Initial thoughts: 2 for 2 with your 2012 books, Jackson Pearce. You are quickly becoming one of my favourite authors AAAAAAAAND I think I would read anInitial thoughts: 2 for 2 with your 2012 books, Jackson Pearce. You are quickly becoming one of my favourite authors AAAAAAAAND I think I would read anything you wrote, including but not limited to a reinterpretation of the phone book.
Release Date: September 4, 2012 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 304 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: Human beings are funny things. Hand us a mystery, we'll not only preoccupy ourselves with solving it, but as frustration builds, we'll also come up with myriad explanations for all the things we cannot understand. The vastness of the ocean is one particular mystery that has enthralled people for centuries, and even as we make our marks on planets in the galaxy, knowing what lurks in the depths of the sea is still a challenge. Likewise, the human mind never quite lets us in all the time, and it can even turn on us as quickly as a storm can develop in open sea. Jackson Pearce's new novel Fathomless is a brilliant study of identity and memory through characters that are tied to the water in ways they can't comprehend.
Upon beginning this story, I was struck with the poignancy of the title Pearce chose. The word is lyrical, reminiscent of sea shanties and old tales, and yet it always seemed to hide something more. Celia and Lo's story is much the same: both girls are aware of their lives, and they can locate themselves through what they do, but there is something deeper that neither of them feel comfortable poking at. Neither of them are comfortable with their identities. Celia is tired of being a triplet, simply "Anne and Jane's sister," and Lo struggles with the memory of a name, Naida, and what it means for her own identity as Lo. It's a confusing and discomfiting experience for both girls, as adolescence always is. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Pearce used a third-person POV in the prologue--which introduces Lo--because it sets up the distance between Lo and the human race, of which she is no longer a part. While the rest of the story alternates between Celia and Lo's point-of-views, the prose remains beautifully written.
One of the most interesting themes of the novel is centered around how memory gives us our identity. Celia has the ability to see anyone's past, but her own father loses his memories because of Alzheimer's. She can't help him get those memories back, and so his identity as her father is lost as well. Lo's memories as Naida quickly force her to choose who she will be, because they cannot both exist in the same body. Celia would do anything to help her father remember, but she can't--Naida pushes Lo to kill a boy to get Naida's soul back. Memories set up a powerful dynamic between the girls and make them decide once and for all what they are willing to do to be who they want to be. Can you grow without knowing what came before? Can you be different without knowing how you've changed? Is giving up the past for a new future the right thing to do?
As easy as it would be to focus on the paranormal aspects of this novel, I think that would do it an injustice. Disney's version of The Little Mermaid is sanitized for children, and Pearce's choice to base the story more on Hans Christian Andersen's tale was a wise one. It asks the same questions without diluting the consequences of the mermaid's choice, and it ties into Fathomless' themes of transformation and identity. Like the titular mermaid, Lo wants to know more than what she is expected to believe. She goes in search of knowledge, of memory, and she makes choices that aren't always wise. But I absolutely loved the development of her character, and I think it works better than Celia's own journey, which was more connected to the love story. The relationship between Jude and Celia was the weakest part of the story, in my opinion, and I think it would have benefited with a bit more time spent on that development. I do believe that the core of Fathomless was the connection between Celia and Lo, and it succeeds with aplomb.
The Final Say: Jackson Pearce brings some tough questions to her third fairytale retelling, and the result is a nuanced, passionate story of the choices we make and the connections we forge in our need for identity. Fathomless is one of her strongest novels to date. ...more
Release Date:January 1, 2012 Publisher: Amulet Books Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 320 FormYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 1, 2012 Publisher: Amulet Books Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 320 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC borrowed from Wendy of A Cupcake and a Latte
Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?
Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.
Discovery: I loved this cover on Goodreads and the subject matter was exactly what I was looking for in a YA novel.
+ Language. Translations of any work are always challenging, but stories pose a unique hurdle to jump through: can the translation capture the nuances of the original text? The Storyteller was originally written in German and there are paragraphs in which the translation becomes obvious to the reader. However, Antonia Michaelis' English text is just as powerfully-wrought. The words are reflective and observant, mirroring the story's own quiet qualities. The fairy tale that Abel creates for his sister Micha is filled with beautiful imagery and layer upon layer of subtext and symbolism. It isn't an easy task to create stories that spill into and depend on one another. Both Abel and Michaelis shine best when they are weaving words together.
+ Characterization. Too often, the subjects of a starcrossed romance are not fully fleshed-out. They are only whole when they are with the other person, and don't seem to have any other outstanding traits when alone. Thankfully, Anna and Abel are both very much individuals, with their own hopes and dreams and fears. With that in mind, they have no illusions about each other, and both of them are aware that any sort of relationship won't end well. There is only time for honesty. A seventeen-year-old may not have that much power over his half-sister's future, but the strength that Abel displays is astonishing. Anna is as stubborn as she is soft-hearted, giving the reader a way into this intense story.
