Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carrie by Stephen King

Title: Carrie
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: April 5th, 1974
Pages: 253 pages

A modern classic, Carrie introduced a distinctive new voice in American fiction- Stephen King. The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.

Make a date with terror- and live the nightmare that is



I've heard about this book for so long as a great and very terrifying book. While I was at a used bookstore, I saw a copy of this and another well-spoken-of Stephen King book and thought, "Why not?" Good God, I'm glad I got Carrie.

High school teen Carietta "Carrie" White grew up with an unbalanced religious fanatic for a mother and without either a father or friends she could rely on. Kept from doing things or buying clothes that the average teen would, the change in her life begins the day of her first menstrual period at age seventeen. The emotional trigger that is pulled that day unlocks her latent telekinetic powers and she starts to put them to use. These powers, combined with one girl named Sue's guilt over what she did to Carrie and her attempts to redeem herself, set the stage for one of the most terrifying and memorable fictional events in modern times: Prom Night, the Black Prom, Carrie's vengeful rampage through the town of Chamberlain.

The strange thing with this book is that you know exactly how it's going to end and what happens, both because Carrie is both an infamous book and movie and because the epistolary form of the novel gives away multiple times that people will die on Prom Night and even who will die. But it doesn't subtract from the suspense at all to be told what happens; I found that it excited me more because it told me what was ahead and made me want to read the accounts of those who were involved instead of third parties who weren't there.

All of the characters felt realistic and flawed to me: Carrie, the shy, abused, and bullied girl who becomes more and more unhinged until she finally breaks; Sue Snell, the girl who did something she regretted and went to great lengths to try and fix what she did in some what; Chris Hargensen, the bully who hurt Carrie for years and just started to get an inkling of a feeling that she was doing something wrong just a little too late; Billy Nolan, the complete monster (okay, so he wasn't as three-dimensional as others); and Margaret White, the severely-unhinged and religiously fanatical mother of Carrie. Everyone had life to them, even characters mentioned only once or twice.

After I was done with the book, I remember Chris's hesitation when it came time to pull the string and dump the pig's blood on Carrie. What if she had decided against it? Would the buckets have remained unpoured and Carrie would have had the best night of her life? After getting along with Freida and other, would Carrie have started to make friends? How would Tommy have dealt with loving both Sue and Carrie? I wanted to know about everything that could have happened, but didn't- it made me want to see an alternate ending. There's the possibility that Billy would have pulled the string after he got sick of Chris's hesitation, but there's also equal chance that he wouldn't have. Yet even if the bucket had remained untouched, there would still be Carrie's mother to think about, who had been planning the whole time to kill Carrie when she got back. Would that have been Carrie's trigger instead of the pig blood? We will never know.

This book gave me one of my favorite moments of all time, one that made me mentally go, "Oh snap!" It was when Chris Hargensen's lawyer dad John Hargensen and Principal Henry Grayle had a mental face-off. Chris was supposed to go to detention for throwing tampons and pads at Carrie and when she didn't, she was suspended for three days and lost her prom tickets. John comes in to try and get the prom rights back for her and a mental face-off the likes of which I have never seen before happens between the two men. While they argued legal mumbo-jumbo back and forth about the rights of the school to punish one of their students and how teachers can handle students, I was on the edge of my seat. Once I was finished with that scene, I went back and read it again just because it was so awesome! Mr. Grayle definitely won that battle, showing off Chris's ugly record like that, along with threatening to sue on Carrie's behalf.

One small point bothered me about the novel, but I'm willing to let it slide. This novel is told in epistolary form with excerpts from fake books and accounts from people who lived in Chamberlain then. Yet this book contains Carrie's point of view when it's never seen that she write in a journal or leaves behind records; Tommy's thoughts and feelings just before his death are in here too, along with Margaret White's. When these characters die without leaving behind any records, where would these bits come from? This is my first true epistolary, but I would think that the entire book would have to be made up of records of some sort, not just pieces of it. I'll give it a pass because it's my first epistolary (my issue might have to do with being an idealist and not knowing how they work) and because it's in third-person. We don't ask about who the narrator is in every third -person book, do we? Exactly.

How could I not give this book a perfect rating? It was suspenseful, terrifying, classic, and I couldn't stand to put it down! (It also helps that if I gave it even four stars, the fictional and ghostly spirit of Carrie would come and kill me, according to my wild daynightmares.) I highly recommend this book; after reading it, you will more than likely see why Stephen King has become so popular. If you will excuse me, I'm going to go find the movie on television.

