This is an odd book -- really more of a dark fairy tale for adults than a middle grade book. It strikes me as a cross between Neil Gaiman's The OceanThis is an odd book -- really more of a dark fairy tale for adults than a middle grade book. It strikes me as a cross between Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and the movie Night of the Hunter. The prose is eerie and bewitching, and I enjoyed it, but I have a hard time imagining the child I would recommend this book to....more
The listing here doesn't say it yet, but this is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It would be an understatement tThe listing here doesn't say it yet, but this is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It would be an understatement to say that I was a huge fan of TAH: I went every month for something like six years. I absolutely loved it and Acker and Blacker's sense of humor. And now...they're doing a Star Wars book?! omg!!!
Buuuuut...I was a little disappointed by the result. This book is very funny in places -- especially, and unsurprisingly considering the authors' "old-time radio" background, with the dialogue -- but there are also a lot of muddled and confusing action sequences. There are some great character moments -- I found Sari particularly touching -- but too much of the plot follows a "this happened and then this happened and then THIS happened" pattern. Shenanigans flow into shenanigans right up until the very annoying (possibly publisher dictated) cliffhanger. Sigh.
I love the idea of a book set in a training camp for Rebels -- sorry, Resistance fighters. This was classically great in the EU! But it doesn't feel as fleshed out in...whatever we're calling the books set in the new/alternate universe. The way Mattis, our protagonist, is recruited is actually kind of creepy -- like he's being groomed to join a cult. And before he joins the Resistance, he doesn't even know the First Order exists. So what is his investment in this fight? OH MY GOD THE FORCE AWAKENS MADE NO FUCKING SENSE AND I MISS THE EU SO MUCH GODDAAAAAAMN.
...sorry. Obviously, none of that is Acker and Blacker's fault. But for my sanity -- and yours, dear reader! -- I may need to cool it with the non-EU whateverthefuck books from now on....more
A bunch of tired tropes potentially saved by the relentless energy with which they are presented, and by the undercurrent of darkness rippling throughA bunch of tired tropes potentially saved by the relentless energy with which they are presented, and by the undercurrent of darkness rippling through this middle grade fantasy. Much of the book feels derivative: the main adult character speaks exactly like The Doctor; the narrative is structured around a set of trials (probably the trope that I would, at this point, most like to never see again); a bunch of children are marked by prophecy/curse based on the date of their birth. However, I definitely see potential in the characters and setting. I think there's a chance that this could turn out to be the first, okay book in a really great series, once the author more firmly finds her own voice and territory to explore. There's humor here, and some excellent imagery, and yes, that delightful darkness. Fingers crossed!...more
I'm afraid this didn't work for me at all. Magical realism is tough, because as a reader you either buy into it or you don't, and if you don't, the whI'm afraid this didn't work for me at all. Magical realism is tough, because as a reader you either buy into it or you don't, and if you don't, the whole narrative falls to pieces. I found Zinnia's situation -- (view spoiler)[hundreds of bees make a hive in her HAIR (hide spoiler)] -- so horrifying, and her almost complete lack of reaction to it so strange, that this book and I were doomed from the start. Perhaps someone having less of a visceral reaction to the central conceit could be more charmed, but I found the characterization too heavy handed, and the plot -- once the (view spoiler)[BEES!!!! (hide spoiler)] were removed -- did not strike me as particularly original.
Look, there are certain types of middle grade books that I can tell there will be an audience for --Like a candy-coated version of Moonrise Kingdom.
