Posted in 2018, Non-Fiction

My Own Devices by Dessa

Dessa is one of my favorite underground rappers. She was recommended to me by Spotify and I was not disappointed. Her verses are smart, raw and poetic….her book is no different. If you could add background music to this, I’m pretty sure we can have ourselves a musical.

The story begins with love: love of a person and love of an artform. It transitions to experience and it ends with acceptance. We are rewarded with sprinkles of complex moral and philosophical ideas.

We learn about the start of Doomtree and their touring routine. We learn about Dessa’s past work experience and we even get a front row seat on some family history. My favorite thing of all though is when Dessa lets us into her brain. This woman has experimented with science and spirituality (do not confuse it for religion) and has been molded into an observational thinker. She thinks about things that wouldn’t normally reach topics of conversations at dinner parties. It’s addictive, really.

She always ends each chapter with a statement, question or observation. It always feels profound and creative. She holds time and meaning between the pages. This is definitely one of my favorite non-fiction books this year. I would definitely recommend this.

Now, some of my favorite quotes:

“I wanted to be considered a success and I wanted to be on the right side of a hard fight. But I wasn’t sure what job or even what field to pursue.”

For any person who ever had unguided ambition, this quote is extremely relatable. We aren’t afraid of hard work, we’re just afraid of pointless tasks. We don’t want to waste our time. Time becomes a theme in this book.

Finding a place that aligns our spirits and our abilities is one of the hugest struggles we fight.

“Stage was a place for all of the outsized feelings that didn’t fit neatly into daily life. “

I mean, wow! This is so true. When I was in band (marching band…not a cool rap group like Dessa), I remember always feeling better after the performance was over. That first breath after knowing I survived yet another performance was always sweeter than the others. Playing music is therapeutic. You never realize how many troubles get released until you become deflated after giving it your all. The reason why muscle memory is so important for performers is because we need to rely on our instincts. We become our most vulnerable self when it comes to art.

“There’s no best-practice handbook for the pursuit of unlikely dreams.”

Bumper sticker idea! Or a shirt idea.

“This is the Tinker Bell model. She’s only real because she is clapped into existence. The children refuse to entertain any alternative, and the force of their desire and their determination has metaphysical consequences.”

Same as Santa Clause. He is real. I will fight you on this.

This model is also why the Wizarding World of Harry Potter became so big. People’s need for this type of reality to exist transcends any reason.

“When I first had that idea, it kicked back like a shotgun I hadn’t known I was holding.”

Thoughts can be deathly. Once aware, it’s hard to hide.

“Lonliness is the fare that you pay to be free.”

I remember this conversation would appear a lot in both my high school psychology classes and in all my English classes. What does freedom mean? Freedom means the right to feel. It’s why in every dystopian and utopian novel, emotions are always controlled. They instill fear, or they instill a promise of safety. But to be free to think can lead you into a rabbit hole of inner turmoil and self-doubt. Eve bit the apple and found that she was uncomfortable with her mere existence. We risk unhappiness and separation from our community when we pursue the path of knowledge. Alcoholics drink to forget. Book readers read to remember. Remember that in the end, this is all worth it. To remember that our loneliness only goes in vain if we stop trying.

“The sense of purpose squared my shoulders and liften my chin. Purposeful might be my favorite feeling–even better than happiness.”

Yes! I have a lot of coworkers who tell me that being charitable makes them happy. I wish I could say the same thing but, I’m a bit more selfish than they are. However, being charitable gives me purpose. I’ve felt happy and I’ve felt purpose…and I can tell you that it’s a lot easier to sleep when you know you belong and that you have a reason.

“It’s impossible to know which stories are crusual to your narrative until the story is over.”

I love this quote because I always think of this whenever I’m in the pursuit of new friendships. Some people are worth having in your life because they shape you (again, I’m not afraid of hard work). Some people are just there to help the time pass by. Some are just there. Each adds to the overall story, but some become mentors to a lesson you didn’t know you needed to learn. It’s amazing to be aware of each interaction and how it shapes you. It’s amazing to see how you, in return, contribute to their story.

“Even if you dodge all the landmines and retain the starring role, you might find yourself in a story that wouldn’t interest you. That’s why I don’t buy lottery tickets: I’d hate to win. A million-dollar jackpot would pivot my whole narrative on five random numbers–that would be the biggest story of me, the one I’d ask to tell at cocktail parties with my new rich friends and it’d be one that would strain all my phone calls with my old poor friends too. A story signifying nothing.

