Completed Series: Part 1

I decided today that I’d make a post of my completed series because I find these posts interesting to read.I decided to split this post up into two parts so that it wouldn’t be too long. I won’t talk about each one in a lot of detail because then this post would be really long but I will talk about my overall opinion of the series. These will be ordered in chronological order from the first series I completed to the latest series I completed and it will only include series where all the books have been released(excluding companion novels).

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing GirlsGenre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 368
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: YABirmingham
Format: Proof copy
Rating: 5 stars
Buy the Book: Waterstones, Amazon, The Book Depository
Goodreads
Blurb:
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

Q&A With Lauren Oliver

Yes this is a Q&A with Lauren Oliver. Lauren Oliver is currently in the UK to promote the paperback release of Panic and she was in Birmingham last night but unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to family plans. However, Hodder contacted me and asked if I wanted to do an interview with Lauren Oliver and of course I said yes! Unfortunately I couldn’t do it in person because she was only in Birmingham for one day unlike quite a few people who could. I did it today over the phone and I was so nervous. I’m always nervous when I’m on the phone because I absolutely despise phone calls but I was also nervous because it’s Lauren Oliver! She is one of my favourite authors and I love her writing so I was nervous to speak to her. In fact, I was so nervous to the point where I wanted to cancel the interview because I didn’t think I could get through it. However I did, obviously and that’s what this post is all about clearly. I had to record the conversation and then type up her answers but I tried to keep it as exact as possible. Thank you to Lauren Oliver for her time and also thank you to Hodder for the opportunity. Let’s get started. (By the way listening to this conversation back really made me realise why I hate phone calls so much. I’m so awkward in them and my voice is horrendous)

1. Is there one of your books that holds a more special place in your heart than the others?

Well, you know, all of my books mean different things to me so it’s hard to say but I do think that in some ways actually my middle grade book, Liesl and Po, is the most personal book I’ve written just because I wrote it after the death of one of my dearest friends and my ex-boyfriend so I would say that Liesl and Po holds a special place for me.

2.What type of scenes are your favourite to write?

That is a difficult question. To be honest the easiest stuff to write for me is description but I think that’s true of a lot of writers. It’s really hard to write scenes where there are a lot of characters trying to interact and move around so that’s really challenging. I would say that my favourite scenes to write are dialogue between two people. I like to write friendly or romantic banter but yeah I really love writing descriptions too of houses and woods and trees and settings.

3. You’re most well known for your Delirium trilogy and the world is quite unique. How did you come up with it?

Well as I just said I love writing descriptions of trees and well I’ve always been interested in survival stories. When I was growing up, I loved a book which was about somebody who moves into the wilderness and makes him in a tree. One of the inspirations for Panic when I wrote it was thinking about things like Survivor and game shows where there are alliances and people are making deals so that stuff is always in my consciousness, the idea of surviving in the wilderness. I also grew up in a place where there was a lot of woods and we would go wandering all summer and through the forest and pretend that we were the only people still alive.

4. The ending to Requiem was quite open-ended. What made you decide to end Requiem the way you did?

First of all, I prefer things that are open ended. I am the kind of person who did not, for example, like the epilogue to Harry Potter. I like the opportunity to have readers exercise their own imagination and to think of what must and will come afterwards. In terms of the romantic choice, I just didn’t feel morally or ethically that ending with a romantic choice is the right message to communicate to people because it’s not a culminating moment of Lena’s life to decide who she wants to be with.

5. Where did the idea for Panic come from?

I was partly inspired in the plotting of it by things such as Survivor and TV shows like that. However the idea actually came from a fairy tale. There’s a Grimm’s fairy tale called “The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear”. It’s a humourous fairy tale but it’s about a boy who is basically too stupid to feel fear and he ends up becoming very successful and he marries a princess because he has successfully spent 3 nights alone in a haunted house and the king has said that anyone who can do this can marry his daughter. But it got me really thinking in terms of fear and why some people are able to face fear whereas others kind of spend their lives really minimalising situations in which they feel fear. The idea of fear challenges really came from that fairy tale. 

