Mini Reviews: Steelheart, Popular, The 5th Wave, & The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

I have been cranking out the reading lately, but not the reviews, so I thought I should remedy this with a slew of mini-reviews!

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

GR-steelheartI was really anticipating this read from all the positive things I heard about it and the author, plus I listen to Brandon Sanderson on a podcast that I thoroughly enjoy. Overall, I enjoyed the read, but it was just slightly less than what I was hoping for. Some bullet points:

– The book is mostly action-packed (in fact, the first ten or so chapters was one consecutive scene), but for some reason, I felt that part of the story was missing. There were some gaps in time that were only vaguely mentioned and I wasn’t really confused, I just felt something was lacking there.

– The concept and the world were very interesting, and Sanderson did a good job of naturally describing the world through David the narrator.

– I never really fully connected with any of the characters. This was the one thing that disappointed me about the book. I liked everyone well enough, and wanted things to go well, but I really did not feel like I got to know them super well, even though…

– The characters were mostly well-rounded. There were a couple of characters who felt inconsistent to me, but then it turned out there were reasons that made sense later in the book. And then there was Cody… who was maybe just too quirky. I almost felt like Sanderson came up with too many quirks for a character and gave most all of them to Cody. He’s spent much of his adult life in Nashville and says “y’all,” yet he says it to address a singular person as well as multiple people (no one I know does that, and I live in the Nashville area!), and he also says all these Irish and Scottish and British things and… I don’t know. It was too much for me. I know some pretty quirky people, but Cody just didn’t feel real.

– The ending was great, pitch-perfect really. The last 10% of the book was what sold the whole thing for me and made me excited for the next.

Content advisory: Violence and a few mild swear words

4stars2

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenan

Popular_comp9.inddThis was loaned to me by a co-worker, and it was a cute, light read. It’s a memoir that follows author Maya’s eighth grade year as she follows the advice of a 1950s popularity guide written by model Betty Cornell. The book was clearly written by a teenager and includes many relatable awkward junior high school  moments that I never EVER would have shared about myself when I was that age (or probably even now, ha!), but the honesty of it is refreshing. And through even the silly and awkward mishaps, Maya learns some really valuable lessons about how we treat others that I think we can all learn from.

Content advisory: Talk about sex (mostly in an educational sense, nothing too graphic) and a few mild swear words

3.5stars

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

GR-the5thwaveMy complaints about The 5th Wave are very few, so I’ll get them out of the way upfront. I was never fully engaged with the characters, so I didn’t feel a whole lot. For me to rate a book 5 stars, I need to feel ALL THE FEELS. That didn’t happen for me here. But, I was always intrigued and so much of the story juts hit so right for me.

The book started out pretty slowly, which almost always bothers me, but something about Cassie’s desperation, even if I wasn’t completely engaged with her as a character (though I did like her fine) kept me hanging on. I wanted to understand exactly what she went through with each of the waves The Others delivered.

One other small complaint: the shifting POV’s were confusing. Each part offers a new POV, usually first person, and usually it’s Cassie or Ben, but there are also some third person POV’s of other characters. Before the storylines become more distinct it was sometimes hard to know whose head I was in, but I figured it out eventually. I enjoyed both Cassie’s and Ben’s POVs pretty well. I liked reading Cassie’s story more, but what was going on in Ben’s story was really interesting.

Which brings me to something this book did majorly right: it made so much sense psychologically. Everything about the way the humans reacted made sense. We love the alien stories like Independence Day where we can easily whoop some alien butt, but this felt so much more real. And certain aspects of this made me think of Star Trek.

(Side note: If you enjoyed The 5th Wave, you’ll love Star Trek!)

There was some more swearing in this one than I generally like, but in the middle of an alien apocalypse it felt way more natural than when it’s just angsty teenagers who want society to understand them and their love life…

All that to say, I really liked it and am really interested in reading the next book. Even though I wasn’t super engaged with the characters themselves, I was really into the story.

Advisory content: Language (mostly mild but a few harsher words are used) and violence

4-5stars-edit

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

GR-thestatisticalprobabilityThis book was pretty much exactly what I expected from it: a cute, fluffy contemporary.  I was a little wary of the whole “love at first sight” idea, even though I knew to be prepared for it, but it’s obvious Hadley doesn’t think she’s necessarily in love. She doesn’t even know what to think about love and marriage with everything that has happened with her parents. And though there was serious content along with the romance, it pretty much played out like a Disney movie (despite Hadley saying, “I know this isn’t a Disney movie”).

I enjoyed it overall, but have a few complaints. What I disliked the most was that the story was told in third person present tense. I am pretty sure I have never read this combo before and I don’t think it really works all that well. It should have been first person present or third person past, in my opinion. I know many times it feels it would make a huge difference, but I don’t see that being the case here.

I appreciate that Oliver wasn’t perfect, but the deal with the whiskey was a bit too much for me. And his Daddy issues… yikes! Let’s just say didn’t fall for Oliver.

One last issue is that despite the fact that this book only takes place over a 24 hour period, Smith still manages to cut out a significant amount of time from the airplane ride and we just catch glimpses of these conversations in flashback. I understand why she didn’t want to include hours of conversation, but… I don’t know, I just would have liked a little more.

Content Advisory: A few mild swear words. 

3.5starsPlease share your thoughts on any of these books that you have read!