Review Friday: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

38255342The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by: Kiersten White

Released: September 25 2018

Pages: 304

Rating: * * * *

Goodreads

Amazon

 

 

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

As an English major, I’ve encountered the story of Frankenstein, and it’s many variations, more times than I can count. And in most of these variations, spin-offs, retellings, etc., two things tend to pop up: Victor Frankenstein is a dark, broody, dream-boat that we’re supposed to swoon over and root for, and the age-old question “who really is the monster here?” It’s been done ad nauseam at this point, and I figured that this novel would be just another to add to the list.

I was wrong.

This is, in all actuality, Elizabeth’s story, which is the best. In the original, she is Victor’s cousin and future wife, and plays a very small role, which I was always bitter about. I always wanted to get more insight into the major players in Victor’s life, and how they interacted with him, and how they humanized him, and whatnot. So, it was a joy that this book is so very much about Elizabeth, and her journey. And what a brilliant character she is. She’s so far from the typical love interests that we see in these different takes on Victor Frankenstein. She’s not a damsel. She’s not an angel. She’s not a sweet darling. She’s a beautifully complex, and grey, character. Sure, she has a good side, we all do. She’s a fiercely loyal friend, she fights for the underdog, and she can be very loving. But this is a girl who knows what it means to struggle. She understands that, basically, her entire life hinges on making people like her, and take care of her, and she has no problem keeping that at the full-front of her mind. She has no problem laying on the charm to keep her options open. Her survival depends on it. So even when we see her make some maybe-not-so-sweet decisions, we find it hard to fault her for it. She’s just a girl trying to escape a life of poverty, abuse, and misery. How can you blame her for that?

The portrayal of Victor Frankenstein in this version is everything I’ve ever wanted. From the get go, we understand that Victor is not right. The way he behaves is not okay. He’s not tall, dark, and brooding. He’s wrong. Just, naturally, fundamentally, and intrinsically wrong. We’re not supposed to see him as this romantic, misunderstood boy, even if that’s how Elizabeth sees him. We’re supposed to believe that this is unhealthy, and it’s set up that way immediately, which I appreciate so much. It makes both of them, Victor and Elizabeth, far more interesting characters, and it makes reading the novel that much more intriguing, and thought provoking. It keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, not in an action-y way, but in an emotional way. There are moments where we see Elizabeth’s humanizing affects on Victor, and we might find ourselves slipping, and rooting for this relationship to work, but then Victor will do or say something, and it’ll knock us right back into “this boy is not right.”

Where my feelings on this novel get a little confusing is here: this novel is very much about an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship. And while I love that about the novel, because it makes the story so complex, and it’s such an important topic to talk about, especially in teen fiction, I also find it so hard to read. Because I was in a emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship. So, often times while reading this, probably more than most other people will, I found myself siding with Victor, or with Elizabeth when she’s making unhealthy decisions, just for Victor’s benefit. Then I’d have to stop myself and say, “No, this is unhealthy. I’m not supposed to be supporting this.” And that was hard for me sometimes. But, in saying that, I can admit that this was a very real, and accurate depiction of what being in a relationship like this is like. Yes, part of why Elizabeth makes some of these choices lies in her desire to stay off the streets, but it’s also equally just about Victor, and wanting to keep him happy, and make him love her. And that’s so toxic, and damaging. But it’s real, and it’s important to talk about, and I’m so glad that Kiersten covered it here, and that she did it so well.

This book, while hard for me to get through here and there, was so beautifully done. You can tell that it was painstakingly researched, and that Kiersten has a deep love for the story. The writing was lush, and poetic, but also brutal, and harsh. She did a fantastic job of marrying so many different moving parts: Elizabeth’s journey to self-reliance, Victor’s horror story, the mystery, the happy moments, the gruesome moments. All of it. Also, the friendships in this novel were outstanding. The girl love was so sweet, and genuine, I found myself smiling so wide whenever Elizabeth and Justine, or Elizabeth and Mary, were on the page together. Elizabeth and Henry’s relationship was also wonderful. It very easily could’ve devolved into the tropey love-triangle we’re all sick-to-death of, but it didn’t. It was handled just right, and I loved it.

This is, by far, the best re-telling of this story that I’ve ever read. Except for my own personal issues about the topic, which is of no-fault of Kiersten’s, this book was perfection, and I will absolutely be recommending it to anyone looking for more Frankenstein stories.

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Top 5 Wednesday: Book List for Class on [pick genre/trope/etc]

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

Just in time for back to school, create a reading list for a class on a bookish topic of your choice.

