Monday, January 24, 2011

Ship Breaker - Printz winner

So for those who don't know, the Printz winner is given to the best Young Adult novel of the year. It is like the Newbery for teens. Ship Breaker was the winner in 2011, and I just finished it. It was good, but not great. I can see why it won. It's going to have appeal for boys, it is post-apocalyptic and works in themes of environmental and social havoc (takes place in Orleans of the future). It explores morality, what family means, importance of literacy (main character, Nailer, learns to read and it plays an important part in the climax of the story), strong girl character, potential of sequels, exploration of genetic engineering and even some religion thrown in. Even so, I didn't love it or fully buy into the world that was created. But I know that I tend to like fantasy better than science fiction. By definition, this was fantasy (took place on earth) however it had the feel of science fiction somehow and was very gruesome and graphic at times. I can deal with rough and violent things as long as I like the main character. I think Nailer never convinced me to care that much. And the evil father figure and rogues who populated this dark world seemed too contrived and like something out of a poorly acted movie. Would I recommend it? Yes, but I wouldn't gush about it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2 great reads!!

After a slew of mediocre books, I hit the bullseye (twice!) with Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Stolen by Lucy Christopher. Both are award winning books. A good friend of mine has been recommending Graceling for some time, and I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner! It was excellent: medieval fantasy with a strong, kick-butt heroine with supernatural powers (a killing grace) and a dream-come-true, supportive hero. Lots of action, but the key is the characters and the beautiful writing. I especially appreciated that it didn't drag the story out into a love triangle and make it a trilogy. Sure, there's room for sequels, but it can stand on its own and the ending is satisfying, even if it's not exactly what I wished for.

Much as I loved Graceling, though, I read the book Stolen in one day and it's the one I can't get out of my head. It was a Printz honor book for 2011, and has captivated me with its premise of a 16-year-old girl who is abducted from a Bangkok airport. I had read the reviews and knew the kidnapper was a sympathetic character and quite unlike the evil abductor in Living Dead Girl (an absolutely devastating book that is the antithesis of Stolen). I thought of Ty as somewhat similar to Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird, I guess. I think that's why he didn't scare me, though some of his actions and plotting were creepy and left me thinking about what freedom, captivity, love and protection really mean. I would love to see how Gemma and Ty's lives end up in a sequel, but I think that would probably never live up to what Lucy Christopher did with this beautiful and heartwrenching novel.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

80 books in 2010

I fell short of my sorta kinda goal of reading 100 books last year. For once I kept a list of what I read (so I wouldn't forget! Funny how those book titles slip from my mind after I have moved onto another one!). I read about 45 by June, so I stayed on course. Difficult to find the time with the holidays and school and birthdays and, and, and.... Overall, there weren't many outstanding reads in there either. 2009 was a much better year. My favorites were: Sunshine by McKinley, Outliers by Gladwell, Alabama Moon by Key, Mysterious Benedict Society by Stewart, Need/Captivate/Entice series by Jones, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Most troubling books that have stayed with me: Living Dead Girl; Nothing; and Orange Houses. I have tons of books on my "to read" pile and more than I can ever finish! So many books so little time!!! Here's to 2011.