Friday, June 20, 2014

The Neggies: TEASE by Amanda Maciel and LIFE BY COMMITTEE by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Publication date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperTeen)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review

Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault. At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

I'm embarrassingly late in posting this review. My reasons being that 1. I thought I already posted it and then 2. I forgot that I never actually wrote it, I just talked it all out in my head. This is the kind of book that warrants talking to yourself, writing and rewriting your thoughts in your head. I technically finished it since I skimmed the rest of the way (which was the last 10% or so), but it's basically a partial DNF. Throughout this story, I was intrigued by the plot, annoyed with the main character as well as disgusted, impatient with the author, and anticipating what would happen, but ultimately disappointed

I'm always saying how great it would be to read through the antagonist's POV (especially a villain in a retelling), but this particular story and POV did not work for me. At all. It's one thing to read a POV that owns her "badness," a POV who's complex, or a POV that can garner sympathy despite her wrong choices. It's an entirely different thing when it feels like you're expected to sympathize with the POV despite she being awful, a POV who repeats the same mantra in denial, or a POV who doesn't improve. As you can guess, Sara from Tease is the latter POV and I hated it. 

The book was first. Then it became annoying because there was no progression. Events may happen, but Sara never improved or "saw the light" or anything of the sort. WHAT IS THE WHOLE POINT? I felt disgusted while reading it (which is what led me to skim the ending) because Sara was in denial that her actions had impact. For a moment, I could understand her view that Emma had a role to play and that she made her own decision. However, most of the blame still should fall on Sara and she wouldn't own up to the tiniest bit. It was a constant "whatever, yeah, I did, BUT..." I liked  having a different perspective and getting into the mind of a bully, but I wasn't expecting how dirty I would feel and aggravated I would become. 

Verdict: This book may be for you, but it certainly wasn't for me. 

Title: Life by Committee
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (HarperTeen)
Source: an e-galley provided by the publisher for an honest review.

Some secrets are too good to keep. 

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. 

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. 

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

What is it about Corey Ann Haydu that makes me want to read her books even though this is two out of two that has left me feeling uncomfortable and dissatisfied

The subject of cheating is difficult to write, especially when the main character is in the wrong. What I want to know is how can Joe end up with two girls? Really. He's a complete dog (reality-wise, dogs are way better). From what we're told through Elise, he's a loser and weird and I have a feeling he's not cute either. Of course, Tab thinks he's wonderful. But we can all see through that and know that he's just one major flop. Joe and his womanly ways (or maybe he just attracts the unstable, who knows) were confusing to me. He behaved like a jerk to Tabby, obviously using her before running back to his girlfriend. After a few acts (which I can't talk about), he officially disgusted him. 

Tabby's young parents are expecting a baby and, of course, she throws in the baby jealousy card, but it was way too early in my opinion. Her parents acted stranger to me through the story and I would've sympathized with her more if it didn't feel like the author was just making the parents act like this so that we would sympathize with Tabby more. This kind of manipulation doesn't work on me. 

Those were my two main thoughts after finishing because besides the extremely weird group (my only thoughts: RUN AWAY, GIRL), the book was forgettable for me. I finished it, but I don't remember the ending. I blanked on Tabby's name until I reread the synopsis. When you can't remember anything about the book except for its frustrations and your negative feelings, you're not a good match. 

Verdict: Weird. 


  1. Oh I'm sorry that these two books didn't work out for you Summer, I haven't heard the best reviews for Tease, so can understand why it wouldn't work out for you. Thanks for the honest reviews, I hope your next reads are a lot more enjoyable for you!

    1. Thanks, Jasprit, so far the reads have picked up since :)

  2. I sort of love how you call negative reviews the neggies haha it's pretty funny. But ouch! I was hesitant to read both of these books and now I have decided that I seriously won't. I hadn't heard good things about TEASE to begin with, but I was on the fence for LIFE BY COMMITTEE.

  3. Haha, don't worry about being late on posting a review - I have reviews that I wrote about a year ago that I have yet to post. I have this (possibly rational, possibly irrational) idea that I will have zero free time in college, so I'm obsessive about having a large backlog of reviews. It's a problem.

    Anyway, it's too bad Tease didn't work for you. I actually liked the protagonist - not as a person, but as a character - and it felt to me like the author was criticizing bullying/slut-shaming with her less-than-brilliant narrator. I can see why you hated her, though - she is pretty hard to deal with, and my entire review was about how your opinion of Sara can make or break the book.

    As for Life by Committee, I just read a glowing review on The Perpetual Page-Turner and added it to my to-read list, but now I'm second-guessing that decision. It does sound pretty weird... Maybe I'll read the author's other book and then decide whether or not I want to read this one based on my feelings toward OCD Love Story?

  4. I wanted to read Life By Committee, but then I changed my mind after REALLY reading what it was about. I don't mind cheating in books, but the idea of doing things because someone online told you to just sounds ridiculous. AND you know I loved Tease!! That's okay though, we can still be friends :)

  5. Haha, you went through a lot of feelings with Tease! I was just annoyed, mad and angry, so it was a DNF for me.

  6. I love the short little "verdicts" at the end. Sounds like you perfectly summed up these reads. :)

  7. I'm sorry Tease didn't work out for you. It sounds like and interesting and current premise. Life by Committee doesn't sound like my type of read AT ALL. I hate love triangles and I hate cheating in books even more. It's rare if cheating in a book doesn't make me hate the story. It can be done right, but it's rare. This Joe guy sounds like an utter A-hole, so I doubt it works in this book. Great honest reviews, Summer! :)

  8. I wasn't interested in Tease at all, but I found Life by Committee to be very mediocre yet also rage-inducing at times, ya know? I haven't read OCD Love Story yet, but after this, I might not. :(

  9. I actually really liked Life By Committee. I totally get the thing were you said Tabitha was in the wrong. Objectively I think she's totally wrong. But when I read it, from her POV, it's like she has no control of anything in her life, her friends abandon her, her parents are paying more attention to the new baby. All she has is Joe (and I literally think he's a dirtbag and didn't understand why she'd want him, but I went with it) and for better or worse, he's what she has. So that has to be better than nothing.

    Despite her actions, I could see how it would lead her to LBC. I also really love the plot twist at the end. But I totally get where you're coming from. When I was reading, I knew people would have issues with some particularly things in the book.