Friday, December 28, 2012

Feed by M.T. Anderson YP FIC ANDERSON

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

Titus and his friends live on and for the Feed, a computer in their brains that from birth feeds them information and connects them to everyone, everything, and nothing. They can chat with their brains, watch video, look up any fact or figure in an instant, malfunction their brains for fun, and be fed ads tailored to their very thoughts. So why then are they all so bored?  Why does Titus feel so mal when he should feel meg? Who is this Violet chick coming off like she’s all brag and everyone else is so null?  And then when they all get hacked and Titus can’t access his feed for actual whole DAYS, what will he do? When he actual has for real feelings for Violet what will he do with them? What will he buy next?  

This is a viscously dark satire of the extremes of consumer culture and the vapidity of modern communication. It’s a dystopia as chilling and relevant as anything by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. And it isn’t just a technophobic screed about “Those Darn Kids With Their Texting and the Whatnot” either. Adult society is also skewered well and full. The world of Feed is one where the planet is polluted beyond repair, war is ever-present and completely ignored, and mass violence is just another software glitch.  What makes this world so frightening is how little any of the characters in it care about anything that isn’t Fun and on the Feed.  Things like peoples skin falling off is just an everyday occurrence and they just buy more stuff to ignore it. Anderson shows a lot of the dark sides of a consumer culture.  There always has to be more stuff to buy to keep the machines of industry going, and when what we buy becomes who we are then a world like Feed becomes possible.

However, the characters aren’t all mindless drones to serve a big message for the author.  Anderson makes the major characters feel very real with believable limitations and drives, this makes the world he creates more real and more terrifying.  I also love that the character of Violet isn’t just there to Wake People Up and there isn’t a global conspiracy to unmask and no one successfully fights the feed and starts a global movement.  Violet’s just a girl that wants more out of life, but she has flaws and just wants to be happy like anybody else. Honestly, I think everyone should give Feed a chance. It’s not always fun, but it’s always darned interesting.  It tackles so many big ideas that it can be dizzying, but it never tells you what to think about it. I honestly think that it’s way more relevant than Brave New World or 1984 to most young people today and should definitely be on more High School reading lists.  Check it out for yourself.

You can check our catalog for Feed here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Riding Invisible by Sandra Alonzo Illustrated by Nathan Huang YP FIC ALONZO

Yancy didn’t run away from home.  He rode…a horse.  That’s vaquero style!  Unfortunately, he doesn’t feel muy macho, because he’s running away from his older brother, The Monster (the docs call it Conduct disorder, but Yancy knows Pure EVIL when he sees it).  Yancy brought his journal so he writes everything that is happening with drawings and comics and everything.

This is one of the best coming-of-age going on a journey books I’ve read in a long time.  First, Yancy is hilarious and his voice seems genuine.  Also his adventure is realistic, exciting, and the people he meets aren’t just there to teach him lessons. Also, his journey from sniveling in fear of his brother to learning to face his problems head on his handled realistically and smartly.  For instance, all of Yancy’s problems aren’t solved in a climactic scene where he finally has to face down his brother and his on fears.  Nope, poor Yancy is powerless to change much of his problems, because he’s fifteen.  This book works so well as a vision of a family dealing with mental illness because it looks at how hopeless it can seem and how only the Adults can make any real changes.  I really wasn’t sure how I’d like the journal format; the font looks like handwriting and instead of chapters we get date entries, but it grew on me and helped me see Yancy as a real person.  The art throughout is quite good and works, because Yancy wants to be an artist.  It never feels like a cheap gimmick.  This is one of those surprising gems that can fall through the cracks, because it isn’t based on a movie, have zombies, or about the world ending.  However, if you want a funny and unique book you should really give Riding Invisible a chance.

You can check our catalog for Riding Invisible here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Madison Avery Trilogy by Kim Harrison Review Video

Here is my second video, and the first for the teen blog. Please let us know if you like these kinds of reviews.

Madison Avery Series 
by Kim Harrison

Once Dead, Twice Shy

Early to Death, Early to Rise
Something Deadly This Way Comes

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Favorite Books of 2012

With the year 2012 (and therefore possibly all life on this planet) coming to an end, I’d like to take the time and give MY 10 most favorite books that I read this year.  Each title will also link to the review I did of the book, so you’ll have a better idea if it will be your cup of tea. The list is in no particular order of awesomeness, but egalitarian arranged by author.  

