Category Archives: Pop Culture

Why Hanson Still Matters

Hanson Day is May 6. What started as a one-day celebration of the band Hanson in 1997 in Oklahoma, their home state, has become a yearly event celebrated among Hanson fans (fansons). This is why the “mmmboppers” still matter.

  • Like it or not, “mmmbop” is a classic pop song. It has a catchy hook (even if no one knows exactly what the words are) and reminds us of happy 90s pop. Along with the Spice Girls, Hanson helped relieve us of the grunge that was infecting the radio and delivered us catchy, bubblegum we all wanted to chew.Hanson-Disco-1447188684
  • In a time of heavily processed music and musicians who don’t write their own music, Hanson still writes and plays all their own music, and they rely on their instruments and their voices to create catchy songs, not computerized beats and autotune. Their music is a throwback to classic 50s and 60s rock and roll and has only matured as the boys (men) have grown up.

  • They put on a damn good live show. With twenty years of music and six studio albums of backlog – not to mention all their fans-only EPs, independently-released albums pre-fame, and covers – there are PLENTY of songs for them to choose from, and they don’t play the same setlist two nights in a row. This makes the concert-going experience unique for each individual show, and keeps fans coming back. You never know when they’re going to bust out an old song you haven’t heard in 15 years, or a song they’ve never performed live before. It isn’t a Hanson show without “mmmbop,” and when the entire crowd sings along, it’s chilling and magical.

  • They’re still making music. The number one question I get asked when I talk about my love of Hanson is “are they still making music?”. Yes. 2013 saw the release of Anthem, their sixth studio album, and they collaborated with Owl City and Blues Traveler in 2015. They’re currently working on their newest fanclub exclusive album, Loud.

  • They’re doing it all themselves. After their label, Mercury Records, merged with Island Def Jam in 2000 and subsequently didn’t know what to do with this pop band of long-haired brothers, Hanson went solo. They documented their struggles with their label and the making of their third album, Underneath, in the iTunes-released documentary, Strong Enough to Break (now on YouTube). The result was the formation of their own label, 3CG Records, and they’ve been doing it on their own ever since.

  • It’s not all about the music. Starting in 2007, Hanson helped raise awareness for poverty and AIDS in Africa by hosting barefoot walks prior to their concert, where, flanked by fans, the brothers walked a mile through the streets sans shoes and then donated $1 for each person who took the walk with them. The Take the Walk campaign was done in partnership with Toms Shoes.

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  • So often, children who rise to the huge stardom Hanson saw later endure difficulties adjusting to an adult life and are the scrutiny of the media. See: Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Aaron Carter, Justin Bieber, McCauley Culkin. But Hanson made it through alive and relatively unscathed. Sure, there are rumors Zac went to rehab, but nothing’s been confirmed and the boys still retain their wholesome image. Some of that is due to their religious upbringing (no, they’re not mormons), but family has always played a big part in their lives, and Hanson is a family-friendly band both the parents and the kids can bop along to.

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  • They don’t rely on references to drugs, sex, or the f-word to make catchy songs. Hanson lyrics are purposefully vague, complicated, and poetic. They talk about life, love, music, and growing older. Even “mmmbop” was more mature than people give it credit for: it was about learning to hold onto the moments in life, about holding on to the people who matter and letting go of the people and things that don’t matter.

“So hold on to the ones who really care, in the end they’ll be the only ones there/when you’re old and start losing your hair, can you tell me who will still care?”