5 stars!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Vampire Kisses
Author: Ellen Schreiber
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 5th, 2003
Pages: 208 pages

Raven lives in "Dullsville," where nothing ever happens. Until now...

The mansion on top of Benson Hill has been empty and boarded up for years. But a new family has moved in. A family that never ventures out during the day. Who are these creepy people- especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town gossip actually be true? Are they vampires?

Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own life and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.


I warn you now that this is in no way a fair review. This book and the three that follow it changed my life when I was thirteen and even though I have come to realize almost every one of its flaws, I still love it. Another series in this situation might become the bane of my existence, but not this book because of two reasons: 1) they're fluffy reads that are never meant to be taken seriously and 2) I owe too much to it.

Goth girl Raven Madison has lived in boring old "Dullsville" all her life as an outcast, being the only girl in town that's not into khaki and pastel colors. On her sixteenth birthday, a family moves into the mansion on Benson Hill that Raven has always regarded as her "Barbie Dream House" and as rumors go around that the elusive family is one of vampires, Raven's curiosity is piqued. She's wanted to become a vampire her entire life and after meeting the son of this "vampire" family, the handsome Alexander Sterling, she finds herself attracted to him. Could he and his family truly be creatures of the night or is it but a rumor? She's willing to risk her relationship with the one guy she can connect with to find out the truth.

This book is cheesy and silly and not good at all, but I still love it. Raven is highly stereotypical, both as a Goth and as a teenager, but in rare moments, she rings true as a teenage girl instead of a stereotype. Those little moments make her one of the most realistic teenage portrayals I've read and trust me, I've read a lot of them. The way Dullsville (which is what the town is called throughout the entire novel; you never find out the town's actual name) is shown, as a small town where rumors spread quickly and different is never a good thing to them, is also fairly true. I'm a big city girl, but both of my parents grew up in small towns and they've described small town life to me numerous times.

Close to the end of this book, Raven's motive for dating Alexander and first meeting him are exposed and they break up, but eventually get back together. I found this very sweet, in a strange way. Their relationship started under partway false pretenses, but as they got to know each other better over time, genuine feelings for each other developed. These feelings proved to be so strong that even when everyone found out that Raven originally started dating Alexander to find out whether or not he was a vampire (which would permanently end most relationships), they still care so much about each other that they disregard that and get back together. That appeals the little romantic in my soul, you know?

I wish I didn't have the point out the flaws because I really don't mind them, but not even my totally-unfair review is allowed to leave them out. No amount of love could make me forget the flaws, though I can certainly overlook them.

Raven is a Mary Sue- specifically, a Gothic Sue. For her, being Gothic means wearing lots and lots of black, being an outcast from society because she's not like them, hating preppy people, and wanting to become a vampire, but that's not what being Gothic is about at all. It's... I don't know how to explain it. Follow this link and this link to some websites that I feel gave good explanations about the Gothic culture. Back on subject, everything ends up in Raven's favor no matter what and when she screws up (which is hardly ever because everything goes right for her), people forgive her easily. She can do no wrong.

The things this girl gets away with amazes me. She breaks into the Benson Hill mansion that belongs to Alexander's family multiple times, but Raven never gets in trouble for it, even when Alexander freaking catches her in the act! He asks her about it multiple times, but he never gets an answer and eventually gives up. I mentioned further up about how Raven and Alexander's relationship began with her wish to figure out whether or not he was a vampire and even after that motive was exposed, they still ended up together. That's both a good thing and a bad one. Personally, if I find out a guy's got a hidden motive for dating me, he's gone and never coming back, even if I have genuine feelings for him and he has the same for me. There are couples out there, I'm sure, who were in a situation like Alexander and Raven's and are still together, but I imagine most people would make a decision like my hypothetical one.

In addition, most of the characters in this book are flat and two-dimensional, if not all of them, and there is little depth to the story. Raven can be shallow like a kiddy pool. This novel pains some negative things such as breaking into someone else's occupied home in a somewhat positive light. I'm kind of surprised that this book is categorized as "young adult," which is labeled as ages 12-18; I would peg it more in the 9-12 range at best. I probably wouldn't let a nine-year-old handle this book, though.

