Archive | February, 2012

“Pet” Peeve

29 Feb

Or, Why Must the Animals Always Die?!

Dear Authors, look at my cutie patootie face! PLEASE don't take out your people problems on me. I just want to be your friend and cuddle with you all the time and love you forever! (Side note: I WANT TO STEAL THIS DOG AND KEEP IT. I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.)

Guys, I’m having an issue right now. Maybe in comparison to other issues we might encounter in YA books–sex, gender politics, white-washing, relationships–the thing that’s bothering me is small potatoes. But to me, this one is kind of a big deal because it’s one of my LEAST favorite plot devices there is, and even when I understand WHY it happens, which isn’t all the time, I never like it and I ALWAYS have a hard time dealing with it. Friends, I’m wondering why authors like to kill all the animals. WHY?????? It just makes my heart so heavy and sad. And truth time: When I’m reading, I get more emotional about the death of an animal than I do about the death of a person. GET RID OF THE BAD GUYS INSTEAD, AUTHORS! Pretty please?

I’ve been encountering some kind of animal death in the books I’m reading more frequently lately, so this issue is on my mind a lot at the moment. I know that killing off what are usually innocent, sometimes-helpless, protective animals is often an effective way of communicating to the reader the brutality of life for the people living in whatever world the book is set. And I know that killing a beloved pet or loyal animal is a way to spur some kind of character growth through grief. Sometimes killing an animal is symbolic of something to do with the owner. I’ve even seen pets and animals die noble deaths, protecting their loved ones from harm (HEDWIG, ILY!!!). But guys? No matter how it happens or why or how well it’s handled or what it might mean, it’s always a thumbs down for me, often because I feel like I can understand the brutality of life from other things in the story, or the character can grow from experiencing other things, or a person can be saved through some other means. I’d believe ANYTHING an author told me as long as it saved an animal or pet. (Probably ;-)) (Also, Mild spoilers ahead.)

I mentioned Hedwig just before, and that’s a good example of a pet making a sacrifice. Her death SLAYED ME, and I kind of hated it. Of all the deaths in Harry Potter, Hedwig’s bothered me the most. It didn’t make me the saddest, but I just…I don’t know. I always wished that Harry could have been saved some other way. It happened so fast that it almost made me think we weren’t supposed to have enough time to be sad about it, and so that made me feel like Hedwig got bumped off and swept under the rug a little.

Hedwig isn’t the only pet death that has made me sad. One of my FAVORITE series of all time–A Song of Ice and Fire–kills off animals and pets in absolutely DEVASTATING ways that often make me sadder than when characters in those books die. Example (as spoiler-free as possible): In the first book, A GAME OF THRONES, there’s a BIG BIG death at the end. It is sad. It is surprising. It is brutal. It sets off ALL OF THE THINGS, pretty much, for at least the next two books. But before this death happens, a little ways back in the story, a pet dies in a horrible, unjustified way. I cried WAY harder about the pet than about the person. It wasn’t even close.

Another book that I LOVED leaves the life of a pet hanging in the balance (LEGEND). I’m super nervous about June’s dog, guys!! I keep crossing my fingers that Ollie will somehow escape June’s apartment and go off searching for June and find her in the Colonies somewhere. Ollie and June reunion, please!!

All of this isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate the drama of a helpless animal in danger, or that I don’t think there are books that handle this kind of thing in a way that doesn’t stab me in the heart. There was one book I read last year that, I thought, handled this “pet in peril” really well, because it had the danger and the drama but the pet didn’t die. THE SCORPIO RACES is ABOUT deadly animals, so you can assume that you’ll come across pet danger. And yes, random sheep and neighbors dogs go missing and are assumed dead (this last part really DID make me sad, even though the dog was a complete stranger). But Puck’s family has a cat, Puffin, who is super attached to Puck’s brother, Finn. There’s a little bit of the story where we’re led to believe that Puffin has died. BUT!! It turns out that Puffin is a cat-ninja who escaped the gaping maw of the deadly water horse and LIVED! She LIVED! I can get behind things like this because it proved to me that saving the animal and amping up the drama and tension are not mutually exclusive. You can have both. More of this, please!!

