Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

One day a shoe box with seven audio cassettes shows up on Clay’s front doorstep. There is no return address, nothing to indicate who or why someone sent him the tapes. There’s really nothing to do but pop them in the tape player and start listening. He’s sent reeling when he recognizes the voice on the tapes as Hannah, his classmate who just recently committed suicide. Hannah says there were thirteen reasons why she killed herself and she’s going to go through every single one.

So this book has been getting quite a bit of buzz (I think it was mentioned on the mock Printz list that Joanna posted about earlier) and good reviews. It could have been really gimmicky and truthfully it was still sort of gimmicky, but it was an incredibly fast read that teens are going to gobble up. The thing I could have done without was Clay’s. Constant. Interruption. Of. Hannah’s. Narrative. She can barely squeeze out a sentence without him interjecting a thought. It got tiresome. Luckily there was plenty of suspense to keep you reading. You are almost desperate to find out what the other reasons are.

The other thing I could have done without are the crazy things that the cover girl is wearing around her feet. Seriously, what the hell are those things? They’re like a sheer nylon/sock/leg warmer hybrid. They’re absolutely frightening. If it’s cold enough for her to be wearing a tuque then for god’s sake put on some pants and maybe do up your jacket.

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi and Ely have been best friends since they were kids. They’ve grown up together in the same apartment building, depended on each other for support during crises, and in fact practically become one organic entity naomiely. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both extremely attractive, cool, and so desired by many. So desired in fact, that in order to protect their friendship they’ve created a No Kiss List, where people who are on the list will never have the pleasure of being kissed by either of them. That way no one will ever come between them. Until of course, someone does.

To make a long story short Ely is gay, Naomi knows that, but doesn’t really KNOW it know it. She still secretly harbors a fantasy where Ely might be gay, but is actually truly completely in love with her and so the fact that she isn’t the right gender doesn’t matter. She knows they’ll get married (like they planned when they were kids), have some babies, and live the rest of their life together 4eva. When the fantasy finally collapses, so does their friendship. What is there to salvage when so much of the foundation is built on half-truths and omissions?

As most people probably know this is the second book that these authors have collaborated on. The first, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, although wildly popular amongst many was not a personal favorite of mine. So I was very curious to see whether or not I would like their follow up.

And like it I did. It was told from several perspectives (whereas Nick and Norah’s was just two). I liked the tension between the two main characters and how the other character’s perspectives widened our knowledge of who they really were, how they really acted, and how they were perceived by “outsiders.” I liked the quirkiness of the story (especially the nicknames of Bruce the first and Bruce the second). I liked how they managed to bring music into this story (although what a trend in YA lit now…), how they came to a better understanding of each other and themselves, and how they seemed to be better people at the end of the book but without the after school special feeling.

Did I like the characters? Well…I found them to be pretty self-absorbed and kind of mean. Sure they were beautiful and cool, but would I actually want to be friends with them? I don’t think so. Could I relate to them? Not so much. I thought they suffered a bit from the same forced “hipness” that the characters from Nick and Norah’s exhibited. It distanced me from the characters. Even when it was a scene where they were vulnerable I didn’t really feel bad for them, I definitely wanted to know what was going to happen next, but I didn’t empathize with them as much as I usually do when I’m reading. But all in all, I enjoyed it and more importantly I think a whole bunch of teenagers are going to really like it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mock Printz List

I thought this would be a fun link to post. The fine folks at BCCLS (Bergen County Cooperative Library System in Hackensack, New Jersey) compiled this from reviews.

BCCLS choices for Printz.... so far.

