Book Review: The Trap by Melanie Raabe

Book Review:
Title: The Trap – English Edition
Author: Melanie Raabe
Date Read: August 11th-September 1st, 2016
Date Reviewed: September 4th, 2016

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Picture VIA Goodreads.

Introduction: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. When I got the book, and read the back cover, I was more than impressed and pushed it to the front of my book review pile. While it took me a while to get to it, I wish I would have gotten to it sooner! This book is part of my top books, and I’m lending it out to my friends so they get introduced to this wonderful story by Melanie Raabe!

Quick Summary: Linda Conrads has been locked up in her house for 11 years. And not because she’s forced to, she wants to. She witnessed a horrible murder of her younger sister Anna many years ago, and she can’t bear to go out to the world anymore. Her small world suddenly turns upside down when she decides to write a novel about the murder and try to discover who the murderer is…

*SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT* You’ve been warned.

Evaluations: I LOVED this book. I was hooked at every word and it only took me so long to read it because I had exams and work. If I would have had it my way, I would have sat down one day and binge read it. I found myself doing that when I finally had the time! This book is totally worth it if you can get your hands on it. It’s a murder-mystery thriller that leaves you thinking the entire time. It’s not a fast moving novel, but if you look a good thriller, it’ll keep you hooked at every word.

Plot: Linda Conrads saw the murderer of her little sister Anna, and now she saw him again. After putting the pen to paper and writing another novel, since she is in fact an award winning novelist, she is determined to find him. When she gets an interview with this man, she learns that her view of the murder might be fiction…and she might be the murderer. This drives her mad, and she becomes even more determined to find out who murdered her sister, to finally put her theories to rest.

Characters: Linda Conrads is a bit of a shut in, and this makes her even more interesting. She’s been stuck in her house for 11 years, and might be a little bit crazy. She’s determined to find out what happened to her sister, and this seems to drive her mad. Her reliability is questioned many times during the novel, and it makes the reader really think about what could have happened. Is our narrator telling the truth? Or is she just to crazy to know the truth? She was well written, and I’m incredibly impressed with her.
The background characters are also fleshed out, even though they are present to a bare minimum. The story is focused on Linda, but these characters become important along the way. Paying attention to them is important! They all play a part.

Themes/Creativity: The theme of this story seemed to be fact vs fiction. Do we honestly remember everything perfectly? As a witness, are we reliable?
For Creativity – this book was on point! I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, since I have never read a book like this before. Even with all the mysteries and thrillers I have picked up, this story was in it’s own category. It has raised the stakes for other novels, and I loved every second of it!

Uniqueness: This book was in a club all on it’s own. While I’m sure there are other novels out there like this, I have yet to encounter something was wickedly thrilling as this novel. I would definitely pick this book up again to see if I missed anything along the way! It’s a unique view on the typical story – you don’t usually see the close relative trying to solve the murder, and they might be the possible suspect.

Strengths: The uniqueness of the novel and the situations, alongside the book inside the book, made this book terribly addicting on my end. I felt having Linda as an author, and explaining her view not only through her experiences but through her novel left me thinking and trying to pick apart the mystery even more. I enjoyed the unique take – Melanie Raabe has won me over with this book.

Weaknesses: The book is a slow building novel. I usually hate slow moving novels, but this novel is quite short and it unique. I would have loved this book not to drone on and on before the action starts, but the book was still great regardless!

Score: 5/5
This book is unique, and while it was slow I don’t think that should ruin the score. It gave all the information you needed to try to solve the mystery yourself. Everything seemed to have a purpose.

Recommendations: I would love Melanie Raabe to work on a faster pace. This book left me wishing it moved faster, since it was so incredibly great! I can see some people putting the book down because of how slow it moves, and I really hope that doesn’t happen! This translation is incredible, and deserves it’s glory!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

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Book Review: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

Book Review:
Title: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Author: Kody Keplinger
Date Read: July 22-August 11th, 2016
Date Reviewed: September 4th, 2016

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Picture VIA Goodreads.

Introduction: I decided to read this book because I wanted to watch the movie, despite hearing that the movie is nothing like the book. I had seen this book on the shelves in my local bookstore for quite some time, but I just never felt the need to pick it up until the movie appeared. My friends who read the book gave mediocre reviews of the novel which made me unsure of whether it was worth it – but it was! I enjoyed this novel!

Quick Summary: Bianca Piper is your average, everyday high school student. She deals with trying to get into college/university, family issues and friendships. When she has to work with the hot Wesley Rush (who also happens to get around the school) he mentions that she is a “Duff” – a designated, ugly, fat friend. Every group has one, and Bianca is apparently it! With the mixture of her home troubles and high school life, her and Wesley begin to get closer together…and this novel is their story.

