REVIEW: THE MASKED TRUTH

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SUMMARY: 

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

MY THOUGHTS:

PLOT: Mrmgh. Eh. Sigh. I didn’t reread the summary when I picked this one up. My interpretation (aka what I remembered) was that it was one of the kids, picking off the others one by one, you never know who you can trust.

Nope. From the start you know who the dangerous ones are, and then it’s just a lot of running and hiding and running and people being absolute idiots. And then it’s just a lot of self-doubt and wandering around a hospital and that’s where I stopped. So I guess this is more of a baby book review, because I skimmed just about the last 50 pages. I guess the end was kind of a surprise? But not…really? Honestly, there were about a hundred pages that were really interesting, and then I just…wasn’t feeling it. It was too fast a climb in action that led to too fast a fall in action.

CHARACTERS: I hoped a lot from these characters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t connect with them, and I wanted a lot more. From Max and his schizophrenia, I wanted more hallucination, more of that unreliable narrator, instead of thinking it MIGHT be unreliable, but probably not really. I understand that it’s much more realistic this way, but I would have loved more drama from him.

As for Riley, I just…couldn’t get behind her trauma. The survivor’s remorse and the PTSD, once again, I realize were crafted for the realism, but I wanted…more. More than just her calling herself a coward every five paragraphs.

As for secondary characters, I really liked Sloane after the entire incident. Brash and confident, she was just my kind of character. I did think Armstrong did a great job writing an interesting and varied group of characters. (even if a lot of them did bite the dust).

Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a thriller, or contemporary, or…I don’t know. This one just didn’t strike me, but maybe I’ll revisit it when I know that’s what mood I’m in.

WHAT TO WATCH:

Violence. This one was pretty graphic, too, lots of descriptions and shooting and fighting and just…violence. So this one is definitely not for young or sensitive readers.

What did you think of The Masked Truth? I heard a lot of great things about it, and I want some reasons to try it again someday!

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

“I. Am. In. Pieces.”

Official Summary: (goodreads.com)

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

My thoughts: This book will break your heart. In a good way. But also a broken way. Finch manages to take a seat in your heart and then rip it to pieces, one word at a time. Violet is the broken girl who tries to save him after he saves her on the bell tower, and together they go searching for the perfect day. I honestly don’t even want to write about this book, because the raw emotion just made it one of those books that you want to keep to yourself, let it settle a bit before you discuss it. But Finch and Violet weave through this book with their unique voices, and even though it is predictable (I figured out the ending about halfway through the book) it’s one of those novels that you just keep hoping everything will turn out okay. But the reality of Finch’s mental illness, the elegant way in which his thoughts are given voice on the page, and the heartbreaking spiral of his manic depression catch your breath and maybe a little piece of me died inside. This book as been likened to The Fault in Our Stars or Eleanor and Park, but I see very little resemblance other than the superficial. While John Green’s characters battle physical illnesses, Niven’s Theodore Finch fights his own mind and, ultimately, falls off balance. If you’re going to equate All the Bright Places with The Fault in Our Stars, you may as well equate everyone with any kind of illness, mental or physical, as being the same. Just because a book is well written and uses quotes from literature between the characters does NOT make it the same as another book that does the same, especially when that literature is not the same. Finch is infinitely different from Augustus Waters, and Violet is infinitely different than Hazel. If you say different, I say you haven’t really read either of these books, or haven’t looked past the very top layer of what you see- a boy and girl, difficulty, tragedy. All the Bright Places is a book about choices when you feel like there is only one option, a book of love that can never last, a book about pain and loss and beauty in the middle of it all. Near the end, Finch writes: “The thing I realize is that it’s not what you take, it’s what you leave.” And Jennifer Niven has left us a painful, breathtakingly real book that gives us a little bit courage to fight like a boy called Finch and a girl named Violet.

What to Watch: (SPOILER ALERT)

As this is a contemporary teen romance, we find, as we usually do nowadays, that those in the romantic relationship end up having sex. There’s nothing graphic, but you know it’s happening, and it happens several times.

As for drugs and alcohol, there is some mention of both, and Finch is a smoker, although not all the time. Only when he’s British Finch or Bada** Finch does he smoke, even though he always has a pack of cigarettes with him.

Language is used frequently in this book, of all kinds, so that is something to watch out for when deciding whether to read (even though, really, it isn’t a constant barrage).

As for violence/disturbing images, (HUGE SPOILER) Finch thinks about killing himself a lot, and writes down what method he would use and why he didn’t. But eventually he does kill himself, and Violet finds the body in one of the places they go to wander. Finch also gets in several fights where he injures others, and his father is abusive, so one their once-weekly visits occasionally we read about that abuse.

I really loved this book, but I’m never going to read it again and put myself through that kind of emotional trauma. My applause to Ms. Niven, though- she’s written a real, emotional, gut-wrenching novel that will stay with readers for a long time. However, due to the nature of the book and events that transpire, as well as the detail about Finch’s descent into depression, I would recommend this for mature readers age 15 and up. This is not a book to be taken lightly, and it should not be read as a go-ahead for suicide even when things are looking up. If you or a friend have considered suicide or think you may have bipolar disorder or manic depression, please get help immediately from a responsible adult.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

I WAS HERE

“Sometimes you don’t even need to be in the same room for the damage to be done.”

My Rating: PG-13 for language throughout (and f-bombs are included frequently), some sexual themes, and the fact that it’s about a girl that drank industrial chemicals to kill herself.

Official Summary: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

My thoughts: I didn’t love this book. It dragged for me, and the characters were too predictable for their angst to really pull me in. The main character, Cody, is suffering through this loss of her best friend, but you don’t feel her pain- all you feel is the ‘head-desk’ sensation because of her disjointed feelings. The main love interest, Ben McAllister, is supposed to be heart-wrenching and ends up annoying, predictable, and utterly boring. The book would have been good if the plot between the two main characters had been a little more unique, but it wasn’t, so this one fell flat for me. The cover’s gorgeous, though.

What to Watch: (SPOILER ALERT)

Language is used throughout, and it’s mostly the f-bomb. It seems to be Ben’s favorite word to describe life, his actions, and everything else under the sun, and he’s not the only one.

There are prevalent sexual themes: Ben had sex with Meg before, and then later he and Cody have sex, and there are innuendos and not-so-subtle hints about it peppered into the writing.

Drugs are present, and although the two main characters do not partake, they have a friend called ‘Stoner’ Richard who constantly is smoking some illegal substance and asking them if they want to join.

As far as violence goes, there’s not much except for the emotional trauma and the frequent references to death/suicide/Meg’s specific suicide.

I didn’t love this book, and there were a lot of cautions, even though they weren’t these big huge red flags. So again, it’s up to you. I hope this helped!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!