I swear, this topic was MADE FOR ME. As I’m planning on becoming a English teacher, this is something that I’ve put ENDLESS amounts of thought into, and what I’ve decided to go with, if you checked out my discussion post on My History With History, shouldn’t surprise any of you: WWII and the Holocaust.

1.) Code Name Verity by: Elizabeth Wein.

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Annnnnnd absolutely ZERO of you are shocked. I’ve talked about this book to death (most notably here), so y’all know that I adore it. But, it’s more than just my love of it that got it put on this list. It’s just, such a glimpse into WWII, and specifically women in WWII, that is so rarely shown in other WWII media. Women pilots, women spies, women mechanics, etc. It’s just, such an important, and broad, perspective that is so rarely shown, and I’d love to expose my students to it.

2.) The Librarian of Auschwitz by: Antonio Iturbe.

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This is another book that I’ve gone into more depth on this blog already, here. This book earns it’s spot on my list due to the way that it manages to shine light on a very unsung hero of this horrible time period. All during my years of self-education on WWII and the Holocaust, I’d never heard of Dita, or the Family Sector at Auschwitz, until I read this book. There’s also the part where this book uses a fictional story to bring redemption to a non-fictional, historical figure. Which is SO FREAKIN’ COOL. I’m always here for showing students that books, even fictional ones, can serve a greater purpose than just entertainment.

3.) The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak.

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Annnnnnnd again, ZERO people are surprised. But, again, the fact that this is my second favorite book of all-time isn’t what got it on this list. So often in media, Germany as a whole is depicted as the “bad guy” of WWII. We’re lead to believe that everyone in Germany was a Nazi, and was completely aware of all of the atrocities that were being carried out in their country, and all across Europe, and were complicit in it. And, that’s just not the case. I think that The Book Thief does and excellent job of demonstrating this. It shows us the reality that, yes, SOME of the people of Germany were in the know, and were complicit, but some weren’t. Some were just people that were doing what they had to do to survive, and were none the wiser to the horrors that were being conducted by their countrymen. It’s an important perspective to portray, and discuss.

4.) Between Shades of Gray by: Ruta Sepetys.

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And yet again, we have a book that I’ve gone into greater detail about, here. With this one, we have another case of “I had no idea this was even a thing until I read this book.” At no point in time was the genocide of the Baltic peoples by Stalin ever taught to us in school. Heck, we didn’t even talk about Stalin beyond the mention that he was the leader of Russia at the time, and they were our ally. Like, that’s it. So, this is another opportunity to shed light on a facet of WWII that is so rarely talked about.

5.) The War Outside by: Monica Hesse.

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This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. My interest in this book, and what earned it a spot on this list, is the same: there are so few depictions of what life was like in American Internment Camps. This is a apart of American history that is so completely glossed over. I wasn’t even aware that Internment Camps were a thing until I got to college. So, again, we have a chance to impart on students a narrative that they, most likely, have never been exposed to before.

Top 5 Wednesday: Redemption Arcs

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

I think it’s about time to revisit this topic shall we?

I feel like, more often than not, TV does redemption arcs better than books. So, most of these are gonna be from TV, but some books will show up too. Now, because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, I’m not going to mention character names. You’re just gonna have to read/watch whatever thing I’m talking about to find out what character/s gets their redemption 😉

1.) Shameless.

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Just gonna get this outta the way: THIS SHOW HAS THE BEST REDEMPTION ARC EVER IN IT. Like, OMG. When this arc reached it’s completion, I was a HYSTERICAL SOBBING MESS. It was, just the most gratifying, and soul-crushing, heart-melting thing I’ve ever witnessed. It’s just a shame that the show COMPLETELY MESSES IT UP. But, that’s a completely different matter.

2.) Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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I mean, come on. Y’all HAD to know this was coming. THIS is typically considered the Greatest Redemption Arc of all-time, and I can accept that, I just happen to be more invested in Shameless’s (for personal reasons), BUT THIS IS A VERY, VERY, VERYYYY CLOSE SECOND. Like, holy crap. This, yea, this was a masterpiece. No arguments from me.

3.) Steven Universe.

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Ahhh, another one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITES!!! The redemption arc in this one was one that I saw coming from a mile away, but that didn’t affect how much I ADORED it IN THE LEAST!!! It was so adorable, and heartwarming, and charming. It made me “SQUEE” like a little girl, and brought the BIGGEST smile to my face. Like, I was OBNOXIOUS on the internet about it.

4.) Strange the Dreamer by: Laini Taylor.

