Tag Archives: sex

Book Reviews
April 22, 2012 posted by Kiona

Grow Up — Ben Brooks

DOING DRUGS, DOING SEX, DOING LIFE. Who says youth is wasted on the young? Jasper wants to get on in the world, but life is distracting. He’s got his A-levels to contend with, his mother pushing him to overachieve, weekly visits to his psychologist, come-downs, YouTube suicides and pregnant one-night-stands. And then there’s his step-dad – the murderer. Hilarious and heartbreaking by turns, GROW UP is the ultimate twenty-first-century coming of age novel. Funny, smart and twisted, it is the story of one young man transformed and paints an unashamed and true portrait of the pills and thrills and bellyaches of growing up today.

Jasper spends his days partying with friends, doing drugs, and trying to find evidence incriminating his step-dad as a murderer. He wants to seduce Georgia Treeley, stop one of his best friend’s from hurting herself, and ace his A-levels, as that’s what everyone seems to expect of him.

First thing’s first, this novel is extremely explicit and definitely intended for an older/more mature audience. The author thoroughly details extensive recreational drug use as well as numerous instances of unprotected sex, while also touching upon the topics of teenage suicide, ruminations on rape, self-harm, and the inner workings of the male teenage mind. That being said, Grow Up is an entertaining new coming-of-age story with a quirky, painfully honest protagonist who offers an engaging  and eye-opening view of the world around him. This book will appeal to fans of the UK television show “Skins” and C.W. Paine’s Youth in Revolt.

The major appeal of this Grow Up, for me, is it’s honesty. Ben Brooks depicts the teen male mind in all it’s disgusting glory and doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is. In addition to Ben Brooks bluntly providing a glimpse into the male psyche, his protagonist, Jasper, is also extremely honest with himself. He admits his own flaws and acknowledges that he plans to change some things about himself, but for now, he’s content to be who he is. Jasper may be far from perfect, but he’s a teenager and he acts and thinks like one. Yes, his more ridiculous escapades are laugh-out-loud funny, but his unabashed sweetness and caring disposition endear him to us so that we actually care about these adventures and where they will take him.

There is no major plot-line, which leaves me feeling a little unfulfilled by the book’s end, but I understand that the purpose of the book is to examine Jasper’s coming-of-age. There are minor plot points, such as the mystery of whether or not Jasper’s step-dad actually is a murderer, Jasper’s relationship with his psychologist, and the unfortunate plight of on of his best friends, Tenaya. I would feel more satisfied at the end if Jasper had matured a little more, or “came-of-age.” He feels like a static character to me, and while I love him, I expected more from him. By the end of the book, it seems like he still has the same dreams/goals/plans, but has gained a little insight. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to assume things get better for him or that he gets his act together. I’d like to assume these things, as I want the best for him, but nothing in the conclusion leads me to believe he’s changed all that much. He does learn a lot about himself though, which is rewarding.

Plot aside, Grow Up is masterfully written. Ben Brooks is clearly an authority on metaphors and characterization. Jasper’s voice is potent from the very first sentence so that he leaps off the page and forcefully drags you into the story. The near-poetic language elevates the uproarious humor from juvenile to powerful. This isn’t just a novel about kids having fun and doing drugs, but a complicated story with depth that will make you laugh as much as it makes you think.

Pages: 272
Publication Date: April 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating : ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “Sometimes, when I feel sad or ill, I play the old Avril Lavigne album and think about how happy I was in 2003, when kissing a girl who tasted of Panda Pops at a school disco was enough to make everything seem as though it couldn’t get any better.

Book Reviews
August 10, 2011 posted by Christina

Wither – Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden, Book 1)

“What if you knew exactly when you would die?
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.
When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.
But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.”

Considering that we’ve had three dystopia novels as our Book of the Month this year so far, it’s obvious that not only is dystopia a hot topic, but there have been some amazing novels released on the subject. Wither by Lauren DeStefano is no excepetion.

Sixteen year old Rhine is only four years away from death. Thanks to a genetic flaw, all women die at 20, men at 25. She soon finds herself kidnapped – taken away from her twin brother in New York and sold as a bride to Linden Ashby. Trapped in a polygamous marriage, which has become normal in society, with only four short years left will Rhine resign herself to a life in her mansion prison or will she fight her way back to her brother?

