Release Day Review: LOVE IS THE DRUG

LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Dawn Johnson releases from Arthur A. Levine books today, September 30th 2014. 

From the author of THE SUMMER PRINCE, a novel that’s John Grisham’s THE PELICAN BRIEF meets Michael Crichton’s THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN set at an elite Washington D.C. prep school. Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night. Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know. The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

 This book could change your life.

Bird and Coffee are tangled in a web of political intrigue and they must unravel the secrets locked in Bird’s memory before a rogue government agent gets to them or their loved ones. This is science fiction at its best, blatantly addressing social issues like class, race, poverty, and substance abuse. Add a touch of humor, a healthy dose of romance, and 352 pages of hard-hitting prose and you’ve got an amazing story.

What I loved: The complex politics and intelligent prose. The challenging relationship between Bird and Coffee. The complex dynamics between Bird and her mother, Carol.

Realistic politics underlie the plot, unlike most YA fiction with its grandiose dystopian conspiracies. The politicians are real people, with believable motivations and reactions. At times the quagmire of political agendas got confusing enough that I had to reread passages, but for me that simply makes it even more realistic – that’s what happens with real politics.

This book made me look things up online. This is not a thing I am known to do. I am the kind of reader that has no problem with suspension of disbelief, who accepts strange plot twists, intuits the meaning of unfamiliar words from context, and doesn’t ask questions. But with this story, I simply had to know! I looked up the side effects of drugs, I researched the history of war in Venezuela, and I tracked down the meaning of chemical equations and political terms.

Emily Bird has known the enigmatic drug dealer Coffee for about a year, and it hasn’t been easy. “I’ve spent a year drowning in you,” Coffee says, and it has a difficult year for them both. Drowning doesn’t feel good, and what Bird and Coffee have isn’t always cherry sweet or perfect. It starts out painful and raw, continues to be really scary, and finally develops into a beautiful, complex, and enviable relationship.

Carol Bird is the idol her daughter Emily is forced to fearfully worship. Carol is a scientist, and might have something to do with the crazy conspiracy theories Coffee has been throwing around, but there is no way for Bird to find out – she barely even talks to or sees her parents. When she does have to be around them, Bird has to focus entirely on not giving in to her mother’s demands, standing up to Carol, and being brave in the face of fear. “Mothers aren’t always right or even always good,” Bird realizes later, and this sets the tone for their relationship in the second half of the book. I respect that not everything is all happy-go-lucky between Bird and her parents at the end of the book – that simply isn’t realistic. It’s obvious that Bird will constantly struggle with her mother, and while it’s a little disheartening, I respect the author’s honesty on that account.

What I wanted more of: Coffee. Coffee was my favorite character, and his development was my favorite part of the story. Seriously, he is perfect in every way, simply because he is so very far from perfect. And the truth is, I got more of him. We spend the entire book in Bird’s point of view, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get to know Coffee intimately. The dialogue is so well done that we feel like we’re seeing the world from Coffee’s point of view, even though we’re removed from it. As a stand-alone novel, LOVE IS THE DRUG is complete, has a satisfying ending, and doesn’t leave the reader wanting more (except for Coffee), although I would definitely welcome a sequel if one ever arises.

The Verdict: I loved every word. I have never annotated a book like I did this one. The pages of the ARC are covered with my reactions, scribbled notes, questions, and thoughts. At one point Bird asks, “What’s the point of being brave if it destroys you?” and the way in which she answers this question could change your life.

Monday Memories – THE STARLIGHT CRYSTAL

137967
I have a Goodreads shelf just for Christopher Pike books. I own more of his books than any other author. I really should have done a Christopher Pike book for my first Monday Memories, because these are seriously the books that have impacted my early readership the most, and they are the books I spent the most time reading as a teen. His books for teens have ridiculous titles like The VisitorMonsterRoad to Nowhere, and Whisper of Death. The covers are equally outrageous, as you can see right over there.
I picked up my first Christopher Pike book after I had read all the R.L. Stine books and then all of Pike’s Fear Street books. These were exactly what I wanted: books about teens discovering themselves, their magical powers, that they were a clone, or a vampire, or a reincarnation of a long-dead mystic. They were strange, a little creepy, really new age, pretty short, and a little bit mature. They were perfect. I could read one in a couple hours, and I often reread them.
The Starlight Crystal is my favorite Christopher Pike book of all time.
 It’s about a girl named Paige.
“Are you the first page, or the last?”
Sounds like a cheesy pick-up line, right? Okay, so it kind of is. But it’s also the crux of the story.
Paige follows her father into a deep space mission, and she discovers things about herself, her past, and the future of the entire human race that she never would have expected. I really connected with Paige’s journey. I know, it’s not like I had to deal with issues of time dilation and hydroponic spaceship gardens, but Paige is so very alone for most of her journey. She is alone, she is discovering what she is capable of, and she is making things happen. She takes risks and adventures through time and space, and she has an incredible destiny that she must embrace. I’ll admit, the whole plot might be a little cheesy – but I still really love it. This book means so much to me. My personal copy is a tattered wreck that has somehow managed to stick around through no less than 8 moves. I’ve read it at least 5 or 8 times. I am sure I will read it again many more times until I am no longer able to read.
 Displaying IMG_20140928_191127.jpg Displaying IMG_20140928_191109.jpg Displaying IMG_20140928_191122.jpg