“This Time Around” is just one of their many songs with thought provoking, powerful lyrics:

  • Their fans are epic, have been there a long time, and they realize and appreciate that. Most fansons were teenagers when they first listened to Hanson – the same age as the boys themselves – and have grown up with the band. Our first loves stay with us, and for many fans, Hanson epitomizes that. They’ve been there from the long blonde hair and higher octaves, to the marriages and children. The band is a place for the fans to come and feel like they’re “home” again, and the boys don’t disappoint. There’s the online fanclub, which comes with exclusive online rights and content as well as early admission to concerts, a yearly “members EP,” and invitations to special concerts and events. In addition, they put on special events each year to interact with the fans – their Back to the Island retreat in Jamaica, Hanson Day festivities, etc – that aren’t just about the music, with more personal events included. There are livestreams (the Christmas specials are a favorite), youtube videos, interactive forums, etc. They know they wouldn’t be who they are without the fans, and they give back.

  • They’re not afraid to make fun of themselves and branch out. As they get older, they have new interests, and the best example of this is their new beer, mmmhops. It’s a twist on their biggest hit, but it also showcases their tongue-in-cheek attitude about their success and desire to expand.

So grab a bottle of mmmhops and sit back, relax, and listen to Hanson.

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Morning Star | Review

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Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

OMG. All the feels.

I hate ending series because I’m overcome with an emptiness, knowing there’s no more. And Morning Star was no different.

I discovered the Red Rising series last year on a lucky ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ whim, and fell in love with it immediately. It’s the story of a corrupt futuristic society, where people are born into a “color,” which is arranged in a hierarchal pyramid with Reds at the bottom and Golds at the top. Each color has a specific role in society; the Reds are the slave miners, the Golds the gods. Darrow is a Red in the mines of Mars and knows nothing of the world above him until his wife’s death sets off a chain of events that has him striving to “break the chains”. And break them he does.

pyramid-allcolorsThe first book is about Darrow’s infiltration of the Gold society, a Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones style school where he learns combat techniques and how to be a leader. Golden Son, the second book, is when his arrogance gets the best of him, and his usage of his friends to further his own goals backfires. Morning Star, the finale, is about Darrow fighting back from the ashes of his mistakes to finally become a good leader.

The scale of the books keeps getting bigger: Red Rising is set in the Institute on Mars; Golden Son deals with Mars as a whole and the space around it; Morning Star goes from Earth’s Moon (Luna) to the moons of Saturn and is an all out war.

Unlike the typical dystopian trilogy, which tends to end in the rebellion turning into war, Brown explores the aftermath and effects of that war on the people and the places involved. Darrow is haunted by the “what happens after we win” question throughout, unsure what to do and how to be the leader the lowColors believe him to be. How to break the pyramid, the prejudices, the ingrained beliefs.

One of the strongest things about Morning Star isn’t the epic space battles – which are pretty epic indeed, always surprising me – but the side characters. While they’ve been developed over the previous two books to some degree, Morning Star really lets them shine. We see redemption, heartbreak, love, and strength, and each character holds their own. The women in particular have really grown and aren’t the foils they were in Red Rising, but become leaders and symbols of strength and intelligence.

imgresWhile the first hundred pages or so were slow, bringing the reader and Darrow back into the world after a year’s absence (in both cases), the last 300 were tense, heartbreaking, and cathartic. The ending shocker caught me off guard, but it wasn’t hard to figure it out after that initial surprise, though it was still wonderfully executed and a smart move by Darrow and Brown.

Influenced by Shakespeare, Roman history, Star Wars, and Dune, among others, the Red Rising series is smart, dark, complex, and beautiful.

I love the growth of Darrow from a small Red to a humbled leader of no color, understanding what it means to be a leader, what it means to follow your heart, what it means to be a man.

Although it’s not perfect, I love this series with all my heart, and I’m sad to have to let it go. The great thing about books, however, is they’re always there for me to revisit, and I think I’ll be revisiting the world of Red Rising for some time to come.