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Oh God was this good. Like, so freaking good? TOO freaking good. I’ve said it to death at this point, but it’s true: Laini Taylor is a Word Witch. She literally makes magic happen on the page. And the way that she made the redemption arc play out in this duology was just, so brilliant, and heartbreaking, and shocking, and PAINFUL in the best possible way. She will never stop astounding me with her craft. She’s an actual genius.

5.) Shades of Magic series by: V.E. Schwab.

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This redemption arc wasn’t unique, wasn’t the most ground-breaking, or heart-breaking thing. It was just solid, and good. Which is FINE! Not everything has to move mountains and earth for you to appreciate it. It just needs to be done well, and with care. And that’s what this was. And that’s why I love it. It was exactly the kind of redemption arc that I wanted, and was expecting, and it made me feel good. That’s it. And that’s enough.

Tag Tuesday: Dreamy Book Covers Tag

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I saw this tag floating around somewhere and fell in love with it! We need more tags that focus on how beautiful books are ON THE OUTSIDE!!! So, I’m gonna do it!

RULES:

  • Thank the person who tagged you (Lol, no one ever tags me).
  • Mention the creator of this tag: Tiana @ The Book Raven
  • Use the original tag image in your post.
  • At least tag one fellow blogger to do this tag!
  • List the rules.

“No Ideas But in Things” – A book cover that perfectly expresses the novel inside it:

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Wildwood by: Collin Meloy. This cover does such a great job of squeezing in so many of the elements of the story into it (and it’s absolutely stunning!)

“Dark and Lovely” – A book cover that is so creepalicious you just want to eat it up:

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Tinder by: Sally Gardner. Scary wolf is scary.

“Sugary Sweet” – A cute cover that is so fluffy you want to give it a hug:

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The Thai edition of We Are the Ants by: Shaun David Hutchinson. Look at it!!! It’s so freakin’ cute!

“The Simple Aesthetic” – A book cover that stuns with the most minimalistic of design:

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Gotta go with my Favorite edition of The Messenger by: Markus Zusak. Gah! It’s so awesome. I love it so much.

“Cover Envy” – A book cover you wish you had on your shelves, but don’t yet:

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My long sought after, Slovenian edition of The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak. This thing has been on my “must obtain” list for the longest time! But international shipping is THE WORST. But look at it! That silhouette is so beautiful. I adore this edition.

“Traveling Abroad” – A beautiful book cover featuring a country outside of your own:

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The German edition of Night of Cake and Puppets by: Laini Taylor has the skyline of Prague in the background, and it’s GORGEOUS!!

“The Color Wheel” – A cover that showcases one of your favorite colors: 

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The Barnes & Noble edition of Sense and Sensibility by: Jane Austen. It’s so green. And pretty. Pretty green~

“Switching Gears” – A cover change you absolutely adore: 

The Grisha trilogy by: Leigh Bardugo. I mean, I like the old ones too! But I think I like the new ones just a liiiiitle bit better.

“Oldie but Goodie” – A favorite cover of your favorite classic:

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This is my all-time favorite cover for The Great Gatsby by: F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“And the Winner is…” – Which book cover mentioned above is your favorite?:

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Gotta go with the Slovenian edition of The Book Thief. It’s just SO PRETTY!!! I NEED IT!!!

 

I’m actually gonna tag people!!! (HOLY CRAP!):

Sammi @ OneBookishGirl

Beth @ Devine World of Books

Amy @ Quixotic Pixels

Siobhan @ Novelties

Go forth and do the thing lovelies!!!

Top 5 Wednesday: Freebie! (Favorites You’d Like To Revisit)

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Gingereadslainey with different bookish topics for each week.

If you’re interested in joining in, see the Goodreads group!

What favorite books would you like to re-read? These don’t just need to be books, they can also be TV, movies, video games, etc.

Since I missed this one earlier this month, I decided to use this topic for my Freebie!

1.) The Code Name Verity series by: Elizabeth Wein.

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I’ve mentioned this in a couple of my past posts now that I REALLY want to reread the Verity series. As y’all know by this point: it’s one of my absolute favorites. But it’s been so long since I’ve read it! I miss my beautiful girls! I want to laugh, and cry, and ultimately have my soul shattered by them all over again! So, I hope that I can manage to find time to revisit these books before the year ends, but I highly doubt it (so many books are coming out y’all. SO. MANY.)

2.) Supernatural.

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So, I’ve been a fan of this show since it’s premiere in 2005, but I kinda fell off the wagon with it around season 6. And then, a few years ago, I started a rewatch, and again, quit around season 6. But we’re on like, season 13 or something now, and I’m experiencing serious FOMO when it comes to this series, so I’m hoping I can buckle down and get back on track with it. I’ve been watching this show for SO LONG, and I really wanna know what’s happening!!!