Monday Memories is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. We created Monday Memories because we both love and collect books and wanted to talk about them. We hope you’ll want to share too.
mondaymemoriesAnyone can join. But please, if you join in the fun, link back to Miss Print and/or the Book Bandit on your own Monday Memories post AND add your name to the Link list included with our posts every week so that everyone can check out other posts! If you don’t have a blog, you can post your thoughts as a comment. And, of course, have fun!
Now that you know how it works, here’s what it is: Monday Memories is super simple. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. 

Top Ten Books to-Read This Fall

 

Top 10 Books I plan to read this fall, in no particular order (b/c WP formatting, okay?)! Several of them are the final book to a series, like Unraveled, Mortal Heart, and Unchanged. It’s going to be a great fall for sitting around and reading and drinking coffee.

 

Charm & Strange  Invisible (The Twixt, #2) Unraveled (Crewel World, #3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter, #3) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3) This Shattered World (Starbound, #2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Islands at the End of the World Complicit Unchanged (Unremembered, #3) The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Volume 1

Monday Memories – Jane Yolen’s Great Alta series

122097
The “Great Alta” series by Jane Yolen is one of my favorite classic YA series. It’s a fantasy story about a girl destined to be a great warrior and leader for her people. In a time of great need, Jenna drew her shadow sister, Skada, from the mirror world far earlier than anyone ever had. Together the sisters, one living in light, and one only in shadow, create myths and legends. Jane Yolen writes amazing lyrical fantasy in a way that really connects the reader with the characters while also creating a sense of otherworldly mysticism.
I fell in love with Jenna and Skada from the moment I picked up this book. Jenna was a strange girl, always different from her peers – she excelled in areas they did not and lacked many skills they found natural. I could really relate to this as a girl. While I wasn’t able to really appreciate the quality of writing and storytelling of Sister Light, Sister Dark when I first read it over 10 years ago, I definitely can now. I plan to reread the whole series at some point soon, and I’m sure I’ll discover new things to love about it.
                                                                                                           Sister Light, Sister Dark (...  White Jenna (Great Alta, #2)  The One-Armed Queen (Great ...

Monday Memories is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by Miss Print and the Book Bandit. We created Monday Memories because we both love and collect books and wanted to talk about them. We hope you’ll want to share too.
mondaymemoriesAnyone can join. But please, if you join in the fun, link back to Miss Print and/or the Book Bandit on your own Monday Memories post AND add your name to the Link list included with our posts every week so that everyone can check out other posts! If you don’t have a blog, you can post your thoughts as a comment. And, of course, have fun!
Now that you know how it works, here’s what it is: Monday Memories is super simple. Just take a photo of a book from your personal library (or a library book that’s significant to you, etc.) and talk about why it matters. Is it your first ever signed book? The first book you reviewed on your blog? Whatever it is, write it up in a Monday Memories post and share it. 

BFYA 2015 – Books That Should Have Been Nominated

YALSA recently released its nominations for the 2015 Best Books for Young Adults list. I am happy to see lots of awesome books on there, many genres represented, and some of the best debut books as well. However, there are just some books that I really think should be on that list! Why aren’t they?!

 

NIL by Lynne Matson – Seriously, this was an incredible debut. If you want a contemporary romance with sci-fi thrills and island-adventure then you need to read this book!

LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Dawn Johnson – Alaya’s 2nd book is an incredibly written, lyrical and poignant take on race and cultural tensions in the very near future in which the country is threatened by biological warfare.

100 SIDEWAYS MILES by Andrew Smith – Hey, BFYA committee, have you even read this? Any of you? Oh, yeah? THEN WHY THE HELL ISN”T IT ON THE LIST?! Oh, because Grasshopper Jungle is? NO EXCUSE, PEOPLE. NONE.

FAKING NORMAL by Courtney C. Stevens – You cannot tell me that this book doesn’t deserve all the awards. ALL OF THEM. Channel your brave, people, and stick up for this amazing story of hope, strength, bravery, and truth.

IGNITE ME by Tahereh Mafi – Both Shatter Me and Unravel Me were on the list. Obviously someone missed something here.

CRESS by Marissa Meyer – Same thing. Scarlet and Cinder are on the list. What happened to Cress? Come on, people.

 

Anyone else have any books they should should have been on the list? Comment, please!