Pretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human populationPretty much a perfect teen adventure novel. In a conflict-free world where humans have conquered death, elected Scythes must cull the human population. Two teens find themselves volunteered as apprentice-Scythes, and discover that of all the things that Scythes can kill, corruption is not one of them.
1. Over the years, I've heard many books touted as the successor to Hunger Games, but SCYTHE is the first one that I would really, truly stand behind, as it offers teens a complementary reading experience to that series rather than a duplicate one. Like Hunger Games, SCYTHE invites readers to both turn pages quickly but also furrow their brows over the ethical questions it asks. Tone-wise, I would place it solidly between M. T. Anderson's FEED and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.
2. Over the years, YA has come to encompass a wide age range — one that I feel tends to skew ever older and sometimes forget the folks who are growing out of middle grade, but slowly. SCYTHE strikes me as a true teen novel, one that I will happily thrust into the hands of even reluctant 12-14 year old readers to show them what awaits them in genre fiction. It asks enough difficult questions to stick in the mind, but it never asks them at the expense of pacing or story. Although it's a series-starter and the end is tantalizing, it does feel like it satisfyingly stands alone (as is evidenced by its new Printz Honor sticker — the Printz is very rarely awarded to series books as the novel's merit must be contained entirely within the volume awarded). Moreover, it is very light on the romance, something that younger readers often prefer (and somewhat difficult to find in YA).
3. Over the years, I have grown too lazy to make note of when sequels come out. I've made a note on my calendar for this one, though — November 2017. I look forward to another good time....more
I can't tell if this novel is a dream wrapped in razor wire or razor wire wrapped in dream. It doesn't really matter which it is — either way, I wokeI can't tell if this novel is a dream wrapped in razor wire or razor wire wrapped in dream. It doesn't really matter which it is — either way, I woke up satisfied.
This is a novel for lizard-hearted girls looking for other lizard-hearted girls in fiction. If you enjoyed Isabel Culpeper, this novel is for you....more
This swift-footed, kind-hearted historical is intensely satisfying in just about all the ways a novel can be satisfying. Without further ado, here areThis swift-footed, kind-hearted historical is intensely satisfying in just about all the ways a novel can be satisfying. Without further ado, here are five things you should know about it before picking it up:
1. A lot of times, historical fiction shows its work. As a history major, I don't mind a research-filled brick of a book, but I'd think carefully about who I recommended it to. Historical can be dense. Salt to the Sea is not that book: Sepetys chooses her word battles carefully for an incredibly fast read. Short chapters elbow you and say "read just one more, right?" until the book is all gone.
2. I wanted to call this a thriller when I first started typing up this recommendation, but the term's not quite right. It's quite fast-paced, but THRILLER feels wrong: it's not quite got that frantic electricity. ADVENTURE is closer, but still wrong. Shouldn't there be jeeps and a comic relief side kick in an adventure? There's mostly just soldiers and frostbite and abandoned soup in this one, which is not the same. Nevertheless, you should know: it's not a depressing book, although sad things happen in it.
3. The characters are lovely. There are many of them, all deftly and lightly-drawn, and because they come from all ages and backgrounds, the dynamics between them are ever-changing. It's told from four points of view to allow the reader to spin around the story from all angles, and because each of the POV characters brings something very different to the table, this swapping of eyes is satisfying rather than frustrating.
4. Sepetys has two other historicals out that I enjoyed a lot, but this one has headed briskly to the top of the list. it's confident and stylish in a way that is really satisfying to see.
5. This novel is the natural successor to Code Name Verity: a character-driven, accessible, YA historical with all the feels you could desire and enough research to bring down an elephant. If elephants were brought down by research.
1. It's told entirely in e-mails. As a writer, I understand that yes, this is a gimmick. I have a high-gimmick tolFIVE THINGS ABOUT THE 52-HERTZ WHALE
1. It's told entirely in e-mails. As a writer, I understand that yes, this is a gimmick. I have a high-gimmick tolerance, though, as long it doesn't get in the way of my emotional or intellectual enjoyment of a book. With 52, it worked for me. It might not for you, though, so I'm putting it right here as #1. Full disclosure. Emails.
2. With that out of the way, I can tell you that I found the two main characters of this book — a disenchanted, heartbroken film student and a socially challenged, maybe-Aspergers whale lover — revoltingly charming. Both of them have terrible things happening in their lives — fractured relationships and public humiliation — but the conceit of e-mail-chapters means it is funneled through their wryly self-deprecating and dutifully factual voices, respectively. The novel is ultimately uplifting without being saccharine. I know I use the word big-hearted a lot to describe the books I love, but it fits this little novel well.
3. There is some deft portrait-making in this book. 52 doesn't have a lot of words to do it in, since there's no description and a fair number of characters sending e-mails, but I nonetheless felt I knew all the parties involved. It is nothing like SOME DAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU, apart from also possessing a narrator named James, but it touched me in the same way. I felt I'd met real people.
4. My teen years were populated by many non-teens, and I appreciated that this teen novel was populated by non-teens as well. It made what could be a rather claustrophobic contemporary into a roomy narrative.
5. There are really not any whales in this book. I mean, there's one, but he spends a lot of the book dead, so don't get excited. Spoiler? I just want you to be prepared if you're coming for the whales. Come for the whale, stay for the human dysfunction....more
Technically this little volume is part of Tales of Outer Suburbia, if memory serves, but if you can find it in this little hardback version, it is verTechnically this little volume is part of Tales of Outer Suburbia, if memory serves, but if you can find it in this little hardback version, it is very agreeable. It works on so many levels — I read it to my kids, who are 8 & 9, and we giggle and talk about metaphor. ...more
Possibly I am biased, because the author (Jackson Pearce writing as J. Nelle Patrick) was sitting across from me in my squashy office chair while shePossibly I am biased, because the author (Jackson Pearce writing as J. Nelle Patrick) was sitting across from me in my squashy office chair while she wrote this. I'm fond of both Jackson and that chair.
Possibly I am biased because we brainstormed about this book and The Dream Thieves as we loitered in my kitchen with the 4,000 cups of coffee who died to make both of these books possible.
Possibly I am biased because you always like books you saw being born on your living room floor*.
But it's more possible that I really wanted something historical with a hint of magic; something that didn't feel like an assignment; something with a moose in it.
This is that book.**
*This is unpalatable **Also, if you don't believe me, believe Kirkus, anyway, because they gave it a starred review.