Review: A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon SquadA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A talented artist can paint a picture that evokes an emotion. The viewer looks at the painting and feels nothing but what the artist strives to communicate. The viewer doesn’t notice the brushstrokes, the colors, or any of the physical aspects of the painting — only the essense of the painting. Jennifer Egan is the artist and A Visit From the Goon Squad is the painting.

You know how sometimes you’ll notice something, like the shoes a stranger is wearing, or a purse across the room and it’ll remind you of something and you’ll end up staring into space, lost in that memory? A Visit From the Goon Squad is kind of like that. The funny thing is, I’ve never worn safety pins in my clothes, I’ve never had some 40 year old guy do coke off my bare butt, and I’ve never dived into a polluted river, but A Visit From the Goon Squad made me nostalgic for those events.

A Visit From the Goon Squad is hard to describe as a book. It’s narrative fiction, but it’s not just one story and it’s not only a collection of short stories. It’s a collection of short stories connected through some shared characters and a strong central theme that I didn’t really understand until halfway through the book. It’s not preachy, it’s not too-hip-for-thou, and it’s not difficult to read. It’s wonderfuly written with amazingly seemless transitions between the past and the present.

I can see it as a book that won’t appeal to everyone. I had doubts about liking it because of its title and cover (I know, I know), but even I have to admit that it’s one of the best written books I’ve read.

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Read: Vampire Academy (2-4)

I sped through these latest three books in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series this weekend in record time. Her books are such page-turners. I’m glad I gave the first book a second chance because these book #3 was so damn good.

Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2) Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2) by Richelle Mead
4 of 5 stars

The second novel in this series sets up the next ones nicely. The reader is introduced to more of the politics of magic usage. Just by reading this book, I can tell there’s going to be a big offensive magic showdown.

The whole Dimitri/Tasha angle was meant to be exciting and thrilling, but I kind of knew the way it was going to turn out anyway, so it wasn’t a big surprise to me. It was sweet to see Dimitri start to get more honest about his feelings though.

I’m glad that part of this book took place in a setting other than St. Vladmir’s because even though there wasn’t too much action going on, the change in scenery made the story more enjoyable.

The introduction of Adrian is great way to start a love triangle.

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3) Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3) by Richelle Mead
4 of 5 stars

What a cliffhanger ending! The action sure picked up between the 2nd book and the end of this 3rd one. The fighting scenes were fierce. There’s finally a pay-off with Rose’s love life. Rose kicking ass.

I’m constantly surprised that this is a YA book. There’s some mature subjects being touched on, and the violence is a bit PG-13.

Other than the agonizing ending, what’s not to like about this book?

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4) Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
3 of 5 stars

I initially rated this book a 4, but dropped it down to a 3 after thinking about it. I skimmed through half of this book because the Lissa parts were so awkward and dull. I could see the Lissa/Christian/Avery/Adrian plot line coming a mile away and just wasn’t interested in it.

Blood Promise suffers through the separation of Rose and Lissa, which I thought I could deal with because Lissa is actually one of my least favorite characters. But the fact that Rose had to constantly mentally check in on Lissa made those parts skippable for me.

The introduction of Sydney was also a bore. I could tell that she and her people are going to play an important role in the later books (why else mention her?) but she was just annoying in this book. I’m glad that Rose finally got to meet Abe and honestly, I didn’t see that one coming.

The last quarter of the book shows us just how good Mead is at making me feel like the characters are finally safe, then popping up another “Aha!”, rinse repeat. Add the next book to my “eagerly anticipating” list.

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Review: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy Book #1)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

4 of 5 stars

Ah, vampire teen fiction. It’s like digging into a bag of Cheetos.

It took me a second try to get into this book after reading Mead’s Dark Swan series for adults. The beginning of novel is definitely the hardest part to get over. There’s teenage drama, vague actions and character choices, and a different spin on the vampire mythos. I felt pretty lost and frustrated because it seemed like I was missing a lot of the story, but questions do eventually get answered.

I spent half the book wondering who the love interest was going to be. Then I spent the rest of the book dreading the, “I love you, but we can’t be together because X” speech. Ah, delicious romantic conflicts.

Vampire Academy is a decent setup for the rest of the series. I hear the rest of the books get better. Can’t wait.

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