5 stars

Not that Kind of Girl | Review

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Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

Most people know Lena Dunham from her work on the HBO series Girls, which features young women in their early 20s trying to “make it” post college in New York. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you’ve probably seen – or at least heard about – her unabashed nakedness and sexuality. She is the embodiment of the millennial generation, struggling with love, sex, dieting, jobs, and her own narcissism. Dunham is either loved or hated, has a strong sense of self and feminism, and isn’t ashamed of it. Yet, she’s also insecure  and obsessed with death, and not as comfortable with sex as her portrayal of Hannah may imply.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” is Dunham’s first memoir, and she speaks candidly about those insecurities, her mental health issues, and her experiences growing up with “artists” as parents. She’s privileged, wrapped up in her own petty dramas and issues, but there’s something relatable about her, for a 20-something woman, at least.

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Perhaps reading these logs would’ve been better, but as I listened to the audiobook – narrated by Dunham and the reason I chose to listen rather than read – it felt repetitive and unnecessary. The narration itself was typical Dunham – she isn’t the best narrator in the world, at times her voice can be grating and pompous – but it fits her book, and I prefer to listen to memoirs when they’re read by the author, it makes it more personal.

I loved getting her perspectives on topics like friends, sex, love, and work, and I do think it’s an important read for women in the 20s, but am not sure people outside that demographic would find it enjoyable.

3/5 stars

Odds in Our Favor

avatar1  From sandwiches to makeup to a new theme park, the marketing campaign behind the mega-hit series The Hunger Games has spared no expense in getting the word out. Consumers can submerge themselves in The Hunger Games culture and be like Katniss or the citizens of the Capitol. But is that really the message the books are trying to get across?

  The Hunger Games is about the divide between the rich and the poor; those who want and those who need. It’s about the glorification of violence and the blasé attitude society has about it. There are themes of economic inequality, racial injustices, mental health, and oppression, but the movies are more focused on the love triangle. For viewers who haven’t read the books, they’re missing out on the real message.

  Suzanne Collins, the author of the bestselling series, was inspired to write The Hunger Games by flipping through television channels late one night. She was switching between news coverage of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and reality television, and was inspired by the way society is able to do that so easily; how people are more concerned about their favorite reality stars than the troops fighting for freedom or the people dealing with oppression and injustice.

  The books are horrifying: 24 teenagers put in an arena to fight to the death so the Capitol citizens have something to watch on TV, something to entertain them. They throw money and support behind their favorite tributes, like they’re contestants on American Idol. The Games are also a means of oppression: they’re a way to keep the citizens of Panem in line and punish them for once rebelling. The movies, however, cast twenty-somethings rather than teens, and most of the horrors were glossed over. The movie had a rating of PG-13 to attract more viewers, but how can they truly get the message across without showing the violence? No one wants to watch kids killing one another, but that’s exactly the point.

  The marketing department took the glamour of the Capitol and sold it to consumers. Rather than talk about the injustices Katniss and the citizens of Panem had to endure on a daily basis in the districts, marketing sold the “Girl on Fire” look to consumers, forgetting why she was called that in the first place.

  And now there’s talk of a theme park. Two, in fact: one in Dubai and one in Atlanta. A theme park where visitors can ride the train to the Capitol and take a hovercraft tour of Panem, just like the tributes, forgets that those who did that were being sent to their deaths. It’s the equivalent of making a theme park about World War II, and a train ride to Auschwitz.

  One wonders just how close to the themes of the novel the theme park will be. Is there going to be a Medival Times-style show, where visitors are divided into districts and root for their teenager to win while enjoying a dinner? Will there be economic requirements to enter the park or ride certain rides? Or will they split visitors up based on their heritage, segregating them with privileges based on performance? Because that is the narrative of The Hunger Games.

  While the world may not be Panem, a lot of the issues are still prevalent and real. There are injustices, oppression, inequalities, and horrific violent acts that are all too common. Shootings and acts of terrorism are occurring more and more frequently, and there are people out there in a real-world Hunger Games, fighting to survive.

  The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness about issues in stories, such as The Hunger Games, is running a campaign entitled Odds in Our Favor, where people can share their own Hunger Games stories on social media, such as twitter and tumblr, with #MyHungerGames. Help reclaim the narrative, and check out examples and stories, or look for ways to take action at MyHungerGames.org and OddsinOurFavor.org.