6. Is there a specific moral or message you wanted to put across in Panic?

I think most of my books share a common message. I realise that in retrospect that all of my teen books feature characters who at the start of the novel, they are very fear motivated. Sam in Before I Fall is really afraid of  losing her social status and discovering she’s a loser and fraud. Lena in Delirium is obviously afraid of doing anything to disappoint her society and family. Heather is, at the start, very afraid that she’ll be like her mum and that she’s a nobody so I think that the message in all of my books is that it’s really impossible to live an authentic life when you are driven or motivated by fear and you have to really not ignore fear, you have to embrace it in order to move past it.

7. Both Panic and Requiem are written in dual point of view. Did you find it easier to write one character over the other while writing these?

I don’t know actually, I mean in some ways it was challenging to write Hana just because I had to really strike a balance between making her sympathetic or interesting but also not be really emotive because she’s had the cure so I think that that was really challenging.

8. Your next book Rooms is an adult novel. Was it easier to write an adult novel compared to YA?

No, I don’t think either one is easier because it depends on the book itself. Honestly, Rooms was quite hard but that’s because it has 6 different points of view. It takes place in the first person, third person, past tense and present tense. So structurally it was really difficult. Also structurally telling the story from the perspective of the rooms and ordering it that way was really challenging. In some ways, Panic was the most challenging book I’ve ever written just because after writing a series for so long, it’s very difficult to transition into a totally different world and I had a lot of agony and anxiety over it.

9. Rooms is also a ghost novel and you’ve mentioned in ask Lauren Oliver that you live writing ghost stories. Where did your love for ghost stories come from?

I don’t know. I like thinking about the afterlife because I think it’s quite interesting. Also, I kind of have a sort of spooky sensibility. I love things with a little bit of darkness and a little bit of fantastical qualities. I think it might have also been possibly because I did not grow up in any particular religion so I’ve always had to think about that kind of stuff for my self and make decisions on it so maybe that’s where it came from. 

10. Since it is an adult novel, will it still be suitable for your younger readers?

Yeah absolutely. I mean there is content in it. I mean there is sex, there isn’t graphic depictions of it but there is some. For most of my mature teen readers, it’s fine. In fact, one of the points of view is actually a teenage boy so I think there will be some of my teen readers who will really love it and find it the same sort of quality of stuff to love, some of the thematic stuff. However, there will be some teen readers for whom it is not appropriate for their level of reading and comfort. 

11. Many people might not know about Rooms so if you were to summarise it in one sentence, what would it be?

(quite a few Umm’s occurred here as she considered this question) miracle literary modern ghost story.

12. You also have another book coming out called The Vanishing Girls. If you had to summarise that in one sentence, what would it be?

Two sisters, once inseparable, in the aftermath of an accident.

13. Finally, are you currently writing on any more books or do you have any more planned?

Yes definitely. I’m working on another teen book right now and another adult book.

Listening to all of that back just made me realise just how socially awkward I can be! However, I hope you enjoyed that and again massive thanks to Lauren Oliver and to Hodder for the Q&A. If you’re interested go check out my review of Panic and definitely go buy a copy.

Sofia

 

 

 

YABirmingham’s John Green Fanparty

Hey! I’m at home, recovering from my amazing and fabulous weekend that I spent with all my awesome friends. We all slept over at one friend’s house after a very amazing Saturday night. I’m not going to talk about my time with my friends but instead I’m going to talk in detail about Saturday night.

First, after meeting one of my old friends, I went down to Waterstones to meet up with my friends: Veena, Priya, Ambi, Makayla, Asmaa and Hadia. We were just hanging out in there before going to eat when Priya and Ambi found a leaflet with a list of all the upcoming events at Waterstones. Now we are all very regular customers at Waterstones and some of us are also part of their reviewer team at YABirmingham(Definitely go check them out, they are fabulous) and they had hinted that they were announcing three exciting new events tonight. We were all excited to find out what it was so when we found this leaflet we all started squealing slightly. The first exciting event was the launch party for Alice Oseman’s Solitaire(which I received this week from HarperCollins). We were all very excited because we all wanted to read Solitaire(I’m actually starting it today!) and had talked to Alice before on twitter and she was freaking amazing. The next event was a signing with the ever so amazing Lauren Oliver! I’m a big fan of Lauren Oliver and I love all of her books(well at least the ones I’ve read) and I’m so excited to meet her. If you’re interested click here to see my review of Panic and click here for my amazing friend Ambi’s review of Delirium. The final event on the leaflet was for their Maze Runner fan party! They had had three fan parties previously(City of Bones, Divergent and City of Heavenly Fire) and we were there on that night for their fourth one which was for The Fault In Our Stars. I would like to go to all their fan parties because I enjoy them all so much! We immediately bought tickets for all three events and went to eat, already buzzing with excitement.

