FAT KID RULES THE WORLD came out in 2003, but if you haven't read it yet, you definitely should!
Like many YA contemporary novels, the brilliance of FA...moreFAT KID RULES THE WORLD came out in 2003, but if you haven't read it yet, you definitely should!
Like many YA contemporary novels, the brilliance of FAT KID RULES THE WORLD is in its voice. Troy isn't a happy guy, and life has taught him to be cynical, but his sarcastic sense of humor shines through his narration and makes you root for him. Troy's one of those fictional characters you wish you could be friends with, and it's awesome to see him become more confident in himself and see the world differently.
That transformation is largely because of Curt MacCrae, who's up there with Tiny Cooper as one of the most entertaining and standout best friends in YA fiction. (Actually, Curt came first, so Tiny's in his club!) I also love the portrayals of Troy's dad and brother, who become increasingly more nuanced as Troy begins to see them differently.
Lastly, if you like audiobooks, this is definitely one to check out. Matthew Lillard does a fantastic job narrating!
Here are the top 5 reasons I (highly!) recommend that you read PRODIGY:
1. Lights, Camera... Like LEGEND, PRODIGY throws you right into the action, pick...moreHere are the top 5 reasons I (highly!) recommend that you read PRODIGY:
1. Lights, Camera... Like LEGEND, PRODIGY throws you right into the action, picking up where LEGEND left off, with June and Day on the run from the Republic. I read the book at an almost breathless pace, but I liked that the action was more Alias- or Mission:Impossible-esque situations. And there were plenty of excellent in-between scenes so rife with urgency and tension that I never was bored. (I rarely say this with books, but I really hope this trilogy ends up being made into movies.)
2. He Said, She Said June and Day alternate points of view again, but in PRODIGY, Lu did an even better job at making their voices distinct in the way they phrase and view both people and situations. She reinforced their differing pasts by weaving details in their narration, which I liked. Since her debut, she's definitely become more deft at balancing their POVs, and June and Day's complementary (and sometimes contradictory) opinions and interpretations of the same situation really added to the story.
3. The Swoon Factor Le romance. LOVE IT. June and Day don't know each other all that well, but they share a bond, so there's this awesome balance of HOT tension and swoony, sweet moments. (Plus the requisite miscommunications and frustrations were well done.) The best news? None of this ever overpowered the actual political plot.
But seriously. Marie Lu, I bow to your ability to evoke the swoon.
Especially in that one scene in the beginning. You know the one I'm talking about.
4. Trust No One. So yes, there are some romantic moments between June and Day, but they also were archenemies like, two weeks ago, which complicates their ability to trust and understand one another. Also, they've been through enough to automatically question everything they hear and everyone they meet.
In PRODIGY, they're working with the Patriots, a rebel group that Day had always fought against joining and June had always tried to destroy. The Patriots want June and Day to kill the Republic's new Elector Primo in exchange for rescuing Day's brother from the Republic, but murder isn't really their style.
Suffice to say that with all the secrets and conflicting motivations, there are multiple battles of duty vs loyalty vs instincts.
5. The End! Almost. PRODIGY certainly does not fall victim to Middle Novel Syndrome. (Primary Symptom of MNS: Nothing Actually Happens. It's just a happy little bridge to the third book, with barely any stakes and indiscernible plot.) PRODIGY certainly has high stakes and a distinct plot (which comes to a full conclusion!), but as with any great middle novel, it leaves us dying for the final piece of the trilogy.
Obviously, I have severe love for this book. I think I liked it more than LEGEND, but that may just be because I already cared about June and Day when I began. Either way, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!(less)
Diana Peterfreund's FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS was pitched at BEA as a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION. I've never read PERSU...moreDiana Peterfreund's FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS was pitched at BEA as a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION. I've never read PERSUASION, but I'm quite the sucker for anything based on or inspired by a Jane Austen novel, especially when it's done well.
In short: DARKNESS didn't disappoint in the least.
You know how some books just give you feelings? I mean, all-caps FEELINGS? This one did.
It took me about thirty pages to become fully engrossed and fall in love with the story*, but when I did, I fell hard, and I finished the book in two sittings.
For me, Jane Austen novels are so fantastic because they have her trademark Triple Threat:
1. Characters you connect to and care about SO MUCH. 2. A world that immerses you completely. 3. Romance that makes you clutch at your heart in torment.
DARKNESS had the Jane Austen Triple Threat, no doubt about it.
1. Character Connection
When Elliott felt flustered or embarrassed, I cringed. When her heart ached, mine ached for her. When she defended herself, I felt proud. You get the idea. Throughout the book, Elliot's torn between her responsibilities and her dreams, between what she's been taught and what she believes, and it made her completely relatable as a YA heroine. She rocks, flaws and all, because she tries so hard to do right by the people who depend on her.
And it wasn't just Elliott who is well-developed. There's a large cast of characters, and they are all written with depth. Even minor characters are so well-nuanced that I remember all their names, which never happens for me. Plus, there's a distinct class hierarchy among the Luddites, Post-Reductionists (Posts), and the Reduced, which enhanced each character's background and point of view.
2. Another World
When you hear "post-apocalyptic" and "Jane Austen" in the same sentence, you have one of two reactions: "come again?" or "that sounds awesome!"
I wasn't sure what to expect. Would DARKNESS feel super-modern a la Clueless? But the premise worked perfectly. Peterfreund's future, post-apocalyptic world feels almost historical because it's run by Luddites, who shun the technology and scientific advancements that led to the Reduction.
The class structure, strict rules of conduct, formal speech, and old-fashioned clothing also echo Austen's world, as do the shifting social norms and the desire for something more than what the societal limitations allow. (Wow, did that sound like the sentence of someone who's written a LOT of English Lit papers.)
An apocalypse brought on by genetic engineering is eerily plausible, and I loved the hints of the world's pre-apocalyptic glory. Overall, the worldbuilding is deft and detailed, without overloading the reader. I'd love to see the Post-Reduction world beyond Elliott's island, which is a neon blinking sign of quality storytelling!
3. Bringing the Swoon
Elliott and Kai have a complicated past and, after a four-year separation, an even more complicated present. Like with Elizabeth and Darcy, sometimes you want to reach into the book and shake them until they wake up and smell the swoon. But that's what I went into the book hoping for, and that's what I love: the torturous "Oh my God you're perfect for one another so please notice and do something about it!" feeling.
Peterfreund developed their relationship like a pro, both through childhood letters and especially through their present-day interactions, fraught with tension and conflicted emotions and old anger and misunderstandings. It's the most delightful kind of romantic torment, and it's executed perfectly. ______
So that's the DARKNESS Triple Threat! Just in case you weren't sure, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book.
* If we want to be precise, page 44 was when I knew there was no turning back. I felt my first moment of full-on, Austen-worthy, heart-clutching swoon. I was done for.