This was a real "wasted potential" book. The basic idea was really kind of cool - a dragon has been lying dormant beneath an English village for centuThis was a real "wasted potential" book. The basic idea was really kind of cool - a dragon has been lying dormant beneath an English village for centuries, and periodically people will stumble close to its lair and receive the "gifts of the dragon" (the ability to see auras, pyrokinesis, flight, and telepathy, abilities which manifest themselves gradually). And now the dragon is going to be set free, which sounds very exciting.
The book suffers from so many technical problems that it's hard to enjoy it, though. He has major issues with shifting POV, the characters are 2-dimensional, and the pacing is off. Add to that the fact that there are only two female characters and they're both extremely passive, and I wasn't really a happy camper.
I would recommend picking up the Bartimaus Trilogy, but steering clear of Buried Fire. This is very much an early novel, before he and his editors really worked things out....more
Summary: Seemingly unrelated families and individuals receive invitations to rent in a new apartment complex. Two months later, a millionaire is foundSummary: Seemingly unrelated families and individuals receive invitations to rent in a new apartment complex. Two months later, a millionaire is found dead in a nearby house, and most of the building's residents are invited (through the dead man's will) to solve his murder for the opportunity to win his inheritance.
I was really impressed with this book - it has a large cast of characters that I found enchanting, and I felt like Raskin did an excellent job of giving all of them face time, so to speak. It also deals with social relationships and class in a manner that I feel is a lot more complex than is normally found in books aimed at this age group.
While the mystery is fun, The Westing Game is really more about the characters discovering one another and themselves - near the beginning and near the end, all of the game's players are asked to write down their "position" in life, and it's used to charming effect to show the shift in how they identify themselves.
The ending was a bit twee for me - I really wish she hadn't taken the route she did here. Overall, though, it was a fun book and highly recommended....more
I sort of feel guilty rating this book so low because it fulfilled my expectations - it was a quick, trashy young adult read that gave me an idea of wI sort of feel guilty rating this book so low because it fulfilled my expectations - it was a quick, trashy young adult read that gave me an idea of what the (probably) trashy teen CW show will be like.
But, this is really not a good book. The characters aren't really developed (although I did find myself oddly charmed by a couple of them), and there are major POV issues.
And this is the main issue with the book - it relies on a conceit that's really underdeveloped. The narrative is peppered with pages that look like screenshots from a blog in which the eponymous Gossip Girl dishes about the book's characters. I think we're supposed to assume that one of the characters is secretly writing the blog and that almost everyone is reading it, but neither is ever made explicit. Weirder, though, is the fact that the main narrative (done with omniscient third-person POV that jumps between multiple character's thoughts per scene) is peppered with snarky comments by the Gossip Girl. I still can't figure out what this was supposed to accomplish or signify. Little help, anyone?
Even though I didn't like the book, I think I'll probably check out the CW series. I have a soft spot for trashy teen dramas, and I think the whole Gossip Girl thing might work for me with Kristen Bell doing the voiceovers....more
I really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid. On rereading, I discovered that I had definitely forgotten the way Christian symbols and metaphorI really enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time when I was a kid. On rereading, I discovered that I had definitely forgotten the way Christian symbols and metaphors kind of beat you over the head in this book. It and A Wind in the Door (which, like the other three books in this omnibus, I had never read before), could definitely benefit from some subtlety. Both books are fun, but also frustrating.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet really made up for this, though. The symbolism and overarching themes are balanced by an awesome story. I love the way the time travel elements are used, and the common threads among the generations Charles Wallace visits and their ties to mythology are handled really well. I also felt like the message of " 'gifted' people are a completely separate species from the rest of humanity and will never be accepted by 'normal' people" was tempered in this story.
When I started reading Many Waters, I had a real "what the hell" reaction when I realized what the primary story was going to be about. But I really enjoyed it. The twins are fun characters and more accessible than Meg and Charles Wallace ever are, to me at least. Her treatments of the seraphim and the nephilim really appealed to me, and I thought she dealt well with issues of puberty and sexuality here.
Overall, I really enjoyed the second two books and I really liked seeing the development of writing style and themes over the course of many books and much time....more
Plot details may change from Gossip Girl book to Gossip Girl book (in this one, everyone is making final decisions on their college choices, Dan is siPlot details may change from Gossip Girl book to Gossip Girl book (in this one, everyone is making final decisions on their college choices, Dan is singing for a popular rock band, Blair and Nate start out happily together but very quickly are not, etc.), but they remain essentially the same. This is like my hilarious and silly comfort food, and this one lives up to the rest of the series....more
**spoiler alert** This book was really solid most of the way through - a story about a high school kid with a dream to become a hard-hitting journalis**spoiler alert** This book was really solid most of the way through - a story about a high school kid with a dream to become a hard-hitting journalist, who has his dreams crushed and his self-image distorted when confronted with reality. And all written in the great style of Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars.
I really enjoyed most of it - I liked the main character for some reason, even though he behaved like a selfish ass for most of the book. Also, I'm among the ideal target audience now, as the cultural references are pretty dated, but they are dated from the period when I was in high school, so it worked for me.