So that’s my rant, guys. In a nutshell: I’m begging you to stop killing the animals, authors! If your story is good and dramatic and your characters have depth, then whacking their pets won’t really be necessary to creating or fostering those elements in your story. You can do all of those things without animal slaughter. I do want to make one thing clear, though: All of these books I mentioned here are books that I LOVED. That’s ALL CAPS love. I won’t hate your story if you kill an animal; far from it. But I’ll always hate that PART of your story, and there’s really nothing you can do to prevent me from feeling that way and griping about it somewhere. Well, except not killing that animal. Then we’d be good.

What about you guys? Am I being too sappy? Do animal deaths make you sadder than people deaths?

Waiting on Wednesday (16): Defiance

29 Feb

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. I love it because it is basically a squee-fest where book lovers can choose one book that they are DYING to get their hands on. Check it out!

Defiance (Defiance #1)

by C.J. Redwine

Defiance, CJ Redwine, Fantasy, Fantasy YA, series, Young adult, fantasy, girl, red hair, forest

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.

At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.

As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

Um, DEFIANCE sounds like some seriously bananas fantasy, guys. I love the sound of the evil dictator, the secretly badass girl, an impervious-to-death monster, and the major TENSION that exists between the girl and the boy because they have HISTORY. Honestly. I’m drooling over this summary! Everything sounds so fraught and dangerous. Plus there’s that business about “a war decades in the making” that makes me anxious-excited for the rest of the books in this series. Guys, I feel like DEFIANCE is going to chew me up and spit me out a little bit. I AM IN.

DEFIANCE is coming out August 28, 2012 from Balzer + Bray.

Top Ten Tuesday (16)

28 Feb

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely folks over at The Broke and the Bookish post a top ten list topic so that book lovers like you and me can pour over our shelves and make our own lists. You can check out all the other Top Ten Tuesday‘s on their site!

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Book Review: Above World (Above World #1)

27 Feb

Title: Above World

Author: Jenn Reese

Series: Above World, book 1

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Dystopian

Publisher: Candlewick

Published on: February 14, 2012

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

Source: ARC from the DAC ARC Tour

Summary: Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people.

But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.

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In My Mailbox (16)

26 Feb

February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. It’s awesome. Every week, we all get a chance to tell everyone what new books we’ve gotten so that we can tell you guys and we can all drool and squee together! Huzzah for squees!

Got some FAB stuff this week for the Debut Author Challenge ARC tour and some SWEET deals for mah Kindle. Woot!

FROM THE DAC ARC TOUR

I have been SO LUCKY with the books I’ve gotten/will be getting for the DAC ARC tours. I’m seriously psyched about all of them, including these three!

Look at these beauties!!

Above World: Above World #1, by Jenn Reese (February 14, 2012 from Candlewick). Finished this one already, friends, and it was some SOLID middle-grade sci-fi/dystopian. Very clever and zippy. Review going up soon!

Unraveling: Unraveling #1, by Elizabeth Norris (April 24, 2012 from Balzer + Bray). Reading this one now and, guys? IT’S AWESOME. It sucked me right in. And according to the authoress herself, there will be MOAR. As much as I would LOVE to see a book like this as a stand-alone just for funsies, I can’t say that I’m not JAZZED to the extreme that there will be more Janelle and Ben. And I’m not even finished with it yet.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg (February 21, 2012 from Dial Books). JUST got this one in the mail and YAY! I’ve been looking forward to reading this book about a girl who literally dies of a broken heart for AGES. Can’t wait!

Thanks LOADS to Tara @ Fiction Folio and Lisa @ Lisa Is Busy Nerding for organizing the tours for these books. Also for being FABULOUS.

BOUGHT

The Highlander’s Sword and The Highlander’s Heart: Highlander #1-2, by Amanda Forester. These were some cheap goodies for the kindle, and I can’t think of anything that sounds bad about either of them right now, mostly because THERE’S SCOTTISH MEN who wear kilts in them. My weakness for kilts and guys who say things like “och” and “aye lass” knows no end. I have high hopes for these two!

I hope you guys got some great things in your mailboxes this week!!