  May the odds be ever in your favor.

I also made a video about this topic, which is very dear to me:

 

Growing up through the characters of Glee

3-26-GleeCast100thepisodeAfter watching all six seasons of glee, my connection to different characters has changed. When the show started, I was 22 and living in LA, trying to make my film dreams come true. At that point, I related a little bit to many of the main characters: I wasn’t as bossy as Rachel, as shy as Kurt, as confident as Mercedes, as insecure as Tina, or as smooth as Artie; but I had a dream, I was chasing that dream, and was a bit of an outsider. 

Living in LA, I wasn’t as successful as Rachel was in New York, but I wasn’t as dumb either. I worked my butt off, found minor success working in the television industry (enough to make me a the inside scoop for my mom when watching American Idol), but my dream job didn’t just land in my lap.

Then I grew up a little, and that dream changed. I moved back from LA and got my teaching degree, and I started to see a little more Will Schuester in my life. I wanted to impact the lives of students, to teach and mentor them, while clinging to my old dreams a bit. I was afraid of letting go.

glee-movin-out-billy-joel-sam-blaine-season-5-2013-600x450Now, just days past the end of the show, and with knowledge of where the characters are at the age of 25, I now most closely resemble Sam. I’m 27 and I teach the high school journalism program at the very high school I graduated from. I teach next to my former broadcasting teacher and every once in awhile facebook stalk my old LA friends. But like Sam, I did try to live my dream. Sam went to NY to become a model, and he gave a good go at it before realizing it wasn’t for him, and neither was NY. I moved to LA and worked in TV for two years before realizing I wasn’t happy and it wasn’t for me either. I’m no Rachel Berry. I gave up my big dream for smaller ones. For different ones. Not everyone is destined to make it big.

But I don’t want to be Sam. I don’t want to be stuck teaching at the same high school I went to for years and years. I love it now, but the world calls me. But I don’t want to be Rachel or Mercedes or Kurt or Blaine or Artie or Tina or Mr Schu either. Because I don’t want fame and fortune and all my dreams to come true so easily and so young. I don’t want to be the principal. I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve done, of the disappointment and the letdowns, but I’m not finished yet. And Sam is just another stopping point on my journey. 

I want to be me. 

Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line | Review

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Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

First, let me start out by saying I love Veronica Mars. I didn’t watch it when it was originally on, but I own it on DVD and really enjoyed the movie (I’m just bummed I missed out on the kickstarter!). So when I heard there was a book series that picks up after the movie, I was immediately sold. AND, when I heard the first book in that series was narrated by Veronica herself, Kristen Bell, it was a given that’s how I would consume Book One.

And consume it I did. The audiobook is eight hours long, which isn’t too bad, but I sped through it in a few weeks rather than the entire month, which is how long it usually takes me to finish audiobooks. I forwent the radio in the car (even in the morning, and I love morning radio talk shows!) and when I blow dried my hair, and I couldn’t get enough.

The book is prototypical Veronica, except now that she’s a full time PI and an adult, it deals with full-blown investigations worthy of a detective novel that used to take Veronica an entire season to figure out rather than the short and easy problems students were having.

The plot is set around spring break in Neptune, when a college girl goes missing. The always incompetent Sheriff Lam botches the investigation and the media, and Veronica gets hired to solve the mystery.

Veronica-MarsIt’s a typical detective investigation novel, with twists and turns and red herrings all over the place, but the thing I love the most about Veronica Mars isn’t the “mystery of the week,” which is enjoying, but I come to Veronica for Veronica herself. She’s spunky, smart, salty, arrogant, and broken, and I love her.

But I also love all the characters in Veronica Mars. If Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights is my TV husband, Keith Mars is my TV dad. The banter between the two is quippy, funny, and full of the love they have for one another. Keith’s concerns for Veronica are legitimate concerns, and yet I could feel Veronica’s struggles as if they were my own.

