A Silent Voice Series Review

asilentvoice1Title: A Silent Voice
Series: 7 Volumes Total
Author/Illustrator: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Manga – Young Adult – Contemporary
Format: Purchased paperbacks

LEARNING TO LISTEN

Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?

This will be a series review, so I will be covering all seven volumes of this series. There may be spoilers, but I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free.

This manga series is, in a word, stunning. I love the art and the characters and the story, and I’m so glad that it was so critically acclaimed in Japan because of the heavy subjects that it undertakes and how it’s executed in the story itself.

The story itself is about a boy named Shoya who always wants to have fun and never be bored. He often takes dangerous risks with his friends (such as jumping off bridges into shallow-ish water) in order to find those moments of fun and adventure. When his friends decide to cool it with all of the dangerous stunts, that’s when Shoko, a deaf girl, is transferred to his class and he thinks of her as kind of like a boss he has to beat in a video game.

Of course, that doesn’t exactly turn out well in his favor. He bullies Shoko without realizing he was being a bully by yelling at her, ripping out her hearing aids, and just causing chaos for Shoko. His other friends join in and eventually she has to transfer again.

That’s also when Shoya’s friends turn against him and he pretty much becomes a loner for the next six years.

I love how the story uses X’s over people’s faces because we’re seeing everything through Shoya’s point of view, and he doesn’t think about or care about anyone. Only when someone does something nice to him does that X fly off of their face and he sees who they are and becomes friends with them. I thought that that concept was demonstrated really well and that it was very important to the story itself.

When Shoya runs into Shoko six years later in high school, he returns the notebook she used to communicate with the other students to her and, to her surprise, he also learned sign language so he could communicate with her.

He tries very hard to redeem himself and make up with her and show her that he’s extremely sorry for the way he was as a kid, and though I thought this was sweet I oftentimes found that it became overbearing the way he was going about it. I did see immense growth in him, though, and I was glad to see that he was also affecting others around him in a positive way.

Shoko was a very defining character as well not only because she was deaf, but because she always tried to be kind to everyone and not let things get to her – at least on the surface. There are a couple of darker moments with her that made me want to reach out and comfort her. I thought that she was a very generous and warm character and I’m so glad to see some sort of deaf representation in manga (which I’ve never seen before).

There were also characters who were fat, or had a very ugly personality, or who was once bullied, or who tries her best in everything. Even Shoko’s younger sister is “different” in that she takes pictures of dead animals and dresses like a boy. I loved that there were so many varied personalities, body sizes, and disabilities shown in this series.

The plot, overall, was one that gripped me and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was cute in many places, and there were a few times where I felt some things were unnecessary or were just too extreme, but the main story was very gripping and I loved it to bits.

If you’re looking for a diverse manga set in Japan, then I highly, highly recommend A Silent Voice.

Each volume has it’s own rating, but for my series rating I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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The Sun is Also a Star Book Review

thesunisalsoastarTitle: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 344
Format: Received in November 2016 Uppercase Box

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This book was both parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and I don’t know which one I’m feeling more of right now.

I thought that this book was very well written and that the sentences were strung together beautifully. I felt like the characters were real, that their problems, their universe, was real and that I was there with them experiencing everything that they were the whole time. They felt alive and so different but so connected, and I loved that. Plus there were situations that were going on in not just their lives, but in multiple people around them, and each felt real and genuine.

I felt that the plot was fluid and that it went from one scene and thought to the next smoothly, and I loved how there were chapters in between with different characters and also just fun chapters on things like love, eyes, the universe, and stuff like that. I could tell that Nicola Yoon did a lot of research because even I could remember these facts I had read on some of the more scientific parts of the story that were true. It felt like I could connect not only to the characters, but to the whole story in general, which was a very exciting feeling.

Natasha and Daniel’s chemistry together was one that melted my heart. I was afraid because of the insta-love feel of the story in the beginning, but it felt natural the way the circumstances occurred. Of course, I don’t know if this would actually happen in real life (maybe it has?), but I felt the plausibility of the situation and highly enjoyed it.

I found it interesting how Natasha always looked to the facts of things and didn’t believe in things like true love, destiny, and other concepts. I actually found it kind of refreshing, in way, because oftentimes the main characters are dreamers (like Daniel) and I think that because she relied so much on facts and data was actually very cool. Though I was glad she was warming up to the idea of those concepts as the day went by. I thought that she handled herself well in many situations, and I loved how she tried so hard to hide her expressions and emotions, but they slowly came out with Daniel.

