Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Cover Artist: Debbie Powell
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Release Date: April 12th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA fiction
Page Count: 336
Original Language: English
Format Read: Paperback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: In progress

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads

I read Eleanor and Park quite a while back and I am really looking forward to this review. I had quickly scribbled down my thoughts at the time and they all seem to make some sort of sense, so let's see how this goes. 


Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried. Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor. 

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose. 

The first page:

*Spoiler alert - this review assumes you are slightly familiar with the story* 

This is set in the 1980's when all the way through it felt like a more 90's to modern day novel. I love the attempt to set it in this era but there could have been more specific details that would lead me to believe it was really from the 80's. This is, of course, the most minor of faults in my eyes, because the book still effected me like it should. I had to get this out of the way before I listed heaps of things I loved about it. 

I was going to give Eleanor and Park three stars, but as the book says, art is not supposed to be beautiful. It is supposed to make you feel something. And even though the ending wasn't as I would have hoped for or dare say wanted, it made me feel a lot. This is something that a book hasn't done for a while. And the very fact that I couldn't put it down for two days straight says a lot, because I have the patience of a saint. 

The storyline was very realistic (for once!). I think that was my favourite part of the book. I love how the main characters themselves clearly had flaws, whether it be physical or personality-wise. I think if Eleanor had been a perfectly skinny girl or a stereotypically cute geeky girl that all the boys lusted over, this story wouldn't have worked. I adored the character flaws, which is something I don't often say.

It could happen, what happens. It is all very close to home stuff yet it provides a sense of escapism where you find yourself saying "god I'm so glad not to be in that situation". You feel so much more appreciative of your life whilst reading it, which is endearing to feel. Then, you come out of the book thinking exactly the same thing, and it stays with you. If anyone feels like they're being unappreciative of the world around them, this is the book to read to cure them. 

I particularly loved Park's obsession with eyeliner. It showed how gendered products are flawed and there were even topics like this covered in the 80's . It was a character quirk that I thought brought something meaningful to the book as it caused problems in the house and some people would have found comfort in his story.

The letter section at the end wound me up. If they loved each other so much then why would they make it so difficult for themselves? But it made me feel something, and it wasn't unbearable to read. In fact, it kept me excited for their romance and left me hoping it all worked out in the end.

Also I'm guessing her mother got out of the relationship, or her kids were taken by social services. Probably the latter if Richie was still roaming about and not in jail.

The only thing I didn't like about their whole relationship was the "I need you" parts. They relied on each other so much that they couldn't function without each other, and I think it was an unhealthy relationship in this respect. It would be understandable for Eleanor maybe, but not for Park. It teaches bad relationship lessons, I think. However, it still played a purpose in the book - my thoughts on this were that it may have been included to mirror her mother's need for Richie, or vice versa.

Overall, it was a gripping book that I refused to put down for a couple of days, so I'm going to give Eleanor and Park 4/5 cups of British tea.

About the author:

Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

Where to find Rainbow Rowell: Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Blog 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Cover Artist: Linda McCarthy
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: March 2005
Genre: Contemporary YA fiction
Page Count: 221
Original Language: American English
Format Read: Hardback
Other books in series: N/A
Movie Adaptation: In progress

Where you can buy it: Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Ebay, Barnes and Noble

Add to Goodreads 

Looking for Alaska by John Green is a book that everyone seems to adore. And I semi-agree with everyone. If I had to pick one person to meet in my life, it would probably be this man, because I am constantly amazed by his intellect and his ability to just be an incredible human being. So when I'm reviewing this book, please take into account the fact that I'm reviewing the book and not the man behind it. 


Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and is tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Fran├žois Rabelais called "The Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.  

The first page:

*Spoiler Alert - this review assumes you are very familiar with the story*

This is the fourth book of Green's that I've read and I did notice it to become slightly repetitive of his other works. It was more to do with the characters than anything else - every John Green book is like a tick list, that has to include a nerdy guy chasing after a slightly-nerdy-but-not-too-nerdy independent girl who has a lot of emotional problems and when the guy doesn't get what he wants straight away he goes to ridiculous lengths to get it. It's only after a few books that you begin to notice that problem, which is why I enjoyed the first two books I read of his more than the other two. 

It was very philosophical throughout and I really liked that. The whole labyrinth of suffering was actually a very original concept and probably my favourite element of the book. I could relate to the feeling of the labyrinth, and I think that's why people like Alaska. Not for her personality, but for her ideals. None of them were very strong or likeable characters, but I think that was the point of the novel. No one is perfect... you cannot simply build an image of what you think they are and then they become it. It was very true to real life and I really respect that.

It got boring a long time after Alaska died. It felt like a bit of a task to read, but once it got to the big prank I was laughing so so much! I just loved the imagery of the whole scene. It is a rare moment when a book makes me laugh out loud. 

It is often frustrating to never know the truth, and this book captured that perfectly. I'm not sure about the whole goose chase to find out why she died though. It was clear Mile's intention was to figure out her last words which even he knew was never going to happen, and so it was a but pointless. 

As always with John green books, there are some gems of quotations in there. You cannot fault his writing technique. It was a little bit like The Great Gatsby's in the narration because of the tense changes just as and after she dies. He goes to present tense just after she dies which was a very clever writing technique and then he slides back in to past tense, which shows that he has really thought about his structure rather than just the words. 

I admit, I didn't understand the hype with this book. I only liked it so much because of its philosophy, and although I understood it I felt as though something was missing. Don't ask me what that something is... I'm stuck in the labyrinth of suffering aka FEELS.

I decided to give it 3/5 cups of British tea:

About the author:
John Michael Green (born August 24, 1977) is an American author of young adult fiction, YouTube video blogger (vlogger) and creator of online educational videos. He won the 2006 Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska, and his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list in January 2012. The 2014 film adaptation opened at #1 at the box office. In 2014 Green was included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.Aside from being a novelist, Green is also well known for his YouTube ventures. 

Where to find John Green: Website, Youtube, Tumblr