It's a pretty good book. You know what it is, it's horror for people who don't read a lot of horror. There are some nice ("nice" - maybe not the right...moreIt's a pretty good book. You know what it is, it's horror for people who don't read a lot of horror. There are some nice ("nice" - maybe not the right word) horror vignettes and scenes, and the premise is terrific. But if you're not distracted by the cold dead flesh and the charismatic sociopath, you may notice that the girlfriend is there by and large to put up arguments that get shot down.
She's also there to show us that the main character is cool - she's black, and he knows not to touch her hair, and when he describes her skin he calls her "the color of... she's the color of Connie." That there IS nice. Although you see the author's hand in it - he knows that the classic use of food imagery to describe non-Caucasian skin is both trite and kind of offensive, so you see him popping in to wave a little flag: "THIS IS HOW YOU DO THIS." On the other hand, that IS a valuable public service. More authors should read that and go, "Oh, THAT is how you do that."
And you will also notice some lazy, lazy writing, if you can see past the clinical discussions of rape and torture. Grandma is made of "skin and bones and hate and crazy" (also a nice phrase) but wow, we've never seen a character like THAT before. Racist too. She's like Lafayette's mother from True Blood minus the visions. She's like every character Grace Zabriskie has ever played. And there's a ramshackle hut in the woods, and a couple of other set pieces that just make you go... *sigh*
Is it too much to ask for ONE MORE EDIT? If I had read this manuscript I would have drawn circles around these places and gone "you can do better" or "quit being lazy." The plotting here is better than average (although... but no, there's a second book, maybe there's an explanation forthcoming), the characters are... eh, they're ok. A little tweaking, a little nuance and they'd be better.
But in the small stack of boys-coming-to-grips-with-murderous-legacies books - a stack that include Dan Kraus's Scowler - I Hunt Killers seems a bit smug. "Try not to look away, ladies," it smirks. "I'm going to scare you RIGHT NOW."(less)
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggag...moreFracking amazing, excuse my nerd-speak.
All these people who say it's like Apollo 13 meets Robinson Crusoe - that's about right. But without the baggage of Crusoe and not quite a breathless as Apollo 13. Maybe it's Apollo 13 meets oh, that fucking thing where Tom Hanks makes everything he needs out of a bunch of FedEx shipments and talks to a volleyball. Cast Away. Although that's a lot of Tom Hanks, and the young scientist/astronaut in this movie is more like a Nicholas Hoult or - whoa - Mayim Bialek.
It is all problem-solving and suspense and truly, truly unprecedented situations. Our stranded astronaut, Mark, is smart and handy and has a great sense of humor. He patches, he repurposes, he makes jokes about using his shit as fertilizer. He has a couple of moments of "I'M GONNA DIEEE!!" but then he always goes, "Oh wait, how about if I..." Totally the guy you'd want to be stranded on Mars with. It's left to the mission specialists and NASA administrators on the ground to get all emotional, and we love them for that, too. Totally the guys you'd want minding the comm if you were stranded on Mars with Nicholas Hoult.
I can't believe that despite the bleak premise, this is such an upbeat book, and I kind of can't believe that I love it so much - upbeat is not usually my thing. But it was so engrossing I started it at about 10 last night and read straight through til 8 this morning.
PLUS - and this is a big plus - to all appearances, THE SCIENCE WORKS. Gonna be so good for teenage Mythbusters fans, once and future JPLers, and the kind of people who cried all the way through From the Earth to the Moon. That was me.
LibraryReads review: Maybe it's because the Moon landing is one of my first memories, but space travel - real space travel, or real-ish space travel, always makes me catch my breath. It's so unlikely, so exciting, so inspiring that so many people can work together to pull off this amazing feat.
The Martian gathers a very realistic depiction of the huge gang of nerds, jocks, and administrators that it takes to initiate and run a space mission with a tour de force main character who acts independently and in isolation to pull off the MOST unlikely of feats. I swear, I shed a tear.(less)
Infinite Sky is a book that grows on you. Its beauty, like that of the book’s setting in rural England, builds with every scene, at first prosaic like...moreInfinite Sky is a book that grows on you. Its beauty, like that of the book’s setting in rural England, builds with every scene, at first prosaic like a sunny summer day and at length revealed to be as profound and brutal as nature itself.
Thirteen-year-old Iris has a lot to deal with as summer commences. Her mother has left home, throwing the remaining family - Iris’s dad and older brother Sam - into a state of withdrawn, bitter depression. When a family of gypsies set up camp in the paddock adjacent to their house, all three seem to welcome the distraction: Iris befriends the family’s teenage son Trick, Dad schemes to evict them, while Sam’s pain drives him to incoherent destruction.
