Book Review || Devil and the Bluebird

Bonjour loves! How have you all been? Life has been absolutely wild lately and I’ve been away for a bit, but I’ve managed to get some good book reading squeezed in between, despite the hours slipping through my fingers like sand. It’s also officially autumn, so expect to see some enthusiastic flailing! (Let’s not mention the fact that it is absolutely boiling where I live; if the pumpkin candles and lattes are out, it’s autumn.)

Here’s a book that I picked up for the cover, bought for the synopsis, and loved for the story. Hope you enjoy!

Book Review Logo

Author: Jennifer Mason-Black

Publishing Company: Amulet Books

Release Year: 2016

Genre(s): YA, magical realism

My Synopsis

Blue Riley has made a deal with the devil.db-jpg

After her mother, who was a musician, died of cancer, it’s just been her and her sister living together with their aunt–but her sister has run away, leaving Blue alone with nothing but her mother’s old guitar. Determined not to lose her sister forever, Blue meets the Devil at a crossroads, and she (yes, she) offers Blue a deal: her voice, safety, and possibly sanity in exchange for enchanted boots and the scavenger hunt of a lifetime. With her mother’s guitar and a bag slung over her back, Blue sets out on her journey.

She bounces from city to city, hitchhiking with people she’s never met and will never see again. If her mission wasn’t hard enough already, the stakes suddenly get higher: she cannot stay with anyone for more than three days, and no one–under any circumstances–can know her real name. Along the way, she runs into many others who are trying to find their way in life too and discovers that life is unpredictable, and so are people. Through dangerous encounters and leaving behind friends, with the devil appearing at every corner and time whizzing past her, all Blue can do is trust her boots and learn to love life, people, and let music work its magic on the world.

My Review

I read this book while I was on a roadtrip–rather fitting, I’d say, for a book that takes place in cars so much. With the trees flitting by outside my window, I finished Devil and the Bluebird in one sitting and spent the rest of the ride staring outside and just thinking about it all: about people, and how they’re never what you expect.

I adored the characters. Mason-Black crafts the cast so well that all the characters that appear–regardless of the brevity of their roles–are so realistically created that you can imagine their lives and appreciate the small taste of their complexity that you’ve gotten to read. (There’s also so much diversity among the characters in many aspects, which makes me quite happy!) Blue is also such a believable, lovely main character: she’s quirky and she’s smart, and she’s also confused and afraid. Her strife, her determination, her self-guessing, and subtle humour all resonated with me in so many ways.

This novel tackles a lot of heavier subjects: running away, religion, drug abuse, and homelessness, but ties it all together deftly with words that leave you reeling in their lyrical boldness. Devil and the Bluebird is also very much centred around music; music has played a large part in Blue’s life and shows up in the story very often. Even the way this book itself is written and just the overall feel of it felt rather like music to me. It’s the book equivalent of a good acoustic folk-rock song, sung with a rich, bold voice and deft fingers picking at a guitar, the kind you’d listen to while watching trees whiz by on an empty freeway at sunset… I’m not sure what else to say besides “This book was gorgeous.”

In other words: With the passion found in David Arnold’s Mosquitoland, a uniquely haunting voice, and just the perfect amount of magical realism, this Devil and the Bluebird is a novel that will have you thinking about it for days after you read the last page. It’s a story of loss, of grief, of anger. But mostly, it’s a story of hope.

❤ Yasimone


Book Review || Bruiser

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publishing Company: Harper Teen

Release Year: 2010

My Summary

Brontë and Tennyson are average teenagers. Tennyson is athletic, popular, and maybe a tad over-confident. Brontë, his twin, is kind-hearted, self-assured, and happy with being herself. Bruiser, a boy who attends their high school, is… different. He doesn’t have friends, doesn’t have parents, and doesn’t talk much. Rumors about him are abundant around the high school he attends. Brontë and Tennyson, like the rest of their classmates, don’t pay much attention to Bruiser. That is, until one day, when Brontë announces that she’s decided to give Bruiser, whose real name is Brewster, a chance and go on a date with him. From the start, Tennyson despises Brewster and is overprotective of his sister. As the two get to know each other, however, they befriend each other. But then, strange things start happening. bruiser.jpgCuts on Tennyson’s knuckles from playing lacrosse disappear. Brontë sprains her foot, and it immediately heals. They notice that Bruiser suddenly has scrapes on his knuckles, that he begins walking with a limp on the same foot Brontë hurt. Before long, the twins put two and two together and realize that Brewster has a gift— a gift, yet also a curse. Brewster must guard his heart, for whoever he feels compassion towards, he can take away all their pain: his little brother Cody, Brontë and Tennyson, and even his abusive uncle Hoyt. Brewster can’t afford to befriend everyone, because healing comes with a price. As Brontë and Tennyson unwittingly draw Brewster into their family and social circles, life becomes more dangerous for Brewster. Will Brewster be able to withstand all that emotional and physical pain?

My Thoughts

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was all very well-thought out— the characters, the plot, the idea behind the words.

Bruiser is actually narrated by four characters with four distinct voices: Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster (who narrates in free-verse poetry), and Brewster’s brother Cody. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of multiple points-of-view in some books, but not so in Bruiser. All four narrators read as different people. Each of them have their own opinions, their own troubles, and their own flaws. Though the book is a mix of everything— a little bit of romance here, a pinchful of action there, and just a smidgen of supernatural as well— none of it comes off as unrealistic or overdramatic. It’s an intense book, and you won’t be able to put it down until the last page.

I’m not really sure what else to say. Bruiser is a book that to fully understand, you must read it. What I do know, however, is that this is a book that addresses love, death, health, familial troubles, bullying, abuse, friendship, pain, and the power of an average person all in one in a sincere, straightforward way without being too overwhelming. I definitely recommend to everyone. 🙂

❤ Yasimone