Heart of Dread, The Hunger Games, Shatter Me, and The 5th Wave.

I promised book talk, so here it is. Today I will be talking about the four dystopian series that I’ve read. My thoughts and opinions for these books are mine, and mine alone. I am not telling anybody how to feel.

I’m starting at my least favorite and working towards my favorite.

 

The 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey: 2/5 stars.

The hype surrounding The 5th Wave made me curious. The alien invasion, plus a warrior protagonist and a depressing world that the synopsis promised sounded like something I would enjoy. And I enjoyed part of it, but issues with the characters got in the way. Evan and Cassie were those characters. I found them both annoying, but more than that, they each mistreated the other, and their actions were validated. I thought that Ringer would save the series for me, but sadly her actions in The Infinite Sea made me dislike her a great deal. Ben/Zombie was the one thing I kept going for. He was the warrior I wanted, the brave underdog, the one who hoped against hope. Sadly Ben, Sammy, and Megan were the only characters I liked.

The ending, I think, was meant to be emotional, but it was really the only way to end that trilogy without all the characters running off into the sunset with butterflies all around. I felt nothing but annoyance reading the conclusion. And I will not be reading the books that Yancey is adding the the series.

 

Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi: 2/5 stars.

I am not a person who enjoys a lot of romance. If you have an engaging storyline and good characters, you don’t need romance, in my opinion. If you’ve heard of this series at all, you most likely heard that the romance plays a big part. If it can be called that. There is no true connection. Juliette was to desperate and too hopeless. Adam should have understood that she was in a difficult place, and that she needed to take care of herself instead of bang him. And Warner’s behavior toward Adam is validated, and I won’t accept that. The love-triangle was so messy, and made up of three incredibly immature people.

This is a rumored dystopia, but paranormal romance would work better. The world building is brief and scattered. The glimpse of the world that we get in Unravel Me is interesting, but too rushed for my taste. The conclusion was the worst part. Rushed, under-developed, aggravating, and just wrong in so many ways. I’m undecided as to whether or not I’m reading the three books Mafi is adding.

 

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: 3/5 stars.

The sad thing about this trilogy is that I loved The Hunger Games, but as the trilogy continued, it went downhill and became irritating. The first installment was exactly what I wanted: engaging, fast-paced, smart, and real. But when I read Catching Fire, I noticed Collins’ scenes becoming confusing and repetitive. Even so, the ending did make me curious about the finale. Mockingjay was such a disappointment. It dragged for most of the book, became a chore to read and a struggle to finish.

This trilogy did not need the love-triangle. The romance was always a minor part, but Collins could have omitted the romance completely, and I might have liked it more. Katniss spent the majority of the book flip-flopping, and I was too irritated with her by the end to care. And the death that was meant to impact me (if you’ve read the books, you know who I’m talking about) didn’t really effect me. I was surprised, but I didn’t know that character well enough to feel anything when she died.

The ending was satisfying, but I still had questions about some other characters. It isn’t what I wanted, but it’s what I got, and I’ll accept that.

 

Heart of Dread trilogy by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston: 5/5 stars.

I read this trilogy over a year ago, and I still don’t know if I’m capable of writing a coherent review for it. This trilogy is my favorite. Ever. My favorite trilogy ever.

I’m not even sorry.

I loved the world that Johnston created for us, weaving darkness and danger throughout each book. The battle/fighting scenes were done perfectly, with every hint of suspense and fear that I could’ve asked for. I loved how I felt that I was in these books, alongside these characters, feeling what they were.

The characters were everything to me. I saw myself in Nat; she was a fighter. I loved her for a heroin. She was witty and strong and smart and just amazing. The supporting characters were all funny and lovable in their own way. I loved the entire cast.

Now, I need to talk about our second protagonist, Ryan Wesson. I loved him. This is my fictional boyfriend, guys. I literally love him. He was brave, he was soft, he was tough, he was everything. He’s been down a road that he isn’t completely proud of, and has lost many things important to him, which made me love him even more. I  cried with Nat in the ending.

 

If you’ve read this far, I hope you enjoyed this little post about dystopian series I loved/hated. I hope to do more like this in the future, so keep an eye out.

novels

I struggle with emotion.

Emotions are hard for me. When I read a book, I’m silently embarrassed if it makes me cry; if I’m having a hard day and I cry for no particular reason, I chide myself; if anything, from books to my everyday life to my family to my pets to my routine, causes me to have an extreme emotional reaction, I struggle to comprehend those emotions.

This morning, I got up early with my mom to meet her boyfriend, R, at McDonald’s. We didn’t talk very much, he and I – not that one was ignoring the other, just… I had a book with me, okay? But I observe. I noticed him looking at me, not the creepy kind of look, but a look of pure curiosity. My mom has told me this, but I knew anyway: he was trying to figure me out. Trying to see what my impression of him was.