Author C.J. Flood, in an impressive debut, fully inhabits Iris as she gets to know Trick, gradually trusting him - and the reader - with her conflicted emotions. Whether she is describing the near-silence of the countryside, a stifling conversation with a classmate’s nosy mother, or an argument that explodes into violence, natural imagery and physical sensation provide the only embellishment to the understated prose. Compare to Mal Peet’s Life: An Exploded Diagram.
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, as well it should be.
The second book in the Proxy trilogy had me worried. Proxy was an overthrow novel, a book about an unfair government being taken down by a ragtag band...moreThe second book in the Proxy trilogy had me worried. Proxy was an overthrow novel, a book about an unfair government being taken down by a ragtag band of desperate fugitives. Lots of Big Think, plus lots of chases! How do you follow that up?
Wow, though. Guardian is what happens when the oligarchs have been overthrown and the Maoists take over. Sort-of-Maoists. Let's not split hairs. Maoists. And man, you think oligarchs are fun enemies - ain't nobody you want to see get their teeth stove in like a Maoist.
The action is just as fast. The Think is just as big. And I swear, I was really impressed by Alexander London's depiction and explanations of institutionalized economic injustice in Proxy, but now I am convinced that what he knows most about is postcolonial trauma. Amazing.(less)
Not just beautifully printed giant-size optical illusions and tricks, but cogent explanations of how the illusion “works” and why your brain interpret...moreNot just beautifully printed giant-size optical illusions and tricks, but cogent explanations of how the illusion “works” and why your brain interprets it the way it does. Instructions for how to accomplish similar illusions yourself. Famous illusions from Magritte and Escher as well as contemporary tricksters like Norwegian street artists Skurtur and German performance artist Johan Lorbeer.
Pair this book with Chris Van Allsburgh's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, an eye-opening book of eerie illustrations in search of an author for a one-two brain punch!(less)
This book has what we call “an abundance of access points.” Captions, sidebars, tombstone info (each section is headed with short Who, Where, When, Ho...moreThis book has what we call “an abundance of access points.” Captions, sidebars, tombstone info (each section is headed with short Who, Where, When, How, Distance, and Why statements), maps, photos of objects – there is something to capture the attention of any type of reader. It’s not too cluttered, though, and full-page illustrations and photos give the eye a break. Another beautiful browsable super-cool option. Kind of a boring cover though, compared to the wealth of riches within.
The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon by S.S. Taylor takes the reader into an exciting and unexplored alternate American Southwest. These two books make a perfect pair. (less)
Bulging with teenage cred, this second anthology of pictures, essays, comics, stickers, DIY guides, fashion spreads and whatnot boasts contributions f...moreBulging with teenage cred, this second anthology of pictures, essays, comics, stickers, DIY guides, fashion spreads and whatnot boasts contributions from the coolest people – from Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham to Judy Blume and Etgar Keret. It’s also super-empowered, smart, and uncompromising. A great thing for a girl to take to her room and occasionally browse, and gain some wisdom.
Pair this with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, a hip and heartfelt story about two sisters on their way to adulthood. (less)
I will write more about this book closer to its pub date, (full review on Pink Me http://pinkme.typepad.com/pink-me/201...) but here is the quick vers...moreI will write more about this book closer to its pub date, (full review on Pink Me http://pinkme.typepad.com/pink-me/201...) but here is the quick version - SO GREAT. Unusually, spectacularly great. Very assured for a first novel. Full of banter and heart and imagination, but also terrifically grounded in the real world.
I will give it to my 12-year-old son, I will give it to my friend's 14-year-old daughter, it will be perfect for a large large number of teens, especially those who think romance ruins perfectly good adventure stories. Also for kids who like music. And soccer. And Canadians. Hee hee, I'm a little giddy. I've read so many novels tht have gotten the contemporary fantasy thing AALLLLMOST right, it is amazing to have finally found one that hits every note perfectly.(less)
You are all alone, covered in mud, your memory gone. Things could hardly get worse - or so you might think. In the aftermath of a disastrous storm tha...moreYou are all alone, covered in mud, your memory gone. Things could hardly get worse - or so you might think. In the aftermath of a disastrous storm that has devastated the city of Sydney, Australia, a young girl struggles to discover who she is and where she comes from. But for Red - as she is called by the homeless boy who befriends her - the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous her situation appears to be. Soon, she is on the run from the police, learning to rely on her courage and resourcefulness and the kindness of strangers.
Australian author Libby Gleeson has won many awards for her books for children, and her craftsmanship is evident in Red. Hiding out in ruined buildings and scavenging for food, Red’s physical and psychological pain is at the fore, but when she reconnects with an old friend and is once more in comfortable surroundings, she is, if anything, even less at ease. Swift, smart plotting makes this short novel a compulsive read.
The ONLY reason this smartly-written adrenaline ride doesn't get 5 out of 5 stars is its heavy reliance on coincidence...and I'm not even sure I shoul...moreThe ONLY reason this smartly-written adrenaline ride doesn't get 5 out of 5 stars is its heavy reliance on coincidence...and I'm not even sure I should ding it for that, given the slightly fairytale (and we are talking Grimm, not Disney) characters, settings, and plot. There is a high wall, there is a humble village beset by a monster, there is an evil queen. She even wears a fur cape.