This series has a tiny problem with continuity. Back when I read this book for the first time, Trevor Mitchell had blonde hair and blue eyes. In the sequel Vampire Kisses 2: Kissing Coffins, he has green eyes and they stay green for the rest of the series. The omnibus version that I'm reading and that contains the first three books of the series corrects most mentions to Trevor having blue eyes in the first book, but not all of them. I still found a few and corrected them myself. I don't count off for this and you shouldn't either; that's just something that annoyed the inner editor somewhat.

A year ago, I would have given this book five stars because of my strange, defiant love of it. Then my house got broken into and I could no longer disregard my disapproval when Raven broke into Alexander's house multiple times. Despite that, this series is one of my all-time favorites and I recommend it with the warning of blatant stereotypes, Mary Sues, prep hate, and general stupidity.

4 stars!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody

Title: Alyzon Whitestarr
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 2005;  I found three different dates, so I'm not sure what the exact date is.
Pages: 501 pages (paperback)

Alyzon Whitestarr doesn't take after her musically talented father or her nocturnal, artistic mother. In fact, she's easily the most normal member of a very eccentric family...until the day when an accident leaves her senses and perceptions enhanced. Suddenly, colors are more vibrant, her memory is flawless, and even her sister's cooking tastes exquisite.

But strangest of all is Alyzon's sense of smell. Through it, she can discern the moods and intentions of those around her. Her new best friend smalls like a comforting sea breeze. She registers her father's contentment as the sweet scent of caramelized sugar, and his anxiety over bills is as acrid as ammonia. So what does it mean that the cutest guy in school smells outright rancid? And what reason could he possible have to ask her on a date?

With Alyzon Whitestarr, acclaimed author Isobelle Carmody crafts a fantastical tale of romance, suspense, and the paranormal.


Alyzon Whitestarr was the plainest member of the Whitestarrs, a seven-person family with many eccentric qualities, little money, and a whole lot of love. She gets knocked in the head with a car door because of Wombat, the obese family cat, and when she wakes up from her month-long coma, her senses have drastically improved. She can hear taste, and see better than ever before and she can smell the moods and essences of others, such as her Da's caramelized sugar contentment and sister Serenity's licorice (as Sybl) and violets (as Serenity) essence. Then when school hottie Harlen Sanderson starts coming around, she finds that he smells disgusting! While learning to control her new senses and avoiding a persistent Harlen, she and her new friends try to discover what this rotting scent of essences means and save Alyzon's family from their various dilemmas.

I was captivated by this idea as soon as I read the summary and the first few chapters. It sat on my wish list for months before I finally ordered it and I'm glad I did because it was worth the read. This book brings up some pretty deep points, such as the talking about doing something to help vs. actually doing it debate and the futility of anger because of how we waste our lives being angry instead of doing something about what has made us so unhappy.

I didn't have a favorite character this time around because I had a soft spot for so many of the characters: Da, the musical, loving father of the family; Mum, the head-in-the-clouds, artistic mother; Jesse, the oldest child who plays blues and has words inside him waiting to be let out; Mirandah, who wears clothes all of one color until she decides it's time for a new color; Alyzon, her new powers, and her determination to keep her family safe; Serenity, who demands to be called Sybl and is easily the most complex character in the book; and adorable baby Luke. Everyone has a little piece of my heart this time around- even the bad guys, except for one of them.

By the way, Alyzon: thank you for not finding Harlen's possessive, almost stalker-like behavior romantic! You found it just as creepy as I did (which is to say, very creepy).

This book had its fair share of flaws, too. Sometimes when I was reading, I would get so annoyed with just how many deep issues Mrs. Carmody was trying to handle in one novel that I commented to myself that the book wanted to be as deep as a bottomless pit. I love deep issues as much as the next girl and can't stand it when a book has no substance at all, but not so many issues in one book, please! My puny human brain can only handle so much before it wants to explode from all the thinking. It did make me think a lot, so that's great.

I felt like the novel was a little longer than it needed to be. Long books are awesome too, but there were a few places that I feel like things were drug out for a little too long. If I went through the book right now, there are at least ten pages I could immediately strike out as not-very-contributive and with more careful analysis, who knows how many more might be eliminated? 

Another little thing that made me wonder was that Alyzon told her friends- who, in reality, were mostly people she'd just met- about her new powers when the family that she was so close to was left in the dark. I almost understand because of the circumstances around the time that she told them about her enhanced senses, but then I remembered how odd her family was. Does she think they won't understand because of how weird it is, yet that these near-strangers will because of what happened just before she told them? I don't get it. 