My concern isn’t about legacy, exactly. That’s an old man’s game. It’s more about agency, about trying to minimize the role of chance and maximize the role of will. If you can’t parse the merit from the luck, it’s hard to know what to think of yourself.”

“But I didn’t want to conceptualize myself as a quicksand pit of changing variables. I wanted something permanent, stolid–a cinder block of a self.

Maybe self works like the word here— the referent changes as you maneuver through the world. You just drag the word along, like PeterPan with his shadow sewn to his heel.”

This was just mental foreplay, really.

“If there are heaven, and it has walls, I doubt they’re hung with mirrors. Maybe we wouldn’t be able to pick ourselves out of a lineup. Maybe we wouldn’t recognize ourselves from any other red-lipped angel passing on the stairs.”

When I read this I imagined cars. Like dealership cars. Where they all look the same in the lot, and what makes it yours is when you get to decorate it the interior (i.e, we all have bodies but it’s our characteristics that define us). It’s also why, when it’s really dark, a lot of people just look for cars that look like theirs and can approach the wrong car.

I also don’t think our self-conscious isn’t really aware of our looks which is why our dream bodies are usually different. 

But then there is an argument to be made with trans people. They don’t relate to the body they have, so trying to personalize the car feels awkward and suffocating. So if there was a line-up, they probably wouldn’t want to choose their given bodies.

But do we get to choose? Or is like, our bodies are created for our souls? What about people that have out of bodies experiences, but then get to return to their bodies? Or people who’ve actually temporarily died and then were resuscitated, could there have been an instance where the spirit returned to the wrong body. But then that implies that reincarnation is real. And the whole theory that when one person dies, another one is born, the soul could transfer over.

What are your thoughts on it? I am for sure overanalyzing this.

“But the art that really blows my mind usually violates the assumption I didn’t even realize I’d made, eliciting some variation of Holy Shit, I didn’t know you could do that.

Basically, anything that alters my reality and rewrites “impossibility” is what I define as art. I can go to a museum and stare at the sculptures and portraits and think “this is talent, but not memorable.” Then there are those that scratch that itch of curiosity.

“Nobody gets to save up their health and beauty for redemption at a more convenient date. Living more or less celibate and alone, I feel like I’m squandering a resource, like part of me is being wasted.”

It’s really sad how much pressure there is on looks. I know the pressure was always there but now that online dating is mostly based on looks rather than compatibility, it becomes more intense.

“Freewill is just the ghost we strap into the machine when the manual gets confusing.”

Speechless

“Charisma is an excellent attractant, but lousy glue.”

I should tell that to my friends…

“Maybe loyalty is just love fossilized.”

I believe this. People that I have loved, still hold a piece of my heart even if the feeling isn’t there anymore.

 

Cover copied from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38526745-my-own-devices?from_search=true

Posted in 2018, Becky Albertalli, Fiction, LGBTQ, young adult

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I read this book because I was discovering the books of Becky Albertalli. This book is somewhat a spinoff of Simon Vs The Homesapiens Agenda. Only not really. It’s about the cousins of Abby. Simon and Abby do make an appearance in this book but its not about them at all.

In this book, our protagonist (Abby’s cousin) Molly is learning about falling in love. Sounds yucky, I know, but really, it’s funny. She’s used to just crushing on people and never really any real opportunity for love, but once her sister Cassie starts dating this girl seriously (Cassie is known to be player), she starts feeling more left out and starts searching for the company of others (#NoMoreSafetyBlanket).

This book is written in 1st person point of view. For someone who’s lonely, Molly is very nice and upbeat (unlike Leah. Leah, I feel, is like her negative energy counterpart. Interestingly enough, Leah sounded a lot like Molly in her book rather than sounding like Leah from Simon and the Homosapien’s Agenda. That sentence only makes sense if you’re read all three of Albertalli’s books).

I’d recommend this as a fun read if you just want to read something cute. However, it has very little to do with Simon (as mentioned earlier) so if that’s the reason you’re reading it, you will be disappointed. I was able to finish this book in a day so it’s not a hard read whatsoever.

I will say this, Molly has done such a great job being a people pleaser, that we don’t get to know too much about her. I feel like I knew more about Cassie than I did about Molly.

There weren’t any memorable quotes but here are some passages I liked:

I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.