We here at OOPS have reviewed:

Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Book of a Thousand Days
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (well, not really a review)

I know my fine co-bloggers and I have read more titles on that list, so maybe we should share in the comments?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

gossip girl - what were they thinking?!?!?

hey people!

it’s your oops wrong cookie gossip girl correspondent here.

have you missed me? it’s ok… i’m sure you have.

i don’t have too much to say about our last two episodes but…

what were they thinking?!?!? thanks, patti, for pointing out how wildly inappropriate it was to hear a choir group (of very young ladies none-the-less) singing a rendition of glamorous by fergie. hello!!!! i would love to see the stats on how many people promptly turned the channel and never went back. patti was one of them. at first i was confused. “is that glamorous i hear??? is it being sung by a choir?!?!? are they serious?!?!? it’s a school assembly!!!! this just feels wrong!” but my love for the books kept me on the channel. it got me past that little lapse in judgment on someone’s part… actually it’s gotten me past a lot of lapses in judgment with this show and will probably continue to get me by until the show is cancelled. it’s like making my self finish that book i’m really not enjoying… some call it a gift but i call it a nightmare. i have to finish… something about the way i’m wired i have to finish reading. the only book i have ever NOT finished i plan on starting again. and finishing. one day. but only after i see the movie.

anyway! so, nate is forever a naïve little thing. during last week’s show i was torn. i really wanted chuck to just shut up… mainly because he was forever annoying me as usual. but in the back of my mind i kept thinking, “something isn’t right here, natie. don’t go to that poker game!” and what do you know. chuck was right in his own little way and naïve natie got screwed again. but he did give us a little teaser that his trust fund has been *gasp* taken away! well, he wanted a life without material things. guess he’s about to get it!

b&s… ahhh…. it wasn’t so hard to figure out that each episode would follow the same basic storyline for these two girls… serena tries to do something nice/follow her heart/etc and ends up squashing blair. i’m sure i don’t need to recap for the loyal viewers but for those (patti) that just couldn’t stick with it… first she follows her heart and ends up sleeping with her best friend who happens to be her other best friend’s boyfriend. oops. so she leaves town without saying goodbye because she just feels so bad about what’s happened and blair feels abandoned. oops. now she’s back and they try to be friends but then blair finds out about said Hanky-Panky. oops. then serena and blair make up but serena unknowingly gets conned by blair’s mother into a photo shoot that blair was dropped from. oops. alright, ladies… what’s it gonna be tonight?!?!?

i still think blake lively is a doll. and i hope serena and dan end up having a real relationship for at least a few episodes! i mean, look at them! blake and penn are gorgeous! and even though i’m dying to see who will be vanessa in all her baldness splendor, i’m dying to see serena and dan as a couple so i can see blake and penn as a couple. i’m twisted… i know. comes with the territory.

on a related note, i’m reading the GG Prequel right now! loving it! i will soon be in the know as to why serena left in the first place and I dearly hope it isn’t because she and naïve natie (hmmm, i think i’ve given him a new name) did the hanky-panky. that’s just no reason to leave and honestly… it just isn’t juicy enough anymore!

i guess i had more to say than i realized.

but it’s ok…

you know you love me anyway…

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Slam by Nick Hornby

As Joanna has said in one of her earlier posts, it's always interesting to see what a high profile adult author will do when they write a teen book. In this case I liked the movies that were based on some of his adult books...not the actual books because I've never read them...but, you know, I was interested. Very interested. And then Slam started getting a lot of hype. Including a starred review from Booklist as well as really good reviews from pretty much every other review magazine.

Sam is 16 years old, the same age his mother was when she had him. The same age he'll be when he has his son. In no way is Sam ready to be a father. He's very immature and perhaps a bit delusional (case in point he talks to his Tony Hawk poster and sort of believes the poster talks back to him in snippets from Hawk's autobiography), he's selfish, he's not really into his girlfriend anymore, and he is completely unable to vocalize anything he's actually feeling.