But the truth is, I don’t know how to show him if I wanted to. This is what I mean when I say that I struggle with emotion. I’ve trained myself to keep a stoic face, to not show my true self to certain people, that I’ve forgotten how. So I wonder sometimes what it is that R wants to know. Does he want me to share my feelings? Tell him what I think of him?

In the car on the way back home, Mom said, “What do you think?”

I gave the response I’ve been giving: “He’s nice.” Which he is. I truly believe he has good intentions and a nice personality.

Mom kept talking, attempting to get more out of me, but I genuinely had nothing more to say.

There was something I thought about as she drove us home, though.

I’d gotten into the car while Mom and R said goodbye and hugged and other stuff. R walked over to his car and waved to me. I waved back, already thinking about my reading for the day. But then he flashed the I love you sign. I flashed it back without thinking, but then I pulled my hand away and waved. R had caught me off guard. I knew he would tell Mom he loved her, but for me I was expecting a goodbye, nothing more, nothing less, and I was fine with that.

So I did what Emma does: I began to analyze.

Did he do that as a sort of experiment, to see what I would do? Was it a decision he made in the moment just to be friendly? Did that mean he loved me? And if so, as what? A friend, a child? And did I offend him by pulling my hand away? Would he think that I hated him because I did? Was he upset because I didn’t hug him?

I obsess and over-analyze many things simply because I fail to understand some portion of basic human emotion. Like the other day, I sliced my finger on a tuna fish can, and I went to Mom to help me put a bandage on. But she seemed annoyed that I wasn’t more upset, not that she would want me to be hurting, but as though she was surprised by the fact that I wasn’t. I saw no reason to panic or complain when I felt the pain surging in my finger, the red swelling out of it. It was a cut, and it would be taken care of. End of story.

Give me a list of chores to do, I’ll get them done. Give me a number of books to read, I’ll read them. Ask me to dry the dishes, I’ll dry the dishes. Ask me to unload groceries, I’ll unload groceries. Tell me to sort laundry, I’ll sort laundry.

But come to me and tell me you’re upset, and I’m clueless. I don’t know what I should do. I’m not one to cry with another, so what do I do? I don’t like telling people that everything will be okay, because that is a lie on many occasions. The only thing I know to do is tell them that I’m here, that I will be here, that I’m not going anywhere, that I will try to help as much as I’m capable. But that isn’t enough sometimes.

Sometimes I need to walk away. Sometimes I need to leave somebody alone. And I struggle with that. Because every time I walk away, I feel as if I’m repeating my “father’s” actions. Leaving somebody alone is scary to me. Alone with your thoughts. Alone with your hurt and anger and fear and regret and wonder and sadness. That is scary.

The people you love are the people who are capable of hurting you most. The pain that a loved one inflicts is a pain that won’t be forgotten, that some part of you will always cling to. But the pain that you inflict upon yourself is dangerous. With nobody to distract your thoughts, you are left with your self-doubt and sadness, your fury and the voices that tell you you’re not good enough for whatever reason.

That is scary to me.

Do I look like Princess Jasmine?

Today, I was in the grocery store with my grandmother. The cashier looked at me and said, “Did you drive?”

I was taken aback. “No.” I began to wonder where she would get the idea that I drove.

“She’s not sixteen, ” my grandmother cut in. “She doesn’t drive yet.” She smiled and giggled, and I began to wonder what it was that was so funny.

“I’m thirteen,” I said.

The cashier looked at me. “But you’re the older one, right? You’re older than your sister?”

“No,” I said, surprised. “No, she’s three and a half years older than me.”

“Well how old is she?”

“Seventeen.”

“Oh, she looks a lot younger.”

I actually didn’t take offense to this. I am taller than my sister. Supposedly, my “father’s” mother was over six feet tall, so I assume that’s where I get my height from. We were quiet for a moment, and I finally decided to comment about the cashier’s hair. She was African American, and her hair was cut short and tightly braided with gold streaks.

“I love your hair,” I said as I took a grocery bag from her.

“Oh, thank you.”

“How long did it take you to get it that way?” my grandmother asked – I’m calling her A.

“Like, four hours,” the cashier said. “I was, like, numb.” She laughed.

“Yeah,” A said, “it would probably take Emma longer to get hers that way.”

For those of you that don’t know, my hair is past my waist.

The cashier looked at me. “Yeah, you know who you remind me of…” She blinked and rubbed her fingers together, trying to recall. “Princess Jasmine.”

“Yeah, I dressed up as her one year for Halloween,” I said. I dressed up as Dora the Explorer, Cleopatra, and a Bollywood Dancer as well.

A then proceeded to explain another time when someone said I resemble Princess Jasmine. I actually don’t remember, but apparently a little girl once came up to me and asked me if I was Princess Jasmine. I do, however, remember waiting in a hair salon a few months back and seeing a little girl there. I didn’t hear her, but my mom told me later that she asked her mother if I was Princess Jasmine.

I really don’t understand the resemblance. I don’t wear a tiara. I don’t live in a palace. I don’t even have a pet tiger.

So you tell me, do I look like Jasmine?