Look, there are certain types of middle grade books that I can tell there will be an audience for -- Raymie Nightingale is a prime example -- while failing to see the appeal for myself, or even myself as a kid. Basically, I like even my kidlit to retain a certain tartness, and this is just too sweet for me....more
This is the first book in this series that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. All the POV shifts just result in a lot of chapters where nothing happens, anThis is the first book in this series that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. All the POV shifts just result in a lot of chapters where nothing happens, and Rachel's amnesia is pointless and so obviously a way to pad out the page count. Cassie and the whale (that sounds like a hipster band) at the end was cool, but otherwise, snore. I think this one is mostly filler, etc....more
Not much I didn't already know (sniffs the adult reading a book intended for 8-to-12-year-olds), but clearly and charmingly presented. I was amused thNot much I didn't already know (sniffs the adult reading a book intended for 8-to-12-year-olds), but clearly and charmingly presented. I was amused that the Alexander Hamilton chapter was "Alexander Hamilton vs. History." (Our boy Alex has definitely won a recent battle there.) I was also interested to see John Adams' dying words, "Thomas Jefferson still lives," presented with a meaning 180 degrees away from what I was taught, but Quirk appears to have the evidence to back it up. Her version is cuter, too, so I choose to believe it....more
Funny and weird. Some scatological humor to appeal to those youngins, but it's not excessive. Gravel's art is amusing and expressive, and I like the fFunny and weird. Some scatological humor to appeal to those youngins, but it's not excessive. Gravel's art is amusing and expressive, and I like the fact that this is a book about a young girl who's obsessed with SCIENCE!...more
So Warner Brothers (the studio producing the movie) has forced Scholastic (the books' publisher) to pull all copies of the original book in advance ofSo Warner Brothers (the studio producing the movie) has forced Scholastic (the books' publisher) to pull all copies of the original book in advance of the film. This is baffling to me: what secrets could possibly lurk within its pages that WB would feel the need to have it suppressed?
Reading it (which I actually had never done before) did not answer this question for me. As I'd been already made aware, it does not have a plot -- it's just a brief (for reals, Harry -- or possibly Ron, see below) introduction to the history of the classification of Beasts, and then an alphabetical list of examples. All of which is very charmingly presented: Rowling is, with some recent exceptions (and I do not mean Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, excellent at world-building. The only thing that strikes me as remotely spoileriffic is the fact that Newt's bio at the end of the book reveals (view spoiler)[who he marries (hide spoiler)]. But that's hardly reason to banish it from the shelves. What is Warner Brothers up to? SOUND THE CONSPIRACY ALARM PLEASE.
Anyway, that weirdness aside, my real complaint with this book is that the cute idea of having Harry, Ron, and Hermione's notes sprinkled through the text is ruined by making all three of them appear to have near-identical handwriting. Maybe I am just the worst handwriting analyst ever (possible) but I found each of their scrawls to be practically indistinguishable. Scholastic couldn't have sprung for different colored inks? Huh -- maybe someone at WB was super offended, and that's why they pulled this book....more
Jake gets taken by a Yeerk! I've been reading too many romance novels and am uncomfortable about how I phrased that!!!
Ever since The Worst BestsellersJake gets taken by a Yeerk! I've been reading too many romance novels and am uncomfortable about how I phrased that!!!
Ever since The Worst Bestsellers pitched the idea for a gritty Animorphs Netflix reboot, I keep picturing how I would write scenes and plot points for this TV adaptation no one has hired me to do and that doesn't exist.
To start with, I was disappointed that (view spoiler)[everyone figures out so quickly that Jake is be-Yeerked. I guess this had to be the case, because if the Yeerk were left alone for two seconds, the first thing it would do is tell all its Yeerk buddies all of Jake and his friends' secrets and then the series would be over. But if I were making this show, it would be hard to resist the temptation to drag it out a little longer. Faux-Jake (Fake? Ha!) fooling all his friends while the real Jake screams inside his own head is just SO CREEPY and intense and you've gotta milk that for at least a couple sweeps episodes. (hide spoiler)]
I was impressed with how clever and vivid the scenes of Jake's initial capture and (view spoiler)[the Yeerk's attempted nighttime escape (hide spoiler)] were. 10/10 would not change.
But how could anyone resist the comic potential of actually showing on screen the scenes where (view spoiler)[Ax pretends to be Jake? (hide spoiler)] Awkward and ironic: my favorite types of humor!
Anyway, I am really upset now that I am not no one is making this show! GET ON IT HOLLYWOOD....more