First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

“First we were four. Now we are three.”

What a line! Could there be a better way to begin a book? I was immediately caught up in Alexandra Sirowy’s young adult thriller, First We Were IV, when I read this opening passage.

A group of teenagers, best friends, form a secret society. They are outsiders and want revenge for the girl they found dead 5 years earlier. The police looked away back then, but not this time. This time, the police and the town itself will pay attention because the society will make sure of it.

Before starting the society, Izzie, Graham, Harry and Viv felt powerless and unheard. Now they’re taking the power back. By fighting the authority, getting revenge, and making an unbreakable vow to one another they feel more alive than they ever have. Unsurprisingly, it goes too far. The power of IV grows as others adopt the symbol.

I haven’t read a young adult book in awhile and I almost forgot how quick the pace can be. I really liked First We Were IV and the focus on relationships, what it means to be a teenager, and the danger of too much power.

“Still, those kids, those snakes, whispered stories and secrets in the way the dying confess, anticipating forgiveness.”

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

America is a bad place for gods in American Gods by Neil Gaiman. In modern day, a war has broken out between the old gods and the new. This is where Shadow finds himself – standing in the middle of a troubling war he doesn’t fully understand.

Shadow has been in jail for the last three years and as soon as he’s about to be released, his wife Laura dies in a car crash. Unexpectedly, Shadow meets the odd and all knowing Mr. Wednesday, a leader of the old gods, who offers him a job. With nowhere to go and nothing to do but grieve, he accepts Mr. Wednesday’s offer.

We soon learn that Wednesday is rallying the old gods to join him in the battle. Shadow plays a larger role in this than he could have ever imagined.

Through this story, Gaiman shares a vivid history of America. It’s a really interesting idea, this war of the gods, and it’s very fantastical and full of mythology. The story is definitely thought-provoking, but the pace was slow for me and some of the transitions from one scene to the next were difficult to follow.

I loved Gaiman’s book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and while American Gods was also good, it was very different. It’s clear that he’s a very talented writer!

These quotes stood out to me:

“’This is the only country in the world,’ said Wednesday, into stillness, ‘that worries about what it is.’”

“Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world.”