And Daniel? Oh my God, he’s freakin’ hilarious! I found myself laughing out loud a lot while I was reading his point of view. He has a lot of jokes and a way with words, so no wonder he wants to be a poet. But otherwise I was glad to see him like his culture but still want to go for his own dreams. His family, though, made me very sad, much like Natasha’s, but in a different way. I understand family and culture and all of that, but still, I wish he could’ve had a better conversation with his father about what he wanted to do.

Overall I found this book to be very well done. The character I was most frustrated with was Natasha’s father because wow, how could someone regret having a family like that? I don’t know how to explain it cohesively, just the way he regretted meeting his wife and having his children irked me. And I’m obviously not one to endorse cheating, though I did kind of root for the lawyer and his secretary? It’s weird.

I found the struggle of deportation to be real, the need and want to be seen and heard and loved to be real, and I loved reading from the perspectives of a Jamaican young woman and a Korean young man.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

P.S. I Like You Book Review

psilikeyouTitle: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Received in August Uppercase Box

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

This book was adorable and it was nothing short of what I was looking for in a contemporary novel. I found the characters to be funny and real, the plot to be fun, realistic, and fast-paced.

The story started out with Lily being distracted in Chemistry class writing down lyrics in her notebook and her teacher telling her to pay more attention and turn in notes at the end of every class. When she starts to daydream and write lyrics on the table, the next day she sees those lyrics completed and she starts writing notes back and forth from there. For a large portion of the book the mystery of who was writing the notes was well hidden and she didn’t figure it out until about half way through who it was when she saw him while she was running errands for someone.

I thought that Lily was a great character. She was awkward and funny and kind, and she loves her family unconditionally, as well as her best friend Isabel. I love that she had some quirks that allowed her to be seen in a more realistic light, like how she has a nervous habit of chatting up a storm when she’s really nervous or put in an awkward situation, or how she’ll resort to humor – even if no one gets her humor sometimes. I loved that about her. (Probably because I do the same thing.)

Having her large family have such a big presence in the book was something I wasn’t expecting, and I thought that that was such a great part of the book. Of course she thought her family was difficult and everything to live with, but as an outsider I thought that her family was fun and very entertaining. With an older sister and two younger brothers, plus both parents, her house wasn’t short on fun. I also loved the way she talked to her siblings: like she cared and was patient with them. Of course there were moments of frustration, but she still really just showed how much she cared, and that they cared back, and I loved it.

Cade was interesting because when I thought he was being an arrogant dude, trying to make jokes and be humorous, it was his way of trying to make situations better for others. He has just as much of a big heart for people as Lily does, which makes my own heart warm. Not only that, but even during their fights I could tell that he wasn’t totally in it, and that there was something he wanted to say – especially as time went on. He was kind and funny just like Lily, a very great match for her.

Of course that’s not to say neither has their faults. Even when they fought and when their anger was explained, I still was kind of confused as to why they fought to begin with. Maybe it wasn’t explained, or it was and I missed it, but I thought that the hate-to-love romance that happened was gradual, realistic, and the cutest thing ever. *insert fangirl squeal*

I also appreciated the friendship between Lily and Isabel in here because I don’t often see YA friendships between characters stem out more than just a side role. But Isabel played a big role in Lily’s life and Lily often said that Isabel was much more important than some of the things that were going on, which was awesome.

And there was of course mini dramas here and there with the letters, another girl, and even with Isabel, but I like how things resolved themselves and how each character worked to fight for the important relationships to stay intact. It was mature of them all, and I was glad to see that.

I thought that this book was very adorable and that you should definitely check it out if you’re looking for a cute contemporary to read anytime soon.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

Fairytales IRL Book Tag

Hey peeps and welcome to another book tag! I find I don’t do these as often as I thought I did, and this one’s been going around very recently to a few people on YouTube, so I decided to join in on it because I LOVE fairytales! You can check out Jessethereader’s video here!

