Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Severed by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft Illustrated by Attila Futaki YP FIC SNYDER

When twelve year old Jack Garron ran away to meet the father he never knew he didn’t just hit the road, he entered the food chain.  The year is 1916 and it is a hard time for the country and a dangerous time to be a boy on his own.  More dangerous than Jack could ever imagine. An old man with razor sharp teeth and a hunger for the flesh of children is hunting Jack and Jack has no idea he’s fallen into his clutches.  Jack will learn that evil walks the roads, all dreams have a cost, and nightmares are real.  

This is a truly chilling and twisted comic.  Snyder has been writing some of the darkest and grittiest Batman stories ever of late (see my review of The Black Mirror here) and he clearly knows how to look into the dark spots of the human psyche, but gee willikers! He’s really outdone himself with this look at the death of the American Dream.  His central villain is cunning, soulless, and seemingly unstoppable.  Seeing him slowly close in and circle Jack provides tension like a tightly wound string. 
Snyder and Tuft recreate the early 20th century America and all its dangers very well.  The realistic setting helps ground the elements of the fantastic and make them feel all too real.  The use of string supporting characters that you grow to like is only a way to make it all the more terrifying when they are in mortal danger.  The art has a realistic quality that separates it from super hero fare and Futaki’s skill at expressing emotion on faces makes all the characters come to life quite vividly.  It makes all the difference, because a razor toothed old man could have ended up being a very silly image.  Instead he is a malevolent force of violence and death personified and a great addition to the annals of villainy.  This is an excellent comic book and a great bloody piece of intelligent horror fiction.  A great read for fans of either and so good that it could make converts of readers that think that horror or comics are beneath them. Just read it with the lights on…during the day…with someone else at home.

You can check our catalog for Severed here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Diviners by Libba Bray YP FIC BRAY

Evie O’Neill has managed to get herself kicked out of town for her latest in a series of drunken shenanigans (and during Prohibition no less!), but fortunately for her she’s been exiled to live with her uncle in New York City!  There she tries to hide a secret from her occult obsessed uncle, she has a mysterious power to read memories from objects, but she’ll need her power because a diabolical serial killer is stalking the streets and she may be the only one who can stop him.  

So the summary above doesn’t mention that Evie also makes many very odd friends that have their own troubles and even tell the story from their perspective.  This can get a bit unwieldy at parts because the book will eb going multiple directions at one, however it is all for the good as Bray’s excellent writing make all the supporting characters an integral part of the story.  Evie herself is wonderfully brash and at times downright unlikeable, which I like in a heroine!  I mean, who says and does the right thing all the time?  I like my protagonists to be occasionally annoying as well as witty, brave, and original.  Evie is all these and more!  The cast of supporting characters is really wonderful and the book feels like a true ensemble.  Best of all might be the wonderful amount of period detail that Bray brings out.  Loads of authors are trying to makes the 20s be the new hot spot for historical YA, but I think bray may be top of the heap for quite a while.  She makes New York come alive so that the setting is a hugely important part of the story.  She kills it with the murder mystery angle as well.  The murder chapters where the killer stalks are so wonderfully creepy! The book has enough mysteries, secrets, action, suspense, and o be read for the sparking plot alone, so it’s really wonderful that it also has top notch characters, prose, dialogue, and pacing!   

So with all this greatness, there simply must be SOMETHING for me to complain about!  Well, it is rather long (just under 500 pages!), but when a book is so good and so filled with so much character and so many ideas you don’t really want it to end.  Even better!  This is the first in a new series!  Even better than even better!  This story is self-contained and doesn’t make you wait months or years to find out how the first story ends!  The Diviners is definitely a must read for fans of historical fiction, mysteries, supernatural, and heck anybody that likes a good book.

You can check our catalog for The Diviners here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse YP FIC HESSE

Radley has come home to a country that isn’t her home anymore.  The extremist group the America’s People Party (the APP for short) has taken total control after the president was assassinated. They have established martial law and America is now a police state.  Radley is stranded with now useless credit cards, a cell phone with no charge, and no way to contact her missing parents.  When the police begin to search for her, she decides to try to make the long journey into Canada.  To make it she’ll have to live off the land, avoid gangs of marauders, evade the police and military, and sneak across the border.  Even worse she’s picked up a fellow traveler named Celia who needs Radley’s help to make it.  How can she take care of someone else when she can’t take care of herself?  Even if she makes it, is there anything left to hope for?

