The best way I can describe this is Lost in Translation for the teen set. A book that celebrates the opportunity to live and study abroad, along withThe best way I can describe this is Lost in Translation for the teen set. A book that celebrates the opportunity to live and study abroad, along with everything else that goes along with it, it’s both quiet and fun, exciting yet subdued.
Why, then, am I not enthused by this book?
I couldn’t tell you 100% of the reasoning why. A lot of it is that this book doesn’t feel like it has a ton in the way of stakes going for it. There was little reason for me to root for a particular outcome, and everything felt rather mapped out from the start for me. The adventures (and I use the term here in context) felt fairly subdued on a whole, and, honestly, there wasn’t a ton here for me to invest the emotional energy.
Truly, there’s perhaps an argument to be made that this is more about setting and such for the audience rather than the deep story. But I compare it to Lost in Translation in that the story is one that I remember very little about while continuing to have very strong and vivid visuals. The result is a book that, in a way, felt like a vacation I’d like to go on, just not necessarily with the people involved. A good read, but far from mind-blowing....more
I never like throwing in the towel on advance books, but Shadowbahn, in spite of its interesting premise where the Twin Towers reappear in the BadlandI never like throwing in the towel on advance books, but Shadowbahn, in spite of its interesting premise where the Twin Towers reappear in the Badlands, just didn't work. Part of it is my fault - I thought the author was the same guy who does the Malazan books, but this simply means that the experimental tale told here is even less relevant to my interests on a whole. It's a weird book - not a difficult one - but one that just wasn't what I wanted or looked for....more
I was pretty excited to see Josh Sunquist diving into YA fiction. Sundquist's We Should Hang Out Sometime was a great, relatable memoir, and seeing aI was pretty excited to see Josh Sunquist diving into YA fiction. Sundquist's We Should Hang Out Sometime was a great, relatable memoir, and seeing a book that might have some of his signature humor and storytelling in fiction form was fun to see. The book isn't perfect, but it ends up being a fairly pleasant read nonetheless.
In this book, Will is a blind student entering a regular school for the first time. He's able to be largely independent, but he makes a series of mistakes that start things off weird, but he quickly settles in with a group of people and ends up falling for a girl. The girl is guarded, but when Josh receives a chance to take part in an experimental treatment that could give him sight, he's forced to confront a lot of what he thinks he knows.
It's an interesting story, for sure, and has a lot of good, basic messages about disability and acceptance that aren't a bludgeon. The writing itself is kind of simple, which is maybe a drawback for some but worked for the story being told, and the end result of a surprising science fiction element of sorts made it even more enjoyable for me, personally. I'm not entirely sure whether this will work for all audiences, but with the rise of disability lit throughout, this definitely deserves to be part of the broader conversation. Absolutely worth a look....more
Matt Rossi continues to make some interesting and compelling fiction, and Heartless, the second book in the Nameless series, takes a different tack thMatt Rossi continues to make some interesting and compelling fiction, and Heartless, the second book in the Nameless series, takes a different tack that works really well for the series. Where Heartless felt like more of a focus on a traditional-style fantasy informed by video game narratives and interesting fantasy/horror tropes, Heartless succeeds in flipping the script around. It leads with some cool action and then moves into a narrative that is more about people coping with the world they're now in, complete with our heroes involved in romantic trysts and real-world scenarios while everything else around them is insane.
It's a way to handle a story that I can't say I've read before, and the result is a story with a different style of investment compared to other epics or urban fantasy tales. If you're looking for a lot more action similar to the first book, this might be a jolt to the system, but the character base here, and the way our heroes interact with each other? That's where the quality comes into play.
This isn't to say the book is perfect. The way the book handles its action sequences this time around does not have the same feel as the first book, and the dialogue sequences on occasion feel more informed by the setup in games than in real life, but these are more nitpicky issues than true dealbreakers for the story. At the end of the day, this book was a solid and enjoyable read. My only regret is that I didn't get to it sooner....more
Martians Abroad is a great story about kids being sent off to a boarding school and the sort of intrigue that goes on within their walls according toMartians Abroad is a great story about kids being sent off to a boarding school and the sort of intrigue that goes on within their walls according to the relevant tropes. What's surprising is that this book is not marketed as YA while doing so.
The story follows two kids, one of which desires to be an interplanetary pilot. Being from Mars, this adds a collection of extra difficulties, both from the Martian educational system not being well-respected to Mars kids themselves having to adjust to Earth culture (never mind gravity). While Charles is perfectly willing to go along with whatever, his twin sister Polly is not so interested in simply going along with things, and we get to watch as her strong will both helps and hurts her along.
In terms of a straightforward boarding school story, this works really well. The science fictional elements are obvious, but spend a lot of time being secondary in favor of solid characterization and an interesting story with a lot of wrinkles. It reads as YA, though, and this might be a turn-off for some readers (including fans of Carrie Alexander), although it wasn't for me. In a time where Tor has marketed some adult stuff as YA recently, the marketing of this as "adult" is especially puzzling, but that's just one of the weird publishing downsides to this. If you're open to reading this sort of thing, you should absolutely get on board, as this was a fun ride. ...more
I read this closer to Halloween (I'm...a little behind), and this collection of short tales by Brhel and Sullivan evoke a lot of solid nostalgia. MuchI read this closer to Halloween (I'm...a little behind), and this collection of short tales by Brhel and Sullivan evoke a lot of solid nostalgia. Much like their collection Marvelry's Curiosity Shop, Cemetery Gates is absolutely a love letter to campfire tales and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark alike.
Plenty of short tales throughout this play up classic horror tropes, from situations in cars to familiar assailants, but what makes this work is the pacing, which provides a very specific tone while still tossing in some surprises and not taking too long. The result is a number of bite-sized horror treats that strike an equal balance between fun and creepy.
What's worth noting beyond the basic enjoyable nature of these stories is the way Brhel and Sullivan are improving as storytellers from their earlier work. Even if this wasn't a solid read, I'm definitely looking forward to whatever it is that comes next....more
There's a lot of room in the "life is falling apart" for teen reading these days, and The Best Possible Answer takes a slightly differCloser to a 3.5.
There's a lot of room in the "life is falling apart" for teen reading these days, and The Best Possible Answer takes a slightly different path, highlighting a girl who is smart and can achieve a lot, but much of her life is spiraling out of her control and she needs to do what she can to cope.
I liked the realism and the way she dealt with one of the key issues of the book. I didn't love that the way the narrative is structured means that there wasn't enough time to really dive into a lot of the scenes. I found the characters surrounding our main character not all that realistic, but I enjoyed the read enough on a whole to let that go by.
This is a solid read, and much better than Kottaras's last book. I want to love her books and I have a lot of hope for the next one, but this one might require some care....more
There's not an official genre for the type of tsk-tsk cautionary tales about certain groups, but The Most Dangerous Place is the latest in the line ofThere's not an official genre for the type of tsk-tsk cautionary tales about certain groups, but The Most Dangerous Place is the latest in the line of the misdeeds within an affluent community that reads condescendingly and lacks the sort of realism I come to expect from books like this. Sort of YA but appears to be geared toward adults, I both don't know where this is supposed to appeal or who this is aimed toward, and it mostly fails at all aspects anyway.
I don't have much of anything good to say about this except that the book is readable enough. It just doesn't live up to its hype, and I can't recommend it at all....more