I haven’t actually read a fairytale in a while. I’ve read a few retellings and stuff, but otherwise I pretty much just watch the Disney adaptations (which is fine with me). I love the tropes and the hope that a lot of fairytales can inspire … when they’re, you know, not being told creepily and stuff.

somethinginbetweenSo this tag was put out by Harlequin Teen inspired by the release of Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz, a contemporary book about a Filipino girl who’s done everything expected of her, has gotten really good grades, and even gets a scholarship to her dream college – and then it all falls apart when a family secret gets out and she is no longer eligible for that scholarship. She then does what she never has before: rebel. She tries to do a lot of the things teens do before they graduate and that’s when she meets the son of a congressman.

It sounds interesting and cute, and I’m just really interested to do this tag! In the tag you’re teaming up tropes with contemporary stories, so here we go:

1 . Fairy Godmother: a contemporary trope where a fatherly/motherly figure guides a misguided protagonist.

girlagansttheuniverse

I had the hardest time thinking of someone for this one and then I GOT IT. Dr. Daniel Leed from Girl Against the Universe! He’s a really cool psychiatrist and I felt like he really did a good job of helping to guide Maguire down a healthy path by challenging her and allowing her to figure things out on her own.

2. Prince Charming: a contemporary character who takes on a quest for his or her love interest.

toalltheboysivelovedbefore

I think that Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before definitely fits the bill for this one because she wrote letters to each guys she’s had a crush on before, and even though it backfires on her, it’s still as though she’s on a quest to find that “perfect guy,” and all that. She’s a dreamer and adorable and I love her.

3. Forbidden Fruit: the contemporary trope of giving in to temptation.

everything

I think that Maddy from Everything, Everything fits this description to a T because she was without everything in the outside world for the majority of her life. When the boy next door moves in, of course she’s interested and gives into temptation and discovers a lot about herself in that time.

4. When the Clock Strikes Midnight: a contemporary trope where the characters must fear an impending moment.

thisiswhereitends

Okay, so this one is kind of just scary because, well, it’s a book about a school shooting: This Is Where It Ends. I know the kids in the school weren’t expecting it at the time or anything, but as the hour progressed, more and more people were just terrified of what would happen next. It’s truly terrifying.

5. The Big Bad Wolf: an antagonist so powerful that the hero feels helpless against it/him/her.

myheartandotherblackholes

I’m going to have to go with the depression and suicide in My Heart and Other Black Holes because, speaking from experience, that antagonist is extremely powerful and you do feel helpless against it in those situations. I thought that Aysel did her best to climb out of that hole and I applaud her for it because it isn’t easy.

6. The Power Within: a contemporary example of unexpected power from a character who imagines themselves to be ordinary.

everylastword

So I’m going to go with Sam from Every Last Word because she deals with a form of OCD that causes her to have obsessive thoughts that could potentially lead to harmful outcomes, but usually they’re just daydreams or harmless things. As she writes poetry and talks about her illness through that, she really takes hold of herself and I think that that is truly amazing.

7. The Grand Ball: a contemporary trope wherein a character faces a major moment of fitting in.

fangirl

I’m going to say the same thing as Jesse and talk about Cath from Fangirl because she was so introverted and shy and scared at the beginning of the book that it was near impossible for her to make friends (even though Levi tried really hard all the time). As the book progressed, though, she began to open up more, to stand up for herself, and to really shine. I think she definitely faced that major moment and took it all in stride.

8. Fairest of Them All: a contemporary pressure for outer beauty that challenges the importance of inner beauty.

eleanorandpark

I think Eleanor & Park really hits this on the head because the two main characters are a red headed girl who lives in poverty so she’s pretty much wearing the clothes she makes herself, and the only half-Korean boy who likes to wear dark clothes and listen to “strange” music compared to the other kids. Though, I do love both of them because they don’t care what anyone else thinks and they each really bring out a positive outlook in one another when it comes to that.

9. The Evil Stepmother: a contemporary character who invokes anger or resentment for stepping into another’s role.

noneoftheabove

I think for this one I’m going to go with Kristin from None of the Above because she is really like her own evil stepmother. When she’s diagnosed as intersex she becomes so disgusted with herself that it’s like she wants to do everything she can to pretend she’s not who she is, and that’s not healthy. I think a lot of resentment formed as a result of that.

