Book Review #30: The Edge of Everything

“‘Why endanger yourselves?’ he said. ‘Why do all this for me
Zoe looked down at where his hand lightly gripped her. She gave him a smile, a trace of light in the darkness.

‘There’s nothing good on TV,’ she said (page 87).”

29566060STORY:

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (368 pages) has some good narrative(s) though a bit cringy at times. I enjoy the details embedded in the character’s personalities and movements.

“Zoe couldn’t help it; she took a photo to put on Instagram later (page 41).

For me, the bounty-hunter moments are the best parts. The entire supernatural element to bounty-hunting is just mad interesting, and the ordeal with a character named Stan was my favorite part.

At times, the story falls into “slice-of-life” moments such as Zoe and her mom not seeing eye-to-eye about her father’s death or caving, which is a huge part.

Now, a serious case of “instalove” is present in this book. AIN’T NO REASON X should’ve been that caught up and strung out on basic-behind Zoe that quickly. Perhaps, it is akin to baby chicks imprinting on the first image they see as their mother, but X was too into Zoe too fast.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like their little cliche romance, but it is worth noting.

CHARACTERS:

Zoe is bland but the stuff that happens around her is what’s interesting. Her friends, Dallas and Val, are much cooler.

Jonah, the little brother, is a little cinnamon roll. 😀

Bounty hunters seem really nice for this sort of story. Maybe too nice for me… I mean Zoe was talking to them like they couldn’t have snapped her neck into two at will. Here, bounty hunters are basically the grim reaper.

X is fine with me but his backstory seems a bit like a cop-out, so we don’t forget for a second his life’s not like the other morally-gray bounty hunters. Still, I liked his gentlemen-ly speech even if it didn’t feel consistent at times.

OVERALL:

Well, The Edge of Everything reeks of instalove, but it has me hooked enough to read the sequel. The story’s a bit of a slow burn but the plot twists keep readers engaged. It is worth a read, and you can tell early on whether you love/hate it.
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Book Review #28: Calling My Name

33829748Aye! I’m always excited for new fiction with black leads!

STORY:

“‘You can’t control everything, Taja,’ Daddy says in a soft voice, eyes closed to the sun.

‘I know, Daddy. But I can control a lot.'” (pg 227).

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani (384 pages) explores Taja Brown’s life. It is something of a fictional biography of a young, African-American girl growing up in a conservative Christian background from childhood to adulthood. Of course, you can expect first kisses, periods, and dealings with f*boys.

I think it is a good read if you enjoy “slice-of-life/coming of age” stories. However, the writing is so flowery that I get confused often.

I can emphasize with Taja’s upbringing as I have grown up in a Christian home as well though my parents weren’t overbearing with our faith.

Still, unfortunately, the narrative of an ultra-conservative character usually isn’t that fun.

One of my favorite parts is when Taja feels guilty for reminding her father about a promised birthday present. That is a really relatable moment when you first feel “child guilt” because you know your parents don’t have the money but you want something.

Also, I realized mid-way through the story that this is set somewhere between 80’s-90’s. Some of the references are dated like them listening to Johnny Gill. Chile, who out here listening to JG?

over it eye roll GIF

Okay, okay… I’m one of those people. XDsoul train life of new edition GIF by BET

A few days ago I was just listening to Johnny Gill’s old Arsenio Hall performances. (yes, I know the gif is from Soul Train).

CHARACTERS:

Not too many characters were memorable. I enjoyed the glimpses we saw of Taja’s family and would have liked a bit more beyond her mother always disciplining her.

Taja is cool, but she is very whiny and a bit annoying in her narrative.

Naima, Taja’s younger sister, is a character that I wished we could have seen more of. Unlike Taja, she’s more sure of herself. Taja and Naima’s sister relationship is barely displayed save for a few conversations in their older years.

Damon, the older brother, was okay. I like how he tried to overcompensate for his thinning headline at 15.

OVERALL:

This isn’t a book I would necessarily read again, but it is nice experiencing Taja’s adolescence with her.