DNF ARC Review: Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond

Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen EmondAuthor:  Stephen Emond
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: August 11, 2015
384 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Roaring Brook Press for letting me read this!

I wanted to like this one. I really, really did. A diverse love story with super cool black and white illustrations throughout? Doesn’t that sound like a perfect book for me? I thought so too.

Walter’s never been in love, until he meets the little sister of one of his best friends and the two hit it off instantly. When Walter’s dad is caught in a race scandal at work, the two of them start getting called out at school for their relationship. Will love prevail?

I loved Walter and Naomi’s banter; they were absolutely adorable. But I found myself getting a little bored of the story. I told myself to keep going, it’d get better. When it didn’t, I put Bright Lights, Dark Nights on hold for a couple of days to read something else. When I finished that, I thought about going back to BLDN, and I honestly just didn’t care enough about the characters to want to. I’m not really sure what it is that I didn’t like. I liked the two main characters and the illustrations, but I just didn’t care about the story. I think it might’ve been because it was set from Walter’s perspective only. This is one of those cases where I think the story could’ve done with more than one perspective – maybe from Naomi’s?

I DO think people will like this one. The theme in BLDN is really relevant right now. The two main characters are interesting, funny, and super adorable. This is one of those books that I can definitely see myself trying again in the future. I’d be interested to see how the story played out.

The bottom line: Interesting concept, maybe not so great execution. I was a little bored and not invested enough to want to continue. But you should give it a shot if you like diverse contemporaries that are relevant to the current issues in our society.

Rating: No rating for a DNF.

ARC Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Devoted by Jennifer MathieuAuthor:  Jennifer Mathieu

Genre: Contemporary, Religion

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

336 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

I’ve been trying to put into words WHY I loved this book so much for over a week now. It’s difficult to write a review for a book that you just loved so much, but I’m going to try.

Devoted, Jennifer Mathieu’s second book, is completely and utterly fascinating. It’s about Rachel, a girl who’s grown up in an uber-religious household (she’s a member of the Quiverfull movement). She’s homeschooled and as the oldest currently living in the house, she’s also expected to take care of all of her younger siblings. Her father is the authority figure and all decisions are made through him. But Rachel is curious and is beginning to question everything she’s been taught. She wants to learn, to read, but that’s not how her family operates.

I LOVED Rachel. I loved her curious mind and her need to question and learn and experience life herself before making decisions. Her journey from faithful, devoted daughter to who she becomes later on (I won’t spoil, just read it!) was beautiful and difficult and I just wanted to reach into the book and hug her and tell her it’d all be alright. I got frustrated with her a few times, but none of her thoughts or decisions felt wrong or unrealistic. She’s complicated and complex, but SO determined to be herself.

This is Jennifer Mathieu’s second book, and I could really see the growth from her first book, The Truth About Alice (which I also really liked). The writing in Devoted was brilliant. Mathieu handles the topic with such care and everything was delicately done. This book was…troubling, for obvious reasons, but it was so powerful. Devoted is quiet and sincere and earnest.

Honestly, my only issue with this book is that I wish we’d had a little more time with Rachel in her household before she started to question. But really, the more I think about this book, the more I love it.

The bottom line: I could go on and on for days about why I think Devoted is brilliant. It’s quiet, powerful, honest, and beautiful. I flagged at least 30 or 40 passages because they were so well-written or difficult to read or powerful. Rachel is such a great character, and you should all meet her. I wish there was a sequel.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

P.S. Thank you so much to Jen for sending me an ARC of Devoted! 🙂