There was a book I read a few years ago called Human by Matt Haig where he stated how improbable it is for two people to meet, let alone connect. That stuck with me and it’s great to read a story where someone questions it.

The silence is a little painful. It’s funny, because you always think the hard part is meeting someone the first time. It’s not. It’s the second time, because you’ve already used up all the obvious topics of conversation. And even if you haven’t, it’s strange and heavy-handed to introduce random conversational topics at this stage in the game.

One of the things I hate about “just be yourself” is that I am many different versions of me. It’s not a lie, it’s adaptation. Which version should I be? What if one version is more interesting than the other. What if one of my versions is too snobish for someone. So yes, although I am one of the few people who want to be more than just internet friends, I am always nervous that I can’t keep up.

I’m not trying to overthink things. I’m trying to be less careful. But you have to be your heart’s own goalie.
And if I’m going to be rejected, I want to see it coming.

The sad thing is that if it got to this far of the tought process, chances are, you already rejected yourself. You’re not a goalie, you’re a future teller.

Maybe my company is even better than making out–which is pretty much my goal as a human being, honestly.

This was just hilarious. Back story on this quote, her twin sister was hanging out with her girlfriend for Independence Day event. Our protagonist kept trying to give them space but they kept following her including her in all the activities. They sacrificed their “together time” to hang out with Molly.

Image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30653853-the-upside-of-unrequited

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction, young adult

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I read this book because Entertainment Weekly said the author was just as good as J.K Rowling. In my opinion, that was untrue. J.K Rowling spends her time writing in great detail to set the scene. It’s one of the advantages of writing in 3rd person.

Since this story is in 1st person point of view, it’s harder to set the scene. I like the idea behind the story, but I am not a fan of the execution. For one, it felt rushed. I was okay with the timeline being rushed since it had a purpose. I was not okay with the love being rushed.

Prince Inan fell too hard for Zélie. There was no obsession turned into feelings that the hunter usually gains for his prey. They also had no chemistry other than the mutual fear for and of each other. Adeyemi tried to portray this prince as a complicated character but in reality, the princess should have had the crown. She was best friends with a maji and she saw her getting killed by her own father. Prince Inan just had to compete for his father’s approval. Yes, giving him powers (which the King strongly loathed) was a great detail to his character, but not enough to value him as a narrator.

Princess Amari was a great compliment to Zélie. Amari was genuinely nice and naive, yet fierce. Zélie was distrustful, selfish and paranoid. This isn’t a slight at Zélie’s character. She saw her mom being killed for having magic powers. Her father kept getting threatened and taxed by the people of the palace. She grew up in a tough world. Having Amari and Zélie become friends would make for a dramatic story of how friendships can overcome differences. However, that’s not what’s happening. Zélie has only tolerated Amari because it was in a prophecy. Amari tries her best to be nice but it goes unrewarded until Amari became of use to Zélie. Again, not a slight, just an observation. I look forward to what see what the sequel has in store for these two.

I will hand it to Ademeyi. Creating a world in which the magical are oppressed and feared is indeed thrilling. Having them slowly regain their power is heartwarming. I am excited to read more of this world.

Now here are some of my favorite quotes:

“On earth, Sky Mother created humans, her children of blood and bone. in the heavens she gave birth to the gods and goddesses. Each would come to embody a different fragment of her soul.”

Poetic.

“Showing the princess what it looks like when her life is actually in danger!”

Back story, Amari (the princess) was telling Tzain (the brother) that her life was in danger. Zelie became angry because she has this stereotype that this princess is a weak spoiled brat who doesn’t know any hardships. This is a good attribute to show in the book. How it’s easy for people to jump to conclusions based on very limited information.

The sears on my skin are nothing compared to the guilt that scalds my heart.

Whoa! Deep.

“But he wasn’t wrong to take magic away. He was wrong for the oppression that followed.”

I feel like this is a suitable argument for gun control (given that this book is already political enough). Funnily enough, when I read this passage, I didn’t know this book was meant to be a statement about Black Lives Matter.

“Your people, your guards–they’re nothing more than killers, rapists, and thieves. The only difference between them and criminals is the uniforms they wear.”….
“Fool yourself all you want, little prince, but don’t feign innocence with me. I won’t let your father get away with what he’s done. I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”

Another political statement.

 

Featured Image taken from Goodreads

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ, young adult

Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

This was awful. I, at first, really liked our protagonist Leila because…what’s not to love? Persian closetted lesbian who hates working out and is constantly feeling disappointed with the fact that she will never be better than her older sister. All traits of an interesting character.

