Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe YP FIC JAFFE

Jane Freeman wakes up in a rosebush and she can’t move. She also can’t remember anything about what happened at the party the night before, but she needs to. Because she thinks it wasn’t just a hit and run, that someone wants to kill her. As she mends her body in the hospital and tries to piece her fractured memory together, her many friends and well wishers come to see her and tell her as much as they can about the party, but everyone’s story is different. When she begins getting threatening calls no one else is around to hear Jane realizes she has to remember who tried to kill her before they return to finish the job. As memories flood to the surface she uncovers secrets about the people she knows and herself and realizes that her perfect popular life was an illusion. An illusion someone will kill to protect.

This is a very rare find, a thriller that is also a compelling look at love, friendship, and loyalty. It’s a really suspenseful story and the false leads Jane follows in her disjointed memory gives the book plenty of twists that will keep the reader guessing. Jaffe does a good job of making the reader and Jane question her own sanity. I will say that while I like how the mystery developed I found the ending somewhat hard to believe. However, the writing of Jane is so good that I was willing to overlook it. She changes over the book almost entirely by looking back at her life and seeing herself through other’s eyes, which is good, because she’s sort of a brat at first. I guess car accidents are an awesome way to become a better person! Her slow realization of the kind of person she really is and what the people around her are really like is a very effective way to build characterization and allows the reader to follow Jane on her journey If you like mysteries this is one of the best written YA mysteries I have read (even with its lackluster reveal).

The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer YP FIC MAZER

Beauty, Mim, Stevie, Fancy, and Autumn live happy carefree lives, but they shouldn’t. A man is watching them. A man that looks normal and ordinary and safe, but he isn’t. He watches and he waits, but he won’t wait forever. After he stops waiting nothing will eb the same.

This book is creeeeeepy with a capital EW. Reading the thoughts of a deranged man obsessed with children isn’t exactly my idea of a Good Time, but it isn’t meant to be light hearted and fun. It is meant to be disturbing and horrifying, and it is! The alternating points of view between a happy family and their day to day life and a twisted monster are seriously compelling and repellent at the same time. It really works that Mazer addresses the reader as ‘You” when focusing on the different family members points of view, it leaves you guessing as to what will happen next. Mazer shows that you don’t have to be graphic or overly violent to be truly scary. Fair warning, you will not be able to put this book down and it will make you paranoid about strangers for at least a few days. Read it with the lights on and read it fast!

P.S. Even though this doesn’t affect my review at all it has one of the best designed covers I’ve seen in a long time.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver YP FIC OLIVER

Love is a sickness. It makes people obsessive, moody, violent, and dangerous. Therefore love is banned. The government controls and sees everything, making sure the populace is safe and well behaved. For 43 years love has been classified as a disease and cured on the patient’s 18th birthday, whether they like it or not. But that suits Lena just fine, in only 95 days Lena will be safe from Amor Deliria Nervosa forever. Then she meets Alex and she wants to be ill forever.

Disappointing. That’s the sad word that kept popping up as I read Delirium. Oliver’s first novel Before I Fall (YP FIC OLIVER) was one of the best books I read last year (read the review here), and I read A LOT of books! So I was very excited to see Oliver tackle a Dystopian Novel (even though they are totally the new vampires, i.e. overplayed). Unfortunately Oliver just isn’t much of a world builder. She takes SO LOOOOOOOOONG to move her story forward, but she doesn’t use it to provide much of a backstory for her Evil Government. There isn’t enough information on how they came to power in the first place, so it kind of seems hard to buy. On the plus side, the book has excellent writing. Oliver is so great at setting up realistic moments and transporting the reader. I totally got behind the character’s and their love story, I just wanted a better envisioned world and a tighter plot. The book picks up pace at the end and actually has an effective and moving climax, I just wasn’t nearly moved as at the end of Before I Fall. This is part of a trilogy, so hopefully the second volume looks more in depth at the world Lena lives in.All in all Delirium is a GOOD book and worth reading if you like Dystopian Love stories, it just isn’t a great book (like Before I Fall).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Invincible Iron Man: World’s Most Wanted by Matt Fraction Art by Salvador Larroca YP FIC FRACTION

Tony Stark is a hunted man. His company is all but destroyed. His armor is functioning way below capacity. And the most powerful man in America is Norman Osborn, a super villain that has everyone convinced he’s a hero and Tony Stark is a traitor and a terrorist. Best of all he has the secret identity of every hero in America hidden in his brain and Osborn wants to scoop it out. Iron Man has to defy the government, keep his friends from being murdered, and keep out of Osborn’s grasp while he ERASES HIS OWN BRAIN!!!

Iron Man written by Matt Fraction is better than he has ever been. If you know of Iron Man from the AWESOME movies starring Robert Downey Jr. then you will feel right at home with this Iron Man. Tony Stark is funny, brilliant, but arrogant and blinded by his pride. It makes for a fun super-hero that can cause as much damage as the villains he fights. Also, this book has plenty of subtext about our own real world government and its war on terror. Like most super hero books that get political it is sometimes a little silly to see caped people being metaphors for current geopolitical unrest, but Fraction’s writing again saves the day. Most Wanted isn’t just a silly book about a man in a robot suit punching and shooting the bad guys. It’s a tense and intelligent thriller with complex characters and great twists and turns ABOUT a man in a robot suit punching and shooting the bad guys! If you liked the movies or enjoy super hero comics jump into the Iron Man books today!

Rasl by Jeff Smith SF SMITH

Rasl used to be a physicist studying the secret nature of energy. Now he jumps between worlds, stealing art from parallel dimensions much like our own. Each time he jumps it takes a greater toll on his body and his mind. And if that wasn’t bad enough, a very ugly man is following him and will kill the parallel people he loves in an infinite number of worlds unless Rasl gives the government the secret behind dimensional travel (which would likely lead to the destruction of all universes).

This is Jeff Smith’s new series! The artist/author/creator behind Bone!!! Excitement abounds! First off not all bone fans will like Rasl. Bone was dark in places Rasl is dark and gritty throughout. Think of it as a mix of two fisted noir fiction mixed with a sci-fi adventure. While that is awesome in its own way, it is different than the fantasy adventure of Bone. The art is just as good as his work on Bone for the most part, but I miss the weirdness of Smith’s fantasy world. His limitations as an artist are more apparent when working in the real world. I’m also worried that the more melodramatic moments of Bone will be more common in this book too. Rasl is kind of a clichéd character, dark and gritty with a past he wants to forget in a bottle and the bed of various women. So far Smith is able to keep the sci-fi and pulp elements original enough that the clichés don’t bog the book down. This is a very promising first volume and it definitely leaves me wanting more, but it will take time to see if it captures the magic of his previous work. A must read for fans of pulp fiction/sci-fi comics or fans of Bone that want something darker.