Second Chances Update: Round 2, Fight!

Hello everyone, and welcome back!

It’s been a while since we last checked in about authors I’ve been giving another try, so I thought I’d talk about that a bit today! I’ll also be giving my sideways half-review of The Upside of Unrequited, which was one of my reads this week. Without further ado, let’s get on with it!

Round 2 updateS

Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited

So I may be the only blogger alive who didn’t love Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I didn’t hate it either, but it disappointed me. It didn’t give me much opportunity to guess who the mysterious Blue was, it seemed weirdly sympathetic to its blackmailing antagonist, and I was kind of hoping for a more interesting integration of the online dialogue into the novel that didn’t really happen, and…so on. I felt…eh.

Which is not to say that I don’t appreciate representation of gay teens, but in terms of marginalized groups, white male gay teens are probably the ones who get the most YA space. Which is not to say it’s enough, among the sea of heterosexual options, but just that the rep here wasn’t so rare and compelling that it was one of those “groundbreaking” books, although a lot of reviews seemed to feel like it was and that really confused me…?

Anyway: The Upside of Unrequited. This book was better from my perspective, but not to a huge extent.

Pros: It was a cute, easy read. Which follows the mold of Simon, so if you liked that one, you will likely enjoy this one, too. It has a lot of representation across race/ethnicities and sexualities, as well as a fat protagonist (Albertalli really cares about this to an extent that I really appreciate), and this comes off well/positive as far as I can tell. (I don’t experience every marginalization her characters do.)

But it is another one of those situations where the book felt like it was a little bit short. Molly’s moms and their relationship with her are really interesting, but we only really get a couple of moments with them. The fact that Reid is an IDGAF kind of geek is cool, but we get to see this in practice basically never. (It is communicated through t-shirts and a couple of his text messages.) Molly and her sister’s closeness is something she’s terrified of losing the whole book, but we don’t actually get to really see much of what that actual closeness was like?

Do I just have a vendetta against YA books that are less than 400 pages? …I actually don’t, but I think when you want to involve this many characters (Molly, her sister, two potential love interests for Molly, one for her sister, two moms, a grandmother, friends, etc.) and have them all play an emotional role at some point, you definitely need the extra pages to establish the relationships (and personalities) that make those feelings land.

I’ll almost definitely read Albertalli’s next book, because this one was more memorable and fun to me than the last, and I appreciate her commitment to diversity and doing it well and with input. But this wasn’t the hugest author-retry-win for me.

Leigh bardugo

Six of Crows duology

Y’all, I finally read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. And I really liked them so much more than the original Grisha trilogy. (I made a whole post about it!) And liked them really well in general! I’m not going to go on about this too much, because the post honestly says it all, and…I feel guilty harping on Shadow and Bone & children repeatedly, because people do love it.

I will admit that it took me forever to get around to this author retry and I was wrong to take forever to get around to it. It’s just…I felt so disappointed that I didn’t like the Grisha trilogy, and so many people loved it, and I was scared the same thing would happen here, friends. Sometimes, I am a frighten.

But I am on board now, and ready to read Leigh Bardugo’s next work. Maybe her upcoming Wonder Woman novel? Maybe her upcoming collection of stories? Maybe both!

Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars

So I read A Thousand Pieces of You, rated it in such a way where I might or might not ever read the sequels, and ended up never reading the sequels.

Honestly, I considered it because I loved the sci-fi premise and was intrigued by the settings the protagonist was travelling to, I just…wasn’t compelled by any of the romance aspects whatsoever, nor the idea of the villain. Womp womp.

Enter Defy the Stars. I wanted to give this author another shot because a) I really want more YA sci-fi in my life, b) A Thousand Pieces of You had some premise aspects that got me thinking even if I wasn’t that into the other parts of the story.

I ended up really, really liking Defy the Stars. I mean, I did not expect how much I would like Defy the Stars. That tagline is terrible. But seriously, I dug this book. You might, too. And I am pretty sure it will have a sequel, and I’m going to buy it.

Next up

We all know I’m such a mood reader that what I put on a TBR is only a vague representation of what will actually happen, but here are some retries on my radar.

Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist

I wanted to love The Wrath & The Dawn, and I probably would’ve powered through to the next book on the basis of the beautiful setting descriptions and the premise alone, but those consent issues, though. (I also had other disappointments.) (It still weirds me out that none of this seems to bother most people.) In any case, I really want to love this author as much as others do, so I’ve pre-ordered Flame in the Mist and we’ll see if I can get on board!

Jay Asher

What Light

So this is topical: I actually could not stand Thirteen Reasons Why. I very much disliked it for bad trope reasons (yes, this Did The Thing too), for Clay’s bland reactions and general being, and for parts of the overall messaging that I felt were not great. I’ve talked about this before in various posts (an old one! a newer one!) and like, seriously, if I was more down with All the Bright Places and its anti-meds message (please do not take to heart that book’s anti-meds message), you have to know Thirteen Reasons Why ticked me off. ANYWAY. I’m going to try to read What Light. Maybe not soon because it’s a very Christmas book, but maybe soon because I’ve already picked it up secondhand!

I also have on my list Robin Talley (As I Descended was…okay), Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything felt too short and do not expect realistic disability rep, but a delightful protagonist), Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood was just a nope from me), and Marie Lu (Legend was too in the mold of other dystopian YA for me to get into it). I haven’t ordered the books I’ll (re)try from them yet, but we’ll see how it goes!

Are there any authors you’re giving another shot soon? Or if you’ve already tried an author you didn’t like the first time around, how did it go for you? Let me know in the comments!

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