EWesNat1

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Thomas

This blog post… breaks my heart. But the man who wrote this inspired me to start a blog of my own, and has been an amzing friend to me.

the quiet voice

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Thomas,

Hi, this is your nineteen-year-old self. How are you? I want to start this letter by saying that, yes, you still write embarrassing super personal blog posts three years from now. You do not write as much on your blog, because college keeps you busy, but you still do. Congratulations: no admissions officers take the time to Google your blog and reject you because of it, so keep writing.

So I guess I will start on the whole college thing: you get in. You really, really do. You get into William and Mary, the University of Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania. All your hard work pays off. Almost three years ago, you wrote this post about optimism, about how you would not let a B- in Physics Honors keep you down. Guess what: not only do you end up with an A- in the class, but…

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It would mean nothing.

The other day, me and my mom went into a Dunkin’ Doughnuts for some breakfast and some tea. The cashier, my mom noticed, had drawn on her left hand, a type of exotic design that I found beautiful. My mom and I made a deal a while ago that, one day, we would get matching tattoos. Thinking about that as we waited, I said, “You know, I was thinking – I don’t think I should get a tattoo that has anything to do with Indian culture.”

“Why?”

“Because… I’m not from there. I’m from here. People who get tattoos or whatever like that, it means something to them. I don’t think it would mean anything to me.”

We stayed quiet for a minute, then my mom said, “Well, maybe in the future, if you had a relationship with your dad, it would mean something.”

I immediately shot down the idea. “No, it wouldn’t because that relationship would mean nothing.”

Which it wouldn’t.

Not to me.

I’ve grown up with no dad. The man who is my biological father is most likely in India with his wife and other kids. When my mom met him, he was working at a gas station, secretly waiting for someone like my mother to walk into his life. And there she was, with a toddler by her side – my sister, J. Mom said that my dad and her got to talking, and I guess this was one of those one thing led to another situations.

He was bringing his clothes to her house, she was cooking, he was teaching her new recipes with Indian spices. She said their first date was at an Italian restaurant, I think. Mom was in love, and she believed that he was as well.

Mom turned up pregnant.

She said my dad didn’t believe her at first, asking her to take another test. Which she did.

She walked through a portion of her pregnancy with him, but after a while, he disappeared. Said he needed to go back to India. I think she was around six months pregnant. But she couldn’t contact him. When she finally did, she said there was noise on his end of the phone, men talking, cheering. Looking back, she thinks that was his bachelor party.

And he wasn’t present when I was born.

Mom started looking for him. She couldn’t contact him, so she went into the gas station where he worked. His best friend was there, and Mom walked up to him to congratulate him on getting married himself. Then she asked him where my dad was.

He hadn’t been looking at her, is what she told me. Then he looked up and saw the baby in her arms, the black hair, the darker skin, the brown eyes. And he said something that I know shattered my mother inside and out.

“You know he’s married, don’t you?”

So when my dad finally came back, he was angry at Mom for looking for him. As if she wouldn’t want to know where the father of her child was. But he walked out on us. He went back to his wife, back to his family, back where he could build one of his own. He never loved my mom, he never loved me. She was just the finale fling to him, nothing more.

I don’t hate my father because I have no memory of him, or because he was never and will never be there for me. I don’t hate him because he left me, because he didn’t. I don’t have any memory of him. I can’t miss something I never had. He left my mom. He charmed her, he made her happy, he made her feel loved, then walked out, dropped her like a ball. She is still hurt by him to this day. She has raised two children on her own, been hurt by more than my father, been criticized by people who were supposed to love her, been tossed aside like a rag-doll.

And she is still standing.

I will not forgive my father for what he did to her anytime soon. I never felt any sort of a void inside of me that needed to be filled. I wanted him in my life at one point, but not anymore. He is dead to me. I hope to find him one day, but not for my sake, for Mom’s. She wants an answer. She wants to know why. I do too. And I’ll find out for both of us one day.

I used to watch cartoons with my sister, and I never understood the picture they painted: a mother, a father, a brother, and a sister. That was the family that I always saw. But that didn’t make sense, not to me. Because I’ve grown up with a sister and a mother. And I’m happy with that.

 

 

 

P.S. I know I said I’d wait until Friday or Saturday, but I was too excited. Sorry!

 

My first post.

Well, my first blog post.

I think this might be a short one. I’d like to thank all the people who have supported the beginning of this blog, I am thinking of each of you as I write this.

I think I’ll try to post once or twice a week, so you’ll hear from me. Any thoughts or comments in the future would be much appreciated. I’m going to experiment a bit with this blog in the beginning, so bear with me. I need to find my own style and figure out how I’d prefer to go about it. I’m actually very excited to see how this goes. So today is Wednesday… I might post again on Friday or Saturday. I think I’m coming off as shy right now, and I am shy, but the more comfortable I become with this, the more I will open up.

So I think I will stop there. My heart is racing as I type this – guess that’s how thrilling this is for me. I’ll be back in a couple days.