3.) The Scorpio Races by: Maggie Stiefvater.

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So, I’m the person that, every now and then, I pick up an old favorite and reread it just so I can annotate it. I’ve done this with many of my books, including 3/4 of the Raven Cycle books. And recently, I’ve been wanting to revisit Maggie’s writing, but not the Raven Cycle. And I feel like The Scorpio Races is the Maggie book that, I don’t know if this makes sense, that I spent the least amount of time on? Like, I feel like I sped through it? So I’d like to go back to it, take my time with it, and annotate it. I really like to be able to sit down an pick apart why it’s Maggie’s favorite of the books she’s written.

4.) Strange the Dreamer by: Laini Taylor.

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Okay, so, I just finished Muse of Nightmares a couple weeks ago for Biannual Bibliothon 2018, so of course now I’m OBSESSED with this story and these characters again. So, naturally, I want to revisit them. I want to go back and fall in love with these precious babies all over again, and again, and again until Laini gives us something else to fill the void! SHE LEFT A HOLE IN MY HEART, AND I NEED TO PUT SOMETHING THERE!!!

5.) World of Warcraft.

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I’ve been a dedicated player of this game since 2007. But, in the past year or so, due to financial and school reasons, I haven’t been able to play. And it SUCKS!!!! I know from friends that SO MUCH of the game has changed, and been added, and altered and I’M MISSING IT!!!! I miss running around Azeroth with my little Blood Elf Rogue, and slaying my enemies in the name of my ONE TRUE QUEEN: SYLVANAS WINDRUNNER!!!! Gah! I just miss this game so much. I hope I can find a way to carve out time for it.

Tag Tuesday: Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I know I’m a little late in doing this tag buuuuuuut, Imma do it anyway. It’s just a great way to recap the first half of the year, and I’ve had fun doing it in the past sooooooo, here we go! You know the drill: I wasn’t tagged. And this tag was co-created by Chammi @ IsThatChammi and Ely @ Earl Grey Books.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018.

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Bridge of Clay by: Markus Zusak. Okay, raise your hand if you’re shocked? Anybody? Yea, didn’t think so. I’ve been waiting for this book for 7 years, and let me tell y’all, IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT. I’m still debating whether or not I think this is his best work. It’s probably gonna take me till the end of the year to make a decision. Check back with me about it then!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018.

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Muse of Nightmares by: Laini Taylor. Again, anyone shocked? Any raised hands out there? No? Good. This was MIND BLOWING!!! Like, I’m still recovering from it. And I can’t start to think about it for too long, or I start getting all worked up and, I just, can’t function after that. This duology is PURE MAGIC. This, FER SURE, is Laini’s best work and just, UGH. She’s incredible. Forever in awe.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

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Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi. Everyone has been hyping the HECK outta this book since it came out, and I SUPER wanna see if it’s worth it. I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon. Fingers crossed!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

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It’s gotta be Kingdom of Ash by: Sarah J. Maas. Look, I know that this series is a hot mess. But, I love it, and I’m invested in it, and I’m reallyyyyyyyyy curious to see how it’s all going to wrap up. Like, just, so much has to get tied up and, I don’t know. I’m, concerned, to say the least. But still excited!

5. Biggest disappointment.

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Gonna have to go with Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by: Mackenzie Lee. Now, I’m not saying this wasn’t good, or that I didn’t enjoy it. I just didn’t love it the way I was expecting to. It didn’t live up to my expectations, and it just wasn’t as good as Gentleman’s Guide. Which is a shame. But I still enjoyed it, and still think everyone should go out and get it!

6. Biggest surprise.

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Definitely Wildwood by: Collin Meloy. This was just, so good??? Like, I wasn’t expecting it to be bad, or anything, I just wasn’t expecting it to grip me as much as it did. I’m pretty hard to please when it comes to middle grade, but this one really blew me out of the water, and I can’t wait to continue on with this series.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

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Miss Kiersten White. This year was the first time I COMPLETED a Kiersten White book, so I’m counting that. I started And I Darken last year, but only made it about half way before I had to return it to the library. But, I got to read an ARC of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein this year and it was FANTASTIC. And I also finished And I Darken, and it was great too. Can’t wait to get my hands on more of her writing.

8. Newest fictional crush.

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ASHLINN JARNHEIM from The Nevernight Chronicle by: Jay Kristoff!!!! SHE’S MY WIFE!!!

