Die For You

By: Amy Fellner Dominy

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“I thought, how could it be bad—it’s love and love is good. Love is supposed to be good, isn’t it?”

This was one crazy, emotional, frustrating rollercoaster ride of a novel.

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Emma Lorde and Dillon Hobbs seem like the perfect high school couple… until they aren’t anymore. It’s a story about the passion of first loves, high school sweethearts, and the measures that each one will take to keep their relationship alive and functional.

As a reader removed from the story, I could see all the red flags SOOOOO clearly, it was frustrating to watch Emma fall under Dillon’s spell and succumb to his manipulation. It was especially hard to read through the moments where Dillon would harm himself in order to force Emma to give up her potential internship in Rome – something she’s wanted and dreamed of for basically her entire life!

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In saying that, the novel was excellent in the way that it allowed me to understand where Emma was coming from, to understand all the rationalisations she made for Dillon’s actions, as well as why she couldn’t just leave him – part of which was because of Dillon’s mother, whom I absolutely hated.

*mini rant* Yes, I understood that she was his mother, therefore had an obligation to love him unconditionally, but it still doesn’t justify her actions, and the way she placed pressure and guilt on Emma to stay with Dillon despite their obviously broken and harmful relationship! You can already see how hard it was for Emma to convince herself that Dillon’s actions were wrong, much less vocalise her thoughts to an adult. And when she finally attempts to find her for Dillon, she gets shut down and told to stay with him because he needs her, she stabilises him, and blah blah blah!! It was absolutely ughghgfadjflkd *okay, rant over, sorry…*

Another really annoying character was Hannah, who was sooo clearly in love with Dillon, she defended all of his actions, going so far as to condemn Emma for wanting to leave. Which, I guess was the whole point of her character – to demonstrate how love (or putting people on a pedestal and convincing ourselves that we’re in love), perhaps blinds us to even the most obvious signs. Like Lauren (Emma’s sister) says, we’ve all “watched too many bullshit movies that romanticize sacrifice” and this novel presents a thoughtful insight into the truth behind dysfunctional relationships.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like there were two messages in the novel. Of course the story of abuse and manipulation took precedence, which, let me just say, as infuriating as it was to read, it was beautifully done. Absolutely gorgeous, and so thoughtfully written. But on another level, and in a more subtle manner, Amy Fellner Dominy also manages to convey the notion that you should never succumb to pressure to change your dream, or sacrifice who you are for another person, much less for a boy from high school.

This Adventure Ends

By: Emma Mills

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“Characters you love so much, that you feel so deeply for, you’ll watch them fall in love a thousand different ways, over and over”

I loooved Sloane, and I can pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with her. Chapter 1 – when she stepped in and stood up for “freaking Gabe Fuller”. Yes, some people may find her somewhat standoffish, maybe a little bit awkward, and the silent-observant type, but I enjoyed every moment with her. 7cf5c017cc093f8782072b37660cf6aa.gifShe was definitely far from perfect, and I was a little bit mad when she couldn’t hold it together for her audition or when she broke down towards the end, but she was relatable. You may not be the standoffish-awkward-silent type, but I think that everyone can relate. To sometimes feeling awkward, to sometimes feeling a little bit out of the loop, and just generally feeling a little bit off. I saw something of myself in her, and that made me want to believe in her, to believe in her success and to cheer her on through the entire novel.

cheering_minions.gifSurprisingly, her relationship with her father was on a completely different level. It was fresh, shocking, and not at all what I expected. I absolutely adored their banter which complemented Sloane’s sense of humour. It was nice to see a dynamic father-daughter relationship where the parental unit had a healthy balance of being both laid-back, yet disciplined which added to the beauty of the novel.

The lovely aspect novel was the hope found in all relationships. Despite the cracks and broken pieces (Remy and Aubrey, Sloane’s parents) Mills finds a way to emphasise the hope and optimism of the future, which I was absolutely grateful for, because we all know that the world doesn’t need any more depressing stories or as Sloane says, “passive witnesses to injustice”.

giphy.gifThe oooonly thing that I could’ve done without would be the in-between writings of fanfic by either Sloane’s dad, or other fans of Were School. Yes, I understand they were there to convey a message, or emphasise a particular point, but I just found myself skimming these parts. I just could not get into it for some reason. They were just a little bit tooo out there for me… What do you think? Pleeeaaase tell me it’s not just me…

03426c2f6256986f218bda957ae1fbb4.gifVera on the other hand was the ultimate best friend! I totally totally loved every part she was in! I wish I had a best friend just like her!! She was absolutely freaking FAN-TASTIC! She took Sloane in, she made her feel comfortable around her friends, and she dispelled any awkwardness or uncertainty about where Sloane stood in their little circle of friends.