+ Themes. I love that YA novels like The Storyteller exist. They bring to life issues that are easily ignored and misunderstood. It reminds us that not everything is black-and-white. The story isn't accusatory in any way, but it does force the reader to consider how far anyone is willing to go to protect the people they love. The ending is painful to bear, especially since by that time, the reader will already be firmly attached to the characters, but it was necessary. We may not ever be in Abel's position, but I would like to think that The Storyteller can be more than just a novel, but a true inspiration.
The final say: The Storyteller is a novel not easily read, but nor will it be easily forgotten. The characters will live in readers' minds long after they've put the book down.
Release Date:January 31, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 288 FormatYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: January 31, 2012 Publisher: Razorbill Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 288 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from Penguin Canada
Tell Me More: Hiromi Goto's Half World is an exercise in harnessing one's imagination. Not since Graceling have I found a more richly imagined fantasy world, though it is quite darker than Kristin Cashore's work. I was glad to have Darkest Light on my shelf immediately after reading HW.
Reasons to Read: Reincarnation in YA tends to go along the route of star-crossed lovers who've been given a second chance. It also tends to be treated quite lightly, almost like a deus ex machina that ties all the problems up in a pretty little bow. Not so with Gee and his conflicting natures. Without spoiling it for anyone, I was quite impressed with the way Goto took on the challenge of making reincarnation about the person, and not about their past.
The language in this book is also astonishing in its beauty. I never doubted for a second that Gee's world is one where strange things can and do happen. The best fantasy stories lift you into a cloud that obstructs any outside distractions and let me tell you, my family had a really difficult time snapping me out of this novel. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I couldn't find anything to dislike about Goto's writing style, though I will admit that readers unfamiliar with epic fantasy novels may have a hard time. The story is worth sticking around for, and the characters are brilliantly rendered.
That's Not All:
No family is perfect, but Gee's Older Sister and Popo are just the right balance for his darker side. Their relationships are heartwarming and honest.
Diversity is the name of the game, with LGBTQ characters that never fall into stereotypes.
The Final Say: Darkest Light and its companion novel Half World are two Canadian jewels that will move readers' imaginations and hearts long after the final page....more
Discovery: Retellings of fairy tales always make their way onto my TBR pile, but I was especially intrigued by this post-apocalyptic twist on “SleepinDiscovery: Retellings of fairy tales always make their way onto my TBR pile, but I was especially intrigued by this post-apocalyptic twist on “Sleeping Beauty.”
+ Voice. Rose is very much an innocent and while that naivete can sometimes become tedious for the reader, it’s very clear why she thinks and speaks the way she does. It’s obvious to the reader just how awful her “fairy-tale life” really is, but she doesn’t seem to lose any sense of optimism. Rose has a quiet strength, only emerging when she needs it, because she doesn’t actually ask for much. I enjoyed her curiousity the most–she wants to learn but is afraid of what the knowledge would mean. I liked seeing her cast that fear aside when she realizes it can only do her more harm than good. She’s also quite funny and insightful; I appreciated Otto all the more because of her interaction with him.
+ Sci-fi and fairy tales. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my standards for dystopian novels are high. Thankfully, Anna Sheehan delivers a world that is complex and beautifully rendered. I had a great time imagining the limoskiffs and comms and other gadgets that Rose’s futuristic world used. Stass is also a noteworthy piece of tech and the ethics of its use gave the novel a perfect backbone. The juxtaposition of such a technologically-centered future with a fairy tale makes for some complicated questions–like “Was waking Rose the right thing to do?”–but Sheehan handles them all with deft precision and care for the characters she’d created. The revelations in this novel are expertly paced and
- Length. I do feel that some sort of a companion novel is necessary, if only because Sheehan included characters that readers will want to know more about even after Rose’s story has ended. I LOVED that the romance wasn’t the focus of the book. It’s easy to imagine where a second novel might go: Otto is a particular favourite of mine and I’d love to know more about his life.
Recommendations: A Long Long Sleep is a truly unique and complex novel, which will keep readers up all night trying to solve the mystery of Rose Fitzroy. They won’t be disappointed.
Release Date: August 28, 2012 Publisher: HarperTeen Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 352 FormaYou can find this review and many more at Mermaid Vision Books!
Release Date: August 28, 2012 Publisher: HarperTeen Age Group: Young Adult Pages: 352 Format: Hardcover Source: ARC received from publisher
Tell Me More: If there's one thing Lesley Livingston does well, it's smart and sassy adaptations of European mythology. Starling is just as enchanting as the Wondrous Strange trilogy, and highlights Livingston's charming writing style just as well.
