Monday, July 20, 2015

Contemporary YA Mini-Reviews: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan and All the Rage by Courtney Summers

From Goodreads:
In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.
I hate to even say it because I really loved Carrie Ryan's Forest of Hands and Teeth books, but this one was a major letdown in terms of quality of writing.  It's just not very good.  The characters tell us they think/feel one way and they act in a completely different way.  And it's not that they're meant to be unreliable.  Our main character can't stop loving the boy she hates and plans to destroy, but it's not as conflicted as it is contradictory.  She tells us over and over how she'll do anything to bring him down, but spends half the book fawning over him.

I'm also less than impressed with the plausibility that Frances met both Libby and Grey on a luxury cruise and became such immediate friends with Libby that she's able to impersonate her for the next four years and became so intimately in love with Grey that those same four years fail to diminish her love, even though she holds him responsible for the deaths of everyone she cares about (and was, you know, fourteen when they met and spent maybe a week getting to know each other).  And do not even get me started on how convenient it is that Frances is even on that luxury cruise to begin with, since all we hear about her family is that they struggle financially.  There are so many lucky conveniences and coincidences here that it becomes laughable.

I really wanted this to be great because it seemed like a great idea for a story and because of my love for Carrie Ryan, but I think it was pretty spectacularly disappointing.  I don't recommend it.

From Goodreads:
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?
I truly enjoyed my read of this one - enough that I basically gobbled it up in one sitting.  My only break was on the drive from my work computer (where I stayed late reading) to the house.  Summers does a truly excellent job of capturing teen voices and dealing with incredibly difficult subject matter.  I fee like there are a lot of people who could be reached with the platform she's developing and I'm pleased to see that she's using it to promote empathy and understanding.  Another aspect of the story that I loved was the interracial romance and the way it wasn't addressed as the "issue" of the book.  My one complaint would be that there were elements that were very similar to both Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are.  That didn't stop me from inhaling it and it doesn't stop me from recommending it to readers of contemporary YA as well.

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