What if everything you thought you knew was a lie? What if it wasn’t? What if you weren’t sure? Would you need to know the truth? Would you be driven...moreWhat if everything you thought you knew was a lie? What if it wasn’t? What if you weren’t sure? Would you need to know the truth? Would you be driven by curiosity, anger or desire to find out? These are the questions Sheriff Holston needs to answer in Hugh Howey’s short science fiction piece, Wool. Like dozens of generations before him, Holston is trapped in a self-contained underground silo, hiding out from the potentially deadly and ravaging atmosphere above. When he begins to question that reality, it sets off a series of events that pull the reader through an engaging and well-crafted story.
We are thrust immediately into the middle of the action, as Holston makes the most important and profound decision of his life. As we follow him through this decision, the world in which he lives unfolds in beautifully described layers. Like a fog slowly lifting, each chapter provides new clarity and understanding. By the end, he is a fully realized character whose decisions are understandable and, perhaps, inevitable.
The story is at times dark and painful, yet still tinged with hope. We will Holston to succeed, because, really, his story is every person’s story. His need to fully know his environment and be in control of his fate is a need that drives us all, sometimes to great effect and other times, well, not.
Wool is the first story in a collection of five, but it is fully self-contained and stands on its own. Anyone who enjoys strong character stories should read it.(less)
Imagine a world where kids run free without any parental interference. That’s the world the characters in Night of the Purple Moon (The Toucan Trilogy...moreImagine a world where kids run free without any parental interference. That’s the world the characters in Night of the Purple Moon (The Toucan Trilogy) find themselves in, but the circumstances that got them there are rather grim and it’s not all fun and games. Scott Cramer’s post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel is set on a small island off the coast of Maine. After a global catastrophic event devastates the population, sparing only those under the age of 15, the island’s children must learn to survive on their own.
The author does a lot of things right. The obstacles they face are ever larger and the stakes are constantly being upped. The pacing is excellent, making this a real page turner. Most of the children in the book are honest and good. Rather than falling apart, the children on the island come together to form a new society that, while not without challenge, is almost idealistic. Yet, the author doesn’t shy away from also showing how easily society could fall apart.
Though well-plotted and engaging, the book is not without its flaws. It is rather short, even for a YA novel, and character development suffers as a result. The main character is a Mary Sue in the worst possible way. She has but one flaw, a fear of fog, and even that she approaches in a rational and consistent manner. As such, she is shorted a meaningful character arc. She’s not really a different, better or more mature person at the end, she’s just the same person in different circumstances.
Secondary characters get shorted even more. The love interests are flat stereotypes who are basically props that come in and out when it is useful to the plot. One character who seems important in the beginning completely disappears for most of the story and is only talked about by other characters. When he does finally show up again, what follows is quite predictable. It makes it difficult to really care for the characters, because they never really feel like real people. Most of the character don’t even have physical descriptions. A lot are described as being this person’s son or that persons’ daughter, which is odd, considering we never meet their parents.
The end leaves a lot to be desired. Not only is it entirely implausible, but it is also a cheat. It wants to make sacrifices without actually committing to them. Up until the end, the plot is the strength of the book. The ever escalating obstacles pull the reader through at a quick, easy pace and then it hits a wall that left this reader feeling disappointed.
Still, there are a lot of good things about this book. It gives children a lot of credit. It portrays most of them as being mature enough to handle the day-to-day problems associated with life without any parental control. It also shows the realistic consequences faced by those who did not rise to the challenge. Even with its flaws, it is worth the read.(less)
I received a signed copy of this book through the goodreads First-read program.
Boy21 is a coming of age story about a boy, Finley, who has a deep pass...moreI received a signed copy of this book through the goodreads First-read program.
Boy21 is a coming of age story about a boy, Finley, who has a deep passion for basketball, without much talent. He develops an unexpected friendship with another boy, Russ aka "Boy21," who has a lot of talent, but little interest in the sport. The two are very similar and, at the same time, very different within their similarities.
The relationship between these two is interesting, but I felt it could have been explored more deeply. When I finished the book, and looked back on it, I didn't feel that the relationship had as much of an impact of the main character as it should have. As the centerpiece of the story, it just seemed that this relationship should have been more a catalyst to Finley's development. My feeling, at the end, was that Finley's character growth had little at all to do with Russ. I also felt that the relationship that ultimately does impact Finley's growth was not nearly as well explored as it should have been.
Overall, this story is well-written. It is written in present tense, which could take some getting used to for some people. I'm used to reading screenplays, so the voice felt very natural to me. The one thing that did bother me was that there were a lot of interesting things that happened outside of the timeline of the narration, and then those things are told to us with minimal detail. I felt these things could have been expanded upon. Though it would have been difficult to achieve given the tense and tone, it would have been possible. That challenge met well would have really improved the story.
The book is recommended for 12 and up. I think this is a reasonable recommendation. The content of the story can be a little mature, at times, but there is nothing gratuitous or gory to be concerned about. The writing manages to be complex without being difficult to read, which makes it a great option for young readers.
This book is an interesting, easy read. Despite a few issues, I did enjoy it. I would recommend it to anyone.(less)