April 2, 2015

Review: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Publication date: Apr. 7, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
Summary: Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted. Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage. But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again… (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
With a title like The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things, I was expecting the entire book to be... well, bright and shiny. Instead it's more about the dark and twisty things in life but how two people manage to find joy in spite of the unfair circumstances they've been dealt. There's Sage Czinski who is making the most of her second chance. So much so that she tries to be perfect and never lets anyone into the secrets of her past. Then Shane Cavendish, a new kid at school, walks into her class and unwittingly opens Sage up to all sorts of possibilities. Like romance and being honest about what she's endured. But it's not like Shane is looking for a romance or even friendship either. He wants to concentrate on his music, graduate and move on.

Sage is such a refreshing female character. Because of her past, she's had to develop a tough skin and learn how to defend herself, verbally and even physically. She's one tough girl but instead she makes the choice every day to concentrate on the good in life. To give, be kind, forgive. That's a special brand of fierce that requires far more strength than most people recognize. And it's what immediately endeared Sage to me and continued to throughout the entire book. She's such a good friend and when she meets Shane, that's how she approaches him. Simply put, she cares about people and shows it. So when her mothering nature (and Shane's good looks) propel her his way, he has no idea how to react. And it was all sorts of adorable to watch. He wasn't expecting Sage and you can tell he doesn't even think she's for real. But then the moment that he does, talk about the swoons. He's a good guy with his own set of problems and she knows all about that. Their relationship really flourishes and we witness the whole spectrum of it. Awkward beginnings, sharing secrets, spending time together, romance and the eventual obstacles.

Still, the book doesn't just focus on the romance. Friendship is a huge part of it too. At the beginning of the book, Sage has one best friend named Ryan. In fact, he was her only friend. Something happens (vague, I know!) and it turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only does it make the timing of Shane perfect but more importantly, it forces Sage to open up to other people and she needed that. Her aunt also plays a big role in her life and I really enjoyed their relationship. A lot of her need for perfection stems from wanting to show her aunt that she made the right choice in taking her in. It's really heartbreaking to watch Sage not be aware of how amazing she is but that's part of her journey. Love, friendship and family all play a role.

(Super minor) reservations
My only reservation is that there were moments when the book hit a lull, particularly towards the third quarter of the book. And ok, I didn't think the bad guy didn't quite get all that he deserved. (What can I say, Sage is nicer than I am.)

Do I recommend?
I do! It's a great book that I flew through and felt immediately drawn in by the characters.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Write a post-it for each other. 

3 comments:

  1. I just started this one last night. I only got a little of the ways into it but I already cant wait to get home so I can read more!

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  2. This sounds like a fun one. I'm still not sure if it's right for me. Something about it is making me pause. But I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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  3. First of all, A MASSIVE HUG for that sweet Post-it note <3 Second, I love how you talked about Sage in your thoughts about The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. She was definitely my favorite element in the novel, because her desire to keep looking on the bright side in spite of her past hurts was something I could relate to!

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