Simon, the fourteen year old narrator, and his friends at the School of the Ages start a new year and are asked to help a new student known as Level T...moreSimon, the fourteen year old narrator, and his friends at the School of the Ages start a new year and are asked to help a new student known as Level Three. Level Three is both autistic and a very powerful magician, but there is more to his background that makes him seriously dangerous. The friends don't find the answer until they travel through the Wonderland world inside Level Three's head. I recommend this book for both the 12+ young adult and adult audiences
The writing style of the story seems so true to how a fourteen year old would think as Simon and friends make those initial steps on their way to adulthood, making decisions about life, friendship, values and sexuality. Simon is also tormented by his own traumatic experiences -- the death of someone dear and being a witness to a destructive event. That is one of the unique characteristics of this book -- it's grounding in reality. The magic the students are learning at the School of the Ages, set outside New York City, comes from Kabbalah, tarot, astrology, medium-ship and divination as used throughout the centuries. Students also must practice meditation and visualization and develop their own techniques. Without it being too heavily laid on, the reader can learn much about magic and history from the facts that pepper this story. For example, that Isaac Newton was an alchemist.
As in real life, there is no clear division in this story between good and evil, no vanquishing the ultimate evil to prevent the destruction of all things good. The characters all seem to have their positive qualities as well as their flaws which is very satisfying to me. Even battling Level Three is done for the purpose of helping him and former foes join together for the task. I loved the diversity of the characters in terms of personalities and backgrounds. This is definitely a multicultural setting and not in a stereotypical way.
Traveling through Level Three's version of Lewis Carroll's classics was fun and not as I expected. Yes, all the characters from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are there, but twisted by Level Three's perception and his own psychological issues. I particularly enjoyed the parodies of the songs and poems. Posner's ability to not just parody Lewis Carroll, but to do it to fit the personality and motives of Level Three is amazing. I particularly enjoyed "The Walrus and the Carpenter."
By [author:Erica Manfred|84522 "Torq is a charming, funny, satirical novel about a half human, half non-human boy from G'Tari, a primitive planet on th...moreBy [author:Erica Manfred|84522 "Torq is a charming, funny, satirical novel about a half human, half non-human boy from G'Tari, a primitive planet on the far side of the galaxy who decides to leave home and travel to earth after his parents die and leave him orphaned. He has only a hazy idea of what earth might be like, but he does know he plans to fight dragons and marry a princess there. This is the story of his journey--which puts an off-world twist on the classic coming of age story. Torq is a sweet, lovable innocent abroad, literally, who has to learn the ways of the world, from dealing with snarky androids, to taming an out of control service lizard, to how to eat pizza, to defending himself against space station muggers, to figuring out bizarre concepts like "insurance" to following bureaucratic spaceship rules and regs that sound like homeland security, to learning about themed restaurants featuring space cowboys and pirates. Torq does have a couple of advantages, one being the agzneh inside his head that contains the wisdom of all his ancestors and gives him advice and comfort as he travels, the other being nidti, whiskers, that he uses to communicate and express affection with his compatriots. His traveling companions include said lizard and android, plus a couple of other misfits who teach him the ways of the wider world. Torq is a fun trip--well-written and imaginative, plus sly, satirical and very adorable." (less)
I was talking to my sister on the phone and told her I was reading Interview with a Jewish Vampire.
"Oh? Is it scary?" she asked.
"Well, if you were...more I was talking to my sister on the phone and told her I was reading Interview with a Jewish Vampire.
"Oh? Is it scary?" she asked.
"Well, if you were an elderly person turned vampire and you had dentures, it might be?" I went on to explain some of the other situations that the vampires and the humans who loved them faced The sound of her laughter on the phone was the sound she makes when tears are coming to her eyes, she was laughing so hard.
I seldom actually laugh out loud when reading, but I definitely did on this one. It wasn't just funny, but also a heartfelt story about love, relationships, the fear of growing old, death and loss. The characters are well developed from somewhat shy, out-of-date, definitely hot in spirit if not in body temperature Sheldon, to neurotic and desperate Rhoda. There is also a cast of unexpected characters helping and hindering along the way -- the old ladies, witches, transvestites, drug dealers and bloodsuckers anonymous.
Of course the vampires in this book are a resourceful bunch and find solutions to all sorts of problems that are often overlooked when considering the undead --like how do Jewish vampires keep kosher? That's an important question especially when Sheldon (name changed to protect the not so innocent) is a nice Jewish boy who is also the Rabbi to a group of Hasidic Jews and has a Golem who thinks she's his Jewish mother. Rhoda, a 41 year old divorced and overweight journalist, who meets Sheldon on J Dates starts out interviewing him and they fall in love. But then there's her mother, her last relative, who is dying. Can Sheldon be of help?
I enjoyed Manfred's style. Her descriptions are visual and just enough to get the reader into the scene. She handles her characters with much warmth and of course, humor. There are sexual situations -- a lot of sexual situations, but they are not graphic, and often funny. I found Rhoda worrying about her house keeping habits while having sex on the floor because she's getting dust bunnies on her tush hilarious.
If you have ever wanted to know how Americans became obsessed with cleanliness, this book gives you the answers, going from the time when Europeans co...moreIf you have ever wanted to know how Americans became obsessed with cleanliness, this book gives you the answers, going from the time when Europeans considered American cities filthy, to changes that occurred after the Civil War when we learned the connection to germs and desease, the immigrations of the 19th century to modern advertising. Hoy's style is easy to read and her book contains many interesting anecdotes.(less)