Then we meet the possible love interest whom we don’t really get to spend time with knowing because we are too busy being in Leila’s fantasy world whenever she is around her.

Tess, Lisa, Greg and the tech crew were far more interesting than the love interest. But because she was so infatuated with Saskia (the love interest) we don’t really get to know more about them other than surface identities. But that whole fantasy fiasco ends as quickly as it started and it just feels like a bad soap opera that is trying too hard to be dramatic. I wish there was more substance to the story…to the main character.

It just all felt…fake (and yes I know its fiction). It felt like a dream where you lose track of time but the story still keeps going and dragging you along with it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t really boring….but it also wasn’t impactful.

Oh! And the ending is so abrupt! That was perhaps the most painful part (I actually screenshot it and texted my friend texting “what the fuck”.) I mean, if you want to be cheesy….then own it. No shame in cheesy endings but…abrupt endings? Now unless there is a sequel (or spinoff…preferably in Lisa’s perspective) to this, I feel robbed of a world.

We were barely getting to know the real Leila…the Leila not hidden from the world or the fear of her parents lack of undestanding and we get absolutely nowhere with that freedom. I mean come on! There aren’t that many stories with Middle Easters lesbians and we only got a glimpse of it. Nothing new (except the language) that I haven’t read from other religious characters realizing they are gay.

It wasn’t all bad though. I liked how the author kept slightly foreshadowing the ending so when it gets to it, it’s a sigh of relief. It’s cute (butterfly in stomach, blushing kind of cute). But it’s really not worth the read. She just spent her attention in all the wrong places. But maybe that’s the point. I know when I was a teenager I focused on all the wrong things. Which if that was the point to the story, then this book is actually brilliant! I, personally, just wanted more out of her already interesting characters.  She paints a picture but never finishes is. If this were a movie, it would be great! Straight to the point and everything. But as a novel, we (well, the author anyway) have more freedom to tap into more lives.  But maybe she didn’t want to overcomplicate things.

Either way, probably wouldn’t recommend this one. Then again, I’m not the targetted audience. I feel like the targetted audience spans from 13-16 year olds.

Posted in 2018, Fiction, Our Shared Shelf

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I read this book because it was the 2018 Sept/Oct book of the month(s) for Our Shared Shelf. I didn’t read the synopsis, I was just told it would tackle feminist subjects and contain some horror related theme.

Out of all the selections OSS had, this was probably the most disappointing so far. Our narrator was such a doormat! At least in The Handmaid’s Tale, our narrator was willing to rebel. But let’s continue with the review before I get into this.

The Story

The Introduction is overdone in my opinion. It starts out with her having a dream about Manderley. That sets up the mystery behind our setting. It also potentially foreshadows the story. However, once we get to Chapter 2, the author spends more time trying to sound mysterious than actually developing characters or storyline for that matter. It just feels like an abrupt stop of motion. I understand the purpose behind it, I just felt like it wasn’t necessary, or it could have been written more effectively.

By Chapter 3 we get into a background story. This is where the story begins. We are introduced to Mrs. Van Hopper and Mr. de Winter. The author spends more time trying to foreshadow an event than focusing on the characters. It’s written in First Person Past Participle and the narrator keeps remembering how “young” she was (no real age was given for how old she really is when she is recalling the tale. We are just to assume that she is much older).

Eventually, Mr. De Winter proposes to our narrator (a first name is never mentioned but she is eventually addressed as Mrs. de Winter or the Second Mrs. de Winter) and they set off to live in Manderley. Mr. de Winter used to be married to a Rebecca (that’s where the title of the book originates). Rumor has it, “she was drowned […] in the bay near Manderley”. The beginning of the marriage consists of our narrator trying to survive the ghost (figuratively) of her (Rebecca).

Before our narrator (since saying Mrs. de Winter is too formal, we will now call her Thelma…like from Thelma and Louise since although they never met, and one of them is dead, they seem inseparable)  leaves with Mr. de Winter (from this point on, I will refer to him by his first name: Maxim), Mrs. Van Hopper tells her “You know why he is marrying you, don’t you? You haven’t flattered yourself he’s in love with you? The fact is that empty house got on his nerves to such an extent he nearly went off his head.” That little statement stayed with her for the duration of the marriage, well up until the plot twist (more on that later).

Thelma (see, it’s better than just saying our narrator, isn’t it?) is constantly questioning whether she belongs in Manderley, with Maxim (the dream man. He’s rich, non-abusive and non-controlling….to a degree). After the first few chapters, it gets annoying. She spends most of the time daydreaming and thinking what others of thinking about her. She also spends more time comparing herself to Rebecca (You can’t compete with a dead person!).

We didn’t get to any real action until 66% of the book. I continued reading because many comments on Goodreads suggested it got better, but, it didn’t. The action itself was dragged along to the point where towards the end, I didn’t care about any of the characters. You know it’s bad when you think “maybe I should just watch the movie instead.”

In the defense of Du Maurier, if I were to have read before the millennium, I might have considered this book brilliant. She does have the attributes of a good book (character development, a plethora of rhetorical devices, drama). Rebecca is scattered throughout the book so much that you do get the sense that at any moment, she’s just going to walk through the doors. And, just like The Great Gatsby, we come to understand that our narrator isn’t our protagonist.

Our protagonist is supposed to be Maxim (because of course, for its time, it would revolve around a man. Although, what might constitute this as a “feminist” book is the fact that the most important people were women. Maxim is often treated as an afterthought since Rebecca is so much more…desired. But, it is Maxim’s story and Thelma is just the witness to see how it unfolds). Our antagonist is supposed to be Rebecca. Rebecca is out to destroy Maxim’s life and Thelma’s marriage. We’re supposed to hate her but we (or at least, I) don’t. That’s the point. She is such a threat! She gains the favor of both men and women. Everyone who meets her loves her (with the exception of Maxim and his sister).

The remaining paragraphs have spoilers

The Secret

The story goes that Rebecca was drowned while sailing during heavy waters. When I first read the sentence “she was drowned,” for some reason, my brain read “he drowned her.” Therefore, when Maxim confessed that he killed his wife…I wasn’t surprised.

What did annoy is me is that as Maxim was explaining how he did it to his new wife (you now know her as Thelma) he kept saying “If only I knew what she [Rebecca] was before I married her” or “I didn’t know what she was then.” or “if only you knew what she was.” The what was never clarified. It could be that she was a monster (he referred to her as a monster. He hated her. She controlled everything and manipulated everyone. He didn’t love her, ever.) It could be that she was possibly bisexual (Mrs. Danvers, her caretaker, hinted that women favored Rebecca as well).  Or it could be that she was transgender (Mrs. Danvers kept telling her she should have been born a boy since she acted like one — the acts were of determination and power, this was to be a compliment to her composure and abilities to get by in the world).

The Conflict

The conflict of the story is when the body of Rebecca is found in the boat. This leads us to the plot. Did she die by unlucky navigation decisions, or by suicide? Eventually, her cousin blamed Maxim for murder.

During this time, we get to strip Rebecca of her other secrets. This also brings Thelma and Maxim closer in their relationship. The most horrifying thing about this book is how little fear Thelma has over the fact that Maxim killed his former wife. She was just disillusioned by Maxim’s admission of love. Now I wouldn’t consider that love. Mrs. Van Hopper was right on the nose when she said Maxim only wanted to marry her because he was lonely. Maxim told Thelma that she helped him get out of his head. She was like a plaything. There were many instances where he called her a little girl. But what Maxim loved was the lack of judgment. How innocent Thelma was. He would then manipulate her into listening to him by saying how can she love someone like him…therefore sealing her loyalty.

Symbolisms

Name
Earlier I compared our narrator with The Handmaid’s Tale. I would like to address how powerful having narrators without names is. Firstly, it removes their identity. As humankind, our identity is everything! Especially in Western civilization where a community isn’t as valued. Much like taming a horse, you have to break their spirit first. Anyone who has been bullied or abused knows how hard it is to separate your self from your circumstances. Not giving them a proper name other than that related to the man they were “property” of, reveals the gravity of their situation. However, our narrator for The Handmaid’s Tale struggled to remember her identity while trying to survive, whereas our narrator from Rebecca was already surviving and the challenge came when she was given the opportunity to develop an identity.

Flowers
The garden and its flowers felt like the symbolism of Rebecca. The day after the ball, when Thelma thought that Maxim was mad at her, the author wrote “The rhododendrons were all over now. They would not bloom again for another year. The tall shrubs looked dark and dab now that the color had gone. A fog was rolling up from the sea, and I could not see the woods beyond the bank. It was very hot, very oppressive.” This was when Thelma thought that Rebecca had finally won and that she could now forget about her because there was no more competition. Her life was already over but Rebecca’s presence would rise again.

Before the Inquisition, the author wrote: “I noticed for the first time how the hydrangeas were coming into bloom.” That was foreshadowing how Rebecca would come again and instigate Maxim’s and Thelma’s life.

A few times Thelma talked about how she could smell the azaleas. Azaleas symbolize feminity. She was haunted by the smell of and that is what made me think of Rebecca. Rebecca is the woman that Thelma always wanted to be. That is why she is obsessed with her. Another mention of the azalea is when she saw the dead azaleas on her way back to Manderley.

After everyone returned from seeing Doctor Baker, the song that Thelma heard as they were leaving was “Roses in Picardy.” The Rose is Rebecca and Picardy is Manderley. That is why after the whole case was “solved”, everything was burnt. You can’t have Manderley without Rebecca.

Rope
There was a dream that Thelma had where Maxim was brushing Rebecca’s hair, he wound it into a thick rope, he smiled at Rebecca as he put it round his neck. This would foreshadow how broken Maxim would be after everything was done.

Overall Recommendation?

Now I would not recommend this book. It’s considered a classic but I feel like some classics are best left in the past. We have books now that are more gripping for our new desynthesized society. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, for instance, has better drama and crazier characters. I will say this though, this book was definitely fun to write about.

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance, young adult

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

This is the second book of Sara Farizan that I’ve read. I wasn’t too impressed with the first one, but I gave this one a shot anyway. I’m glad I did because I thought it was great (at least in comparison with Tell Me How A Crush Should Feel).

In this book, we have Nasrin and Sahar keeping their love a secret because, in Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death.  But since they are best friends, no ones thinks any differently that these girls love hanging around each other.

Conflict: Sahar’s parents have arranged her to marry a man.

Solution: Nasrin attempts to try to change her gender (because being a transexual is legal in Iran, did not know that) so she could marry Sahar instead.

This books is funny, emotional, entertaining, slightly annoying (it’s not uncommon to be annoyed of a character when you are binge reading first person point of view.) but overall educational on the experiences of a teenage Iranian coming to terms with the injustice.

One thing I did like about this book is that both characters loved each other equally, although they showed it in different ways. There was no pity love. There was no “I’m better than you, and I can have anyone I want so you better be good to me (which is how I first thought Sahar’s character would be like).” Both character were committed to each other, but circumstances got in the way.

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ

Minotaur by J.A. Rock

This book is very well written…but badly executed. I read it because, 1) I have a thing for bull drawings (see cover) and 2) it was featured in Pride’s month reading recommendation.

I personally felt as if it were two different books merged together. You have the book of the Rock Point home….and then you have the book of the Labyrinth. Both stood well alone, but combining them felt disappointing.

I would have settled for a longer book if it had better action. My guess is that the author originally wanted to make the labyrinth scene, but then fell in love with the back story and focused more on that than on the labyrinth itself.

The labyrinth, full of promise and spooky potential, was treated like a badly managed circus. It’s not that I have an issue that a complete amateur was able to survive the place, it’s that she didn’t even get hurt. Yes, she got tricked, but she, for the most part, suffered outside of the Labyrinth way more than she did inside. How then, can I be convinced that the Labyrinth is a scary place?

The flow of the second part of the book felt like those unnecessarily dramatic stories that you can read to children to scare them. This differs from the beginning which felt more young adult and self-actualization.  

Our protagonist, although a teenager, has the emotional mindset of a child. That’s probably what made her interesting. Child-like heart but adult-like brain (or at least she wanted to act adult, anyway).

The love interest isn’t really about love….but about need and want. That, however, inspired the best quotes!

The character development is uninteresting since regardless of the circumstances, they were all haunted by their pasts. The character relationships were well thought out though.

The Beast was probably the biggest disappointment. Maybe that was the point. To not give us such an obvious villain. Or clever yet, to instate that the real villain isn’t the Beast, but society. The Beast then, becoming relatable.

Favorite Quotes:

We are all a step away from goodness cracking  under our feet and collapsing us into villany.

Loss, violence, bullying, starvation, boredom, the promise of beauty or fame or sex–chances are there is something somewhere you’d turn wicked for. Innocence starts to look haggard with age, same as skin.

My tantrums, my rotten words, the joy my fists took in meeting flesh–those were to distract others from seeing all the spots the spear could go. Until one woman stripped me truly bare, and together we built an armor that rendered me both powerful and humble. It looked so right on me that seeing myself in it for the first time.

Rivulets of grief, sliding down their bones, blushes of it in their cheeks. They suffered because they were lonely in a way people seldom talk about, a way that affects grace and movement and dreams and memory.

Perhaps we believed that if we never acted like adults, we’d never be forced out into the wider world to confront the magnitude of our desolation.

Loneliness is like having a wound sewn shut with barbed thread. We close off the parts of ourselves that are open to others and pretend to embrace the privacy of our bodies–and yet we do the closing with something that will hurt every time we move. That will remind us of the secrets we’ve tried to stow away.

I didn’t give a shit about being pretty. Yet it’s hard sometimes, in a world that promises you the most basic treasures in exchange for being a looked-upon thing, not to wish your face had been a better construct.

A soldier-ish loyalty grew on me ivy-thick, and I started to feel less like an awkward angry child and more like a warrior, with followers and a destiny and a tortured soul.

Bad things, I thought, can’t hurt you if you pursue them with devotion.

I’d spent a fair portion of my life taking, but I could now see the appeal of doing the opposite. Could imagine that it was its own sort of power, to do murder on somebody’s heart with a gift.

That’s a little blunt

I think our wishes often get as muddled as dreams. In our wishes, people are their better selves and walls lose their permanence, and no matter how heavily we populate our fantasies with friends, with family, with lovers–we are ultimately in them alone.

I don’t know why it works this way–that we blame the one who shatters the illusion, rather than the illusion itself, or ourselves for buying into it.

Shame is perhaps both a form of self-pity and a form of loneliness. In the heat of embarrassment, it’s possible to believe you are the only one who has ever felt such guilt, such a profound understanding of what an impossibility evil thing the self is.

388073c6-914c-43fc-bda1-028dd50234cc-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1 Love, love, love that one!

I didn’t want to be shy or delicate. I wanted to know what it was like to ravage a body with a misguided admiration for it. To know that skin got in the way of the truth of the person, and yet that truth, that soul, was untouchable, and so you had to settle for skin.

When you fall in love with someone, you fall in love not only with her face and eyes and heart, but with her vision of the world. Love leaves no room to stand back and pity another’s delusions. You share them. You join hands lying down and draw an arc across the sky and tell a story about what a cloud looks like, a story that becomes your shared truth.

382b7cef-c3d4-491e-8a19-8752ba27133e-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1

You can’t unleash an act of good to tame a tragedy.

It’s not that revenge has no place in the world. But we so often clamp our jaws around the things we think we want, while the real prizes escape between our teeth, slide down our necks in rivers and are lost in our skin.

I always thought loneliness must be a quiet thing. Up all night with frog sounds, wandering an empty room by day, resenting the sun squares on the floor. Guilt too seemed like it ought to be a silent kind of suffering. But what was going on inside me was a filthy and violent underground. Jeers and wagers and the sound of creature versus creature.

I do not want the truth gone from me. I do not want only stories. What stories do to heroes is edge out the things that make them bravest–their insecurities and wrongdoings, their trashing-tailed desire for self-preservation. The way they sharpen their love with a quiet, occasional contempt for the object of it. We paint heroes in broad strokes–nameable virtues and forgivable flaws. They brood, yes, but they are never paralyzed by self-loathing. They kill, but only monsters.

Courage without fear is simply recklessness.

I could have fucked her until our cries twined and drowned out the music of suffering.

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Miss Ridges had said once that reading meant nothing unless you could articulate what a story had given you. But I’d always disagreed–though I’d never found the words to argue. You didn’t have to be able to analyze to appreciate a story. You had only to be able to feel, deep in a place that didn’t deal in words, how that story was yours and everyone else’s too.

I don’t know which one I believe in.

“Violence starts as a discovery–of power, of ambition. Of a force that rests with its head against your heart. It is always there–a shadow, featureless. Until you turn a certain way, and the silhouette resolves itself. You see the nose, the lips, the curve of the shoulder. You see what you are capable of. You feel both the danger and the ordinariness of it. Because in the end, the blood comes out of each of us the same way. And one dead human, weighed against the world and the galaxy and everything beyond, means very little.” She paused. “Every act of violence is a disappointment before it even begins.”

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Overall, I don’t think I would recommend this book. The end doesn’t justify the means.

Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25866851-minotaur