Little Bee by Chris Cleave swirls around a single life-changing event on Nigerian soil that inexorably alters all who are involved--some grow stronger...moreLittle Bee by Chris Cleave swirls around a single life-changing event on Nigerian soil that inexorably alters all who are involved--some grow stronger while others do not survive. Little Bee is one of the survivors, and at the story's opening she is being released (without papers) from a immigrants' detention center in England. She knows no one in England save for Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke, two other players in the previously mentioned life-changing event. She sets out to find them, and their second encounter changes all of their lives once again.
The vague nature of the first paragraph of my review is due to the fact that much of the story's appeal comes from its slow unfolding of the past and the insight this unfolding provides into the characters' personalities and actions. Little Bee and Sarah take turns narrating the story, and Little Bee's chapters are particularly poignant.
Cleave covers some weighty material in Little Bee--imperialism, violent conflict, immigration and immigrants' rights, globalization, depression, and suicide just to name a few. Covering so much ground is a lot to ask of any one story, and its attempted breadth is likely part of the reason the story comes to an abrupt and somewhat unsatisfying end. At least for me, I would have liked to have at least some of these topics touched on in more depth. Still, Little Bee is a timely story well-worth reading if only to be able to step into another perspective for a little while. (less)
Sarah's Key tells the stories of two women in two time periods and how their stories interact. Sarah's story begins in 1942 during the French police's...moreSarah's Key tells the stories of two women in two time periods and how their stories interact. Sarah's story begins in 1942 during the French police's Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup. In 2002, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to investigate this piece of France's past.
Like many others who reviewed this book, I feel this would have been a stronger book if more of the book had been spent covering Sarah's narrative in the past and less of the book spent in the present showing Julia investigating Sarah's past. Nonetheless, the book brings to light an oft-overlooked historical event and its ripple effect, and, as such, it is worth delving into both Sarah and Julia's stories.(less)
Peter and Max Piper are brothers. But aside from the same mother and father and musical giftedness, the two have little in common. Their story opens i...morePeter and Max Piper are brothers. But aside from the same mother and father and musical giftedness, the two have little in common. Their story opens in the present in the recondite part of New York known as Fabletown with Peter learning of his brother's return. Peter lives in Fabletown with his paraplegic wife Bo Peep and other characters of fantasy and fairy lore such as Snow White, the Beast, and the Big Bad Wolf.
Despite Bo's protests and concern for Peter's safety, Peter resolves to find Max and put an end to his evil doings once and for all. From there, the story is told alternating from the present to the past. Willingham masterfully parcels out the back story, slowly building the brother's history until the present enmity between them becomes clearer.
Long, long ago the boys' father, Johannes Piper, passed on his magical flute named Frost to his younger son, Peter, because Peter is a better musician than Max. This decision creates a rift between the brothers that quickly turns deadly.
Willingham packs many more events and characters into Peter and Max's story. Like fairy tales of old, the story lacks depth of characterization as characters are largely one dimensional (all good or all bad), and this may detract from some readers' enjoyment of the story. Still, for readers who enjoy the fairy tale mold and stories that ooze with intertextuality, Peter and Max will be a fast and fun read. Peter and Max is a standalone novel based on Willingham's esteemed Fables comic book series. (less)
Books may speak to you sometimes but likely not in the same way they speak to Haly, the protagonist of Libyrinth. In this far future Earth, Haly hears...moreBooks may speak to you sometimes but likely not in the same way they speak to Haly, the protagonist of Libyrinth. In this far future Earth, Haly hears books speaking their stories to her.
Haly works as a Libyrarian clerk in the Libyrinth, a fortress dedicated to preserving books. The books must be preserved against the Eradicants, a powerful group who fear books, forbid their followers from learning to read, and seek to destroy all books save The Book of the Night (a book rumored to hold all of the wisdom of the ancients, including the secret of creating Eggs, a chief power source).
When Haly hears the Eradicants plotting to locate The Book of the Night (which consequently would lead to their destruction of all other books once they possessed this one), she knows she must set out to find the book first. Along with Clauda, her friend from the kitchen and, Selene, her Libyrarian employer, Haly sets off to find The Book of the Night. By story's end, they learn a great deal about each other, about themselves, and about the history of the schism between the Libyrarians and the Eradicants.
Readers must be willing to engage fully in a alternate, unfamiliar reality in order not to be completely discombobulated within the world that North has built. Libyrinth's a highly intertextual book, including lines from numerous classics that Haly hears speaking to her (a helpful guide to which lines come from which books is provided at the end). Those who are willing to engage will find much food for thought within Libyrinth--about religion, about stereotypes, about reading, and more.
In Libryinth, the idea of reading as a right, a privilege, and a road to understanding self, others, and the world is reinforced. Libyrinth is a paean to the power of the written word--to move, to change, and to inspire those who are brave enough to read. (less)
As Catching Fire has yet to be published (I read an ARC), I won't go into depth about plot. I will say that this sequel to The Hunger Games lives up t...moreAs Catching Fire has yet to be published (I read an ARC), I won't go into depth about plot. I will say that this sequel to The Hunger Games lives up to it's laudable predecessor, it continues with its disturbing premises, and it ends with another cliffhanger.
Catching Fire offers much to its readers--an angry and vindictive Capitol that makes an unprecedented announcement, district uprisings, requited and unrequited love, hard choices, young adults who are being forced to grow up way too fast, and more. I'm already looking forward to following these characters through the next Hunger Games.(less)