Mini-reviews: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko + A Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

pub 8/9/16 by St. Martin's Press
YA - Contemporary
Gifted from DJ (Thanks!)
I have DJ to thank for putting this on my radar. I had never heard of it before but when I saw that it was a cross between The Fault in Our Stars and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (I've read both!), I was intrigued. And surprisingly, the comparison was spot on. Ivan Isaenko has been a resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus his entire life. His days are routine so he fills them with games that usually involve terrorizing nurses and fellow residents and amusing himself in some not-so-nice ways. Then Polina arrives and she doesn't play by the rules any more than he does. So naturally he's drawn to her and she to him, despite the upheaval she brings to his life. But it's obvious how much he needed change. And likewise, she needed someone who wasn't afraid to be honest and quite frankly, rude, to her if necessary. It's definitely not a conventional love story by any means. At one point, I even considered putting it down because Ivan is not easy to connect with or even sympathize with for the majority of the book. Which is why I was surprised to find myself crying in the end. Somehow, without me even realizing, I had begun to care about Ivan's story and moved by how it unfolded.

Do I recommend? I do! It wasn't an easy book for me to get into but it was totally worth it to stick it out.

pub 6/14/16 by Simon & Schuster
for Young Readers
YA - Contemporary
It's unpopular opinion time but... I didn't love this as much as everyone else did! However, I will start by telling you what I did like. It's about Graham, who's been secretly in love with his best friend Roxy since they discovered their mutual Harry Potter obsession eight years ago. Now their thing is comic books. He's a promising writer, she's a talented illustrator. And with New York Comic Con around the corner, Graham believes the best time to tell Roxy how he feels is by scoring tickets to a rare event with the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena. It's the perfect plan until every possible thing goes wrong. We follow Graham, Roxy and their friends throughout the next three days of the convention, mainly watching Graham try to figure out what to do. And as someone who tends to root for the underdog, I absolutely rooted for him. I wanted him to get the girl. On the other hand, I didn't feel much of anything for Roxy. In fact, I thought we got to know the secondary characters way better while she remained a distant fantasy. Which is why things fell a bit flat for me. I didn't really see what Graham was seeing and I didn't think we got nearly enough exposure to their friendship. I think if they, as BFFs, clicked with me, the entire book would've resonated with me more.

Do I recommend? Honestly, I do. The NYCC setting and seeing them all geek out over different fandoms is super fun and Graham's antics certainly made laugh (I really did adore him).

1 comment

  1. Interesting. This was the first lukewarm review I've seen for Geek's Guide. I'm still on the fence on if I'll check it out although your opinion has made me curious to see how the characterization is handled now!


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