This book really has me split.  On one hand the writing is great, with excellent and simple prose that has a truly poetic quality and strong characters throughout.  Radley and Celia are great characters that grow and change realistically both as individuals and as friends.  I love the slow building of tension and the realistic nature of Radley’s once mundane problems becoming a matter of life and death.  They make the struggle of finding food and shelter come alive in way that is poignant and exciting, but never sensationalized.  I really like that Hesse ties Radley’s story to the people of Haiti, who Radley was volunteering with before coming back to America.  Not to be too political, but it’s nice that Hesse can point out that even in her nightmare scenario for America, there are places in the world even more dangerous and in needing of help.  Then what’s the other hand?  The background on the APP is pretty much nonexistent. We don’t really learn how they came to power, hold power, and eventually what causes them to lose power.  These details are glossed over.  It sometimes works because Radley has been away for a while and the focus is so much on her, and I’m truly glad there wasn’t loads of awkward exposition conversations, but there needs to be at least some idea of how this all happened.  Since there isn’t there is a lack of believability to the basic scenario.  Also, since Hesse doesn’t outline very well what the APP did to seize power and what they believe, some readers are going to think this is a blanket attack on conservatives.  Last but not least, I wasn’t blown away by the photographs and I wonder of the book really needs them.  All that being said, the strengths of the book are very strong and if you let yourself stop worrying about any plot holes then you will find a lot to love in Safekeeping. It isn’t as great as it could be, but it is a well written, emotional little gem.  I strongly recommend it to people that want a more thoughtful and personal type of dystopia tale.  

You can check our catalog for Safekeeping here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler YP FIC ASHER

In the long ago past of 1995 Josh and Emma are neighbors and former best friends.  Things got awkward and they don’t want to talk about it! But when Josh gets a free AOL CD (google it kids!) in the mail his mom insists that tech savvy Emma helps install it. Strangely the home page is an odd website called Facebook.  Emma eventually manages to log on and finds that she already has an account…15 years into the future!!!  Now Emma and josh know what their future holds and every little change they make in their life seems to change their Facebook future!  Will knowing their future ruin their present?  Can you pick the life you really want?

Okay, there is NO WAY that a Facebook page of the NOW will load in any reasonable time on a PC running AOL from 1995.  For teens of today just know that you live in a golden age of technological advancement and feel blessed.  Besides that MINOR quibble this book is fantastic.  Told in the alternating perspectives of Josh and Emma, we bounce between characters frequently enough to keep things interesting, but not so fast that we get dizzy.  The premise is just so great that I’d normally be skeptical that the writing would equal it, but with Asher and Mackler you know you’ll get something special.  They both are great at getting inside a character’s head and making them feel real with small touches.  The book really looks at our current obsession with social media and how we try to live our lives constantly being watched by others.  Emma and Josh are obsessed with what Facebook tells them about their future, but they learn quickly that it’s hard to really KNOW anyone on Facebook.  

Another great touch in the book is the slow build romance.  It feels utterly genuine and warm and sweet, without ever overwhelming the focus of the book or being the only thing that defines Josh or Emma.  Having multiple authors helps both characters to have their own lives and problems and unique reactions to shared situations.  I also love that they made it hard for Emma and Josh to believe what is happening.  Far too many teen books insert something wholey improbable like future technology or magic to characters that have never encountered it and the character just goes, “Oh well, magic is real I guess.”  No.  That is silly.  I would go absolutely crazypants if I saw my Facebook for a week from now today, much less 15 years from now and during a time Facebook wasn’t born yet. A lot of the reality and weight of the situation works because this improbable set up is treated realistically.  It keeps you drawn in and feel invested in Josh and Emma.  This is a great read with a great premise and a great story and great characters.  If you want something that is both realistic and has a touch of the fantastic, this is a can’t miss.

You can check our catalog for The Future of Us here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Teen Read Week 2012: Dare to Read and get a free book!

It's officially Teen Read  Week and this year's theme is "Dare to Read".  We have a "Killer Reads" display of chilling murder stories for teens and a way for teens to read to win.

Anyone aged 12-18 that reads at least three hours and fills out our Teen Read Week Form will get their choice of free book from our book sale cart!  If you dare to read then we'll give you a book!

Pick up your form at the reference desk and have fun reading!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Marathon by Boaz Yakin Illustrated by Joe Infurnari YP FIC YAKIN

Eucles is running for his life.  For his family. For his people. For the entire future of democracy.  If he slows, if he tires, if he’s caught then the Persian war machine will destroy Athens and with it all hope for democratic ideals.  Eucles just wants to be fast enough to stop the former king of Athens, a bloody tyrant that murdered his family, from ever stepping foot in Athens again.  

This is an AMAZING graphic novel.  It is fittingly fast paced (har-har) and chock full of action.  Infunari has some of the best artwork I have seen in years.  You could take individual comic frames and hang them on your wall as art.  Bloody, violent art, but really great art nonetheless.  The story is told in such a visually dynamic way, and the plot is structured so tensely, that I found myself constantly wondering about the outcome of a historical tale I knew all about!  I also really found the human relationships between the characters to be really well told.  I cared if Eucles would see his wide again or if former friends turned enemies would have to face on the battle field.  That’s rare to find in an action packed historical war comic.  It may not be the ageless classic that the Illiad is, but it is a high watermark in graphic novels and in historical fiction about Athens.  If you are at all a fan of 300 the book or the movie, then Marathon should blow you away! 

You can check our catalog for Marathon here.