It doesn’t hurt that Veronica and I are very close in age (aka, the same age), so it’s easy to relate to Veronica and the personal struggles she’s going through. I’m not as cool or as snarky as she is, but I wish I was. I also don’t have the mommy issues or the boyfriend issues she has, but that I’m thankful for.

I also love all Veronica’s friends: Wallace, Mac, Logan, and Dick, and it was fun listening to Kristen Bell imitate her colleagues, which she pretty well. Overall, Bell did a really good job narrating (but, I mean, she also narrated V Mars and Gossip Girl, and was Anna in Frozen, so her narrating chops are well tuned) and listening to her as Veronica was just the icing on the cake.

I’m not sure how this book would stand up for readers not already in love with the characters and Neptune, but the story was intriguing, and I enjoyed being back in Veronica’s world a bit longer.

I am sad to note that the second audiobook in the series, Mr. Kiss and Tell, is NOT narrated by Kristen Bell, and as I can’t imagine Veronica Mars without Ms. Bell, I’ll be reading the paper version instead.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments 1) | Review

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City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments 1) by Cassandra Clare

I did it. Finally. I started The Mortal Instruments, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy it.

Clary (though I hate that name) thinks she’s a normal, everyday human being, but when she sees something unexpected and horrific at a club, her world starts to unravel before her eyes, and she must search through her forgotten past to discover who she really is and how she can save those she loves.

Put like that, it reads just like every other YA novel these days. And in some regards, it is. There’s a YA formula for a reason: it works.

The fact this book came out in 2007 and I just read it in 2015 probably taints my perspective on this series as well, as I would have been a lot closer to the characters’ ages in ’07 (I would’ve been 20) as opposed to now, when I’m 27 and have read a lot more similar-sounding stories since. That being said, here are my thoughts:

I enjoyed the Supernatural elements of the book (though I don’t watch the show), with the Shadowhunters and the demons and the Downworlders; I liked the concept that “all the stories are true,” which means beings like vampires, werewolves, faeries, mermaids, etc exist. I even enjoyed the slight political-class drama between the Shadownhunters and the Downworlders, though some of the backstory was slightly confusing.

745410I also really liked Jace and Luke. Clary wasn’t particularly my favorite, though it was nice to have a heroine who wasn’t automatically an amazing fighter, though her skills with the runes did come super fast to her at an advanced level, which I’m not sure I totally buy. Jace, however, is brooding, funny, admittedly narcissistic, and broken – just the way I like my book heroes – and Luke reminds me so much of Lupin (and not just for the obvious reason), and I do love Lupin.

What I didn’t enjoy was that I felt Clare tried to make the backstory and the history of the Shadowhunters too complex, and parts of it were confusing. I also thought that some of the twists were tired and expected, and the relationships wrapped up too neatly at the end. These are teenagers, after all, teenagers can be flighty, sure, but they also hold grudges and aren’t always so quick to forgive. I also wanted more from Alec. It’s rare for there to be a LGBTQ character in a series such as this, and I wanted him to have more to do, more to deal with, and I thought it was a cliche for him to take that out on Clary,.

But that just points to another of my issues with this, and that’s the characterization. Other than Jace and Luke, and perhaps Valentine and Simon, I didn’t really feel like I got to know the characters. It wasn’t until halfway through that I realized Clary had red hair, and Isabelle and Alec were just kind of there to fill space most of the time. Other characters were in place purely for plot points, and Simon’s devotion to Clary didn’t really seem to waver, even after she broke his heart and then continued to use him (and the whole Jace-Simon-Clary thing was just laughable and so teenage, ugh).

Also, I’m not in love with the whole twist at the end regarding Clary and Jace. It’s a bit weird for me, and I know that’s the point, but… Jace is more of Han to me than Luke, and this is all a bit too Luke and Leia. And Jace seemed to get over that shocker a bit faster than I would have anticipated, especially since he went all psycho-brainwashed only days before.