This book was flat out funny. I thought Sam's voice was hilarious. He isn't ready for a kid and boy does he know it. Truthfully, I thought he was a complete idiot throughout the entire book. I kept thinking, "I am so glad I was never saddled with someone like him." All the while laughing because his perspective on things was so immature and his reluctance to accept his reality felt refreshingly honest - at first. About 3/4 of the way through I started to wonder if I was going to see any character growth, any indication that Sam didn't have his head completely up his ass. It's great to have a character that's not immediately jumping on the daddy bandwagon, because that is believable and if written right, humorous. but Sam never gets his act together and it goes from funny to slightly annoying. It had me wondering if Sam was ever going to grow up. I started thinking that Hornby wasn't just playing immaturity for laughs. This was actually ALL there was to Sam and that left me cold.

There was a brief hint at the end of some character growth, but it happens off page and in the future and ultimately was not enough to save the book for me. I thought it was super funny, so funny I actually laughed out loud for the majority of the book. But what I really wanted was to see Sam grow past his inability to grasp the situation at hand and get on with it. That's what it would have taken to move past the witty writing and make me actually care about him. And unfortunately that never happened.

Other reviews: Bookshelves of Doom, (the quote from the teenage son in this article is pretty darned funny).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

At the end of New Moon, I was certain that Bella had some kind of mystical power of her own - something that had to do with her parents and that would be revealed in Eclipse. Why can't Edward read her mind? Why can't the Volturi? Why does her blood smell different? I was hoping that she'd be some kind of magic creature: witch, hobgoblin, something! I was very disappointed that we learn essentially nothing new in Eclipse. There has to be a reason why Bella is so special. Something! I just don't understand this voodoo pull she has on people/non-humans. Who knows, maybe those questions about Bella will be answered in the next book. I just hope I'm still interested. I really hope people start dying in the next book. Three books and no vampire or werewolf deaths? No fair. I say less wooing, more gore.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Book 3, Eclipse. When I was about 14 I was into reading the classics. I received a college prep reading list and was determined to work through it. Wuthering Heights looked good so I must have checked it out of the library. I hated that book. I didn't get it at all. Granted, at 14 I didn't "get" many of the classics (Catch-22 was another) but I couldn't figure out why in the world anyone would like Heathcliff or Catherine. So when I got to page 9 and Bella picks up her "much-abused copy" a light went off in my head. Then, on page 29, Edward nails it: "Well, I hope you're smart enough to stay away from someone so selfish. Catherine is really the source of all the trouble, not Heathcliff." Dude. Dude. Actually, Edward, you shouldn't be pointing fingers.

Eclipse trudges through the last few weeks of school before Bella graduates and possibly gets to go to Dartmouth, courtesy of Edward who bribed her way in and is essentially forcing her. Bella cares less about school and more about sex. It's rather refreshing. Edward throws in a wrench: they must get married first. Which is his same rule for waiting to turn her into a vampire. He's so tricky! But again there's the problem of Jacob, who loves Bella, too, and who makes several clumsy (and not clumsy) attempts to woo her and turn her affections. He never had a chance. One of the better dialogue parts:

"But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun."
The corner of my mouth turned up in a wistful half-smile.
"I used to think of you that way, you know. Like the sun. My personal sun. You balanced out the clouds nicely for
He sighed. "The clouds I can handle. But I can't fight with an eclipse."

The big story here is that some bloodsucker stole some clothes out of Bella's room and that means someone is out to kill Bella, FOR THE THIRD BOOK IN A ROW.
"Yeah," he agreed. "Bunch of vampires trying to kill you, the usual." - Jacob
The big battle at the end between Victoria and the Newborns and the Werewolves and the Cullens was way too short for a 629 page book. That was the good stuff, because it involved the Quileutes, and they far more interesting to me. My heart did a little skip at the connection of the Third Wife legend and Bella. All for naught. My favorite part, and it's really nothing in the scheme of things, but Stephenie Meyer mentions Anne of Green Gables twice, and to good effect. I snickered. Fun!

