Milkweed book review

Milkweed

Jerry Spinelli

Historical Fiction/War/Coming-of-Age

230 Pages

 

My mom gave me this book and I had no idea what it was going to be like. I ended up really enjoying it! First of all, I usually enjoy books relating to Nazis, because I think it is usually a very interesting subject. This book takes place in Warsaw during WWII. The Nazis were steadily taking control of everything and and doing whatever they could to control and overrule the Jewish people.

 

The story begins with a young boy who thinks that his own name is “Stopthief,” as this is what he is used to people yelling at him. He has no memory of life other than being on his own and fending for himself, which he does, of course, by stealing to survive. Stopthief meets a group of misfits and other orphan boys who take him in so they can all survive toghether, and they rename him “Misha.” For a while, things are great, with new clothes to wear and plenty of food to eat, until the Nazis decide to force all the Jews to move into the Ghetto.

 

Misha and his friends continue to sneak out and smuggle food, trying to feed themselves and help others. Misha is taken in by another family and lives with them through their own hardships, while trying to help. They give Misha part of the family life he’s never known, and he does the best he can to sneak out and provide extra food for them. Then the Nazis begin the “relocation” of the Jewish people. His adopted family warns him to take his new “sister” and fun away from the Nazis and keep her safe. Misha struggles with issues of his own and the book follows his own coming-of-age and maturation. I really enjoyed this book, I thought it was very entertaining, while heartbreaking. If you are interested in books of this nature or during this time period, I think you will really like this novel.

Extras book review

Extras

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Adventure

417 pages

 

So, I didn’t love this novel as well as the first three in the series. It takes place a few years after the conclusion of the third book, Specials. It takes place in Japan, and has completely new characters. It revolves around the life of a girl named Aya Fuse in a city where popularity is everything. Where you live, the clothes you wear, the things you can get; everything revolves around your popularity, or “face rank,” as it is called. Aya desperately wants to be famous like her brother Hiro, who is a “kicker,” meaning someone who kicks interesting stories on his feed. Aya is a kicker too, but the small stories she’s put out haven’t led her to be famous.

 

She stumbles across a story she thinks will be great about a secretive group called the Sly Girls. To get the story, she has to go undercover to infiltrate them and sneak shots of what they are doing. However, as she starts to get close to them she finds herself torn; she likes the person she is when she is with them, but she can’t get rid of her desire to become famous. Things escalate when the Sly Girls themselves stumble onto an even bigger story, one that could potentially change the world forever. Now Aya feels like she has to kick the story no matter what.

 

When the story hits the feeds, Aya’s face rank immediately starts to climb, however, so does the interest of the odd group she uncovered things about in her story. The story also draws the attention of our old friend in the series, Tally Youngblood. Tally shows up with backup and combines forces with Aya and her friends to seek out the group in the story and get to the bottom of what they are up to.

 

For me, this book was just OK. Unlike the other ones in the story, it took me a long time to get into and really care about it or be excited to read more. In the end, it turned out all right, in my opinion, but I don’t feel like it added anything to the original trilogy. I feel like it might have just been better left the way it was. So, it’s up to you. If you liked the way that Specials ended as a trilogy, you might want to skip this one and end it there. If you want to see how Tally changed the world and what she might be up to now, read on and find out.

Specials book review

Specials

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Romance

372 pages

 

The original conclusion to the Uglies series. I say original, because Westerfeld later decided to add a fourth book to the trilogy called Extras. Tally is back in Specials after having become a Special herself. She is teamed up with Shay, who is the head of the Cutters, a very special branch of Special Circumstances. They can basically do whatever they want. Their goal is to locate and bring down the New Smoke, and they are authorized to do whatever is necessary to accomplish it.

 

Tally is struggling throughout the whole book, and we get an inside look at her struggles and her thought process as she is trying to adapt to what she is, as well as who she used to be. She seems to enjoy being a Special for the most part, and is completely content with it, until she sees Zane again. Zane is just a normal Pretty, although his brain is damaged from attempting to cure himself from Pretty-mindedness. When she sees him, she still has feelings for him but is simultaneously disgusted by the way he is; after all, he isn’t Special. Zane tells her to change her mind again and cure herself of being Special-minded like she cured herself when she was a pretty. This makes Tally start to question her happiness. She wants to do whatever it takes to be with Zane, but sometimes finds herself unhappy with what she has become.

 

Zane and some other Crims escape the city to find the New Smoke and Tally follows them. She is supposed to tail them to the new location and report them to Special Circumstances so that they can bring them down once and for all, but will her love for Zane sway her decision? This book is largely a struggle of the mind. Tally is fighting between what she has been programmed to accomplish and trying to do what she believes is right. Her true friends never stop believing that the true Tally is under there somewhere.

 

This book was a decent conclusion to the series. I didn’t love the way it ended, but I didn’t hate it either. Overall, I enjoyed the novel, and loved the series as a whole, I just didn’t love the ending. I am interested to see what happens in Extras, however, as I felt like this novel did conclude and wrap everything up effectively. If you are looking for a good series about a dystopian setting and especially if you liked the Matched series, I think you will be a fan of these books.

Pretties book review

Pretties

Scott Westerfeld

Dystopia/Romance

370 pages

 

The story continues with Tally now as a pretty. She turned herself in to get the operation so that the Smokies could test out the cure on her. She has been Pretty for about a month when the novel starts, and is living in New Pretty Town with all the other new pretties, including Peris and Shay. All she wants in her new life is to become a member of their clique, the Crims. She is at a party the night she hopes to be voted in, when suddenly, something from her Ugly life turns up. Or, I guess I should say, someone. An Ugly that she remembers is at the party following her around, and she can’t understand why he is there and won’t leave her alone. Tally briefly talks to him and he tells her he will leave something for her to find.

 

She starts to think a little clearer, and with the help of one of her fellow Crims, Zane, she gets through a series of tasks to discover that what is left for her is the cure for being “Pretty-minded.” From there on, Tally and Zane are inseparable, doing everything together and fighting to stay “bubbly” and not to fall back into the easy, Pretty haze. They plot an escape from New Pretty Town, but it becomes increasingly difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be any further help from her Ugly friends on the outside. Finally she and Zane enlist more of their fellow Crims to devise a plan that they think will work.

 

Not surprisingly, the plan doesn’t go exactly as expected, and Tally finds herself alone facing challenges she never would have dreamed of. She learns even more about the operations that the Specials are involved in, and more about the true nature of humanity. Tally must use her new non-Pretty brain to figure out how to join the rest of her group before they have to leave her and she is stuck alone forever. To me, this second book reminded me a lot of the second book of the Matched series, Crossed. I am excited to see what ends up happening in the third book because the end of Pretties was as much of a cliffhanger as the end of Uglies was. Really fun read, and I can’t wait to continue on with Specials!