The plot, once it got going, went, and was a fun read. I like unraveling mysteries when reading, and even though I predicted it, it was still fun to uncover.

Even though I didn’t love it, I liked it enough that I flew through it in a manner of days (and being almost 500 pages and a super busy week at work, that’s impressive for me), and I’m curious enough to continue on with the series and see where the story unfolds.

Station Eleven | Review

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Can I just say that I loved this book? Post-apocalyptic WITHOUT zombies. Intersecting narratives that all connect. Beautiful descriptions. A portrait of Hollywood. A comparison to a space-themed graphic novel. Character growth.

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Station Eleven hooked me. It starts in Toronto, where an actor has a heart attack onstage during King Lear. A young man rushes up to save him but cannot while a young girl looks on. Meanwhile, a pandemic is beginning to spread, and most of the people in the theater will be dead within weeks, if not hours. The narrative weaves in and out of the past and the future, alternating between characters that are all somehow connected, but not all of the connections are yet apparent.

I really enjoyed the slow unraveling of the backstories of the different characters, and the world building of the post-apocalyptic world. I watch The Walking Dead, so I’m used to characters roaming around from place to place, scavenging for survival, but this world didn’t have the added threat of zombies, so for a character to go twenty years without killing another person seems reasonable, though still surprising. I also really loved the idea of the Traveling Symphony (and theater group), who wandered from town to town, playing Beethoven and Bach and other music in a world without, while the actors put on Shakespeare plays, a nod to the mirrored and ragged worlds they and Shakespeare lived in, pre- and post- technology.

Station Eleven LogoJuxtaposed with the current world, where people “kept getting trapped behind iPhone zombies, people… who wandered in a dream with their eyes fixed on their screens,” and lived lives like ghosts and sleepwalkers, unhappy but not realizing so; the post-apocalyptic world, for some, was an improvement. Life had a purpose once more, if only to survive the day. Yet others are constantly searching for traces of the former world, exploring lost buildings and houses, holding on to scraps from gossip magazines and the world from whence they came, building a Museum of Civilization, before it becomes lost forever.

The world built seemed real, the characters’ reactions seemed real, and the “bad guy” was just a poor kid who dealt with PTSD in a way he found comforting (if, albeit, it turned creepy). I found the details realistic and appropriate (the south is dangerous because of all the guns, for instance), and the characters were just trying to cope and survive and remember. I loved reading about how all the characters reacted to the pandemic, to the failing news, to the loss of electricity and technology and cars.

The ending is slightly bittersweet, with a hint that the world may be improving, and the characters adjusted to their current lives. I was really hoping the final character would somehow intersect the others, but in a world where states and countries and lines don’t exist, and traveling requires walking or on horseback, it seemed unlikely they ever would, and that’s okay, because sometimes that’s just how life is, and the catalyst for the story, the fateful King Lear production all those years ago, is part of a completely different world.

1396625421069And throughout the book is the graphic novel, Station Eleven, from whence the book got its name. Drawn by one of the characters, its limited release of 100 copies of two issues becomes so important to many of the characters within the novel, and yet also acts as a mirror to the story unfolding. I thought the idea was brilliant, and it was yet another way to bring characters together through time, and I’d really like to see an actual Station Eleven graphic novel made.

I knew I loved the book because after I put it aside for the night, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and the world of the book. I thought about what I would do, what book(s) I would bring for the end of the world (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Anne of Green Gables, maybe? Or The Night Circus, or maybe even Pride and Prejudice), and where I would go. My other half and I have discussed this before (his mom’s house to meet up with everyone, then maybe my dad’s because he’s in the country and has guns), but would I survive in Station Eleven? Who knows. But I still loved it anyway.

5 stars.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry | Review

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The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a book about a bookseller on a remote island, and how books affect his life and the life of those surrounding him.

