Books full of singsong words are my needs!

Where's the spark, Perry?

Into the Still Blue - Veronica Rossi

I read Through the Ever Night in Nov.2013 - less than 3 months ago. Either my memory's getting fuzzy or Ms. Rossi's storytelling's getting sluggish, but the final installment of the Under the Never Sky (UNS) series is not as exhilarating as I've expected. But first, let's go down the memory lane, shall we..

Aria succeeded in getting Col. Hess from Reverie Pod to team up with Sable, the ruthless Blood Lord of the Horns. Aria arrived back in Reverie to negotiate; but Hess had another plan, he left the Pod only with his best soldiers, abandoning Aria, his own son Soren, and the rest of the population, in chaos. Aria managed to persuade some of the Pod Dwellers to flee outside, by stealing one of the Hover aircrafts, and took them to Perry. Meanwhile, Perry's tribe, the Tides, was forced to go seek shelters in the caves because the Aether - a tornado-like force of nature that (supposedly) wreak havoc to Earth's polar magnets - is multiplying and happening at different places in the same time. Cinder, a boy who was born with a rare DNA to control the Aether, was kidnapped by Sable; Cinder's the last hope of mankind (Hess' & Sable's groups) to lead them to the Still Blue, the land on the other side of the rainbow, err.. I meant Aether. Roar, our favorite supporting lead, has just lost the love of his life, Liv. He went back to the Tides but was ordered to find Cinder.


The book starts off with Aria's plan to steal some more stealthier Hovers and save Cinder in the same time. The Dwellers and the Tides did not mix well, but Aria convinced Soren to pilot the rescue group (that would include Roar and Perry, of course!) to Hess' and Sable's encampment. And plenty of kisses shared between Aria and Perry is guaranteed. What about someone to replace Liv for Roar? No such luck, I'd have to tell you right away!

(show spoiler)

That's what I love about the book. With all the romance going on, there's still enough space for friendship. In fact, I appreciate how Aria can easily banter with Roar, and Soren not long after, without us readers imagining otherwise. Ms.Rossi succeeded in putting a heroine, though sometimes we wonder how Aria sniffs and cries a lot.. if it's due to female predisposition, then I beg to differ.
Cry Baby Cry (Tribute to The Beatles)
First, it's been 6 months (as it's often mentioned) since they met, and after all the struggles and adventures Aria had to face in that stretch of time, she still acts too girly, IMHO. Perry, on the other hand, acts like a gentleman, but since he has 'rendered' himself to Aria, readers have to endure his desperate longing for her
- it's like they have to mate every 5 seconds, even if it's only in his mind.. Still, it's quite entertaining; seems like the author has better knack in describing a love scene than action scene.

Now let's talk about action. Hoooo-hum! I don't mean it has as much action as Twilight (nonexistent ;P) but with that many guys running around one would expect a lot more. These are teenagers, for goodness sake. They're starting a revolution, and a new civilization. I'm still looking for at least one female writer who can write like Kathryn Bigelow does Zero Dark Thirty. Perry and Roar are warriors, so give them their dues and put them in kick-ass action sequences. Related to action, my biggest peeve is the Still Blue and how they manage to cross it (and how Perry survived it.) Should I imagine it like a Black Hole? Can Ms.Rossi give me a more believable explanation?

It's hard for me to give this a 3-star rating, as I've come to love the characters. The world-building is quite a feat, but after the second installment I'd like to see more scientific explanation of the Still Blue. Is there a way to convince YA writers to write like an adult instead of teenagers? And by that I meant less SAT words, but a lot more vocabulary to describe the world setting, for once. ESPECIALLY when these teenagers have to face some grown-ups. It's wishful thinking that these young people who are still in their teens can command respect and deceive wiser grown-ups, especially with the likes of Hess and Sable. Still, rationality can be off the chart in YA universe (hence the new term 'speculative fiction' instead of 'sci-fi' for 'grown-up' books..)

Last but not least, I hate the cover! Perry and Aria are far edgier than pictured on the book cover. Especially Perry: hell, no! He's like a muscled Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson. Please pretty please, get the movie version right (like Katniss and Peeta of The Hunger Games instead of Twilight's Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.)

