Title: Scream All Night
Author: Derek Milman
Release Date: July 24 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Horror, Contemporary
Goodreads Rating: 3.80 (of 975 ratings)
This book was weird – and I think it was meant to be? Honestly, it reminded me a bit of the humor that I used to try to write – stuff was just completely out there and thrown together that was just so odd but kind of worked? I’m not sure. But that’s what this book felt like, but on a whole different level of extreme.
📌 Speaking of the humor, sometimes, it was intriguing, and sometimes, it was just far too much. The story is pitched as dark humor, and trust me, I saw that. It starts off with some super off color humor for me – Dario is getting a call from his estranged brother, and the brother makes a joke regarding Dario’s “homosexual exorcism.” Conversion therapy is nothing to joke about? Ever? And this is literally how the book begins. Later, the book makes another joke about the foster home being a place where boys get touched inappropriately. Again, this is something that I don’t think should ever be joked about. This book doesn’t encourage these jokes and say that they are correct, but it also doesn’t condemn them either – which led me into a complex head space of how I feel about this book. The rest of the story doesn’t really have any jokes quite like this, which is the only reason I kept reading, but still.
The rest of the humor was just…everything I kind of read was, “What did I just read???” Some of it could be witty or intriguing, but nothing was laugh out loud for me. Even though I didn’t really find it super funny, it definitely did provide an unique story that I never knew what was coming.
📌 The plot was wholly unique. This story focuses on Dario getting sucked back into his toxic family who are mavens of the B-movie horror world. The story is about finding yourself and learning that the past does and doesn’t have to define you. It was an odd coming of age story, but it definitely was a coming of age story done in one of the most intriguing ways. There were twists and turns, and while it was almost too odd at times, I was definitely invested.
📌 The characters were intriguing. Dario was vividly complex and dynamic, and he was someone to cheer for. Everyone definitely had a lot of psychology backing them, and Milman paid so much attention to the details. Each of the characters were given much care to their backstories and what made them them. I do have to give Milman a lot of credit for his ability to craft fully unique and complicated characters that really made this story. However, that being said, I wasn’t 100% invested in them despite them being so detailed.
Overall, this was an odd story that was just okay. I was definitely not a fan of the humor at times. However, the characters and the setting (omg, it was such a cool setting – so so so much props for the creation of it) were intriguing, but the story was a bit too scattered and off for me to fully enjoy, so a Cinderella rating.
representation: physical abuse survivor, side character has paranoid schizophrenia
content warnings: physical abuse, parental abuse, death of parent, joke about molestation, joke about conversion therapy, suicide (attempt and success), shooting, sexual content (not graphic at all), and…possibly more but I might have forgotten
Title: A Match Made in Mehendi
Author: Nandini Bajpai
Release Date: September 10 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 3.89 (of 168 ratings)
This book was a mess but pretty adorable – until we got to the ending. This book was sitting at a solid Belle rating, until we got to this last part that completely and utterly threw me off.
📌 The cliches were strong with this one. I mean, throw in every basic YA trope, and we got it: cartoonishly evil mean girl (and her troupe of pink-wearing Mean Girls), half-hearted love triangle (with one being the clear winner from the start with the other half doing something super bad to make us realize, why did we ever like him in the first place???), the gay best friend (only traits: loves makeup, matchmaking, and cheering Simi on), and more. There wasn’t much depth, since this book heavily relied on these cliches to keep the wheels churning for the story. I don’t mind some cliches if they are done in a fun way or are aware of their clicheness, but this just left them simmering.
Speaking of the cliche mean girl, it honestly felt like Amanda – the root of all evil – was a cartoon of how evil she was supposed to be. There was haphazard characterization to give us some context on why she was did the things she did and why she was the way she was. It was way too much to even be close to be believable, for me. Her entire characterization was focused around a boy, and she would do anything to have it.
⚠️ Trigger ⚠️ Let’s talk about what threw me completely off with this story. So, Simi and Noah set up Amanda’s love interest with another girl. What she decides to do is tape Simi and Noah speaking candidly with each other in a personal conversation. Amanda edits them to appear that they’re making fun of her, calls them out for “breaking” the Code of Conduct, and then…decides to air a clip of Noah speaking privately about a crush he has on another guy that is not openly out, which Noah even emphasizes in the conversation.
Um, why is this a plot point? There were a million of other ways that the plot could have escalated, but I can’t see why this outing needed to happen. It instantly formed a pit in the bottom of my stomach. The character in question ended up being gay and had been out – but he wasn’t officially out in the school yet. Amanda forced a character to come out even though he might not have wanted to. This plot point really didn’t sit right with me.
The aftermath of it did showcase that the act was horrifying and some important points on white privilege, etc. However, I just struggled hard with getting over the act itself.
📌 Before the trigger happened, the matchmaking aspect was fun. I loved the concept of the app, and it definitely provided a lot of adorable moments. I loved the whole process and seeing the matches play out. The culture and history of matchmaking in India was so interesting to read about as well. This is totally what had me entertained through so much of the story. I can’t speak to the rest of the #ownvoices rep in this story, but it was present throughout, and it really added another aspect to this story.
📌 It was an easy read. The writing was okay. It just has a light airy feel to it that contemporaries do well. Overall, it was easily got me through this book quickly.
An Elsa rating, because I’m still super torn on how to feel about this book. Overall, it had fun, cute moments, but the cliches and the triggering moment just threw me off.
representation: Indian (desi) MC, Indian love interest, main characters in Sikh religion, gay best friend
content warnings: gay character is outed publicly
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