Tuesday, July 24, 2012

College Girl by Patricia Weitz

     Natalie Bloom is a shy young woman in her junior year as a transfer student to the University of Connecticut. On the academic side of things, Natalie has everything in order. However, her shy nature gets in the way of her social life.
     When she meets the seemingly perfect Patrick, Natalie is shocked that someone with his status would see anything in a boring Russian history major such as herself. The downward spiral that ensues is only stopped when Natalie learns to accept her past as well as who she has become.

     With college quickly approaching in the fall, I had high hopes for College Girl giving me a good picture of life beyond the four walls of my high school. If college is anything like what Natalie experienced, I can honestly say I'd rather just sign up for another decade or two of high school. Weitz's book is just, well, depressing.
     Natalie has her insecurities, which I am more than willing to understand, as everyone has them. The thing that makes the book so depressing though is the extent to which she takes these insecurities. They blind her in a way that makes the reader cringe! Instead of seeing others for what they really are, be it friend or foe, Natalie lets her own issues color her view of everything. She doesn't see herself as worthy, in the classroom or outside, which saddens me because she is.
     The other characters in the novel seem to have their lives in order, according to Natalie. Faith, the roommate she keeps at a distance, might not know what she wants, but certainly knows what she doesn't. Gwen, the popular girl on her floor, seems to have it all. What Natalie fails to realize is that each of these people are dealing with their own hardships too.
     As a reader, I wanted to see more strength in our main character. I wanted her to pull herself together, put herself out there, and be who she wanted to be instead of waiting for some magical moment or person to change her life.
     I think Weitz's writing was great in how she brought the story to the page, even if I wasn't so fond of the story itself. The biggest thing lacking, in my opinion, was the dialogue. It was too strained and even numbing at times. Regardless, the author's style is certainly accessible. I was able to get to know Natalie for who she was, though she couldn't see it herself.

Rating: 4

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark by Marianne Curley

     After waiting years to find The Dark, having read and adored the first book, I was more than eager to dive in to the wonderful world Marianne Curley creates. From the first page to the last, I was enthralled by every word.

     As the Order of Chaos increases its hold on the mortal world, Ethan, Isabel, Arkarian and the other members of the Guard find themselves fighting harder than ever to maintain history. When Arkarian finds himself in grave danger, Isabel convinces Ethan to help her save him, despite being forbidden to do so. Nothing will stop her, not the potential consequences nor the horrors they will surely face.
     The ability given to the Guard is one that many might die for... and indeed many do. However, "with great power comes great responsibility." The Guard has the amazing ability to travel through time, but they are also the ones in charge of making sure history goes according to plan. Such a task wouldn't be so difficult if it weren't for the Order: those bent on shaping history to fit their own purpose of creating chaos.
     As the war between the two groups escalates, the Guard is put into a precarious position. They must decide between saving Arkarian at the risk of those that go after him and losing Arkarian to the detriment of the Guard. Isabel is determined that she will save him, without help. Her stubborn nature shows through in this novel even more than it did in the previous installment. She doesn't care that she is forbidden to go after Arkarian. She doesn't care that she is risking everything to rescue him.
     Ethan, too, shows his bravery and selflessness. Arkarian has been his friend and mentor since he was a child. Now that he has the chance to help, how can he let Isabel go alone? Together with a stowaway, Isabel and Ethan go in search of Arkarian.
     Curley continues to astound me with her superb characters and flawless writing. From Matt, with his self-doubt, to Rochelle, struggling to fit in, the author creates characters that in turn pull at your heartstrings and then liven the mood. They are utterly relate-able and lovable.
     Her tale of danger and an ancient war will certainly become a classic. It gives meaning to the importance of history and divulges a truth that often escapes us: everything is intertwined. History affects the future as much as the present does.

Rating: 10