We then went to the party and met some of our twitter friends(Zarin, Madi, Charli and Maryam)and formed the super TFIOS team quiz of “The Hectic Glow”. We all sat down to do the quiz which we were all excited about and wanted to win badly. We had allocated chapters to everyone and made sure that we all knew our trivia. We ended up getting 19 out of 20 and we were scared that someone would get full marks but we won! We honestly started screaming and jumping up and down a bit with excitement. We were so nervous we wouldn’t win because we all started arguing about the French of Hazel’s pipe t-shirt and what the correct grammar was but we didn’t need it and thanks to Priya, we got that question right. We won fabulous t-shirts, a poster SIGNED by John and Hank Green and various other little goodies. We then went downstairs and all of us were handed amazing goodie bags with 2 free books in them, including Will Grayson, Will Grayson! Next was the time for book browsing(as all books were on buy one,get one half price) and raffle ticket buying! At all of these events I had always spent around £7 on raffle tickets and never won. This time I told myself I wouldn’t spend that much but this time the raffle tickets were half the price so I still spent £7…. When it came to the raffle, my raffle tickets were picked out three times! I was so shocked but I had already got the prizes due to winning the quiz. Because of this, the kind worker took us to the cupboard and she let me pick out three books in exchange. I ended up getting Shattered, Code Name Verity and Popular. After that sadly the event was over but we were all so hyper.

Honestly, if you live in Birmingham you should definitely check these parties out as they are only £1 to get a ticket yet they are just so much fun!  At the first ever party, I just stood around and didn’t talk to anyone whereas at this one I talked to so many people and got to know everyone. Honestly, these parties have made me more confident as a person and I have YABirmingham to thank for that. Honestly thank you Gem and Bex and everyone who is involved in organising these events. If you are reading this, I want you to know how much these parties and your blog have changed me and made me a happier and confident person! I’m so happy that you’re getting people to realise that Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK because we always get missed out! I’m so excited for the future now for YA and for Birmingham. Thank you. If you are interested in checking them out, click here to go their blog and here to go to their twitter.  Also click here to check out the details about the three upcoming events that they are having.

Thank you for reading,

Sofia.

This is all of us in the fabulous t-shirts that we won. Unfortunately, that's me being awkward and still being on the floor when they took the photo! Damn my short legs!!
This is all of us in the fabulous t-shirts that we won. Unfortunately, that’s me being awkward and still being on the floor when they took the photo! Damn my short legs!!

Panic by Lauren Oliver

I am determined to write a proper review today so I thought I’d choose the last book I finished which was Panic by Lauren Oliver. I am a big fan of Lauren Oliver’s writing having read her Delirium trilogy which I absolutely adore. However going into Panic I was a bit hesitant since it hadn’t had the best reviews. However, I did end up really loving it. Overall, I really enjoyed the writing and the plot and I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. Let’s start with the full spoiler-free review.

Panic is all about a series of tough challenges that are created to make the competitors, well panic. Reading about these challenges terrified me because they were all so scary! I couldn’t even begin to imagine doing them for myself. This may have been just me, but when they starting doing the challenges I was always confused with what they had to do. It might have been just me not paying enough attention but I kept saying “Why are they in water?” and “What is she doing in the road?”. Carrying on from that, the start of this book really confused me because it started out during a challenge but then went back in time to the start of the challenge. The first few pages were confusing but once I got past them, I was so engrossed and I didn’t want to put it down. The challenges made the book suspenseful and intense and I loved that!

