg 17)

In The Sweetest Sound by Sherrie Winston (272 pages), Cadence Jolly is tired of adults giving her “motherless child” pity. She’s also trying to break out of her perpetual shyness enough to own her beautiful voice. In a fit of frustration and later regret, Cadence films herself disguised singing on Youtube. Of course, now her church choir is trying to find the little girl with the big voice, and Cadence doesn’t know if she will be able to own up to it.

CHARACTERS:

The cast is very diverse with Cadence and her family being African-American, Faith, a Dominicana, Zara, bi-racial (black mom/white dad), and Mei-Mei and Sophie, Chinese.

Some of the best singers (and def your faves) started singing in church, and Cadence is no different. Cadence was very shy but prideful, and I actually like that combination. She was also an avid reader, always mentioning classic books, and wanted to be a writer.

I couldn’t stand Faith. At all. Little girl be happy for your friend.

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Zara wasn’t memorable but at least she was sweet.

Cadence’s dad was well-meaning but overbearing. Still, he was okay in my book. I didn’t care about his little romance though.

Random note: I kept reading Sofine as So-Fine. :p

OVERALL:

“…Learning to be strong didn’t mean changing everything” (pg 259).

This book was a little dry. Too much poetry and way too much irrelevant junk. It was really hard for me to push through and finish it.

I don’t like giving stars, but this one is about a 2.5. Still, I’m sure it will make some kid’s day.

SN: THAT COVER! (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)

Cadence has the cutest pixie cut!

Book Review #20: The Saga of Rex

7890024Okay, this was cuter than expected. Also, no quote this time because this book is 98% no text.

STORY:

In The Saga of Rex by Michel Gagné (200 pages), basically, a frog-like God of some alternative universe akin to Noah’s ark created and paired animals together (the beginning had me confused but who cares). Also, somehow the God collected/teleported real creatures to the world. Anyway, Rex, a cute little fox creature, got teleported to the weird world and was paired with a purple-shapeshifting squirrel-fox, Aven. Rex doesn’t have a clue about his new surroundings, but he just wants to follow his new mate.

I hadn’t expected there to be such a violent part in the book (a creature was about to be sacrificed, a creature was pierced through the stomach with a bloody knife, and a creature died), but it was okay because nothing stayed too sad for long.

ART:

The art was very beautiful! There’s a climatic part when Rex loses a unicorn horn that is just mesmerizing to see. When Rex and his mate become one (nothing vulgar or sexual; kids won’t even pick up on the symbolism) was another beautiful part. I loved the color direction in this book as well.

CHARACTERS:

Rex was an absolute cutie and Aven seemed to be a lot of fun.

OVERALL:

To sum this book up, it’s message was “travel all you can with the one you love.” Or maybe it was really “this book was kind of weird and I didn’t understand most of it, but I loved the pictures.” Either way, it’s worth picking up! I found the ending so sweet.

Book Review #19: Piecing Me Together

25566675Diverse fiction? Yes! Diverse fiction with a black main character? Yes, yes! Diverse fiction with a female black main character? So many yes’s! Bonus points for the main character being darkskinned and round. I have read a few (there is a severe lack of them) books centered around black girls and that is a rare combination because in most books the girl is brownskin and thin.

STORY:

“My life is full of opportunities. Give an opportunity to someone else.

But girls like me, with coal skin and hula-hoop hips, whose mommas barely make enough money to keep food in the house, have to take opportunities every chance we get” (pg 7).

In Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (272 pages), Jade hates that she is labeled as an “at-risk-youth” for many factors but tries her best to take advantage of the opportunities given to her. Instead of being nominated for a study-abroad trip in South America (that she is more than qualified for), she is recommended to apply for an African-American Girls’ Mentorship program, Woman to Woman. Throughout the program, Jade receives a flaky mentor, gets exposed to new places, and has to wonder is it all worth it. Is she just a charity case?

Jade and I have some things in common such as, both our favorite colors are yellow, we both learn Spanish, and love art. I also completely relate to having a mom who always has a comeback ready and not always having a good reply myself.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. It’s not, but what else am I supposed to say?” (pg 39)

See? Jade gets me.

I enjoyed how short the chapters were (bite-sized pieces!), and how they began with a Spanish word (usually infinitives). I thought Jade’s propensity to nickname people in her head like Book Girl, Glamour Girl, and Afro Woman, all characters you will know when you read the story, was cute.

As much as I like reading it, I’m glad that there was NO ROMANCE. Nothing to derail the focus. This book is going to leave you with something.

I liked Jade’s narrative immensely, and many of the chapters ripped off metaphorical bandages. Chapter 21 was real, just real.

“And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone” (pg 86).

“Maxine is right and wrong. Those girls are not the opposite of me. We are perpendicular. We may be on different paths, yes. But there’s a place where we touch, where we connect are the same” (pg 132).”

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“I don’t know what’s worse. Being mistreated because of the color of your skin, your size, or having to prove that it really happened” (pg 137).

This book is too undeniably real.

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CHARACTERS:

The characters are really human, in a sense, that the nicest characters have flaws and good points, help and hurt, and ignore and understand.

OVERALL:

After reading this, I just want to play Solange’s “Cranes” and persuade someone to buy this book and parade it on their bookshelf.

Piecing Me Together is thought-provoking and will make you do some serious self-reflection and introspection.

FIVE STARS! Read this. Read this. It’s deserving of all its accolades.

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