AJ Fikry is a snobby bookseller with very particular tastes and a dismal, alcohol-steeped attitude on life. His wife, whom he started the bookshop with, has recently passed away in a tragic accident, leaving AJ depressed and ready to hang it all up. When his prized possession, the possession that will allow his early retirement, is stolen, and he finds a mysterious gift left in his bookshop, his life turns around.

IMG_4597-copyThe book is told in present tense, which I didn’t love but didn’t hate, and the story follows AJ’s life from right before the item was stolen up until his death. Each chapter starts out with a short story recommendation and a letter written by AJ (to whom the reader discovers later), and the chapter relates in some way to that short story or letter. I’m not a big fan of life-spanning stories, which act as more of vignettes in the characters’ lives rather than an actual eventful story. And yes, this is the STORIED LIFE of AJ, but I wanted more story than just life.

The book acts more as a picture of the effect of the mysterious gift on AJ and the people in the remote island town, as well as the bookstore, but there isn’t that much that actually happens besides just life. It is mostly empty of typical melodrama, but I wasn’t a fan of the ending, and I didn’t feel like it was the best way to end the novel (or AJ’s life). If it had to be that way, I would’ve liked to see more of the internal dilemma he went through rather than the quick gloss over the reader gets.

As far as the characters, I found some of the supporting characters (Ismay and Lambiase, in particular) to be more compelling and fleshed-out characters than some of the so-called important characters of Amy and even, at times, AJ and Maya.

That being said, I did enjoy the novel. It was a quick and easy read (if somewhat flat because of the simple and almost-stinted writing style), and I found the characters likable enough, even if I didn’t find myself totally invested in them.

As a connoisseur and lover of literature and reading, I also enjoyed the literary elements of the book, the references to books and writing and the world of publishing, and the effects of books on these characters (particularly Lambiase).

Golden Son | Review

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Golden Son by Pierce Brown

The sequel to last year’s Red Rising opens a year after Darrow has left the Institute, a full-fledged member of the Augustus household, and rather than spend an exorbitant amount of time on his exploits at the Academy, it opens with him in the final battle. From the beginning, it takes risks, and doesn’t just succumb to the same tricks that made the first book so great. There is growth, loss, and a lot of politics. Not to mention, Darrow gets taken down a peg or two, and his actions have consequences.

Overall, I really enjoyed Golden Son. Darrow’s matured, and his split between living as a Red and a Gold starts to take its toll on him. The book is very political, and it’s difficult to predict what is going to happen next (try as I might!), which is something I really enjoyed about Red Rising as well. There is a lot of backstabbing and deceit among the characters, and, much like A Song of Ice and Fire, no one is safe.

While I’m not the biggest fan of space battles, which made some scenes hard to visualize, I enjoyed the dynamics of the plot and the growth of the characters. Not to mention, there are moments that are jaw dropping, which kept me on the edge of my seat throughout reading. ca

I really like the world Brown has created, and the backstory behind it is intriguing. The color system is interesting, mostly because of the physical manifestations of those differences.

SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW

The rebellion that Darrow is part of continues to slowly build throughout the novel, and the reader even discovers the identity of the mysterious terrorist leader, Ares. I love that imagessome of the other colored characters gain prevalence, and you can really see how the rebellion may work, after all. One of the most shocking and heartbreaking scenes is when Darrow returns to his home, to his mother, and begins to grapple with just how much he’s changed, how Gold is starting to become stronger in him than Red.

And then there’s the ending. Holy mother of all things, the ending. In typical Part II of a trilogy fashion, the reader is left on a mind-numbing cliffhanger that leaves everything up in the air.

Brown has weaved an intricate web of a second act, and with the cliffhanger ending, I can only stare at the third book’s cover (Morning Star) in anticipation, counting down the unreleased days until it’s release.

See my full rant (WARNING: SPOILERS) below: