Genie Lo is a tall Chinese girl with a temper and will out-study you any day. Quentin Sun is the weird new kid who has incredible muscles and is Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. Demons are showing up in the Bay Area and the gods want the pair to hunt them down. Genie’s got her grades to worry about— who cares about the magical powers she’s manifesting?
EVERYONE READ THIS IMMEDIATELY. It’s a Xiyouji / Journey to the West retelling. It’s the first retelling of these stories I’ve ever read. It’s incredibly funny, Genie’s voice is amazing, Quentin is quippy about everything and I love him because I am impressively weak when it comes to trickster characters. Genie struggles with fighting demons and homework, her parents are separated, the book talks about classism. She gets invited to watch a violin competition and if that isn’t realism I’m eating a piano (and the book being set in the Bay Area with an angry Asian girl who’s starting to go through the college admissions process just hits so close to home. Literally. Oops). She punches demons. The demons are crushed with great sass. Basically everyone is Asian. Genie hates boba. Erleng Shen and Guanyin are characters and this is VALIDATION. I cried three times while reading/thinking about this book for reasons completely unrelated to the plot, thought that might be because I’m a wreck today — white people, you have no idea what this book means to me. Even I didn’t know what this book meant to me until I saw it on display. These were the stories I grew up on. I love it.
Cynthia gives this book a rating of several dozen supernovas.
Boomerang Effect = “When lending a helping hand comes back to slap you in the face” The Boomerang Effect is a HILARIOUS novel evolving around Lawrence Barry who is forced to participate in a mentorship program after almost getting expelled from high school. His mentee is Spencer Knudsen, a Norwegian exchange student with Spock-like intelligence but minimal social skills. Things start to get more complicated when everyone suspects Lawrence to be the one destroying the Homecoming floats. Add to the mix a demon Goth girl named Zoe, a Renaissance LARPing group, an overzealous yearbook editor, and three vindictive chickens, and Lawrence soon realizes that his situation may be a little out of control. Just as expulsion is drawing even closer, Spencer comes to the rescue with his seemingly endless knowledge of random facts. In fact, Spencer may be the one friend Lawrence never knew he needed.
The Boomerang Effect was SUPER funny! I loved Lawrence. He is the perfect clown character who always gets into trouble. I also really liked how the novel discusses more serious matters, like overcoming drug addiction and piecing together a broken family. Overall, I would recommend The Boomerang Effect to anyone who likes funny realistic fiction.
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
This is not a typical time-travelling story. As our main character, “Zits”, is thrust backward into his Native American ancestry and into other people’s lives, he is faced at every turn with the realities of human nature and forced to constantly reevaluate his own point of view. Throughout the novel, Sherman Alexie uses Zits’s experiences to craft a debate about good and evil. Can fundamentally “evil” people do anything with purely “good” intentions? Is it possible for a “good” and an “evil” side to exist in war? Where is the line drawn between abuser and victim if the latter can seemingly morph into the former? It becomes clear that there is no black and white answer to any of the above questions, though Alexie does his best to delve into the many layers of gray in between.
To those looking for a shorter read: Flight is an excellently written novel and encompass several books-worth of events and detail in the roughly 200 pages that it spans. To those who dislike profanity and/or violence: there is a lot of both in this book, so perhaps make your own judgement on whether or not to read it. However, it is reasonable to say that the explicitness of Alexie’s writing only makes the story more realistic and effective. From hilarity to sorrow to terror to bliss, Flight takes an uncensored look at human experiences through time, and has a lot to offer for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or good storytelling in general.
Chanina rates this book 5/5
Two targets are on their way to California. One is the asteroid BR1019, an asteroid big enough to destroy the West Coast. Another is Yuri Strelnikov, a seventeen year old physics prodigy. There are seventeen days before BR1019 hits home, can Yuri save the world in time? It is already hard enough without the fact that no one listens to his ideas. Just when Yuri starts to get a tad bit suicidal, he meets Dovie, a “normal”-ish teenage girl who is oblivious to the incoming danger. By spending time with her, he not only learns how to swear appropriately but also learns more about what kind of person he is and could be.
I deeply enjoyed Learning to Swear in America. Yuri is a very interesting and unique character. He is an extreme math and physics geek who is actually quite cute at times. He may be a genius, but he doesn’t know a lot of stuff about life, which Dovie slowly teaches him. Dovie is a perfect complement to Yuri. They are complete opposites of each other. The best scene in the novel is when Yuri visits a typical high school. SO FUNNY!!! If you want to read a humorous realistic fiction stand alone, then Learning to Swear in America is damn right for you! (Disclaimer: the swearing is used for emphasis only; no harm is intended.)
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
This book is split into four parts: who plays video games, who makes them, who sells, and the games. Through a funny, down-to-earth voice, the author illustrates much of the psychology behind video games.
Bold titles, a summary at the end, and interesting content all captured my attention. Although I had first borrowed it because I wanted to understand why brother liked video games so much, I soon became captivated by the book, mostly because it was also quite funny. A lot of the scenarios and experiments were familiar along with the psychology behind it. If you enjoy a light read and nonfiction, you would definitely like this as well.
This reviewer rates the book 4.5/5
Authors: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane is a hilarious retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s nine days as Queen after King Edward dies. The novel is told in three perspectives: Edward, the dying King; Jane, the bookworm who is forced to marry Gifford; and Gifford (G for short), a horse Edian and Jane’s betrothed. Interesting change in the story: Instead of the historical conflict between the Catholics and Protestants, there is a growing conflict between the Verities and Edians. Verities are regular humans, while Edians are people who can transform into particular animals. My Lady Jane tells a classic story filled with unique twists, the best jokes, and heavy conspiracies. Be prepared to laugh your way through this novel.
I loved My Lady Jane!! It was very lighthearted and entertaining. The main characters are all wonderful and quirky. I especially enjoyed reading about the dynamics between Jane and Gifford. I also liked the fact that there are narrators in the story who pop in during tense scenes with disclaimers and historical “facts”. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something funny. My Lady Jane is a perfect choice anytime.
Cassandra rates this book 5/5
I loved the book for all its quirkiness. It made fun of the “generic” YA plot in a magic realism way (treated the magic and outrageous activity like an afterthought or ordinary). The characters were well-rounded, full of realistic flaws but posed in a lovable light. There is not much plot that involves our main characters, is mostly a coming-of-age story while craziness rages on in the background. Also, there’s a quarter-god of cats.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a twist on the usual YA novels or values characters over plot. There is no explicit mentions of violence but there is romance.
Natalie rates this book 5/5 stars.