This was inane. Not unpleasant and certainly fun in its way, but it made little sense. I can't even describe it, because to the sane human mind, it wo...moreThis was inane. Not unpleasant and certainly fun in its way, but it made little sense. I can't even describe it, because to the sane human mind, it would have little validity. I don't know what possessed this writer to create such a premise: Cleopatra (the real queen of Ancient Egypt) is depicted as a teen who talks in a completely modern teenage manner; she is magically transported to the future and lives in a space. It goes on. She is destined to save the galaxy and goes to a future school where she learns to use ray guns and all that other space stuff the pop culture world is well-acquainted with. Not a lot of dialogue or explanation for such a premise. Some talking animals and random allusions to Ancient Egypt exist in the future. Very bizarre. On its own merits, it's fun and everything. But, I can't event...(less)
I forget how I found out about this book. I think it was on a "you might also like this" list that kept cropping up periodically throughout the last f...moreI forget how I found out about this book. I think it was on a "you might also like this" list that kept cropping up periodically throughout the last few months. Either way, I'm glad I gave it a shot, because it was awesome. Skylark is a misfit teenager living in a rundown neighborhood with her well-meaning but alcoholic father and her sweet brother with special needs. Sky's father runs a dying record business, and her mother is MIA in Japan. She's bored and lonely, so much so that she thinks she might be in love with her only friend, Nancy, but she's not sure. Sky's not sure of much of anything, and that's the beauty of the story: finding out what she is sure of.
Sky spends her days listing in and out of school and household maintenance no one else is inclined to perform. She waits eagerly for the smallest sign that Nancy might drop by and allow her to tag along on whatever adventure she's currently having. At the same time, Sky is afraid Nancy might be in some kind of trouble. Threaded throughout the story is a mystery involving the death of a girl not unlike Nancy, a runaway who lives a wild and unfettered existence that unfortunately leads her down a bad path. Sky becomes embroiled in the mystery when the girl's brother winds up working at her father's store. Luke shows up hoping to find out more about his sister's death, and Sky is wary of this interloper and yet fascinated by him.
Following a series of typical teen occurrences involving legal and illegal parties, drinking, sneaking out and just combing the neighborhood, Sky learns a lot about herself, her family, Luke and Nancy. I really enjoyed the whole thing. This is perfect for music fans, because it's littered with references to all kinds of stuff. I also liked the descriptions of the neighborhood. It felt like a novel with a real sense of place. The novel ended just shy of tidily. Sky begins a new chapter following a series of large and small revelations. I don't know what else this author has done, but I'm very curious now.(less)
Much better than I expected and more compelling than I would have thought based on the jacket description. Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place in 19...moreMuch better than I expected and more compelling than I would have thought based on the jacket description. Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place in 1931, just before Hitler rises to power as chancellor of Germany. Gretchen has grown up in Hitler's inner circle, her father having died years ago while protecting Hitler during a rebellion he led against the government. Hitler and other infamous nazis are prominent figures in this story, and Hitler in particular has a number of direct and disturbing interactions with Gretchen throughout the book. Perhaps the most upsetting aspect of the story involved the scenes in which Hitler acted perfectly normal, kind and caring; these were qualities many people close to Hitler observed during his lifetime, thus amplifying the disturbing the nature of his personality, which has been subject to much debate and speculation since his rise to power.
The central mystery of the story involves what really happened to Gretchen's father the night he died. She has long believed the party line that he martyred himself for Hitler, but when she meets an upstart young Jewish journalist who claims to know the truth, Gretchen slowly begins to question her entire life.
The characterization in this book wasn't poor, but at times it lacked nuance. They were certainly compelling people, but Gretchen and Daniel, as well as her mother and brother, often felt a little too much like archetypes. Even though this book has the potential to stand alone, despite its open ending, I would hope if these characters in appear in the sequel that they would have a little more depth.(less)
Hilarious. Also slightly outlandish, but perhaps intentionally so. I really like this author, who at times writes like she's the missing member of the...moreHilarious. Also slightly outlandish, but perhaps intentionally so. I really like this author, who at times writes like she's the missing member of the Monty Python cast. One of the things I liked about this book was how the kids engaged in mildly delinquent behavior without their lives falling apart. I feel like that's more common than not in YA novels, to have kids do something like shoplift or drink recreationally and then have it become an after-school special. You have to like hijinks to enjoy this book, and I thought the hijinks were great. The climax of the novel was probably where it went off course a little bit, but the whole thing was largely harmless and therefore not that important. I was disappointed that there wasn't much more to the "villain," who turned out to be merely an asshole. Then again, sometimes some people are merely assholes and that's that. This is part of a series, but I don't think you have to read them in order, because I didn't notice any gaps or anything.(less)
Been meaning to read this for a while, and I guess I thought it was fine. Upon finishing, I'm left with a neutral feeling about the story. It wasn't b...moreBeen meaning to read this for a while, and I guess I thought it was fine. Upon finishing, I'm left with a neutral feeling about the story. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. A lot of the time I found it rather meandering and my mind wandered. Highly original concept that dealt expertly with the theme that families can come in all shapes and sizes under a wide variety of circumstances. Still, the ending was anticlimactic and somewhat puzzling, since I have mixed feelings about the fact that the main character was forced to leave his foster family and make his way alone in the world at just 15 years old. With no one to take care of him and nowhere to go, I can't imagine that he would meet a very good end. Unless there was some intimation at one point that I missed regarding the main character's ability to circumvent peril, but I don't think so. The sentence-level writing was great, and at times I was really engaged in the story. I guess I just didn't love it.(less)
This wasn't bad. For every really good story, there was another that was equally sub-par. Compilations are like that, though, and I don't mind it. Thi...moreThis wasn't bad. For every really good story, there was another that was equally sub-par. Compilations are like that, though, and I don't mind it. This set had a mix of material for children, teens and adults. I don't like the stuff that's basically cartoons. I enjoy graphic novels with really interesting artwork. It doesn't have to be really finely-detailed or what have you. But, I don't like outright cartooning. I think it's pretty boring. Not sure if I'll keep reading this series. Maybe if I have time.(less)
This was alright. Some of the passages were a lot of fun, but the really interesting verse only seemed to occur during descriptions of basketball. Tha...moreThis was alright. Some of the passages were a lot of fun, but the really interesting verse only seemed to occur during descriptions of basketball. That has its uses but also its drawbacks. I largely found the story line to be somewhat boring, and often times the language was pedantic. I found myself comparing this to an after-school special much of the time. Good for sports fans, but I wouldn't go out of my way for this.(less)
This story seesawed between boring and engaging, depending on which section you were reading. I found the world building confusing and bizarre, as som...moreThis story seesawed between boring and engaging, depending on which section you were reading. I found the world building confusing and bizarre, as some aspects of the real world were included in this alternate universe. Additionally, the story was set in the 1920s, but the so-called "Old Kingdom" seemed devoid of anything resembling the modern world. That place, which was merely beyond a simple wall, functioned in a basic Medieval fantasy setup. I didn't get any of that. Some stories can merge the real, modern world and fantasy effectively, like the Dark Is Rising or Daughter of Smoke and Bone. This book didn't accomplish that.
I found the characters to be very one-dimensional, and they were more like vehicles used to tell the story than unique individuals. The writing was quick-paced in many ways, but I was disappointed with this.(less)