Usually I have dual reviews of books that are similar. Today though, these are just literally the final 2018 books for review I have, so. Here we are! 
The Disasters by M.K. England
Published by HarperCollins on December 18, 2018
Pages: 368
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.

But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.

On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.

They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

This is going to be a bit of a hard book to review, because it was, in essence, very middling for me. I liked it well enough, I don’t have much in the way of negatives, even. It just didn’t blow me away, and sometimes that happens. It was entertaining enough, though maybe I won’t necessarily find it to be memorable down the road. So I will try to break it down as best I can, yes?

The Stuff I Liked:

  • It’s really quite fun. The humor is definitely a plus. It wasn’t “rolling on the floor in hysterics” funny, but it was charming and amusing. The characters got into some real antics, and some of them certainly gave me a few chuckles.
  • The main character group is really well done. They’re all pretty well developed, with different quirks and traits. And I liked them! Even when I didn’t necessarily like their choices, they made sense for the character at the time/situation. And I felt sympathetic toward them all too. In addition, it’s a very diverse group, in so many ways!
  • There are a lot of space shenanigans! I love space shenanigans! And we definitely are not lacking for them in this book. The gang has a huge undertaking (think: saving worlds and such) and they definitely are trying their hardest, running all over the universe to do so basically! Obviously I won’t say too much here, but if you’re looking for adventure, this book has it!

The Stuff I Didn’t:

  • The future didn’t progress a ton in some aspects. Like the MC is eating Cheetos in one scene, browsing a Sky Mall catalog in another. Sky Mall is barely a thing now for goodness sake! People are texting each other and like… no, I feel like if there are space academies, we’ve probably moved past texting? Maybe I am being picky, but it kind of took me out of the whole “futuristic” setting.
  • It felt kind of safe, considering. I mean, granted it started out with a deadly bang, but I never really feared for our main group. Things just kept coming way too easily for them, way too coincidental, that I kind of assumed everyone would be just fine by the end. (Was I right? You’ll have to read it to find out ?) But the book to a big hit on intensity for me because of that.

Bottom Line: Good characters, amusing moments, and space shenanigans are definite reasons to grab this one! If you don’t mind a little suspension of disbelief and ease of accomplishment, it’s certainly worth the read!

Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love by Heather Demetrios, Adi Alsaid, Becky Albertalli, Libba Bray, Amy Ewing, Zach Fehst, Gayle Forman, Corey Ann Haydu, Varian Johnson, A.S. King, Nina LaCour, Kim Liggett, Kekla Magoon, Sarah McCarry, Sandhya Menon, Cristina Moracho, Jasmine Warga, Ibi Zoboi
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on December 18, 2018
Pages: 304
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

This is a book about the dark side of love: the way it kicks your ass, tears out your heart, and then forces you to eat it, bite by bloody bite. If you’ve felt this way, you’re not alone…

In this powerful collection, YA authors answer real letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love: dating violence, break-ups, cheating, betrayals, and loneliness. This book contains a no-holds-barred, raw outpouring of the wisdom these authors have culled from mining their own hearts for the fiction they write. Their responses are autobiographical, unflinching, and filled with love and hope for the anonymous teen letter writers.

Featuring Adi Alsaid, Becky Albertalli, Libba Bray, Heather Demetrios, Amy Ewing, Zach Fehst, Gayle Forman, Corey Ann Haydu, Varian Johnson, A.S. King, Nina LaCour, Kim Liggett, Kekla Magoon, Sarah McCarry, Sandhya Menon, Cristina Moracho, Jasmine Warga, and Ibi Zoboi.

Ironically, this book is so completely full of love. But not the kind you’re thinking of. The love in this book is apparent in every single letter- it’s the love the authors have for the young people they write for. It’s the love they’ve found for themselves. And the love they hope to make their readers feel.

