Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins YP FIC COLLINS

Katniss Evergreen burns still. She survived not one but two of the Hunger Games: nightmarish games where only one survivor is permitted. Both times she survived by defying the rules of the all powerful Capitol. This time by joining with the rebels of the fabled District 13 she has brought complete destruction to her home and Peetna the boy who loves her is the hands of the enemy. Now the rebels want her to be the Mockingjay: a symbolic figure of the rebellion to rally all the districts to fight against the capitol and President Snow. But Katniss is tired of the dead that surround her and blood on her hands. Will she ever be able to fly free and what will it cost her? The Final Hunger Game begins!

Good news for the Hunger Games fans: Mockingjay delivers in a big way. This might be the best book I read all year. The final volume is as exciting and suspenseful as the first two and the ongoing tragedies and triumphs of the war shape your favorite characters in shocking new ways. This is a brilliant look at what the horrors of war bring to all sides and the impossibility of easy solutions in the face of tyranny. Surrounding all these weighty themes is just an outstanding adventure filled with realistic, vulnerable characters. Collins is brilliant at very quickly establishing and cementing characters in your mind only to destroy them a chapter or two later. It makes for very scary reading because you never feel like anyone is safe. If you haven’t read the previous Hunger Games books then you want to check them out before reading this one. So much of the impact is on how much the characters change for better and worse through the novels. I think this is one of the strongest YA series out there and recommend it to anyone wanting a good series.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill YP FIC HEMPHILL

The girls of Salem are wicked indeed. But is it for the magic they practiced together in the woods or is for their virtue in court? Seven girls relate their stories in verse as to how the Salem witch hunt began and why they doomed so many of their neighbors with lies.

This is a haunting look at the power of rumor. It tells the story from the viewpoint of seven young women and girls and tries to see why someone would maliciously send so many people to death. The reasons differ but all relate to a total lack of power from the girls. In the end it is not the girls that are entirely wicked but also the society that first robbed them of any choices and then (for the first time) gave them recognition for the ‘virtue’ of damning others. This is an important message for any time, because any young peron knows the feeling of powerlessness and rumor and accusation can still be incredibly damaging today. The author excels at giving each character her own voice and pushing the tension of the events. A great read for anyone that likes novels in verse or historical fiction. Even if you haven’t read any verse novels I’d give this one a look.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire YP FIC LEMIRE

John Griffen was the strangest thing the sleepy small town of Large Mouth (named for the bass) had seen in years. Covered from head to toe in bandages, he seemed to be hiding secrets from everyone. And no one in a small town trusts secrets. no one but 16 year old Vickie, who hates the boring town and is desperate for distraction. But as Griffen's past catches up to him and a disappearance has the town hunting him, Griffen will have to reveal himself. But what if there's really nobody under the bandages?

This is a mind bending mystery that retells The Invisible Man in a small town as a graphic novel. it's definitely a unique idea and if you like books about classic characters reimagined then this is one to look at. Drawn in black, white, and blue the art really captures the bleakness of winter. It's a story about loss of self and how easy it is to disappear completely when we have no one to turn to. So a real smilefest! but seriously, even though it is sad and dark and dismal it's a good kind of sad and dark and dismal. the mystery of what's happening to Griffen and his descent into insanity is really compelling and creepy. If you’re a fan of graphic novels that make you think then there is a lot to like in The Nobody.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan YP FIC SHAN

Jebel Rum’s family is famous and respected because his father is the royal executioner. Jebel, however, is a thin runt that is dishonored when his father forgets to even consider him as a possible replacement in front of the entire village. Jebel decides on an insane and foolhardy quest: to go to the legendary cave of the fire god and sacrifice a slave named Tel Hesani in exchange for inhuman powers. However, the quest is so dangerous that almost none have returned alive and there are only legends of those that have returned having completed the quest. Jebel will face death from all sides if he is to complete his quest, but his greatest challenge will be if he can bring himself to sacrifice Tel Hesani, who had become Jebel’s first and only friend.

This is a really fun and exciting dark fantasy in the vein of the old Conan books. The world is a violent, cruel warzone and only the strongest survive. Which is why making the main character a weak runt is so fresh and fun. The characters aren’t super deep, but they are interesting and move the story forward well. You may know Darren Shan from his super successful series The Demonata and Cirque Du Freak. If not then The Thin Executioner is the perfect book to check out Shan’s style, because it is a standalone novel that highlights his strengths. He builds believable and dark fantasy worlds with short thrilling chapters, so even though this a long book you will find yourself tearing through it saying “just one more chapter” again and again. His horror worlds are dark and violent without ever geeting overly gross or depressing. Shan’s work is more aimed at guys than girls because his main characters are male and the focus is often on action and violence, but really any reader that likes dark fantasy that isn’t too dismal will enjoy Shan’s books.