Monday, September 7, 2009

The Sky Inside/The Walls Have Eyes by Clare B. Dunkle

This two-part (I think, there might be a third one at some point, I'm not sure) story tells the tale of Martin Glass and his family. Martin grows up in a perfect world. Everything is regulated, the 'sun' rises every morning to the top of their dome and no one has to experience the horrors of WEATHER. Every day the president poses a new question to his people who then vote on the issue at hand (what color tie he should wear, etc.) Most of the labor is done by bots, so people to strive to be mediocre, so they won't be qualified for a real job. Martin is happy, and so is his family. His little sister Cassie is a wonder baby, which means that she is super smart, like way too smart, and all of the teachers don't want to deal with her and the other wonder babies. (because what teacher likes to be dumber than the their students?) People are getting frustrated with the wonder babies and when a plan comes up to 'recall' them, everyone is happy. Everyone except Martin who of course relizes this recall, is just some pseudo Nazi way of getting rid of a bunch of unwanted children. After the children are 'recalled' Martin sets of fwith his robot dog Chip to rescue his sister, and steps out of the protective bubble he has lived in for the first time.

Ok. These books were interesting. The synopsis is basically for the first one, but the second one just continues the story after Martin becomes privy to a bunch of information regarding the world they live in and the way things are. I am not as enthusiastic about these books as say, the Hunger Games, but that is mostly because they were written for a younger audience. Say, THG for ten y/o. The story kind of drags at parts, and Martin is sometimes annoying, but the best part is definitely his dog. Chip can do anything Martin needs, including, pick locks, impersonate federal officers and turn onto a train car (that part is pretty awesome). I guess that I am not super enthusiastic about these books. It was a good story, and anyone who reads the first one will probably want to read the second one, but they were just a little dry. Oh well.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

So, I am going to preface this post by saying that I really like Y.A. novels that deal with some kind of horrible, post apocalyptic dystopian universe. The Hunger Games is like, my favorite book ever. That's why when I heard about this novel, about a family who goes and lives underground in a bunker, post nuclear melt down, I got super excited. All the books I had previously read dealt with the fallout from some global crisis (death, disease, murderous reality tv, etc.) but this book, I thought would, show what it was like for people who escaped. And it did not disappoint.
Eli is the son of a billionaire computer guy who has thought of everything necessary to survive underground for the fifteen years needed for radiation poisoning to disappear. He, along with his two sisters and his parents, have food, entertainment, and enough pairs of sneakers to last them forever. However, living in an underground bunker with nothing but your family would, understandably, make any 15 year old boy a little stir crazy, especially when you consider what he left behind.
I don't want to give to much away about this book because it has an awesome ending, but I'll just say this, after the first 6 years, Eli's dad's careful planning begins to show some cracks. Food starts to run out and the plan his dad conceives for feeding them is too horrific to imagine. Then Eli discovers something that truly changes his entire world, and his opinion of what is right and what is wrong.
Best book ever! Ok, not really, but it was very suspenseful and I read it in under an hour. If you like survival stories, you will love this book.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List might seem like your typical young adult, school shooting novel (although, considering the size of the genre, nothing could really be considered typical) but it is anything but. Val is just your angry, run of the mill, outsider teen. She hates the popular kids, mocks them with her friends, and takes solace in her relationship with her boyfriend Nick. That is until one day, she gets shot saving the life of the most popular girl in school. To some, she is a hero, credited with stopping a horrific act of violence, to others, she is just as guilty as the shooter, Nick. Before the shooting, Val and Nick created a list of things they wish would disappear, people, places, events, things, nothing was sacred, but Val never imagine Nick would actually commit the horrorific acts of violence that they discussed. And when the list comes to light, the whole town is at odds against whether or not Val is guilty.