It’s nice to find people who can understand what you’re going through. It’s cathartic to share trials and tribulations with one another. It is that sense of camaraderie that I enjoyed about this book the most. I related to so many of the responses, and yes, the questions. I imagine that many, many others will as well. Obviously the importance of that is huge.

The thing that left it falling a bit short for me is that it kind of felt a bit repetitive after awhile. And while I, as an adult, appreciate the message the authors are trying to convey (especially the “love and care for yourself” sort), I’m not sure a teen would be game for 300+ pages of it. The thing about heartbreak and heartache is that no amount of logic and self-talk is really going to make it better. It’s messy, illogical, and something we may just have to feel.

Bottom Line: The plus here is, knowing these authors have come out on the other side of their teen heartbreaks can be helpful- especially as they’re often role models. The downside is, it’s a lot of pages of personal stories that may not fully resonate with a young person wading through their own pool of sadness and confusion. Hell, it’s a lot of pages for a 36 year-old wading through her pool, so. ?‍♀️

**And don’t forget to enter the giveaway I am having for this happening right now! 

Are you done with 2018 reviews? Or at least, reading review books? Want to talk about it? We really should!

Posted December 20, 2018 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Dual, Review / 15 Comments


15 responses to “Dual Review: Last Review Books of 2018

  1. NO!!! Two meh reads in a row. *broken heart* Anthologies are so hit or miss for me, that I usually avoid them, even if great authors are involved. Congratulations on finishing your 2018 books. I have a *few* that are not reviewed (and may never be reviewed), but have already started in on 2019 books.

    • It’s funny- November was the Month of Meh™ and December is the opposite- I have loved or hated everything I have read! Hahha that is funny that some will never be reviewed but eh, can’t get to ’em all, right? I am on my February books now too, I am DONE with 2018 (in literally EVERY way)!

  2. Both books kind of have purple covers too? LOL Sorry you didn’t really LOVE either of them. Dear Heartbreak is a really cool premise, but it doesn’t sound like something you could read from beginning to end all at once.


  3. Dear Heartbreak sounds like a book with a lot to offer, although I agree- it does sound like a bit much when you’re dealing with raw emotions. Too bad they couldn’t have pared it down a bit or something. And The Disasters- I don’t know, I’ll probably skip it, but it’s good to know since I WAS curious about that one. 🙂 Now I can just read somethig else lol.

    • Yeah, I guess at first people thought it was fiction? Which, tbh, might have been the better way to go. Especially because Idk if at 16 I’d have given a shit about some old lady’s love advice either? As for the Disasters… I am trying to decide if I think you’d like it. I feel like the suspension of disbelief stuff could probably irk you, like it did me. It was probably more character/relationship focused too. BUT it did have a lot of action also. There were moments where it reminded me of The Expanse a little (with all the fighting factions) but…. much less involved.

  4. Omg *looks at TBR pile of 2018 books that need to be reviewed and sobs* YEAH I’M DOING FINE. Although I really want to read The Disasters!! The diverse space-squad vibe calls to me a lot, and I actually find it vaguely comforting we might be in the future with lots of cool tech and are still eating rubbish snacks and texting.? Totally hear you on the memoir/anthology one though. If it’s repetitive that’s a huge downside. The last things teens (or anyone?!) really wants is to be hammered over the head with a single message. Even if it’s a good message!

  5. I also have Dear Heartbreak and am going to send it to one of my teacher friends – I agree that it’s a great message but I feel like I’m not really the intended audience.

  6. Hmmm… I can definitely see your point about Dear Heartbreak. It seems like a great idea in theory, but I could imagine how 300+ pages of similar stories with basically the same message might end up feeling repetitive to a teen. I might check this one out at the library and pick and choose some parts to read.

  7. I’ve seen the cover of The Disasters about, but didn’t know what it was about so it was interesting to read your thoughts on it! LOL about the texting even though we’re in space, that’s pretty funny. Not sure the 2nd one is for me, but that is a great collaboration of authors!

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