Mason Starling is--dare I say it?--the Livingston heroine to the letter. She's clever and capable, with a touch of the strange about her. Even without having read the synopsis, it's clear from the first chapter alone that Mason is a mystery even to herself. On a related note, I've always found it interesting that paranormal stories mirror the unpredictable nature of adolescence. Mason isn't an easy character to know, and the reader discovers her identity the same way she does, through action. Livingston takes her readers into a new world, with unfamiliar rules, and it's only through actually participating in it that you can begin to unfold the richness of that world and its people.
Starling is an extremely lively novel, and the pace is rewarding for readers who don't like a lot of exposition before getting to the exciting parts. As you find out about Fenrys and the supernatural conflicts that awaits Mason, the story is deepened with just the right amount of details to help flesh out both worlds. I will admit that I was wary of what Fenrys would be like in this story--he had never felt quite real to me in the Wondrous Strange trilogy. But from his outstanding entrance to the very last page, he is a solid and believable person and the right kind of partner for Mason to have on her journey. There's a very real sense of that partnership throughout the entire story. They complement each other and best of all, neither of them are afraid to tell each other off. The development of their relationship is realistic and understandable, and it never takes away from the focus of the plot.
The Final Say: The Norse gods may have already made their comeback with Thor and Loki, but Starling can certainly give both boys a fight to remember. Young women will find an admirable heroine in Mason, who never fails to remain interesting as well as dangerous.
Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that’s left is a note telling her about a day sEach night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that’s left is a note telling her about a day she can’t remember. The whole scenario doesn’t exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can’t seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can’t make sense of, she realizes it’s time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.
Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if’s in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.
Discovery: I saw this book in Chapters a few weeks ago and the cover alone was enough to put it on my to-read list.
+ Tone. Forgotten may sound like a dark, heavy novel but Cat Patrick’s writing gives it a refreshing pace and feel. The reader is never bogged down in too much teenage angst and it was nice to enjoy the discoveries that London made. Her voice was clear, humorous and mature enough to make reading this book an absolute delight. Everything feels deserved, from the romance to the friendships to the family relationships.
+ Plot. I won’t lie, I’m ridiculously forgetful. That’s part of why a book like this appealed to me so much. I wouldn’t mind knowing the repercussions of my actions or decisions, if only so I could stop being so indecisive. London is the perfect narrator for this story, and it unfolded in a manner that kept me reading. There’s a threefold set-up for this novel and all of them are balanced by London: her family, her best friend and her first boyfriend. All three issues are given ample discussion time and the reader won’t feel slighted or misinformed. I also thought that the twist was perfectly timed and explained.
+ Romance. Oh my gosh, the romance in this book was EXACTLY what I needed after my weekend fling with Anna and the French Kiss. Luke and London are an adorable couple, reminiscent of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates. Luke is a great character, funny and warm. Their interaction is so much fun to read about and gives London a wonderful dimension.
- Slow exposition. After reading the synopsis, the first question most readers must ask is “Why does she forget?” And it’s a fair question, but not one that will be answered within the first 30 pages of the book. Actually, it won’t even be revealed until the very end. I’m on the fence over whether or not this is a good thing: on one hand, the desire to know kept me going; on the other hand, it did get a little frustrating. Forgotten is a fast read, but it may not be fast enough with the information for some readers.
Recommendations: I would definitely recommend this to YA readers of any age. Mystery lovers will have a nice little puzzle to mull over, and readers looking for a sweet teen romance will enjoy Luke and London’s story.
Jennifer Brown's books have always been hit-or-miss with me: I adoredHate List, but wasn't as imprePosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Jennifer Brown's books have always been hit-or-miss with me: I adored Hate List, but wasn't as impressed by Bitter End. Perfect Escape lands smack-dab in the neutral zone. Kendra's impromptu road trip with her older brother Grayson is certainly interesting, but I couldn't quite connect with Kendra herself. The sibling dynamic between Kendra and Grayson is the strongest part of the novel, and even when I was displeased with the way the plot was unraveling, I was still very interested in how they would manage to work things out. Perfect Escape is just right for the summer--a novel that is simultaneously complex and light enough to bring to the beach....more
Road trips and all their complications rear their heads again in this story about three ex-best friPosted on Seashell Reviews at Mermaid Vision Books!
Road trips and all their complications rear their heads again in this story about three ex-best friends who end up traveling hundreds of miles to see their favourite band's reunion concert. Hilary Weisman Graham captures the sensitivity and insecurities of teenagers perfectly, and each girl's voice rings true throughout the novel. I particularly enjoyed the subtle touches of humour and emotion scattered throughout the book. Reunited is a perceptive story about how friendships can shift and change and still remain real....more