For a little while, I was worried about false advertising because I was at page 300 or so and hadn't seen any signs of the mythical romance. If there's anything I hate, it's false advertising on my books. It did show up, though I felt like Alyzon and the guy she had the romance with had a better friendship dynamic than a romantic one. I would have preferred that they stayed just friends because part of what brought this book down was this mostly-inauthentic romance.

I also feel this book was miscategorized. On the back cover, it calls itself "a fantastical tale of... the paranormal," but I wouldn't call this a paranormal romance book. I would call this more of a sci-fi lite book. Alyzon's powers have an origin that's grounded in reality- brain damage- and the rotting of the souls is often called a virus or sickness, which also makes it feel more scientific than fantastic. (On a very late note: I found it amazing how many people the sickness touched. Just... wow.)

This wasn't a bad book by any means, but there were a few issues holding it back from being truly great. I do recommend it, but be ready for a book that develops rather slowly and tries to cover a huge number of subjects in a fairly large amount of pages. It'll make you think or your money back! I just wish there was a sequel; when I did a search, I found something saying that the author was unlikely to write a sequel to Alyzon Whitestarr.

3 stars!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Pace by Shelena Shorts

This review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read at your own risk.

Title: The Pace
Author: Shelena Shorts
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing
Release Date: August 19th, 2009
Pages: 312 pages (paperback)

Nineteen-year-old Weston has everything. He's super hot, mysterious, dangerous, sincere, and vulnerable. He’s also a one-of-a-kind evolution that will change the idea of immortality forever. Anyone would be drawn to him, even without fate's intervention, and when eighteen-year-old Sophie crashes into him, there's no turning back.

All that remains is figuring out who, or what, he is, and with a little perseverance, she'll find out the indelible truth—right along with a century-old secret...and a threat for which neither of them are prepared.

Intensely fascinating and rich with determination, The Pace brings together romance, mystery, and suspense in a compelling bond that will have readers asking for more.


Eighteen-year-old Sophie Slone is an average sort of girl, excluding the fact that she takes her high school classes on he computer instead of at a school.When Sophie goes to eat lunch with her mother at her college workplace one day, she crashes her car into another person's. Weston "Wes" Wilson III, the guy she crashed into, is rich, (supposedly) hot, sweet, and determined to get to know Sophie. As the two embark on a relationship, she picks up inaccuracies in his past and she's not going to let anything stop her from finding out who he really is and her past with him.

I actually didn't get this book myself; my best friend read it and completely lost her mind over it, then demanded that I read it and fall in love too. I'd seen The Pace around, but didn't get it because I wasn't interested. That friend has good taste in books most of the time, so I borrowed it from her. Kayla, if you ever read this: this book is to me as Eyes Like Stars (Lisa Mantchev) was to you: a book that one praised as awesome to the extreme, but that the other found to be severely lacking.

I applaud Mrs. Shorts for some of her more unique ideas. It's refreshing that Sophie takes her classes online instead of going to high school (I've never seen virtual school used in a novel before and it rules out the cliche possibility of the two meeting at high school). I also thought that making Wes "immortal" by making him cold-blooded was a great idea; it took some suspension of disbelief, but that's a given when reading fantasy and science fiction. Sophie's ultimatums to Wes when he lied to her were nice because way too many fantasy heroines seem to have no problem when their significant other is keeping secrets from them.

Sadly, that's where my praises of the book stop.

One issue I had with this book was that I just didn't care. I didn't care about Sophie, Wes, Sophie's mom Gayle or any other character in the book, nor did I care about seeing how the story would work out. I never got drawn into the story when I normally dive into books with ease and had to force myself to finish it. I was so disinterested that I read an entire other book (my previous entry, Paranormalcy) while I was reading The Pace. I almost never do this because I hate to split my attention, but The Pace didn't have enough of it to keep me away from other books. I don't even care that the plot was Sophie and Wes falling in love; I can read books like that and still jump in easily, but I couldn't this time.

My biggest problem with this book was that one of the Big Secrets was too predictable to me. (This is where the worst spoilers are.) Within the first fifty pages, there are two instances that suggest reincarnation plays a major role in this book: one is when Sophie crashes into Wes and he asks how she found him again (or something like that); the other is on page 47, when he gets a book about people remembering their past lives. Page 47 is when I figured out Sophie was the reincarnation of someone Wes loved because the author wouldn't have made Sophie ask about the book if it wasn't important. The "big secret" isn't revealed until page 221, which left me going, "Okay, okay, when are you going to reveal that Sophie is a reincarnation of the girl Wes loved?" for about 170 pages.