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

The tale of two teens that get a glimpse of their Facebook future before Facebook even existed.
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick YP FIC BICK

A worldwide catastrophe leaves Alex without her horrible headaches, but in a world where nothing seems to work and most teens are bloodthirsty killers.
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick YP FIC BICK

Bick was so good this year I chose two of her novels!  This is a dark look at obsession and lies when a teen gets far too involved with her teacher.
The Diviners by Libba Bray YP FIC BRAY 

A rip-roaring mystery, historical fiction, paranormal epic filled with humor, suspense, character, and originality.
Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk YP FIC BERK

One of the best comedies of the year.  From the author of the also hilarious The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.

Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn YP FIC HAHN

A haunting mystery about how violence can destroy the lives of all it touches.

Infinite Kung Fu by Kagan Mcleod YP FIC MCLEOD
An amazing kung-fu epic with bbrilliant art and bizarre twists that will leave you confounded and elated.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield YP FIC ROSENFIE

When a stranger's body is found it tears apart a small town looking for answers.  This dark mystery is written with a poetic touch and looks for answers far deeper than 'who done it'.

American Barbarian by Tom Scioli YP FIC SCIOLI

A gloriously deranged homage to the King of Comics, Jack Kirby.  Marvel at the tale of the last American Barbarian in the destroyed ruins of America against the tank footed evil pharaoh Two Tank Omen.


The Only Ones by Aaaron Starmer YP FIC STARMER

The world ends and its just the beginning of the adventure.  Martin leaves his island to find that everyone on the planet has vanished except for a small city of kids, each with a special skill. 

The Rising: A Department 19 novel by Will Hill YP FIC HILL

Jamie is now an official member of Department 19, the secret monster hunting wing of the government, and is starting to settle into the non-stop grind of hunting monsters.  Paired with his vampire-turned-vampire-hunter girlfriend Larissa and friend Kate, they’ve been given the toughest assignment imaginable: find and destroy the resurrected Dracula before he regains his strength and takes over the world.

This is one of my favorite action series on the shelves.  Will Hill is a maestro of hard hitting action scenes.  He does a great job of making his purer than pure evil villains fun to hate and root against and is great at switching POV and timelines.  We get chapters form the viewpoint of Dracula, Kate, Larissa (she's my favorite because she's tormented), our hero Jamie, and a couple of others thrown in.  This keeps twists and turns coming aplenty and the book moving relatively briskly (parts of the middle section gets a tad slow, but picks up again with a vengeance).  It’s crazy how fast I tore through this brick of a book.  It’s nearly 600 pages but reads so quickly with a just-one-more-chapter-and-then-I’ll-sleep appeal that’s hard to resist.  My only gripe is that the characters aren’t all that interesting when they aren’t killing bad guys and that our hero is way too perfect. When the bullets and stakes start flying and the blood is pouring I oddly seem to forget all about it.  A must read for any fan of action, fast paced horror thrillers, or action horror.  Darren Shan fans might even have a new favorite author. I would read the first book before grabbing this one though, but that's just TWO awesome books you get to read.

You can check our catalog for The Rising here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero by Fred Chao YP FIC CHAO

Johnny Hiro is not a hero…really.  He just minds his own business and tries to (barely) make ends meet and keep from ruining things with his girlfriend.  Sure he may occasionally have to face down a giant monster, business men turned samurai, or the FEARSOME WRATH OF JUDGE JUDY, but that’s just what life in the big city is like.

This is a surprisingly hilarious graphic novel that brings out the comic side of comics.  The art is sort of loose and sometimes feels amateurish compared to some more accomplished draftspersons, but the off-kilter, absurdist humor won me over again and again.  Johnny is a slacker, 20-something without much ambition, drive, or vision, but he slowly grew on me.  He may not want a lot out of life but he fights zealously for what’s important to him as bizzarro situations come left and right.  I mentioned above that he has to face down Judge Judy and I was not joking.  What’s even better is that he faces her in night court, but not any night court, Night Court.  The much loved mid 80s-early 90s sitcom starring John Larroquette, Markie Post, Richard Moll, Charles Robinson, and Marsha Warfield.  ALL of which are in this comic in a pitch perfect recreation of the series. The book also features NYC mayor Bloomberg, LL Cool J, Alton Brown, and many other completely hilarious unnecessary cameos. These types of off the wall tributes to ENTIRELY dated 80s and 90s pop culture keep things fresh and liven up what could be another karate/samurai/Asian sterotype montage send up.  And we do have LOADs of Japanese stereotypes thrown around for humor, but they are done in a way that looks playfully at the nature of stereotypes and the difficulties of living between differing cultures. This is a very original and out there comic with loads of humor and some real heart.  I’d highly recommend it to comic fans who like a good dose of humor and especially the Scott Pilgrim fans out there.

You can check our catalog for Johnny Hiro here.