Michelle’s Review: September Girls by Bennett Madison

Michelle’s Review: September Girls by Bennett MadisonSeptember Girls by Bennett Madison
Published by HarperCollins on 2013-05-21
Genres: Adaptations, Dating & Sex, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Legends, Myths, Fables, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
In September Girls, Sam is spending the summer in a beach town filled with beautiful blond girls who all seem inexplicably attracted to him. But that’s not the only reason why he thinks the Girls are strange. They only wear flats because heels make their feet bleed. They never go swimming in the water. And they all want something from him. Sam finds himself in an unexpected summer romance when he falls for one of the Girls, DeeDee. But as they get closer, she pulls away without explanation. Sam knows that if he is going to win her back, he’ll have to learn the Girls’ secret. Bennett Madison, author of The Blonde of the Joke, brings a mix of lyrical writing, psychologically complex characters, and sardonic humor to this YA coming-of-age novel about first love…and mermaids.

How I came to own and read this book: I went to a local author event, where there was a panel of four authors. Bennett Madison was one of the authors. I was interested in all the authors’ works so I bought one copy of each of their books. I got them personally signed. They then sat on my shelf for almost two years for no good reason. I have finally started reading them, with varying levels of enjoyment.

What I thought before I started: I had thought the premise sounded interesting during the author event, but then when I went on Goodreads and saw some of the reviews of other friends and readers, I was shocked. Many did not enjoy the book at all, not finishing it, critiquing it harshly for being misogynistic, too crude, etc. I was dismayed that I had already bought the book and had it signed because after those reviews, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. However, I decided to go into with as much of an open mind as I could given that I had already read other reviews.

What I thought after I finished: It has been so cold that it was nice to escape to the beach. I could really picture the beach, the weather, the sense of summer. It was fantastic.

I was at first very shocked by the presence and sheer quantity of curse words in the book, but decided that it was authentic given the point of view. However, I would say that while authenticity creates an original voice in a book, perhaps the cursing could have been less dramatic. While it is completely common for others to curse as much as Sam, the main character did, it’s not really that fun to read.

While I understand people’s thoughts on the misogyny or the cursing in this book, neither bothered me. I didn’t quite agree with the former and the latter felt realistic to me. Now whether it was necessary or appropriate for a book that was pitched as young adult is another question, one I don’t have an answer to myself.

The main character is a young adult, but I don’t think it’s a young adult book in the way that others are. It is perhaps better suited for ‘new adult’ or whatever.

My main complaints are not related to either of the above points. I just wanted to understand what was going on. Who were The Girls? What was the curse? What happened to Kristle? What happened to DeeDee? I read it all, and perhaps there were explanations within some of the more poetic pieces, but I couldn’t grasp at it myself. Which is unfortunate because I did want to like it more.

pj - michelle

Michelle’s Review: Solstice by P.J. Hoover

Michelle’s Review: Solstice by P.J. HooverSolstice by P.J. Hoover
Published by Macmillan on 2013-06-18
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy & Magic, Greek & Roman, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 381
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom. Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity…. An imaginative melding of mythology and dystopia, Solstice is the first YA novel by talented newcomer P. J. Hoover.

I’m very conflicted over Solstice. It was like it was two different books to me, one that I didn’t like and the other that I was more interested in. All together, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.

It was the first half that didn’t make the cut for me. Earth is grappling with the effects of global warming. More and more people are losing their lives every day as the temperatures rise to more than dangerous levels and new storms become stronger. The description of that world entices me into the story. But unfortunately the execution was a little lackluster.

Piper is in high school with a very over-protective mother. She lives in a little oasis of a greenhouse while the outside world has to be misted with cooling gel and and watches the temperature rise and obeys the subsequent warnings. I grew weary of the amount I was told that Piper’s mother was over-protective. Now, by the middle to the end part of the book, I completely understand just how protective she was. But in the beginning, it became a little eye-roll worthy.

By page 56, there was a love triangle, which I really wasn’t a fan of either. Again, by the end, it comes into clearer focus why that has come to be. However, I imagine that for a reader more inclined to not finish a book than me, it would make a persuasive argument to put the book down before you get to the redeeming part.

The end of the book left me much more happy, but also wishing that the entire book had been that way. The big reveal was fun and I really enjoyed the ending. It’s just very unfortunate that the rest of the book wasn’t that way for me.

pj - michelle