I like to think that I'm a seasoned fantasy novel reader because I've read about 200-300 books of that genre in about three years (which might not be that impressive to some). As a reader, I have one problem: most of my reader radars are broken, including my Mary Sue Radar (which tells me when a character is a Mary Sue) and Foreshadowing Radar (helps me pick up foreshadowing). Details that stick out to more attentive readers fly right over my head because I'm too involved with the story. That last person you want to figure out the Big Secret 170 pages away is me because that's not a very good sign.

Wes's behavior after he broke up with Sophie didn't help my opinion of this book either. Following a girl around after breaking up with her? Getting another girl to act like your girlfriend so that the girl you like (but that you want to make think you don't like her) will see it, be heartbroken, and get over you? That don't fly with me, buster. I don't count "it was for your safety" and "I did it because I love you" as valid reasons to do stuff like that. To me, true love means sticking with the person you love and enduring any dangers that might come together, even when you suspect/know you're the reason why the bad things will happen. Threats of death and harm won't break up two people who truly love each other. (Not in my idealistic eyes, anyways.)

Plus, "romantic stalking" pisses me off. I was that girl who secretly followed the boys she liked when I was younger and I still know some of the boys I "romantically stalked;" they seem uncomfortable around me and don't like talking to me. I don't know why anyone thinks stalking someone you like is romantic. You can ask me, those boys, or anyone who's ever been stalked and we'll tell you it's creepy, not romantic.

As unique as some of the ideas were, a book automatically earns three stars if it's unable to make me care about the characters and/or the story. The combination of the predictability and Wes's Sophie-following earn this book knock off another star. My recommendation is to skip this book, but if you really want to try it for yourself, go ahead. In case you read it and like it, there is already a sequel out called The Broken Lake.

2 stars!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 31st, 2010
Pages: 352 pages (hardback)

Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.


I have wanted this book ever since I read the description and thought, "Mine!" This timeline of events from the night I read the book is pretty telling of what I thought of the book: I started reading Paranormalcy at nine thirty at night and stopped at two in the morning, with my only break lasting ten minutes so I could change clothes and crawl into bed. As someone in this book might say: ladies and gentlemen, I have lost my bleep over this highly original and very enjoyable book.

Evelyn (aka Evie) is the only person in the world who can see past the glamours paranormals put up. After being saved from a vampire at age eight, Evie stayed with the group that saved her and now works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency at age sixteen. Between watching Easton Heights, bagging and tagging vampires, and fending off a possessive faerie named Reth, she longs to live the life of a normal teenage girl. Her meeting with a watery shape-shifter named Lend, in which she first greets him with the shock of her pink taser Tasey, is only the first event in a series that leads to the unveiling of a prophecy that just might be about her, revelations about her strange past, and the slowly-progressing destruction of paranormal creatures.

I don't even know how to describe how much I loved this book; it's one of the few that was so great that I'm at a loss for words. The cover made me think that this story would be 100% dramatic, but it was even parts humor and drama. Evie was a heroine I could cheer for and did not routinely get angry at like I do many other fictional heroines. Lend was not just a love interest, but a character in his own right; this is a relief after so many novels in which a male is either a lifeless love interest for the main character or a good character with has no chance of getting the main character. Reth... well, more on Reth later.

The first-person narration by Evie was pitch-perfect. She could describe a scene so vividly that I would see through the glamours of paranormal creatures with her and with such sharp humor that I would laugh out loud. I don't get emotionally invested in books very often, but this book managed to make me laugh and cry and drop my jaw at least five times each. White also knew when to put a pause on the humor, like scenes where Evie's inner conflicts about what she was came into play. Thank goodness I read this in the sanctity of my home; if I were reading it at school, my classmates would have wondered what was wrong with me!

My favorite character was, without a doubt, Reth the faerie. Not because he was hawt, but because he was absolutely terrifying! When he came into a scene, I went wide-eyed and read the scene greedily. He scared me, creeped me out, and made shivers run down my spine in fear- a fictional character hasn't gotten such a genuine reaction out of me in months! Some people have called him one of Evie's love interests, but I think he's more of an antagonist than a love interest. He's not the antagonist (that title goes to someone else), but he's no ally of Evie's and many of his actions during this novel make the two of them enemies.

