Margin Notes: a YA bender

The other day I was picking books up from the library and realized that I had a million YA books to read! It was pretty exciting since I love me some YA. Here are the results, from favorite to least:

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.


I loved the characters in this book. I thought they were so well drawn. Eleanor and Park were quirky, their relationship was intense (like love is in high school), but I bought it. It might be a little over the top dramatic for some people's taste, but I found that it rang true and was really pretty consuming.

The secondary characters were also really well developed--Park's mom, his dad, Eleanor's mom, her siblings, the English teacher, the school counselor, pretty much everyone.

The plot line was interesting, a socioeconomic clash, and a bit unrealistic in many regards, but I didn't find those aspects distracting, I think it just made the whole story a little more aspirational.

I also really liked that this was a YA book that didn't talk down to the reader, the language was great, the author expects the reader to keep up, and you do. I found some other recent YA to talk down a little, so reading this was refreshing.

I loved this story. Recommended!

Code Name VerityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

I really liked this book. It definitely felt like a young adult book to me (some others don't have that feel--I think it was the language), but I didn't fault it for that. It also took me a really long time to get into it, I felt especially engaged at a certain point when Maddie took over the narration. The climax of the story really took me by surprise. I think Maddie was set up to be scared of violence, so her being the perpetrator was a shock, and felt a little out of character (as did the following forgiveness by Julie's family), but at the end of reading this, I was in tears and it kept me thinking, so I found it engaging and a good read.

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)The Diviners by Libba Bray
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first

So, I like Libba Bray. This book, however, just wasn't my favorite. I thought the language that set it in the 20s was a little overdone to the point that it took me out of the story and annoyed me. Also, I felt like the story didn't really get started until 250 pages in, which was a LONG time to get rolling. AND, it felt like a set up. There were tons of story lines that weren't even close to being finished at the end of the book, and it was kind of disappointing to get absolutely no resolution on so many story lines. Not even a hint of the rest of the story! It didn't feel like a cliff hanger, it felt more like there were several undeveloped stories, which was too bad.

On a positive note, I appreciated the cast of characters, they were all really interesting and I am interested in what happens to them. Not sure I'll pick the next in this series up, though.

View all my reviews


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