So you know that Ship Breaker was the winner the year I served on the RealPrintz committee, right? And I can be a mature blogger — mature enough to admit that I wonder if my affection for “my” winner skews my reading of Ship Breaker’s companion book, The Drowned Cities. I know I’m not alone: four starred reviews, nice write ups in the lots of different newspapers…this is a book that’s getting a lot of love from a lot of people. It’s about to get some more love from me. [Read more...]
Oh this book!
This marvelous & bizarre book, with far too many ampersands & lots of literary antecedents. It is a marvelous invention full of fun & surprises. & it begs for rereading, often a Printzly quality.
China Miéville is, among adult genre circles, a serious literary darling. He has won the Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards more than once each and has a Hugo as well. You know, no big.
He’s also an acquired taste. And, thanks to his delight in writing fantasy that looks to other genres and plays with them, each book is very unlike his others and each one requires re-acquiring the taste (I found Kraken and The Scar hard going, but The City and the City brilliant and Un Lun Dun quite appealing, for instance). So I suspect there won’t be that many takers for Railsea among teens (or, actually, among the adults who serve them and/or read their books). Which is not to say that this isn’t a YA title; there is a lot of potential appeal for the story, but the style, while brilliant, is likely to be a bit of a niche taste. Like sea urchin. Or moldywarpe, I suspect.
Happily, appeal is pretty immaterial in the realm of literary excellence, so I’m calling this one as a serious contenda and nominating it for the Pyrite Printz as well. Because it’s spectacular and odd and so literary but also at times totally lowbrow and really it’s just genius and everyone should give it a good patient go.
Whew. Okay, enough not entirely coherent gushing. On to close examination.
Grave Mercy and The Wicked and the Just are, in so many ways, polar opposites.
But how often do we see YA books set in the Middle Ages? Not very, which makes it almost impossible not to think of these in a compare and contrast essay. So that’s what you get.
Both feature strong female heroines, well defined settings, and a fascinating story. Oh, and divided nations (France/Brittany and England/Wales), strangely fitting since I’m putting the final edits in to the accompaniment of the election results rolling across the TV. But that’s about where the compare part ends, really, because mostly these are very different books.
By my count, Year of the Beasts has received two stars; it’s in the buzz portion of our contenda list. Some of that buzz, I know, has been from me to Karyn: Cecil Castellucci is always doing interesting work, and Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole blew me away a few years ago and I can’t wait to read it, I kept saying. I’ve actually been carrying this book around in my bag for months, starting it and then stopping because…well, I don’t know why, exactly. I just wanted to keep reading it, I think. (Don’t look for sense-making there.) So it seems having a hard deadline for a review is a good thing for this type of nonsensical situation. I don’t think Karyn wants to hear any more buzz from me until I can also tell her I actually read the book.
We have: summer, the end of school, the arrival of the carnival, sisters, friends, boys. But then fall arrives, and so do tragedies, Greek myths, panels and pictures. Told in alternating chapters, this is the story of Tessa and Lulu. Castellucci writes the summer chapters, the Then chapters. Tessa and Lulu had a hard summer; Tessa is the older sister, the plainer sister, the sister with a crush on Charlie. Lulu is younger, prettier — and Charlie only has eyes for her. Powell’s art takes over the fall chapters, the Now chapters, except that Now Tessa’s monster self is apparent; she is transformed into Medusa and her hard eyed glare turns friends and family into stone figures. Her friend, Celina, is a siren, a mermaid on a seashell. And Tessa can’t take her eyes off the Minotaur, a wounded, wandering figure that doesn’t want to speak to her. [Read more...]
National Book Award Finalist. Three stars. Patricia McCormick. Never Fall Down is a critical and popular darling, and there is absolutely no question about the emotional impact of the story. You would need to be a stone to stay dry-eyed reading about the atrocities Arn sees and endures under the Khmer Rouge.
So let’s cut to the chase. There’s really only one conversation anyone is having about Never Fall Down, and it’s all about the voice.
I should probably be honest: I read this book as a fan first. I enjoyed Graceling and was impressed by Fire; I was more than curious about Cashore’s new book. Once I stole borrowed — with total intent to return! Someday! — Karyn’s copy, I read it and figured I was just reading it for myself. I love how feminist these books are, I love how strong Cashore’s protagonists are. But Bitterblue has stayed with me through the year, and it received four stars, bumping it into auto-contenda status. Yay!
So I’m being upfront and outing myself as a fan from the get-go — really trying to own my baggage, I suppose. But let me also say right at the start: I think this is a good read but unfortunately I suspect it’s not quite as strong on reread. [Read more...]
Let’s go back in time for a moment, to the heady golden days of science fiction as the place where sweeping stories examine the nature of humanity and also contain explosions and cool tech.
Are you with me?
Because A Confusion of Princes is a throwback in the best way possible.
This is pure space opera, which grows from adventure and Western roots. In this case, it’s space opera with a dash of coming of age and lots and lots of fun tech (only it’s tek here, and there’s a ton of it, each bit more inventive than the last), all of which adds up to the contemporary version of a Boy’s Own adventure.