It wasn’t just toffee that I gorged on in this epic time of 11 days off.
My ladyfriend, Caroline, posted NPR’s list of the best Young Adult novels of 2011 on Facebook and it spurred a glorious frenzy of book readery. And oh, wasn’t it the best thing ever? I had a bounty of quick, engaging material and no other constraints on my time. Except for the toffee. In both cases, it’s all chomp, swallow, mmm, next!
Anna Dressed in Blood is about Cas, a kid who kills ghosts with a magic knife. He lives a nomadic life with his good-witch mom, tracking down one ghost after another and sending them off into the nether world. He follows a tip to Canada to find Anna, the scariest ghost of all time. And she is pretty feckin scary. There are quite a few gruesome murdery scenes. Despite her propensity for violence and her dress that is perpetually doused in and dripping blood, Cas falls for Anna, and teenage romance ensues. The story behind Anna’s death is harrowing and the climax is full of supernaturally suspense. Reminded me a lot of I am Number Four.
Eyes Like Stars was my least favorite of this batch of reading. The NPR recommendation was actually So Silver Bright, but that was the third in a trilogy called Théâtre Illuminata so I opted to read the first one instead. The main character is Bertie, a girl who lives in a theater that is magically populated by the characters from every play written. Bertie isn’t a character in a play; she was dropped off at the the theater as a baby and her story is unknown. She’s constantly accompanied by the fairies from a Midsummer’s Night Dream and she can’t decide if she’s in love with a pirate (who talks in swashbuckle) and an air spirit (whose clothes and hair are always ruffled by wind and who has butterfly familiars.) Due to best intentions gone awry, all sorts of chaos ensues and the fate of the theater is threatened. It’s up to Bertie to save the day and figure out who she is along the way. Too twee for me. Also, that’s not how you spell Theater. Someone should tell that lady.
Puck lives on Thisby, a teeny fictional island of the Irish persuasion. Every November in Thisby, monster flesh eating horses emerge from the sea. The men of the island then manfully go catch these horses, train them up for a few weeks, and then race them in a big-deal race that results in a cash money prize and fame. Cue the age old plight of small-town-ism. Puck needs the money and she decides to enter the race and along the way, falls for Sean, a 4 year champ of the race. Sean is very quiet and still. Where’s Sean? Look for the still part of the room and there he is. People get chomped on by horses. Puck and Sean are very still together. There’s a race at the end. Despite the premise of the mythical creatures, most of the story line was pretty ordinary. Almost Maeve Binchy-esque, what with the Irish small town character stereotypes. I give this one a pleasant shrug.
Man, do I love a post-apocalypse story. This one tells about the kerplosian of the volcano in Yellowstone and the ensuing ash, darkness, early winter, and violent yokels that ensue. Alex is a big nerd-o who was 130 miles away from his family when shit got real and then has to find his way to them. Society has pretty much gone to hell: no electricity, phones or radio. FEMA, rather than being helpful, sets up concentration camps of sort that keep refugees locked up with minimal food and shelter where they slowly freeze or starve to death. It wouldn’t be Great Expectations without an escaped convict, so there’s one of those, too. Alex has a handful of run ins with violent types who want to steal his food, but he also meets Darla, who’s much savvier than Alex. As such things are wont to do, Alex grows up a lot along the way and what says “I’m grown-up” more than a savvy girlfriend?
Definitely a fun read.
I liked this one a lot. It had a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games: a dystopian government born out of a people who want to recover from too much war, with a heroine full of butt-kickery. This society is broken out into 5 factions, the Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Erudite and Candor. Beatrice is born into the Amish-like Abnegation, but struggles with their extreme culture of selflessness and on Choosing Day, she chooses the Dauntless instead and changes her name to Tris. The Dauntless are all about bravery, signified by wearing all black and having tattoos and piercings. They also really like to jump off of stuff, like buildings and moving trains. Tris learns, though, that she’s not really just Dauntless, or just Abnegation, she’s got varying amounts of everything, and this makes her dangerous to her government. She has to keep her “divergence” a secret to keep the government from being out to get her, but in the mean time, she’s busy falling for her mentor in the Dauntless lifestyle. And it turns out that this plan to keep people strictly in the lifestyles of these five factions is not working out, thus things start to crumble.
There’s a sequel to this book that I wanted to start reading immediately, but it turns out that it won’t really exist until the future and that I could only *pre* order it. Which is malarky. Who wants to preorder something? Just give it to me!
Divergent was good enough that I definitely wanted to read more if I could have.
And finally, this book wasn’t really on NPR’s list, but it was a runner-up on Amanda’s 12 Favorite Books of the Year, and that was plenty of reason.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was neato. There’s a cast of X-men like characters, who are trapped in time, trying to stay safe from the muggles and other more evil predators. The story is illustrated with creepy vintage photos. We learn about the peculiar children through Jacob, another dorky teenager, who has a special relationship with his grandfather. Grandpa dies a grisly and inexplicable death, which sends Jacob into a bit of a spiral of crazy and on a trip to a tiny island off of Wales to get to the bottom of stuff.
I’d definitely recommend this one.