Heather was an excellent main character. She was strong and she dealt with all the various issues she had to deal with throughout the whole novel. Participating in Panic, she went through quite a lot with the tough challenges. On top of that she also went through a lot of personal issues in her life. I really admired the fact that she could deal with both challenges at the same time and not go crazy.

Since it is a Lauren Oliver book, there was a range of amazing supporting cast such as Nat and Bishop. But the other main character was Dodge. Dodge I didn’t really understand and whenever it was one of his chapters, I was counting the pages until Heather’s next chapter. I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it was just in Heather’s perspective. Dodge does go through a lot and he is probably the most determined to win but I just couldn’t connect to him. All of her characters had their own unique story and I loved that. Bishop was a great character and I honestly wish we knew more about him and I wish we explored him better. Actually I would have liked it, if the book was split between Heather’s and Bishop’s POV instead of Dodge’s because it would have given us as readers a sense of dramatic irony.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the lack of romance. Most YA books have a romance as a central story that keeps popping up everywhere but in Panic the romance was very much on the down low. There still was one but the book focused more on the challenges and I loved that. When I went into it, I wanted romance since I’d been reading romance for a while beforehand but there was simply no space for anymore romance in the story when most of the story is all about tough challenges.

For anyone who has read Requiem, you will probably have experienced the fact that Lauren Oliver isn’t exactly the best at writing endings to stories and this unfortunately showed in Panic. I found the ending to be a bit of a cop out and slightly rushed. If the book was a little bit longer, it could have been almost perfect.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and Lauren Oliver’s writing but I wanted a better ending! A solid 4 out of 5 stars to this novel and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes action and suspense.

Dystopian Worlds:Delirium

Now, I have read quite a few dystopians in my life and honestly all of them take place in some pretty scary worlds! I thought I’d do a series on some of the scariest dystopian worlds and why they are so scary! I’m going to start with the Delirium world which was created by Lauren Oliver, because honestly it’s a unique world.

This world is based on the concept of love. The government in this series have convinced the civilians that love is bad and it’s a disease. They have made it so that once you turn 18, you get an injection to make you lose the ability to love. Now this stops all types of love;motherly love, sisterly love etc. It’s a crazy concept and honestly I don’t know how it would go down in the real world. If some world leader was to just declare love a bad thing, I don’t think everyone will just agree. This is show in the books through the resistance. But honestly in real life, I don’t see anyone agreeing. I would really like to see Lauren Oliver write a novel or series about how this came to be. How did anyone actually agree to that concept? All of the people I know would be part of the resistance, especially me because I can’t imagine living in a world where I can’t feel my mothers love. As described by Lena in the books, it was wrong to hug your children and sing and dance with them and most of my happy memories are with my mother. I can’t imagine not having those moments because honestly they were amazing parts of my life.

Also I don’t know how happy I’d be with the whole choosing your partner aspect of it. It’d just be hard because honestly you can’t know how well suited two people are just by looking at some common hobbies. I’m sure there are many guys out there who enjoy reading and watching TV but that doesn’t make us suited. I wouldn’t trust the government with my future because I could end up with someone who is just terrible but hides it(like Hana) or you could end up with someone who lied on the paper, because not every tells the truth. The idea that you get put with someone else really scares me.

Another thing I wouldn’t enjoy is being segregated from the opposite gender. Now I go to an all girls school, so I spend most of my time around girls but in primary school , some of my main friends were in fact guys. I’m not really sure how much I would enjoy being constantly around girls all the time because honestly girls can get very bitchy. I would end up being like Hana, rebelling and going to parties because honestly life in that world sucks. I would honestly want to know what it would be like to go to parties and listen to songs that were banned, because not everyone likes the same things.

Lauren Oliver wrote a beautiful series about a scary world that I could never imagine living in. In fact, I don’t think this will ever happen and I hope it doesn’t. Most dystopian worlds aren’t likely to ever happen and honestly I think the Delirium world is the world I’d hate the most. Most dystopian worlds involve a lot of fighting and hatred towards the government(as Delirium later develops into) but this one scares me because everyone just agrees with it and there isn’t much violence but the world still freaks the hell out of me.