Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hold Still by Nina LaCour YP FIC LACOUR

Hold Still covers a year in the life of Caitlin a high school girl that just lost her best friend to suicide. Things get even worse for Caitlin when she finds her friend’s journal in her room. Burdened by the weight of guilt and the feeling that she never knew her own best friend Caitlin tries to struggle through her Junior year along the way meeting new friends and even finding a possible romance, but will her guilt ruin everything she is trying to build?
This is without a doubt one of the best novels I have ever read about grief. Caitlin is a very realistic and likeable young girl that never seems inauthentic. This book deals with issues of depression, sex, suicide, grief, self mutilation, and many other issues teens face in a honest manner that never seems preachy. This book would be excellent for any reader that has dealt with grief or just wants a great story with strong characters. Best of all, even though the issues the book addresses are dark the book itself is very hopeful and uplifting.  It's astounding that this is a first novel and if it is a sign of things to come then readers have a LOT to look forward to from LaCour. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks YP FIC HICKS

The War at Ellsmere is a graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks about a thirteen year old overachiever named Juniper on a scholarship trying to fit in at the ultra exclusive Ellsmere Boarding School. Juniper quickly makes new friends with her roommate Cassie nicknamed ‘Orphan’ because of her almost always absent parents. Unfortunately, she just as quickly makes an arch enemy of Emily, the most popular (and ruthless) girl in school. When Emily declares war on Juniper she needs all her smarts, the help of her friend, and maybe even a mythical beast.

This book is really excellently illustrated in a unique style that mixes the influence of Japanese manga and American pop art. Juniper is a strong and likeable female protagonist. This is a funny and touching read for all ages and either sex.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pastworld by Ian Beck YP FIC BECK

In the year 2050 the entire city of London is a theme park: Pastworld. The town has been demolished and rebuilt to look like the foggy London of the Victorian era, the time of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. People travel from around the world to visit the past and feel the danger and excitement. Eve is a 17 year old girl that doesn’t know that her London is an illusion until she has to flee the safety of home pursued by Pastworld’s bogeyman, the Fantom. Caleb Brown is just visiting Pastworld with his father until his father is kidnapped and he becomes the Fantom’s target. Before everything is over Caleb and Eve will meet wild new friends, face untold danger, and unlock the mystery of Pastworld and the Fantom.

Pastworld is as dark, mysterious, and thrilling as the London it describes. The novel shifts from the point of view of characters often which keeps the reader interested. This is a great read for older readers that like books about the past, science fiction, or both.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Legacy by Tom Sniegoski YP FIC SNIEGOSK

Lucas is an ordinary teenager that wants an ordinary life. He lives in a small town, works at the garage, and doesn’t see any other future for himself. Then his deadbeat dad shows up and tells him that he’s a superhero named The Raptor and wants Lucas to take his place. Now Lucas’s life isn’t so ordinary. After he turns his father down his home is attacked and Lucas decides he must seek justice, but he soon finds his father isn’t as noble as he seems. Lucas must make the ultimate choice between loyalty and honor.

Legacy is a fast, gritty, and funny book. If you like super hero stories that look at what it means to be a super hero in the real world you should also check out the graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore YP FIC MOORE, the novel Dull Boy by Sarah Cross YP FIC CROSS , or the novel Hero by Perry Moore YP FIC MOORE.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri YP FIC NAYERI

Another Faust by Daniel and Dina Nayeri is a modern retelling of the Faustian bargain (selling your soul). In it five children from all over the world disappear in the same night. The only thing they have in common is a desire to change their lives at any cost. They all return five years later with a beautiful and mysterious governess, Madame Viceroy and have strange gifts. They can steal, lie, cheat, and manipulate almost like magic. Soon they are the most powerful and popular kids in their exclusive high school, but Madame Viceroy find ways to turn the five against each other and they have to make new bargains to increase their powers. Will they sell their souls to rule the school?

This is a fun and exciting read that has a strong cast and some very surprising twists. It seems to drag a bit in the middle but picks up nicely for the end. the ending leave it open enough for a sequel and I think this could become a hot new series so jump in now and be the start of the trend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Final Crisis written by Grant Morrison YP FIC MORRISON

This is it! The DC comics event of the Year/Decade/Century! This is the end and new beginning of everything there is in DC comics. Writer Grant Morrison and a team of the absolute best comic book artists working for DC today craft an epic universe smashing tale (literally) including every major DC superhero. Batman, The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and a slew of others face off against the ultimate evil: Darkseid and his Evil gods.

Realities are smashed, heroes die, time stops, and at one point a giant Superman robot piloted by Superman fights a giant space vampire. Really. It’s got great art, big drama, and changes everything about the DC universe. Grant Morrison is legendary in comics for writing weird and deep comics and this would be his masterpiece.

While this is a must for current comic fans I think it will also be fun for new fans. Just make sure to have your favorite internet search engine ready to look up some of the characters you don’t recognize. It worked for me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Laika by Nick Abadzis YP FIC ABADZIS

This graphic novel by Nick Abadzis mixes fact and fiction to tell the true story about the first creature to travel in space. The world’s first cosmonaut (Soviet astronaut) was a tiny dog named Laika. The story of one dog’s birth, life, and voyage beyond the reaches of the Earth is mirrored in the people that surround him. Laika is not just a story about a dog; it is also a fascinating history of space exploration, Soviet politics, and the value of a single life versus the costs of ambition.

Laika is drawn with a simple and rough style that really draws you in after a few pages. The characters and story feel real and alive. You might have a tough time putting this one down and you may want to have some tissues ready. SPOILER ALERT: This story has a tearjerker ending.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco YP FIC FRANCO

Metamorphosis: Junior Year by Betsy Franco tells the story of young teen named Ovid and how he uses art to describe and survive the perils of high school. Ovid is named after the famous Roman poet Ovid that wrote Metamorphoses.

A metamorphosis is a complete change from one form of life to another. Which is what high school is pretty much all about. Ovid is inspired by his namesake to envision himself and his friends as creatures of myth going through fantastical changes through poems and drawings. The art is by the author’s son Tom Franco and is truly unique and very cool. Ovid writes biting and quirky poems that describe his friends and their hidden pains until he finally can bring himself to confront his own troubles. Metamorphosis is a very clever work that looks at how art can help us come to terms with the world around us. Ovid’s blend of ancient myths and modern pop culture is fresh and authentic. A good read for anyone that is or has dealt with the Epic Struggle that is growing up.

If the myths and creatures in Metamorphosis: Junior Year grab you then you should definitely read Metamorphoses by Ovid (the real one) call number 873.01 OVID.