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! You’ve been warned.

Evaluations: I enjoyed this book. It definitely wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a nice YA novel to just shut my brain off to. It has it’s cliches, but it still is worthy in my mind. It wasn’t a slow read either, the plot continued to move which made it enjoyable. I don’t understand the high reviews the book received, since it wasn’t a top tier, new idea kind of YA book. The appeal of the book for the YA audience is great – I think people who enjoy the Young Adult book scene will enjoy this book, although it wouldn’t be the first YA book I suggest people to read. It’s more of a soap opera, low key Pretty Little Liars kind of book.

Plot: The plot was pretty average – “Duff” friend gets hot guy. She deals with familial/romantic/friend issues and tells the guy, the guy feels for her and sleeps with her a lot, and eventually they get together. It is definitely a more “realistic” kind of YA novel, and I appreciate that, but there wasn’t anything super, crazy new that made me think “Yes, this is the YA novel that ups my standards!”. The plot did work well within itself though – Kody did not veer off in random directions, she continued chugging along the right way and kept her book going.

Characters: Bianca’s a strong character, much like all the other YA heroines these days. She did have her flaws – there was a boy’s over health matter that left me feeling a little stingy – but for a YA audience she definitely fit in. Headstrong female with some flaws to try to relate to the general audience. Pre-teens would definitely enjoy this character, but as an adult she wasn’t totally fleshed out as much as I would have liked her to be. She is very obsessed with herself (but what YA character isn’t, let’s be honest), but in high school the world tends to revolve around high schoolers, not the bigger picture. If she were a college student or an adult, this type of character would be a much bigger issue.
Bianca also ditched her friends as soon as she dated Wesley…
Speaking of Wesley… He was the ‘perfect’ boy character, in my opinion. He was not very realistic – chasing after Bianca, and only staying with Bianca, and being generally the perfect, opposite character for her. While it’s nice in fiction, I didn’t see it realistic. I could not see any boys I know acting in his way.

Themes/Creativity: Wuthering Heights is mentioned a lot and the boys are compared to Linton and Heathcliffe – This was okay, and I thought it was nice to mention a book like this so maybe more teenagers will read it, but it definitely did not fit in the story. A teenager wrote this, and I’m proud of her writing skill and getting published, but it felt out of place. Creativity? A+! Theme wise? Meh.
Feminism was clearly attempted, and I’m proud of that too! But…there’s a but…it also felt very forced. Everyone loves the hot guys but not the main character? While everyone wants to think they are like that in high school, it’s far out of reach. Not entirely realistic, and it kind of bugged me. It was your typical YA stereotype, and not a more realistic or unique take on it. And saying men can’t be a feminist? *sigh*

Uniqueness:
Unique topic? Yes! The Duff is definitely a term I’ve heard before, and I’ve never seen it written the way it was in this novel. I appreciate that this was brought into terms, since girls (and everyone else for that matter! but in this book girls) feel like the Duff in their group of friends.
YA uniqueness? Meh. Not totally uniquely written as a YA novel. It was cookie cutter, had stereotypes, and was overall your typical YA. It didn’t stand out for me, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be unique to a new YA reader. I’ve read YA for over 10 years, so at this point it doesn’t seem all that new to me.

Strengths: Bringing up important topics – while they weren’t all brought up in the best possible way (in my opinion) they were still discussed. Feminism, Wuthering Heights, feeling like “the Duff” – all of this is brought up and is discussed. It gets people thinking and starts a conversation, which is what we really need in today’s society.

Weaknesses: Bianca. Yes, the main character is perhaps the biggest weakness – her ideas on feminism, her idea that sleeping with people means you are a slut, ditching her friends for Wesley, the world revolving around her…the list goes on. She was definitely a strong main character and Kody tried, but I found her to be the worst part of the novel.

Score: 4/5
I really enjoyed this novel, but it had it’s weaknesses. Would I read it again? Probably not. Would I suggest it to others? Yes. It might not be the first book I suggest to people, but it’s recommendation worthy. Kody was a teenager when she wrote this, and if other teenagers could read this book and realize they could write a great novel as well, then recommending it is my duty!

Recommendations: I can’t wait for Kody’s next book! As she matures out of her teenage years, I’m sure her characters will grow as well! Life experiences can often help writers mature their characters! I would personally love for Kody to flesh out her characters more and explore new opportunities and situations in her books. This book was amazing for being written by a teenager!!