And oh, the bleep thing! You've already seen it twice in my review. This was one of Paranormalcy's most memorable qualities. One character, Lish the mermaid, speaks through a computer and since it can't translate cuss words, they all come out as "bleep" when she cusses. Evie adopts this habit of replacing her cuss words with "bleep." I love that this book isn't filled with every cuss word known to man like some books (see: House of Night series) and that the author didn't resort to using really stupid words to replace cuss words (once again, see House of Night series). "Bleep" was a nice, neutral word to use in place of a cuss word that could keep with the light-hearted vibe and not make it overly silly.

As much as I loved this book, that "bleep" thing got me. Like I said, it was a unique, awesome touch, but one little "bleep" managed to ruin an entire scene that would have been totally awesome otherwise. Most of the bleeps were well-placed, but this one was way out of place and yanked me out of the scene so badly that it knocked off a star all by itself. Either way, I'm getting the sequel Supernaturally as soon as it comes out in 2011.

4 stars!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Wintergirls
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: March 19th, 2009
Pages: 278 pages (hardback)
Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia's mother is busy saving other people's lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice inside Lia's head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way- thin, thinner, thinnest- maybe she'll disappear altogether.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written novel since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explores one girl's chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex of anorexia.


As the novel opens, we meet Lia, an eighteen-year-old girl who's been in clinics not once, but twice for anorexia. Her family thinks that she is still in recovery, but she's slipping back into her old habits and using tricks to make then think she's still healthy as her weight starts to plummet back into the danger zone.

Her best friend Cassie- well, former best friend, seeing as they haven't spoken in months- just died and the night that it happened, she called Lia thirty-three times. Lia never picked up. Cassie's ghost now haunts her wherever she goes and as the voices in Lia's head whisper to her and encourage her to shed pound after pound, as her already-crumbling life continues to fall apart, as the girl inside starves to death, she gets closer and closer to joining Cassie on the other side.

This is the third time I've read Wintergirls, but it's still just as powerful of a read as it was the first time. It's a dark, depressing, emotional, and morbid read, but it's so sickeningly fascinating that you have to keep reading. I'm not sure how accurate of a portrait this is, just how much it resembles the mind of someone who really is anorexic, but even if it's not, it's still powerful because as frightening as it is to read, you just can't stop.

I love the style in which this book is written. Almost everything around Lia is alive, brought to life with personification that is so constant in this novel that it's almost irritating. The only reason it's not is because it contributes to the story instead of distracting from it and is used well; it's used so well that I don't even care that no teenager would think in the manner that she does. I also enjoyed Lia's true inner voice, usually represented in strikethroughs like this. Lia is constantly doing mental math with her food and rejecting anything high in fat or calories, but this girl inside is the true Lia- the one who just wants to eat until she's finally full and is slowly starving to death as Lia's weight plummets.

The characters were another high point with me. My personal favorite was Emma, Lia's sweet little stepsister that is just a little bit overburdened, but I also thought that the characters of Dr. Marrigan, the hardworking mother who's hardly around but still loves her daughter and who feels pain when she sees what her daughter is doing, Professor Overbrook, the father who cares for his daughter Lia but is terrible at keeping his promises and spending time with her, Lia herself, the girl who wants to weigh nothing and float away from her life, and Cassie, the ghost that haunts Lia in death and the friend that Lia trapped in the ice with her in life.

Speaking of Cassie, I liked how there was a little ambiguity with her. Was she a real ghost, or was she just a hallucination that Lia's mind came up with? It all depends on the reader's point of view. Mine was that she was a ghost, but someone else might argue that she wasn't real. Either way, she makes for a fantastic symbol of Lia being haunted not only by her former best friend, but her own past and the things she's done wrong, such as sabotage Cassie's recovery.

All my life, I've been happy with my body (except for one certain part, but losing weight won't make those any smaller) and have never obsessed over losing weight, but I would call this novel an excellent preventive measure against anorexia and bulimia. The thought of sinking into the same frames of mind that ruined these two girls, where I'm obsessively counting the calories of everything I eat or throwing it back up or starving myself to near-death, terrifies me. This is not a promise, but I like to think that it is even more unlikely for me to develop an eating disorder after reading this novel.

(In addition to this, the cover is absolutely amazing. I can't think of a better cover that could have been designed for this book.)

5 stars!