This book is awesome. And also really sad. Obviously. The book is told from Val's perspective which means that you can't entirely trust the narration, but whatever I TRUST HER. She honestly had no idea what Nick was planning, and this becomes painfully clear over the course of her therapy sessions, her discussions with her family and her growing relationship with the popular girl she saved. It seems like it might be hard to feel bad for a person like Val but that's totally not true. Her suffering is just as, if not more valid, and her story is one that begs to be told.

What I really thought was great about this book was the way Jennifer Brown shows the reader the difference between feelings and actions. All of us have probably felt at one time or another like the world is ending or that we want certain people to disappear, Val certainly does. A lot of people associate kids like Val, loners and 'freaks' with kids who are actually capable of killing. Brown shows us that you can't trust appearances, and that the person you might think most capable of destruction, is actually the one who is the redeemer.

Before I Fall

I just read this aMAzing book called Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, I probably shouldn't post about it because it's not actually on sale until March but oh well, no one reads this anyway. Basically the book is about a girl, Sam, who dies in a car accident. That's not a huge spoiler, it happens pretty much right away. Only, instead of that being that, she wakes up again, at the beginning of the day she died. It's like Groundhog Day, only in high school and without that annoying song playing as she wakes up. Basically, what is so great about this book is the fact that Sam, through living her last day over and over, learns that she has the power and the chance to change things. Sam isn't a very likeable character at first. She is your typical, popular, a-list girl, with a few shameful secrets, who harbors delight at making fun of the weaker, less popular students, especially a girl named Julia who is dubbed "psycho". Everyone knew girls like these in high school and everyone probably assumed that they were just evil bitches who had perfect lives. What Sam comes to realize and to teach us is that just like their (the popular girls) assumptions about us (the losers) aren't usually true, our assumptions about them aren't either. This book is basically the same thing happening seven times and allhough that sounds like a recipe for uber boredom, Oliver manages to make each day incredibly unique, interesting, touching and suspensful. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I was skeptical at first about the subject but Oliver has managed to take your typical high school 'mean girl" story and create a world and a character that is truly engaging and meaningful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sweet Valley High

There are a lot of really popular YA series out right now, many of which I will hopefully talk about at some point. But my first real introduction to YA lit, was through the oft bashed, wonderously comical and insanely contrived, world of Sweet Valley. I actually read Sweet Valley Kids and S.V. Twins first, but, being a precocious child, turned to the high school tales of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield when I was a mere tween. Oh the Wakefield twins, blond, skinny, popular and AMAZING. I always loved Elizabeth, she was the nice sister, and far more easy to relate with. Just like me, she loved reading and writing, but unlike me, she had a perfect boyfriend and millions of friends. Jessica was a different story, I HATED Jessica. She was coniving, evil, superficial, and an all around bitch. The two of them went on some completely ridiculous adventures, (vampires, werewolves, princes, doppelganger stalkers) and both of them almost died at least 3 times. Jessica had particularly bad luck when it came to men; a final talley puts her total of dead boyfriends at 5, what a black widow! And while I recognized that these stories were highly unbelieveable, that didn't stop me from loving them unconditionally, as I would an insane, bipolar older sister. The memory that haunts me the most is reading a three arc series, loosely based on West Side Story (or Romeo and Juliet, whatever) where Jessica falls in love with a student from a rival high school. As I read this arc over and over, I listened to Elton John's "love songs" on repeat. To this day I cannot hear ' Don't let the sun go down on me' without imagining the paramedics sadly pronouncing Jessica's beloved, "D.O.A." (Thus starting my fascination with all things relating to criminal procedure.) Sweet Valley, you were my first true love.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Blog! I love YA lit

I just started reading Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick, an awesome book about classic teen books that everyone loves. Although I love all of the books she discusses, I wanted to start a place where people could talk about contemporary YA classics, or books that they think will inevitably end up in the canon of young adult literature. Also I'm 23 and she is older, so many of the series she discusses are before my time. Where's Sweet Valley High! So this site is for the books that are currently (or recently) being published that change lives. Enjoy!