I know that many adults have problems with this series. They criticize the writing ability of the author, they are underwhelmed by the repetitive storyline, and they just have no empathy for Bella. As an adult, I agree with this, but I cannot deny the teen factor - the rabid, emotionally attached teens who prowl through these pages with lusty desire. I do see why they love it. The forbidden love of two "teens" who constantly think they are not thinking of themselves but are thinking of the best interests of each other or others even though, yes, they are just thinking of themselves. The drama of dueling lovers for the beautiful, sensitive outsider. The secrets. The danger. The legends. (OT: I would bet that Jacob imprints on Leah, once he returns from his tantrum.)

So maybe in Book 4 (Breaking Dawn), we won't have Bella and Edward get married. Bella worries that she won't be the same person if she becomes a vampire and that she won't love Edward like she does now. That might be super refreshing. (For some of us.) I just can't imagine Stephenie Meyer penning a sex scene even if they are married. Or there is a wedding, but then it's crashed! By things out to kill Bella! The Volturi? Tanya's clan who totally rejected the Cullens and is totally on their shit list? Or both together! And the werewolves have to save the bloodsuckers AGAIN! And then Edward DIES defending her because he looooves her! And she stays human! And she stays a virgin! But then ... if Bella goes all Newborn on us in the next book, that could be really fun, too, if she's all crazy and killing humans. Heh. So it's anyone's guess. What we do know is that we have anther 600+ book coming our way next fall and a rabid following of teens who are already counting the days.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

This is spoiler free, so feel free to read away!

As soon as I noticed this got nominated for the National Book Award, I knew I had to read it. I’d already read two other of the nominated books: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie and Story of a Girl – Sarah Zarr. Although I liked both of those titles I was a little disappointed, make that very disappointed, not to see two of my favorites listed instead: Red Glass – Laura Resau and Cures for Heartbreak - Margo Rabb. So, of course, now I have to read the rest of the books to be fully annoyingly opinionated (not that I wouldn’t be otherwise but I should probably attempt to base my opinions on more than just airy feelings).

Skin Hunger was the first on my list as it had been sitting on my bookshelf at work staring at me for the past month as I tried to get all my required reading done. The first thing you notice when you begin reading is that there are two storylines that don’t seem to fit together at all. I kept wondering if I had missed something important, in fact I wondered this so much I had to go to the front book flap and read the summary so I could figure out what was going on. It turns out that was intentional, so with that I settled down and started reading again (and later on wished I hadn’t read the darn flap because…well I’ll get to that).

One story line features Sadima, a girl born into a poor farming family who live at a time when kings rule, there is widespread poverty, and magic has been banned. Sure there are still magicians, but they are hacks and fakes who are as likely to rob you as to actually help you. The second story line features Hahp, a boy born into a very wealthy family at a time magic has been restored. His father hates him and sends him away to wizard school. At first, if you’re like me, you’ll wonder what is up with these two extremely separate story lines. You might be confused and feel like you missed out on clues. You didn’t. The thing I enjoyed most about this story is that the author doesn’t dumb it down for you. She trusts the reader to keep reading on the strength of the two stories until such a time when it makes sense to begin to entwine them together. And believe me, when the stories finally come together at the “reveal," it is an example of really powerful writing.

This turned out to be a really dark book and I can’t say this better than Nancy Farmer on the back flap so I’ll just quote her, “Never have wizards appeared so foul or their apprentices so tormented. Magic is definitely a mixed blessing here.”

Not much is wrapped up at the end of the book and I for one am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

Averie Winston is the sheltered daughter of a commanding general in the colonial empire of Aebria. For the first time she will be joining her father and Morgan, her soldier fiance, on one of the empire's newest conquests. They will be in the land of Chiarrin. A hot land of reddish mud and wood frame houses, aqueducts, and people with a strange way of dressing. On her long boat trip over Averie meets the very handsome Lieutenant Du'Kai, a man from another conquered nation who has joined the Aebrian army. He introduces her to new and rather discomforting ways of thinking, and ideas she has never even considered before. Does Aebria liberate backward countries and bring industry and trade as she has always been taught? Or are they actually invaders who conquer lands for their resources? And if so, what then are they really doing in Chiarrin?

