I am back after a long hiatus. Starting with Christmas, I got very busy, and then I somehow with work and toddler, have had absolutely no time at all. However, I am back, ready to provide reviews for all the juvenile/YA literature that happens across my path. But before I begin, I feel the need to recap (for myself) my reads of the last few months (or what I can remember, at any rate).
Katherine Applegate – The One and Only Ivan
Smart, quirky and heartbreaking, this is the story of a captive silverback gorilla and his plans to rescue himself and a baby elephant from a mall of America zoo. (Ages 9-12)
Other books I’ve enjoyed:
R. J. Palacio – Wonder
About a boy starting school for the first time. He has a serious (for lack of a better word) facial disfigurement. Braving the stares, snickers and random cruelties of the other kids, August will inspire you with his heart and humour.
Scott Gardner – The Dead I Know
Six Feet Under meets One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest (sort of) in this engaging Australian book for teens about a young man who finds employment – and a community – with an undertaker. Fantastic.
Gabrielle Zevin – All These Things I’ve Done
Futuristic Tony Soprano as a teenage girl. While the world makes NO SENSE at all (chocolate is outlawed; many things are rationed; there is a general unexplained mess), the main character and her story is absolutely fantastic. You just have to allow the world to make NO SENSE at all.
Amy Kathleen Ryan – Glow
Very much like the Star Trek episode where they steal the children and Wesley has to lead a hunger strike. While I was afraid it was going to be rather religious, in the end I very much enjoyed this futuristic novel. Two ships from earth set to find new colonies. One ship hangs back, boards and then steals all the girls on the second ship. All the adults are killed or go missing, and it is up to the boys to regain their ship and find the girls. Not without weaknesses, but quite compelling nevertheless.
Tom Ryan – Way to Go
Charming, solid read about a young man growing up in the 1990s in a tiny town in Nova Scotia, who is increasingly sure he is gay. Given the era, and the homophobia popular among his classmates and best friends, this is a major problem for him. It speaks to my youth (the era, not the growing up as a gay man), and had some fantastic cooking in it, so I quite enjoyed this one.
Jordan Sonnenblick – Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip
Great boy read about a kid who blows his shoulder and will never pitch a baseball again. Terrified he’ll lose his best friend and his identity as a cool kid, Peter turns to photography that he has learned at his grandfather’s side – and of course gets the girl.
Y.S. King – Everybody Sees the Ants
Loved this book. It had the potential to be a Holden Caufield classic (such a great narrator, themes, and innovative storytelling), but the ending let me down a wee bit. Still, an absolutely fantastic read.
Alan Cumyn – Tilt
A Canadian YA book about a very serious and intense teenager, Stan, who is struggling to hold his family of mom and younger sister together. His family and making the junior varsity basketball team are all Stan focuses on – until very sexy Janine Igwash asks him out. Somehow she manages to tilt his world completely and challenge his control effortlessly. When a runaway dad shows up with a half-brother, Stan’s world is thrown further off balance. A great short guy read, with one of the more steamy sex scenes I have read in a YA book.
Books that have been a bit disappointing:
Maureen Doyle McQuerry – The Peculiars
Someone told me this had great reviews. I think steampunk folk might get more out of it. Personally, I found the lag in the middle, and some of the awkward writing, turned me off enough that I had to put it down 2/3 of the way in. Too many others to read.
Yvonne Prinz – All You Get is Me
While I was waiting for a copy of another farm girl book, I picked up the similarly gendred All You Get is Me by Yvonne Prince (author of Vinyl Princess, which I loved). While this book was ok, it was just ok. The politics were prominent, and while I agree with them, they could have been just a little more subtle? And why does the love interest always have to be so perfect in these books?
Horvath, Polly – Mr & Mrs Bunny – Detectives Extraordinaire!
I love Polly Horvath, a local Canadian author (in particular her Everything on a Waffle). However, this one rubbed me the wrong way – particularly the hippies. There were a few too many in-jokes for adults in this one. I have to say, though, by the end, I was quite charmed by the bunnies and their inane ideas and banter – very funny, them.
Marissa Meyer – Cinder
I can’t say as I was disappointed by this, as I had no particular hopes. But it was rather uninspiring. Cinderella as a cyborg. Not bad, but very predictable and unremarkable.
Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone
This started out beautifully, with very strong writing and fascinating characters and mysteries. By the end, it was just kind of weak and meh? There will be sequels, but I won’t be tuning in.