9. Newest favorite character.

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Carden from The Cruel Prince by: Holly Black. He’s just, such an angsty trash baby. And his relationship with Jude is just, so fun to make fun of. Like, I LIVE for the Carden and Jude memes that pop up on Twitter. They are THE BEST.

10. Book that made you cry.

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Bridge of Clay by: Markus Zusak. Yea, just, brace yourselves y’all.

11. Book that made you happy.

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Check, Please! by: Ngozi Ukazu. Like, this book was so freakin’ adorable and sweet, I think it gave me cavities. I did a full review on this book that you can check out here!

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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Gotta give it to The Price Guide to the Occult by: Leslye Walton. I mean just, look at it! It’s so freakin’ gorgeous! And it has sprayed edges! And the cover is this really soft, matte material! It’s just, so pretty. I love it. I also did a full review for this book that you can check out here!

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

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AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by: Sabaa Tahir!!!! I swear, if I don’t read this book this year, I’m gonna rip my own arm off. I NEED TO DO THE THING!!!

14. Favorite Book Community Member

Oh god. How am I supposed to pick just one?!? You know what, I’m not. I’m gonna say that it’s ALL of the amazing people in my inner, bookish circle on Twitter (they know who they are). They’re ALL amazing, and I love ALL of them to itty, bitty bits.

 

Okie dokie! That’s my first half of the year! Not too shabby. Now, what about y’all? How would you answer any of these questions? What’s been your best book of the year so far? Tell me about it in the comments! And I know this tag is late so, I tag anyone who just hasn’t gotten around to doing this tag yet. Go forth! Do the thing!

Review Friday: Check, Please!: #Hockey

37534577Check, Please!: #Hockey by: Ngozi Ukazu

Released: September 18th 2018

Pages: 288

Rating: * * * *

Goodreads

Amazon

Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!

Y’all… I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

So, if you’ve somehow managed to a.) be active on social media, and b.) not heard of this series: YOU ARE A WIZARD.

Like, no joke. I’ve seen this webcomic ALL OVER THE PLACE for the longest time, and I always intended on trying to read it, but I’m just, I don’t know, not into webcomics? Not the idea, or stories, or anything like that. After all, Nimona by: Noelle Stevenson is my all-time favorite stand-alone graphic novel, and it started as a webcomic. But, I’m talking about the actual “reading a comic on a computer” thing. I’m just too easily distracted. So, I never read them. Which is such a shame on my part, because I know I’m missing out on so many AMAZING things for such a silly reason. And this is one of those amazing things.

We follow Eric Bittle (Bitty), a closeted, ex-figure skater, and pie baker extraordinaire, from the south who starts vlogging about his first year at Samwell University, and his journey in joining the hockey team. We watch as Bitty learns all about this complex sport, his fellow teammates, and their dreamboat of a captain. It’s filled with hilarity, heartwarming moments, emotional struggle, and good ole fashioned dudes hitting dudes while on ice. It’ll make your heart feel as warm and full as one of Bitty’s famous apple pies.

Okay, so, this is probably the most straight-up, feel-good, fluffy, heartwarming, squee-inducing thing ever. Like, it just is. This book is everything you were ever hoping for when you typed “fluff fic” into the search bar on FanFiction.net or AO3. It’s gonna make you smile, it’s gonna make you laugh, it’s gonna make you go “AWEEEEEEEEE!!!” It’s a given. Bitty is an incredibly charming, relatable, funny, and ADORABLE character. All the side characters have these really cute personality quirks, and micro sub-plots that you get a little too invested in for your own good, and they’re hilarious, and ADORABLE. The story is simple, straight forward, and fun. It’s just, it’s a good time. Like, I don’t know how anyone could possibly NOT enjoy this.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. And really, you can boil them all down to one thing: MORE. I wanted MORE of EVERYTHING. I wanted more backstory about Bitty, more interactions with the side characters, more of the backstory of the side characters, more interactions between Bitty and Jack, more hockey, more EVERYTHING. It really felt like we were just getting little tastes, and tidbits, of everything, but never enough to be fully satisfied. This graphic novel covers two whole years of Bitty’s school experience, and it’s just, way too short. I know that there’s still more to go, I just wish that this had been more fleshed out.

Like I said, I don’t think that this was bad in any way. It was the reading equivalent of eating a cupcake, or a cookie. How do you NOT enjoy that? But I can see people being disappointed in it. I can understand people being upset that there isn’t enough cupcake or cookie. Or that the cupcake or cookie was too small. But, I would still recommend that everyone go out and read this book (and I have!). Go out and eat the cupcake or cookie. Even if it’s tiny. It’s still gonna be awesome.