Though I have loved many of this year’s dystopias, their societies resemble one another in a way, so there was always something familiar about each book. About a quarter of the way into Wither it struck me just how original and different the concept was. I can’t say the story was like anything I’d read so far.

From the writing, to the world building, to the characters, Wither was phenomenal – to say I was impressed would be an understatement, I was hooked from the first chapter.

Each character added the light and dark to the story and was so well developed and distinct – even the minor characters left an impression.

The idea of three girls living in a polygamous marriage with their husband is quite dark and strange but was so fascinating and very well presented. The friendship between the sister wives developed slowly but was beautiful to see, but also bittersweet.

Wither has the kind of concept that makes you think. How would you react in that situation? Would you stay, or try find a way out? You find yourself constantly changing your mind about whether you feel Rhine should stay or go, which shows just how involved you become in the story.

The relationship Rhine has with Linden and Gabriel were definitely contrasts but interesting to see how they developed. I’m still not completely sold on how she feels about either- I wonder how much Stockholm Syndrome and proximity played a part, but we’ll just have to see how all that unfolds as the series goes.

It was so nice to pick up a novel with a beautiful cover and not feel betrayed by it – Wither is just as amazing on the inside as it is on the outside.

Dark, emotional and incredible. An absolutely compelling and fantastic novel.

Pages: 358
Publication Date: March 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Challenge: Debut Author
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “She smiles at our husband as she moves, and he blushes, overcome by her beauty. But I know what her smile really means…Her smile is her revenge.”

Book of the Month
January 20, 2011 posted by Christina

Guest Post by Beth Revis

Beth Revis is the author of Across the Universe, an epic sci fi and our Book of the Month for January!

As the author of one of 2011’s most exciting releases, we’ve been lucky enough to take a bit of her time as she addresses an often taboo subject – sex and love in young adult literature. Beth can be found on her website here or on her Twitter – @bethrevis. Also, check out the official website for Across the Universe which features the book’s trailer and a link to the first chapter.

Sex and Love in YA Literature

I never meant to write about sex. I meant to write about murders and mysteries and space and tough decisions and life choices and government and control…but not about sex. However, as I was writing Across the Universe, it came to a point when sex became an inevitable topic, and in order to be honest to my readers and true to the story, I had to write the most difficult scene in the entire book–a scene that made me cry as I wrote it–when my character Amy, a girl from Earth, sees how sex is treated on the spaceship in the future.

I knew that the scene would be touchy, perhaps even controversial, and while I don’t want to ruin the surprise of it for readers who’ve not read yet, I will say that I felt like I had something important to say about sex by the time I wrote about that scene. Sex is a powerful thing, and an important thing, and a wonderful thing, and I don’t think it should be done lightly or casually. When sex becomes nothing more than a physical activity, it loses the emotion–love–that should be behind it, and that is deeply disturbing to me. And that is why I had to write about it.

And, of course, that led me to writing about love. In a society where sex is treated like mating, I wanted Amy to be able to talk frankly about love, too, and how there is a distinction between lust and love. I believe that no matter how far away our society goes from where it is now, love will always be present. But it will also often be difficult. One thing I very much wanted to do was show that love is often not the instant love-at-first-sight that is often portrayed in books and movies. Although Elder falls in love with Amy rather quickly, Amy questions his motives and whether or not his feeling is more of fascination (or obsession) rather than love. I think her refusal of Elder, especially at first, leads him to question how he really feels about her, and that is something I hope my readers do as well. It’s important to ask yourself if you love someone, or just lust after them. That’s a very different thing, even though the feelings may seem the same initially.

In the end, Across the Universe isn’t about love or sex–or, at least, it’s not *just* about love or sex. Love and sex are present because they are a part of the story and a part of the character’s lives. My biggest goal was simply to present them as honestly as I could, and I hope my readers agree!


A big thank you to Beth! For our review of Across the Universe click here, or click here to enter our giveaway.

Across the Universe is available in stores and online now.