Mini Reviews this week is a day late (because life happened), and features some YA books I read recently (ish)!
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Bri dreams of being a famous rapper, and composes lyrics constantly. When she is singled out by security for being black, she uses rap to explore her feelings and becomes famous overnight. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and her friends think she is losing herself in pursuit of it. Friendships and family are big themes in this book. Her friends aren’t afraid to call her out, and her family is complicated. Bri’s father was a rapper before he was killed. Her mother went to pieces afterwards, and Bri was raised by her grandparents, but she’s back now and trying to do the best she can for her children. She is too proud to take handouts, and they are really poor, so every bit makes a difference, and Bri sees her success as a way to save her family. It’s further complicated by her aunt being her manager and a local drug dealer. Everyone has a story and they are all fascinating. On the Come Up is a knock-out second novel from Angie. Her writing is exceptional and her love of rap really comes through the pages. I loved this and can’t wait for her next book.
All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman
I picked this up at YALC minutes after hearing about it on Yasmin’s panel, because it sounded amazing. It did not disappoint. Mehreen, Cara and Olivia meet after signing up to a suicide pact website (Memento Mori). They all have very different reasons for wanting to end their lives. Their stories are all sad in their own way, and I spent half the book just wanting to cuddle them. Mehreen hurt me the most, she is so conflicted between her mental health and her religion and is just so utterly lost. The website is creepy. It shows a really dark side to the internet and social media. It chooses who each person will form a suicide pact with, how they will die, when, and what they must do first. It really emphasises how desperate they each must be to want to follow this through. It also explores what happens when the girls have doubts, and the power of friendships, not to save you, but to give you hope and happiness in your life. This is a beautiful, brilliant and horrifying book. If you haven’t read it yet, you must.
(but also trigger warnings for suicide, mental health and self-harm, so don’t read it if that is going to be an issue for you).
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast re-imagining. Rhen has seasons where he has to find a girl and fall in love before he turns into a rampaging beast. Lilith, a vicious bitch with a grudge, cursed him to repeat these seasons over and over. But the stakes are higher this time, because this season will be their last. Enter Harper: this year’s girl taken from the real world into this one. The book is an excellent dual narrative giving us a real insight into both characters. I wasn’t sure about Rhen, he seemed very closed off and often cruel. Harper is brilliant, but headstrong and often does things impulsively, getting involved in the politics of a world she knows nothing about without considering the consequences. Sometimes I loved her; other times I wanted to push her off a cliff. But it was Grey (Rhen’s one remaining guard) I loved most. He is fiercely loyal, kind and determined. Rhen and Harper’s story is a slow burn filled with secrets and big choices. It is an imaginative retelling, which stays relatively true to the original story. I am definitely intrigued for book two.
Have you read any of these?