**spoiler alert** I have a great weakness for books about the Los Alamos Project - not the bomb itself so much as the community. I read Inside Box 166...more**spoiler alert** I have a great weakness for books about the Los Alamos Project - not the bomb itself so much as the community. I read Inside Box 1663 an estimated 14 million times when I was a kid, and I read just about anything else I could get my hands on, too. So this book was a natural for me.
And I did enjoy it a lot. Dewey is a great character, and I love how Klages got the girls *right* - she did a great job of depicting smart girls of that age.
That said: every other day or so, the fan fiction world has a warnings debate, and inevitably someone says, "You wouldn't get warnings in a published novel!" To which my response is always: "Yes. And that's one of the reasons I love fan fiction so much." This novel contains major character death, and for person reasons, I'm trying to avoid stories like that right now. The death had a disproportionate impact on me and really colored my view of the rest of the book. I managed to like it anyway. But if I had been warned ahead of time, I would have been prepared, and I would have liked this book maybe 50% more.
(And if anyone reading this wants to know who dies, let me know.)(less)
This book is compelling - and it's a YA book, by the way; I don't care what the publisher says - with characters I liked, an unusual approach to the u...moreThis book is compelling - and it's a YA book, by the way; I don't care what the publisher says - with characters I liked, an unusual approach to the usual YA book Parental Dilemma (for once, the YA tells his parents about his problems; that hardly ever happens), and a plot that I enjoyed. It was a fast, fun read.
And then the ending kind of - um. I'm not exactly sure how, but in the last fifty pages or so, this went from being a four-star book to a three-star book for me; the ending felt simultaneously too rushed and anticlimactic, and it just didn't feel like a resolution and explanation interesting enough to match the problem or the characters.
But the book itself is highly enjoyable, if not brilliant. Kay is, as usual, master of the craft of writing, although he's showing it less obviously here than in most of his other books. And I liked the mystery component of this, the way the first hundred pages keep you guessing along with the main character.
I'd recommend this one to people who like YA fantasy, especially modern-setting fantasy. (If you just like fantasy, period, there are other, better Guy Gavriel Kay books for you, though.) And I'm not sorry I bought it. (less)
This is one of the books that taught me that Books Can Hurt. It was part of what I now consider to be my fourth grade teacher's reign of terror - she...moreThis is one of the books that taught me that Books Can Hurt. It was part of what I now consider to be my fourth grade teacher's reign of terror - she read Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia out loud to us (and those are just the books I was in her class for), and I seriously think she did it for the days when, inevitably, the entire class would spend the afternoon weeping at our desks.
That said, though - and it needed to be said - this is a good book; it was so engaging to me at that age that I got it from the library after the first day she read it to us and finished it by myself later that night. (Admittedly, this was not uncommon behavior for me. I did not like reading at other people's paces.) Of course, this meant I got to cry twice, and also spend the intervening time trying not to cry because I knew what was coming.
The characters are engaging. The story is memorable even 25 years later. But this is the book that taught me two important lessons: do not trust Katherine Paterson as far as you can see her, and do not trust fourth grade teachers, either. (less)
This book was pretty much made for me. I love epistolary novels (and had played the letter game before reading this), I love light-hearted, humorous s...moreThis book was pretty much made for me. I love epistolary novels (and had played the letter game before reading this), I love light-hearted, humorous stories, I love SF/F, and I love the Regency period.
There are problems with the book, of course - the letter game doesn't make for a perfect novel structure, though I was stunned at how well the two authors here managed to pull it off. And the plot is definitely a bit light. But the voices are delightful and top-notch, and the book is a just a really fun light read.
This is definitely one of the happier finds of my teen years, and a book I still re-read from time to time.(less)