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Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

On the cover this book is described as a cross between Ferris Bueller and La Femme Nikita and that about covers the good and the bad of it.  Perry is forced to take his Lithuanian exchange student Gobija Zaksauskas to prom – but the night quickly morphs into an epic teenage action-thriller.  The apparently quiet mousy Gobija (Gobi) turns out to be a super-sexy/super-dangerous spy who forces resistant Perry to sidekick through downtown New York while she assassinate five targets.  On many levels, this book works – I mean, who doesn’t love stories about average folks caught up in high stakes crime/espionage during one memorable night in New York City (see Adventures in Babysitting, Date Night, etc.).  I admit, the writing was more competent and clever than I expected.  Each chapter begins with a typical question from an American university entrance form that contrasts well with the outrageous events of the novel.  For example: “Explain how your experiences as a teenager significantly differ from those of your friends.  Include comparisons. (University of Puget Sound)”.  So I was happy to go along with Perry’s account as the ball got rolling.  However, I found I had to put rather a lot of effort into sustaining my disbelief in order to go along with the increasing implausibilities of the plot.  Some might enjoy the ride while others will find it not quite worth the effort.

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July 23, 2011 · 4:08 am

The Elephant Mountains by Scott Ely

A YA dystopia reminicent of The Road (I imagine, not having read it).  Hurricanes have flooded New Orleans and much of the southern US gulf.  Fifteen year-old Stephen has been living with his survivalist father in a small town.  After his father is killed by looters, Stephen begins a water-born journey to find his mother in New Orleans.  At first I found the writing in this novel hard to latch on to, but I was eventually hooked into Stephen’s jouney.  This is one of the darker YA novels I read… only its length, relative simplicity and a slight promise of hope at the end kept it from belonging in the bleak category of post-apocalyptic adult fiction.  So I enjoyed it, but I do suspect there are better books doing similar things.

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July 23, 2011 · 3:00 am