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Antisocial by Jillian Blake (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Thursday, Jul 06, 2017 at 11:01am

I read the novel Antisocial by Jillian Blake. This is Jillian Blake's first novel so I think that it was pretty good by those standards. I give this a 65/100.

Antisocial is a novel about a teenage girl who has social anxiety and who's pressured a lot during the course of the book. Jillian Blake plays up that fact too much, so by the end, Anna, the protagonist, seems kinda bratty and spoiled because of it.

The main idea of this book is that Anna and the rest of her school are cyberbullied by a hacker who has a secret identity, and then there are problems in Anna's life that go along with that story. This book, I feel, is too packed with details that it goes off topic a lot of the time. This book was overall not bad, so I would read another novel by Jillian Blake if the story line was more on topic.

I would recommend this book to teenagers who either want to read about social anxiety or who like gossipy teen high school novels.

- Courtney, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Revenge by Hannah Jayne (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Wednesday, Jul 05, 2017 at 3:20pm

After a bad breakup, Tony's ex-girlfriend Hope embarrasses him in front of the whole school and spreads vicious rumors. Tony is devastated and in a moment of revenge, he makes the location on her phone public. But a week later, when Hope calls Tony and begs him to stop the prank, he hears a shriek and a car door slamming. Then the call is dropped. Too late, Tony realizes that he may have put Hope's life in danger. Can he trace Hope's movements and save her before times runs out?

The Revenge is truly a great book. With its easy-to-read format, it was hard to put down and I ended up finishing it in a matter of hours! The characters are very relatable and very distinct. They each have their own unique personalities and motives that drive them to act. The only complaint I have is over how the novel ends. The Revenge has about three different intertwined plot lines and only one of them is—in my opinion—completely solved. It would've been nice to find out everything else, and for the author to tie up the rest of the loose-ends, or at least so we don't have to make so many assumptions. Other than that, I really love this book and would recommend it to all thriller lovers.
Rating: 8/10

- Lauren, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Tuesday, Jul 04, 2017 at 11:20am

What to Say Next is a cute, heartwarming contemporary read. The story is told in duel first person perspective. One belongs to David, an autistic teen who is socially isolated among his peers. The other belongs to Kit, the popular girl at school and also the first person to sit at David’s lunch table. An unlikely, yet expected friendship blooms. When Kit turns to David to solve the reason behind her father’s tragic car accident, what they find may threaten to unravel their friendship for good.

This is a pretty much a character-driven story. We do get quite a lot of development from our two leads, but not as much from the side characters as I would like. Julie Buxbaum does a great job portraying David’s autism. From his actions to thoughts and feelings, she has got it all down, making his character extremely realistic and three dimensional. David himself is also very sweet and adorable. I particularly enjoy his general carelessness when it comes to how his peers treat him, making him one of my favourite characters. His sister Lauren is all wit and protective, and their relationship is a delight to read.

Kit, on the other hand, is quite difficult to relate to at first due to how self-absorbed she is. While it is natural for one to grieve the death of a loved one, I find that Kit takes it a little far. She shuts out her friends and blames basically everyone for their unwillingness to understand her situation. Meanwhile, her friends are described as incredibly supportive and nice. They stick with her despite her bad treatment of them. It’s a shame they have very little character development for they would have become my favourite characters as well. Fortunately though, Kit does become more tolerable toward the end as she confronts her demons. I’d say that David makes a better character out of her, which is a trope I despise but will ignore because how much I adore David’s character.  

The plot is well-paced, and there are a lot of things going on that keep it moving forward. With my totally obvious predilection for David, I’d say read the book for him. 3.5/5 stars. 

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

What to Say Next will be available July 11.

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

Midnight at the Electric by Jody Lynn Anderson (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Jul 03, 2017 at 10:35am

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson is the story of three girls: Adri, who is soon moving to Mars to help start a colony; Catherine, who lived on a farm in Oklahoma in 1934; and Lenore, who is grieving her brother who died in World War I.

Originally, the premise of a girl going to Mars drew me to this book as I'm quite fond of science fiction. However, as much of this book takes place in the 1900s, the story doesn't really focus on space travel or sci-fi aspects. It didn't bother me, but keep in mind that if you pick up this book expecting a sci-fi about space travel and the future, you'll likely be disappointed.

Honestly, my biggest issue with Midnight at the Electric is Adri. I had a very hard time getting into this book because she was an incredibly unlikeable character. I feel like she's supposed to come across as socially awkward, but she often crossed the line into hostile. At one point in the story, Adri claims she's trying to be polite but distant to her fellow Mars colonist crew members, but when one of them tries to talk to her during lunch, she says she has to go to the bathroom then never comes back. Her constant rudeness and hostility to the other characters made me care very little about her and I struggled to get through the first part of the book as a result. Midnight at the Electric is divided in sections about Adri, Catherine, and Lenore, and luckily the other two characters were much more likeable than Adri. Lenore's sections were my favorite.

After my initial distaste for Adri, I was able to get into the book and I ended up actually enjoying this story. The way the lives of the three girls intertwine is interesting and I really liked Lenore's character, so despite Adri, I recommend this book.

- Niina, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017 at 6:15pm

The Disappearances is a book I adore to pieces, but will say little about. You'll just have to go in blind for this gem to work its magic. Not only is it a great blend of contemporary and magical realism, the 1940s setting brings forth a breath of fresh air. Although I was hoping for more focus on the time period itself, the spotlight is concentrated on the "Disappearances." While that is a good thing, I often found myself wondering why everyone is writing letters instead of texting. 

The story follows Aila who, along with her little brother Miles, is sent to live in Sterling after their mother's passing. The siblings soon discover that their beloved mother may have hidden many secrets from them. One of these secrets concerns Sterling itself, a rural town that seems to have ordinary experiences—like its sense of smell—plucked from them every seven years. As the next Disappearance grows near, Aila is pulled into the heart of the mystery. Either she unravels its secret, or is swallowed by it forever. 

Aila is such a lovable character. Her journey to overcome her grief and the struggle to fill the blank space left by her mother for Miles is emotional to read about, yet she remains strong the entire time. I love the fact that she isn't made to be the next Chosen One, since without the support of others, Aila wouldn't have gone as far as she eventually goes. Rest assured that the rest of the characters are as lovely as our heroine, perhaps even more. I can't stress the importance of having 3-dimensional supporting characters enough. A book is guaranteed to be good if the author gets this right and Emily Bain Murphy certainly does. Also, yes for having a strong representation of girl love! 

If you haven't noticed, my entire review is basically me screaming at you to read this book. It has everything: awe-inspiring moments, life lessons, lyrical writing, suspense, and literal magic. There are a few thing that I'd have liked polished, like how the buildup isn't as satisfying as I had hoped, but despite that I still can't get enough of this book. The finishing word (a reference that you'll get if you read the book) is delightful. A definite 5/5 starred read for me.

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up
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