Once in Chiarran, Averie discovers that she loves learning about the new culture and sets about to take in as much as she can. She adapts their way of dress, learns about their traditions, and befriends a local girl who quickly becomes a trusted member in their household. Add in a complicated romance, some political intrigue, a fantastically written betrayal, and a harrowing escape and you pretty much have the rest of the book.

More perceptive readers will figure out that the book, although set in a made-up world, is easily compared to our world's Western history, both historically and currently. Aebria could easily be Britain or the United States, and the conquered countries seem to be modeled after India and some part of the Muslim world. However, because it is not set in our world, it should allow readers to question their beliefs about other countries and the real reasons countries are "colonized" without making them uncomfortable or defensive.

The political dialog between characters is not always as subtle as one would wish. Particularly between Lieutenant Du'Kai's (who has a rather precarious station in life to be so loose lipped) and Averie (who is perhaps more open minded than is realistic). Nevertheless, readers will enjoy the love triangle that quickly emerges, as well as Averie's joyous exploration of a new and unfamiliar culture. This title will be popular among younger teen girls who like historical fiction and romance.

And let me tell you, the betrayal, although I was sort of expecting it - not to mention hoping for it - is nonetheless totally enjoyable. It was my favorite part of the entire book , which now that I think about it might not reflect all that well on me...but I choose to think of it more like I root for the underdog and for self-determination. Heh.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

It’s a normal hot summer day and Jane is headed out to the beach along with her family. She wants to go in for a swim, her brother is too busy flirting with some girl, so she decides to go in the water by herself. Then the unthinkable happens, Jane gets attacked by a shark. She’s saved by her brother and taken to shore, but not before she loses her arm.

When Jane wakes up from her coma she’s in the hospital minus an arm. Thanks to some guy with a video camera, her attack has been broadcast six ways since Sunday on every local and national news network. Her room is filled with an onslaught of flowers and letters from people she doesn’t know saying how brave she is, how she’s a hero, how she inspires them.

Dear Jane:

My Uncle/Aunt/Brother-in-Law’s Friend Had Their Leg/Foot/Toe/Finger or Hand Amputated Because of Diabetes/Frostbite/Circulation Problems/War/Job Injury, But You’d Never Know It, Because They Are So Funny/Athletic/Good-Natured/Spiritual/Successful/At Ease with Themselves/Happy.

If I have to listen to one more story,

I will scream.”

The one thing she knows for sure is that she doesn’t feel is brave and she is not a hero. She’s in pain, she’s depressed, and she’s completely pissed off. Why did this have to happen to her? Why do these people feel compelled to tell her to buck up it’ll get better when it very well might not? What will it be like when she has to go back to school and feel everyone’s eyes on her?

Shark Girl is composed of news reports, letters, emails, and Jane’s diary. It is unflinchingly honest. I had a lump in my throat the entire book. I was constantly on the edge of completely losing it and crying, which incidentally, I did by the end of the book. Jane’s voice, her anger, her understanding of what people are thinking when they look at her – because it’s how she used to look at people like her – couldn’t be more spot on.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t an amputee that showed up to give Life Altering Insight and Lessons. Sure, there was Justin, the young kid who lost a leg and was at the hospital at the same time. And yes, he did help her recover mentally. But that made sense to me. What I mean is there aren’t any convenient characters, like the new teacher at school who just happens to also be missing an arm but nevertheless gets along just fine without it. Or perhaps an old codger, who is of course, missing both of his legs or half his face (the point is he's missing something) and who sits all day at the park where Jane just happens to start hanging out. Those type of characters always ring false to me.

I couldn’t help but think how I would act if I lost a limb. I certainly wouldn’t feel like an inspiration to people everywhere (those letters that people wrote her…what the hell were they thinking?). I would be hysterically angry and depressed. But I’d like to think I’d eventually recover just like Jane.