Kat Falls writes well, builds cool worlds, paints terrific settings, and is REALLY interested in human-animal hybrids. So much so that we should probably be glad she's a writer and not a scientist. I, and many of the kids I serve in my library system, have been impatient for a new book by her since Rip Tide.
I am very mad at whoever slapped this book with a cover that looks JUST like Divergent - it makes the book look like a cash-in, and it deserves better. Even though its elements (strong female main character, post-cataclysmic world, two hot guys) do line up with current YA trends, I think that is more because Kat Falls is into that stuff, and not the other way around.(less)
Jasmine (mom Jamaican, dad British) is on vacation with her family in Vegas when - oh no! a mystery lands in her lap! And she meets a cute boy! Who mi...moreJasmine (mom Jamaican, dad British) is on vacation with her family in Vegas when - oh no! a mystery lands in her lap! And she meets a cute boy! Who might be evil! Plus she meets a famous lady! Who might be in jeopardy! Jas and her friends Roxy, Tom, and Polly must sleuth out the truth armed with only household items and spurious superpowers.
I picked this up because the cover screamed feminine and fluffy - and, frankly, because I thought the protagonist looked nonwhite - but I kept reading it because it is sweet and sarcastic, with a lot of witty teen wordplay. It's a quick mystery-humor-chicklit read. (less)
Helen is a minotaur, Troy a hero. They both work at Magic Burger, or they did until the night their boss, an elf named Mr Whiteleaf, tried to use Hele...moreHelen is a minotaur, Troy a hero. They both work at Magic Burger, or they did until the night their boss, an elf named Mr Whiteleaf, tried to use Helen as a human sacrifice to his god, which had manifested in the middle of the burger joint as a pile of raw meat. Naturally, this sends them on a classic quest - in a classic car - during which they will be tested, challenged, pursued by orcs, frustrated by oracles, and maybe fall in love (but not in a gross way).
A. Lee Martinez has been writing funny mash-up sci-fi fantasy for years, and while a few teens have latched onto his books (In the Company of Ogres, Emperor Mollusc), this one features explicitly teenage main characters. My 12-year-old cannot get enough of this book.
It is juvenile, but sweet, not as swear-y as the boy YA books I usually like. It's like Terry Pratchett on a sugar high, like adult Neil Gaiman without the sex or darkness, like Douglas Adams except in the American Southwest and with far fewer insane characters, like Percy Jackson if the heroes of Percy Jackson were Clarisse and Apollo.(less)
Particularly affirming for uncool teens, or unskinny ones, or intellectual girls who like makeup even though their intellectual friends scoff at such...moreParticularly affirming for uncool teens, or unskinny ones, or intellectual girls who like makeup even though their intellectual friends scoff at such frivolity. Be you, baby.(less)
The Munsters meets Tom Sawyer in this fast and funny picaresque about finding your own way while learning to accept responsibility. Boy has inherited...moreThe Munsters meets Tom Sawyer in this fast and funny picaresque about finding your own way while learning to accept responsibility. Boy has inherited his father's size and strength and his mom's technical skills - even without sharing any of either of their genetic material, created as he was out of parts stolen from the morgue. He and his folks live with a motley coven of other monsters (vampire, brownie, werewolf, a couple of ogres, troop of trolls etc) under a Broadway theater, never coming out in the light of day. But when Boy realizes he can pass for human- albeit a human horribly injured in a tragic thresher accident - he impetuously decides to take off.
His adventures, the creatures he meets, the unbalanced sentient computer virus he created pretty much just to see if he could, and his own observations of our world come together in a book that is original, tender, crass, and inventive.(less)
Olivia and Zoe have been best friends forever - joined at the hip through countless hours of arduous ballet classes and inseparable at home and school...moreOlivia and Zoe have been best friends forever - joined at the hip through countless hours of arduous ballet classes and inseparable at home and school. When they are cut from their ballet school, Zoe thinks that nothing worse could ever happen, but that's before Olivia gets sick.
Oh, Maybe One Day is a tearjerker all right, but Zoe and Olivia are such real, funny, flawed girls that I kept turning pages and smiling even through the sniffles. The supporting cast of friends and family are appealing and realistic too - a ditzy cheerleader with energy and heart to spare, a hunky guy, a shattered mother, and a stern administrator are standouts.
Zoe struggles through her junior year of high school shuttling between school, the hospital, Olivia's house, and the rec center where she has agreed to take on the dance class that Olivia can no longer teach. She has to be so strong, and she messes up, and she regains her feet - I just wanted to buy her a latte and give her a big hug.
Give this to girls who love Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher for sure - but try it on girls who usually turn up their noses at "drama" too.(less)