Saturday, August 6, 2011

DNF: Department 19 & Beauty Queens

It's incredibly rare that I stop reading books halfway through. I always want to give a book a chance, because you never know, the ending might change everything and make you look at the first half in a new way. It's happened before. But when you've got a pile of 50+ books to be read, you don't have the time to be generous.

Here are some books that just weren't for me:

Department 19 by Will Hill
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 540
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
Release Date: March 2011
Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.

Department 19 takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond - from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it's packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.
It was apparent from the first chapter that this was a fast-paced, high action novel. Slow scenes with explanations and breaks from the intensity were very rare. And this is in no way a bad thing. A few of my all-time favorites are heavy on the action as well, but I just didn't fall in love with Department 19. I gave it about 150 pages before I unfortunately had to put it down. For me, it was a blur of paranormal creatures, action, gore and that's it. I did, however, love the use of Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Dracula and all of those other fictional characters. Will Hill's gritty written world is perfect for them and the stories and twists on their lives were very enjoyable to read. But I think this novel is better suited for thrill-seeker readers and it's definitely a perfect book for unsure male readers.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 390
Source: BEA
Release Date: May 2011
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.
Please lower your rocks and pitchforks. This book just fell so flat for me. As my first book from Libba, who is practically worshiped in the book blogosphere, I kind of had high expectations. But this book ... I just don't know what to say about it. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be a satirical view on beauty pageant stereotypes ... or maybe not ... but either way, I couldn't get past the ridiculousness of it. Just when I'd think something serious would happen, something absolutely off the wall would happen. I guess this just proves that I don't have much of a sense of humor when it comes to my literature, but I doubt it'll be awhile, if ever, before I pick Beauty Queens up for a second try.


  1. I haven't tried reading Beauty Queens yet. I LOVED the Gemma Doyle trilogy, but I wasn't able to get far in Going Bovine, which looks to be the same kind of book as Beauty Queens...?

  2. In my experience, books have always been people and people always have been books. If you try to like all of them, you are not a book. Or a person

    Also, please check out my blog (where philosophical themes are taken from literature and applied to life) at THANK YOU SO MUCH!