For fans of UNS - this book will be a neat conclusion of Aria+Perry's adventure, but by the time you come to the end, Perry has lost the spark and become just a sidekick of the real star: Aria and Roar. I like the last chapter BTW, it makes you wonder what will happen in the Still Blue yonder :) I'm just saying, I want another BETTER sequel after this trilogy!

Dorm Fan

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

My first Rainbow Rowell’s novel was Eleanor & Park – I just adore it! When Fangirl became available at my neighborhood bookstore, I grabbed it right away, even when I’ve still got tons of unread books collecting dust on my bookshelves. I’ve read a lot of good reviews about the book, and while I usually cringe at the term YA Romance (I used to teach middle school, and didn’t want to get caught dead reading at the YA section by my former students!), I’d have to make an exception for this book. To start with, the book doesn’t even smell YA – maybe more of a New Adult, since that term seems to be so happening lately..


Cath – short for Cather – is the new adult; she’s just starting college in Lincoln, NE (where Ms. Rowell went to school, I assume!) and had to share a dorm without her twin, Wren. They’ve been inseparable since they were born; Wren certainly has a bit of a wild streak, and a carefree take on life. On her first day, she found out that her new roommate brought along a guy friend. In fact, Levi the guy, was the first person to meet her in front of her dorm room before Cath even had the chance to meet Reagan, her real roommate.


Cath is always studious, and likes to keep herself inside her room writing fan fiction. She’s decided to major in English, and based on her fanfic writing, she’s set to be the next JK Rowling, or in her world, Gemma T. Leslie (GTL) who writes a hugely popular series, not too far removed from Harry Potter, called Simon Snow. When other freshmen went about their freedom to get wasted while being away from home, Cath’s busy churning out new Simon Snow alternate universe for her blog followers, and practically lived in various Snow t-shirts she brought with her. Levi, on the other hand, is a junior who majors in Ranger Management; he found the whole fanfic thing amusing. He often dropped by her dorm to tail Reagan, but before long, we readers would just take the hint that he liked Cath. The thing is, Cath thought Levi’s one of Reagan’s boyfriend, and while she probably sensed that he’s into her, tried to distance herself from him because she felt they were worlds different.


I admire Ms. Rowell’s writing – her words just flow out of the book effortlessly, and while they’re not Keats-ian, they’re quotably cute.  Say like,

"Cath liked Levi. A lot. She liked looking at him. She liked listening to him-though sometimes she hated listening to him talk to other people. she hated the way he passed out smiles to everyone he met like it didn’t cost him anything, like he’d never run out. He made everything look so easy…" (p.186-187)

I wish my dorm experience had been as good as Cath’s. It was 20 or so years ago already, yet I still remember how my American roommates complained about how my shrimp crackers smelled like dead fish (ha!), how my long-distance calls to home made them awake all night (what can I do if there’s 12h time difference between EST and WIB?),  and how I never scrubbed the bathroom floor (I did clean it up sometimes, but avoided that chore as much as I could.) It’s cake-walk for Cath compared to my real-life experience. It was a relief I found a roommate for an apartment, after 9 months going to the laundry room in the middle of the night. In this book, Reagan’s a dream roommate for socially-inept person such as I. Plus, she’s the one who brought Levi to Cath’s life.


Sometimes I can see how everything gets to conveniently tied up for Cath toward the end of the book; all the puzzle pieces finally fit into place without damaging her for life. Yet, Ms. Rowell didn’t make Cath’s life easier; we readers got to know her depressed dad and estranged mother along the way – she did keep her angst buried deep. We also learned a bit about Fiction Writing and how the class created a brief interference in her relationship.


Solely for the writing, I gave this book a 5-star. For originality, a constellation. Seriously, a romance based on fan-fiction with a protagonist who’s a borderline prude and likes to write about gay relationship (you have to read the book to find out..)? If it’s a Wolverine movie, you’d probably come back for the prequel.. And though none of the stars in this review can be claimed by Levi, I should thank Ms. Rowell for her creation.

Every girl wants to have a Levi in her life, maybe as a friend, ex-boyfriend, boyfriend, hubby,… I used to know a guy like that (he got away, phew!) I keep looking for that guy – somebody I can look directly in the eye and:

"(She) knew what that was like. His eyes were warm and baby blue. They made you feel like he liked you better than other people." (p.221)

Until then, I have this book within arm’s reach..

Currently reading

Hollow City
Ransom Riggs