Mini-reviews: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp; In the Blood by Lisa Unger; and Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

spectacularnowTitle: The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Genre: YA contemporary fiction
Publisher: Ember
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 294
First line: So, it’s a little before ten a.m. and I’m just starting to get a good buzz going.

Goodreads blurb: KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

I really don’t understand why this book is considered such a huge YA classic. The character Keely is not a pleasant one to read about. I felt myself pitying him, because he is a walking train wreck. It is obvious why he is the way he is, but he’s also at the age when he needs to start taking responsibility for himself, and changing things, unless he wants his past to determine his future. He knows this, but refuses to do it. I actually thought toward the end that I was going to at least be happy I read it, but then the ending happened – and (SPOILER ALERT) – Keely didn’t change. He knew what he needed to do, he’d even made a sacrificial decision to benefit Aimee. But while he was able to help her, he was unable – or unwilling – to help himself. I don’t like books where the main character is static, and that was the case with The Spectacular Now.

inthebloodTitle: In the Blood
Author: Lisa Unger
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Touchstone
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 340
First line: There are twelve slats of wood under my bed.

Goodreads blurb: Lana Granger lives a life of lies. She has told so many lies about where she comes from and who she is that the truth is like a cloudy nightmare she can’t quite recall. About to graduate from college and with her trust fund almost tapped out, she takes a job babysitting a troubled boy named Luke. Expelled from schools all over the country, the manipulative young Luke is accustomed to controlling the people in his life. But, in Lana, he may have met his match. Or has Lana met hers?

When Lana’s closest friend, Beck, mysteriously disappears, Lana resumes her lying ways—to friends, to the police, to herself. The police have a lot of questions for Lana when the story about her whereabouts the night Beck disappeared doesn’t jibe with eyewitness accounts. Lana will do anything to hide the truth, but it might not be enough to keep her ominous secrets buried: someone else knows about Lana’s lies. And he’s dying to tell.

Oh my goodness – this is one thriller that I will not soon forget. There are several twists – some that become obvious to the reader before they are revealed – but the mind-bendy, twisty plot kept me turning pages as fast as I could. I don’t know what else to say, because you don’t want this book spoiled for you – please, don’t read spoilers! – but it is a definite must-read.

fireandashTitle: Fire and Ash
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Genre: YA zombie fiction
Publisher: Recorded Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from my personal library
Audiobook reader: Brian Hutchison
Audiobook length: 11 hours and 53 minutes
First line: Benny Imura sat in the dark and spoke with monsters.

Goodreads blurb: Benny Imura and his friends have made it to Sanctuary, they’ve found the jet and they’ve discovered that civilization is struggling to regain its foothold in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for the zombie plague. It should be time for celebration, but it’s not. Benny’s best friend, Chong, has been infected by an arrow dipped in the flesh of a zombie and he hovers between life and death and Dr McReady, a researcher who may have the critical formula for a cure, has gone missing. So Benny convinces Captain Ledger to mount a search and rescue mission to find the doctor and help Chong. But with the Reapers still pursuing their plan to turn all zombies into super-fast shock troops even if they can save Chong, can they save themselves?

This was a wonderful finale to Maberry’s Benny Imura series. The first book in the series was my first experience with zombie fiction, and I was immediately hooked – on the characters and Maberry’s writing, but also on the genre. I will always be grateful to the author, because he showed me that zombie fiction isn’t really about the zombies. Or at least, not JUST about the zombies. I loved the way the series ended, and I would be just as happy if he decided to revisit this world and the characters again at some point.

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8 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp; In the Blood by Lisa Unger; and Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

  1. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    I’ve been wanting to read IN THE BLOOD, and you’ve convinced me to make an effort to get it read!

  2. Sheila (Book JOurney)
    Twitter: bookjourney

    Great thoughts on these – I will probably pass on Spectacular Now after your thoughts here, that would annoy me too. 🙂

  3. Tobi says:

    I was curious to hear your thoughts on “The Spectacular Now”. I felt let down after reading it…because of all the hype surrounding it. I don’t think I have ever hated a character the way I hated Sutter Keely. He made my skin crawl. I watched the movie hoping they changed it enough to redeem the story but no such luck.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Tobe – me, too! I’m so glad you said that about the movie, because I was really tempted to watch it. I think I”ll pass.

  4. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I so need to read Rot & Ruin!