Review: Things I Can't Forget

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally
Release Date ~ March 1, 2013
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN13: 9781402271908
ARC received from Raincoast Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Things I Can't Forget is easily my favourite of Miranda Kenneally's three books now released. Miranda tackles some very difficult topics here, which could easily make some readers uncomfortable. But she does so thoughtfully, and the story truly reflects an honest portrayal of Kate's struggle.

And while this book may not be the right book for every reader, it's a story that needs to be told. Kate's struggle with faith and what she believes is something that can resonate with everyone, in one way or another, if given the chance.

  1. Faith, doubt, & religion:

    Honestly? I was a bit hesitant about Things I Can't Forget knowing that religion had a large part to play. It's hard to tell how that's going to play out in a book. I consider myself to be religious (specifically Christian), and I was nervous that a book like this would only turn out to be disrespectful. But it isn't. Miranda writes about a turning point in Kate's life, where everything she took for granted seems to be falling apart. She has to acknowledge that maybe she's wrong about some things. That maybe there is no cookie cutter to fit into to be "right". And this felt so personal to me, because I remember when I was younger and this hit me as well when I knew I would have to make some changes for myself. Maybe there are readers who haven't gone through this period of change, but I believe there are enough of us that did to make this book utterly relevant.
  2. A protagonist you won't love right away:

    Kate will likely rub you the wrong way at first. I know she irked me at first too, and I'm saying this as someone who was a lot like her when I was (much) younger. I think it's important to have main characters we don't necessarily like (or possibly even relate to though), because it encourages readers to think outside of our own comfort zone. And it's crucial here to witness Kate's growth. It's almost like putting a face to a name, for those of us who may not have known people quite like Kate in our lives. It makes her story personal and real. Personally, I think it's important for readers to read about characters that aren't always like them, because it's one way for us to push personal boundaries.
  3. A love interest with depth:

    Matt is probably my favourite of the Hundred Oaks boys (probably helps that he reminds me of someone I know in real life). But I loved that Miranda gave him a back story, and that there was a real reason for why he was attracted to Kate. I liked that he had his own issues to work through, but that for the most part he had himself fairly well pulled together. And he had his own life! It didn't revolve around Kate, but he wanted to include her in it. It even felt a bit more mature than I'm used to in YA, but that's great to have some more diversity in romance (in one way or another). 
There were a few loose ends that seemed hastily tied up, and I wish we had explored them a bit more in the book. There are a number of other characters who do some awful things, but unlike Kate we never get a real sense of why. Or even closure. 

I guess part of the reason I loved Things I Can't Forget so much is that it felt like a story for me and my friends. As much as I love reading about YA, and I can usually find something in a character to emphasize with, sometimes their lives and settings aren't familiar to me. And Kate's life is one that could almost be a chapter taken from my life (I'm a sucker for puns and cliches). So I appreciate how different Kate's background story felt, and it's why I loved this book so much. 


Review: Scarlet

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Release Date ~ February 5, 2013
Feiwel & Friends ~ Macmillan
ISBN13: 9780312642969
ARC received from Raincoast Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

I loved Cinder, and I have no idea why I put off reading this one for so long. Admittedly I was anxious about a few things - whether Scarlet would be a lackluster sequel in comparison to Cinder, whether I'd adapt to the change in characters, and whether I had suffered from too a futuristic, sci-fi YA overload.

Thankfully, none of these potential problems came up for me! In fact, I'd even say that I loved Scarlet more than Cinder - the character change ended up being ideal for me, and there was just enough Cinder to keep me happy and focused on the overarching plot of the series.

  1. A fresh cast of characters while keeping familiar favourites:

    The main reason I loved this sequel to Cinder so much? Scarlet. I related so well to her, in ways I'll never relate to Cinder. As much as I liked reading about Cinder, Scarlet reminded me so much of myself (and it helps that she's a little bit older than Cinder, too). I loved her commitment to her grandmother, and her willingness to stand apart from the crowd. And Wolf was ESPECIALLY surprising and intriguing. But I was equally grateful that Cinder played a prominent role in the story, along with Kai (and others)! Plus, we get Thorne on top of all of this. He's the cherry on the Scarlet sundae. :)
  2. Superb world-building:

    Marissa Meyer's world in the Lunar Chronicles is one of my favourites to date from a YA book. You can tell by reading her books how much thought and preparation has gone into creating the setting, which only makes it feel more real and very present while you're reading it. Some big Lunar secrets are revealed, and Scarlet gives us a much better idea of exactly what's going on with Queen Levana's plans.
  3. Strong relationships:

    Relationships are one of the main focuses of Scarlet. And while there's a lot of swooning and romance, I especially appreciate the emphasis on strong friendships and familial relationships. It's so nice to see a wide variety of relationships being appreciated in a YA book, and I'm a big fan of the friendships we witness in Scarlet. Friendships are so important in life, and they get the credit they deserve here!
The hardest part about this book? I'm so attached to all the characters, and I wanted more time with each and every one of them. As a result, there were a few that didn't get the time I felt they deserved or needed for their story to develop as much as it could have - Kai, for example. And Wolf and Thorne as well, to a certain extent. They have fascinating stories all on their own and I know there just aren't enough pages for them... but I still feel like they could have used a bit more face time, although this is a fairly minor complaint. 

I love that these books are ones I can recommend to so many readers, though! There seems to be a bit of something for every taste, and I expect that to continue with the next books as well. :) The Lunar Chronicles will be a new favourite and a new classic for YA fans. 

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