10. Happily Ever After: the contemporary belief in finding happiness in the end even when the road to get there had its struggles.

simonvs

Have you met my friend Simon from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda because he’s adorable and I love him. He also went through a crap ton of, well, crap, to get his happy ending and even though some of what he dealt with was hard to see, I’m glad he did manage to get through all of it and be happy.


This was a much more difficult tag than I was expecting for some of these questions, but I also liked them because they had me thinking about just what kinds of characters I’ve seen and read about, and how each of these different tropes really do play a part.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What are some of your favorite tropes in books? What are your least favorite? Who do you think of when you think of the Prince Charming or the Big Bad Wolf? Tell me all the things!

Girl Against the Universe Book Review

girlagansttheuniverseTitle: Girl Against the Universe
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Pages: 379
Format: Received Hardcover in May Uppercase Box

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

This book was full of surprises in many good ways and I enjoyed every bit of it.

This story follows Maguire, a sixteen year old girl who’s life has been less than awesome since the deaths of her father, uncle, and brother five years prior. She blames herself constantly when bad things happen around her and she finds that it’s safer if she just stays home, under her blankets reading a book where she can’t hurt anyone.

That’s until her therapist, Dr. Daniel Leeds, gives her “shrink homework,” challenges for her to complete if she wants to take a trip out to Ireland with her mom to meet her father’s family for a memorial service. These challenges are to push Maguire into trying to regain her life back, to take back what the Universe took from her, so to speak, and so she reluctantly agrees to these challenges.

And that’s where she meets Jordy, a tennis player dealing with his own problems and also meeting Dr. Leeds to deal with those problems.

Maguire goes through an awesome transformation as this story progresses. She isn’t completely “cured” by the end, but she makes steps toward becoming better and reclaiming her life for herself, which makes everyone in her life proud – but especially her.

I thought that this book was so well done in terms of the mental illness of PTSD and OCD that was displayed because, as I’ve probably said before, not everyone’s mental illness is the same, even if it falls under the same name as someone else’s. Stokes did a good job of writing about how much Maguire’s illness affects her every day life: from five-second checks to make sure everything around her is safe and no one will get hurt, to the panic attacks she has at the beginning, to eventually becoming comfortable enough with friends around to do more than she ever would have thought possible.

Maguire is very cautious of her surroundings and also doesn’t reach out to others to talk about her issues in the beginning. As her relationships grow and she becomes more confident in herself (which is subtle, but still noticeable), she does talk about her issues more and the friends that she has are very supportive of her and never tear her down or tease her mercilessly because of them. I loved being able to see progress in her and that she wasn’t afraid to stick her ground when she knew she couldn’t go through with something and that she was also willing to try out more and more things with different people that she previously wouldn’t have opened up to because of it.

Jordy is a tennis athlete who’s eighteen years old and still has his parents running his life for him – and he hates it. He wants to take control of the reins and decide his future for himself, but he’s also afraid. He was charismatic and real a lot of the times when he wasn’t being Tennis Jordy. I liked him a lot and felt that he was just another teen dealing with his own issues and trying to break out of that and do things for himself instead of for others. I also liked that he didn’t force Maguire to do anything she didn’t want to and would go the extra mile to make sure she knew that he was being cautious.

The friendships in this book were also a delight to read about, even if they weren’t the main focus of the book. The friendships with Jade and Penn were both healthy and different, which was great to see not only in Maguire’s situation, but in a YA book. Even when I thought one character was going to be “the bad guy,” she ended up just having a misunderstanding and she became okay again in my book.

Maguire’s relationship with her mother even mended itself as a result of Maguire taking steps to get better. They didn’t have a bad relationship or anything, but they still grew closer and stronger together as a result. It was so uplifting to see a positive mother figure with a presence in the book. Even Tom, Maguire’s stepfather, gained some brownie points! It was so awesome to read about.

The romance in the book, too, was well done because Maguire and Jordy started off as friends and the feelings between them slowly started to blossom. Nothing was ever forced and both were very awkward about it at times, but I felt the connection they had. Even though there was uncertainty there because of Maguire’s feelings about herself being cursed, the two managed to communicate even when it was hard (sometimes with the help of friends).

Overall I highly enjoyed this book a lot more than I was expecting. Even the tennis scenes were interesting to me! I’ve never played tennis before, but it’s made me want to watch or try for fun. The dynamic in this book between all of the characters was a healthy one, and I couldn’t have asked for more in the regard.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!