Having moved school multiple times over the years, I’ve always wished that there would be that someone who would just grab your hand, drag you along and force you to participate, to solidify your existence in a social group, and to say “hey, meet my friend, she exists and she is ah-mazing!” Don’t we all?? 11/10 for Vera, and I would “straight-up kill” for a friend like her.

86713-let-me-love-you-gif-LILO-stitc-B3gd.gifThroughout the story, I found myself slightly hoping that Sloane would end up with Remy (Slemy? Roane? Slomy?), because I found Gabs a little bit… too intense and loner-ish? But as the story went on, I grew to like and appreciate Gabe, especially how he and Sloane share a sense of humour (#teamGane?). Definitely a worthwhile read!

Lord of the Flies

By: William Golding

 

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“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

WHAT. A. RIDE.

To be perfectly honest, I was bored stiff through the first two chapters, not fully comprehending the deeper meaning found within the superficial descriptions of the island, the boys or their activities. Golding certainly takes readers on a ride, but rather than a rollercoaster, it’s more like a waterslide – one where you have to wait for aaages in line while carrying a floater and slowly climbing to the top, until you finally get to the climax, get in that floater and everything suddenly drops, your body rushing with pent-up adrenaline.giphy.gif

The novel opens with two boys – Ralph and Piggy wandering through the forest on a deserted island. Finding themselves a tribe of boys, much like Peter Pan’s ‘lost boys’, they elect Ralph as Chief. However, rather than a Captain James Hook as the antagonist, Ralph has a Jack Merridew.

It was only when chapter nine rolled around, that I became fully captivated. Firstly, by Simon, the ‘mystic’, outcast, loner, weirdo of the group, with his “bright eyes” that created a striking image, coupled with his discovery of the truth behind the mysterious Beast. His untimely death left me speechless, making me question everything about these boys. Like – how in the world are they going to integrate back into society after performing such horrific acts? Who, in their right mind, would actually take these boys back in and allow them to live in their house? It was at this point that I realized, as Golding writes, “The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away” from these boys, and there was nothing and no one to stop it from happening.

giphy-2.gifMy favorite character, by far, was Ralph, as well as Sam and Eric, later referred to as Samneric. It took me a while to fully understand Ralph’s character, as he initially came off as a prideful, self-assured boy with the potential to become a full blown bully (to Piggy). It was only when he called an assembly and asserted his position as Chief that I became fully supportive of his character. In my eyes, he had now become a mature authority figure with pure intentions, wanting only the best for the boys. So, when Jack was hunting him down towards the end of the novel, I found myself on the edge of my roller chair, forehead creased in concentration as I desperately waited to discover whether he would survive.

QnkFrG3.gifSamneric may not be a popular choice for favorites, but they were easy to identify with as they attempted to stick with Ralph and do the right thing, yet ultimately sided with Jack to protect themselves in order to survive. What can I say? They remind me of almost everyone in the world today, attempting to do good, but when under pressure, conforming to the expectations of society….

The one character that I disliked the most was Piggy. (I know, I know, maybe most people hate Jack for his violence…. but what can I say) I found him to be whiny, a know-it-all, and more than anything extremely needy. Despite his intelligence, he had the personality of the most annoying person you know, and the emotional intelligence of a two-year-old. Despite Ralph siding with him towards the end of the novel, calling him a true friend, and standing up for him, I just could not bring myself to do the same. Maybe it’s just me, but it is what it is I guess.

starship-juniorshrugwellsorrybrolden.gifIf I could change one thing, it would simply be to make chapters 3-5 somewhat more interesting, as I found myself phasing in and out of the story (Sorry to Golding and his fans…). However, as novel progressed to its climax with the boys drawing lines and becoming more violent, the pace certainly picked up speed, drawing me in, eager to discover what happens next (Did I redeem myself? Or more importantly, what does that say about me!?).

giphy-3.gifFinishing the book, I wasn’t really sure what to feel… Horrified? Shocked? Confused? When Golding poses the question “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?” it prompts a moment of self-reflection, where I found myself asking, would I be capable of doing the same things these boys have done? The scary thing is, given the right circumstances and environment, I think that everyone COULD. It’s more a question of WOULD you…?

ginny-weasley-wide-eyes.gifNormally I try to hold off any reservations about the book until I finish, but the first two chapters were soooooo boring that I was tempted to give this book a rating of 2 or 3 at the most. It was only after re-reading the book, researching, and delving deeper into the different characters, symbols and themes of the novel that I began to fully appreciate and understand what Golding had set out to do when he wrote the novel. While the novel has its flaws, it certainly redeems itself upon closer inspection, giving it a solid rating of 4/5.