This is definitely in my top 10 favorite books published in 2007.

An Interview with the author on Cynsations:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

gossip girl - just let me get it out of my system!

hey people!

it's me, your oops... wrong cookie gossip girl correspondent and i've got lots to say!

i like the show. i do. but... i am a little disappointed. i knew going into this the story line wouldn't match the book entirely but geez! the writers just ran with this! there are 10... 11 books in print right now! that's at least ONE season of material! and the characters! all the characters were just off. cecily von ziegesar did a fabulous job building these characters and the show is NOT doing them justice! justice i say! (i think i said that a lot in my last post...)

dan humphrey. i don't think his character is totally on but i like him! he is fun and witty and... and... well, nice to look at. he's protective of his sister and i can't wait to see where the show leads him. though now that i think about it... i can't see penn badgley puking on stage while trying to sing with the raves and being all depressed about bald headed vanessa... (oooohhh! vanessa!!! who will play her?!?!?)

speaking of jenny...

little jenny humphrey. *groan* the defining features this character has in the book are completely left out of the show. i'm sure you know which ones i'm talking about... *wink* she just seems so... something. little miss cindy lou who (thanks, elizabeth!) just won't do. yeah, she's cute and blonde and perky but she's such a little girl. i mean, what happens when she and nate start to... well whatever it was they were doing (if they even pull that from the books!)?? she and nate rolling around in the snow making out showing off her thong panties(!!!)... it just won't be right. she's just not jenny!

speaking of nate...

nate archibald. gag me. seriously. i am disappointed in him the most. chace crawford is a good looking kid but he's all wrong for this! nate should be a blonde haired, stoner/surfer looking boy. i will say they pegged the character on this one, though. he doesn't say much and what he does say isn't very smart and he just gets pushed around by everyone.

speaking of blair...

blair waldorf. as annoying as ever. leighton meester does a great job portraying blair and all her spitefullness. i guess she has justified reasons to be so pissed but seriously?!?! all she did was glare in the last episode.

speaking of serena...

serena van der woodsen. *sigh* as far as her character goes... right on! i love blake lively as serena. she's beautiful, sophisticated, classy, and just plain perfect. the writers really screwed her storyline up, though. she didn't come home b/c of her brother. i can't remember exactly why she came home, or exaclty why she left in the first place but i don't feel it had anything to do with she and nate doin' the nasty, but i do know her return to manhatten wasn't b/c her bro tried to commit suicide. (didn't she get kicked out of boarding school???)

speaking of serena's family...

darla van der woodson. um.... i didn't even know her name was darla till i pulled up gg on and here she is like being all mothery and apparently she gets around with rufus AND nate's dad... hey, where is her husband?!?! they weren't divorced!

speaking of adults...

seriously, though... what the heck is up with all the adults?!?!?! they are everywhere! there wasn't an adult actually in the series until like the last two books when nate stole his father's sail boat and sailed away with blair for the summer. (other than mr. humphrey who can't be considered an adult) and that was the big appeal for the series! all these kids running around boozing it up like they are 23, not an adult soul in sight!

rufus humphrey. matthew settle is gorgeous. that's my problem with rufus. rufus is supposed to be a sloppy, overweight hippie, with absolutely NO fashion or cooking ability. he doesn't know darla (is that seriously her name?!?!?) and they definitely never dated. he wasn't in a band and he's not an artist. he's a poet.

mr. archibald. his first name escapes me. what's up with him and darla. ugh. what a hideous name. is that really her name??? i think they made it up.

eleanor waldorf. she wasn't a designer, was she??? didn't she just get rich from blair's father? you know, the one that ran off with another man that is now living in paris!

and other characters i want to deface but can't seem to fit them into my nifty little linking scheme i've got going on....

eric van der woodsen. he has a face? it took like 5 books for us to hear enough about him to imagine a face and connor paolo wasn't it. eric isn't serena's younger brother, he's her older brother and he definitely was NOT a cutter. he's just as cool as serena. his role in the show will NOT be his role in the series.

chuck bass. ed westwich is creepy. maybe that was the point b/c chuck bass is a creep. personally, i don't feel ed was a good choice for chuck but it should prove interesting once chuck starts to out himself!

phew! ok... i'm done ranting. i was just really put off that the show was so far fetched from the books. hopefully, i'll get over that this week. until next time...

you know you love me.