However, the book kind of loses direction really badly. It's like Rob Thomas wanted to write two books - one with the plot summary I gave above, and one about an American kid's adventures in Ireland, and he just decided to slap them together. Really sloppily. And I don't mind the fact that it has an ambiguous ending; in fact I'm all for a book in which the cocky teenager learns that he's not quite as smart as he thinks he is, and that the world kind of sucks sometimes. But if we could have come to that conclusion without the weirdly condensed separate novel that is the last 50 pages, that would have been great....more
This book was really fun and refreshing after the previous two. Other planets, a return to previously explored locations, new fun characters. If thisThis book was really fun and refreshing after the previous two. Other planets, a return to previously explored locations, new fun characters. If this had been entirely about Dairine and her kooky alien friends, I would have rated it higher. Sadly, Nita and Kit's vacation in paradise was pretty boring to me.
But there should be rules about ending on big cliffhangers! As in, people either shouldn't do it, or there should be a warning about it beforehand. (i.e. "Reader beware! You will feel all anxious and twitchy if you finish this book and are not immediately able to start the next one." Then I would have been better prepared.)...more
I very much loved the beginning of this book - Duane brings in a lot of half-forgotten characters and places and dropped plot threads and tries to givI very much loved the beginning of this book - Duane brings in a lot of half-forgotten characters and places and dropped plot threads and tries to give a cohesive picture of the wizarding world and I'm a real sucker for that sort of thing. Over all, this is, for me, the best of the books since book 3.
There are still some serious issues with pacing and the pseudo-Biblical parallels get kind of weird in parts. But I really liked how much this book felt like a change of pace - the books previous have all felt like small-scale personal struggles for the characters, whereas this story was on a much larger scale.
Oh, and near the end of this book we finally get to figure out what the deal with Ponch is, and the payoff is awesome....more
Once I was able to get into the dialogue (at first it comes across as too-hip teens-from-the-future talk, but you eventually learn it's actually everyOnce I was able to get into the dialogue (at first it comes across as too-hip teens-from-the-future talk, but you eventually learn it's actually everyone's-dumb-know-because-we-breed-them-that-way talk), I really enjoyed this. Delightfully anti-consumer, and I loved the worldbuilding. This book gets it right, to my mind - most of the major events of the obviously impending apocalypse happen in the background and the main characters hardly even notice, because they're teenagers who have been raised not to notice. Also, almost every character in this book is an asshole, but I still enjoyed it, which I think is a win on the author's part....more
The premise is so solid and intriguing - a combination of the glbt young adult novel and the superhero novel. Thom is the son of a disgraced former suThe premise is so solid and intriguing - a combination of the glbt young adult novel and the superhero novel. Thom is the son of a disgraced former superhero - Thom knows he's gay but hasn't come out because his dad's ridiculously homophobic, and then he discovers he has superpowers and joins a superhero team, which he also hides from his dad because his dad's ridiculously angry at superheroes. I wanted to like this book - I really did.
But, it's obviously written by someone who has much more experience in the film world than in the fiction world (read: there is pretty much no sensory description of any kind). And most of the superheroes were just transplants from the DC universe. Combine that fact with the tidbit from the author's bio that tells you that Thom's dad is based on the author's own dad, and it all feels a tiny bit like wish fulfillment to me....more
Really nice end to the trilogy (of course, now I have to read "Extras"). I hadn't expected the direction he took the world in this (I won't expound foReally nice end to the trilogy (of course, now I have to read "Extras"). I hadn't expected the direction he took the world in this (I won't expound for fear of spoilers), and I liked it. And he definitely didn't pull any punches in the emotional department. I'll admit it - I cried a bit....more
Sherman Alexie really likes to make you laugh so hard you don't notice he's ripping your heart out. And now he's bringing it to the Young Adult world,Sherman Alexie really likes to make you laugh so hard you don't notice he's ripping your heart out. And now he's bringing it to the Young Adult world, which is a pretty natural fit. Junior is a misfit kid on his reservation - he's really smart and draws hilarious cartoons (done by Ellen Forney, they fill the book), and after an outburst in class one day a teacher urges him to go to school off the reservation, as his chances for success are pretty limited there. So he decides to transfer to an all-white high school in the nearest town, where he has to deal with hella racism, along with the resentment of a lot of people he leaves behind on the reservation, including his best friend.
There are times when the story is a little overwhelming in the blows life deals to Junior - can one person really have such a terrible year? But the sadness is tempered by Junior, who's optimistic and lovable, and definitely worth reading about....more
Continuing Octavian's story, in this book he ends up with Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment. Beautifully written, sad, educational - this book seriousContinuing Octavian's story, in this book he ends up with Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment. Beautifully written, sad, educational - this book seriously has it all....more
Just after World War II, a teenage New York girl and her mother and stepfather take off for a sudden Florida vacation. Girl meets boy, boy served withJust after World War II, a teenage New York girl and her mother and stepfather take off for a sudden Florida vacation. Girl meets boy, boy served with girl's stepfather in the war, girl discovers that adults are liars and her family has a lot of secrets....more