The Snows by Sharelle Byars Moranville

The Snows follows the Snow family through the generations as each family member reaches their 16th birthday. Jim in 1931, his sister Cathy in 1942, his daughter Jill in 1969, and finally her daughter Mona in 2006. Turning 16 is always a big turning point towards maturity and Moranville plays with the dates to place three of the four stories in a pivotal time of American history. This is part of what makes the book so unique – it doesn’t just deal with one historical aspect, instead it uses several (the Great Depression, WWII, and Vietnam) as the backdrops which affect the lives of each generation of Snows. I think this could have been a bit gimmicky, but Moranville is a strong enough writer to pull it off.

What I especially liked about this book was how well it allowed you get to know the characters and the family. As each new generation is introduced you get to see them in their various roles. For instance, you see Jim when he’s 16 and falling in love for the first time, when he’s a young husband headed to war, when he’s a father, and finally when he’s a grandfather. It’s downright fascinating and it gives the reader far more insight into a character than they’d usually have. Watching the family dynamic develop was truly enjoyable. It made me wish that I could read a generational story about my own family (a behind-the-scenes-true-warts-and-all version) that would let me know what my parents and grandparents were actually like when they were young. How amazing would that be!

There are four stories in total, each told from a different family member’s perspective. Readers will probably find some of the stories more interesting than others. I enjoyed all of them. My only complaint is the clichéd pregnancy of one of the characters. The rate at which characters get pregnant after their first time in YA literature is shockingly high and rather exasperating.

I reviewed another of Moranville’s books entitled A Higher Geometry a while back.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hero by Perry Moore

This book has generated quite a bit of buzz so I thought I'd finally read it. I believe I suffered from a little over-exposure as I am not as big as a fan as other reviewers.

I liked Hero. I did. Hero is the story of teenager Thom, who, in the span of a very short period of time (or long one?) learns he has super powers, is recruited to a superhero league, learns painful secrets about his family, and saves the world. Oh yeah, toss in that Thom is gay.

There are 2 things that kept me from loving it. First, its length, which is well documented here: I like a well-paced, tight novel. This one clocks in at 428 pages (ARC version) and it was slow going for me until his mom appeared in chapter 26. After that point I pretty much read the rest in one sitting. I also experienced a few plot bumps. I had trouble keeping track time during the story and I had difficulty believing that Thom's dad would not talk to him, especially after the confrontation at the League. The more I read the more I understood why his dad was not around/didn't talk, but it still seemed more convenient than necessary.

Thom is a wonderful character. He's clueless, which I admit I find charming in my teen coming-of-age novels. He's sincere. He's funny (the wet suit!) He's interesting. Actually, this book is full of interesting characters and I'm not just talking about the superhero alter-egos. Ruth and Goran are probably my favorite supporting characters because of their fascinating back stories. Typhoid Larry, while a swell guy and all, was a little revolting.

I loved the part about The Lorax. Sunita. Heh. I have mixed feelings to learn that there's a sequel. Not because I don't want to know about Thom's mom or Goran, but I thought the book ended perfectly, a little surprising, but really perfect. I think teens who like a some fantasy in their realistic fiction will like this book. I'm curious about how serious comic fans will take to it. The author creates his own superheroes but readers of the genre will easily identify parodies and homages. They may love that or hate it. Comics people can be weird.