Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Reviews for April 2012

Partials by Dan Wells

This is post-apocalyptic.  It seemed longer than it needed to be, but I was interested in the major conflict between the two groups, so I didn't lose interest.  A couple of twisty things that happened took me by surprise, but the main reveal I saw coming.  I'm not exactly sure why.  Maybe because I like writing things like this, so I'm used to working used to figuring out similar problems.

I think you would like it Kari Larsen.


 The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

This book is totally steampunk.  I mean, it looks steampunk on the cover, and Geary said, "This is really steampunk."  And sometimes things look like they are without really being so, and have a steampunk feel, but this really was.

It follows the circuitous journeys of three middle-grade/YA protagonists: Guiseppe, the busker, Frederick, the clock-maker's apprentice and Hannah, a girl from the tenements working to support her family.

The web of plot for each character grows more and more complex, then unravels in just the right way to make for a satisfying and happy ending.  I recommend this as a read-aloud family book.  Just the right amount of excitement, intrigue and heart.  It's a bit long, but worth it.  And it's steampunk!


 Compound by S.A. Bodeen

This book follows a teen male main character through the end of the world into the safe underground compound built by his father to house his family until radiation has passed.  But things aren't what they seem.

The father is a very interesting character.  And the family's dilemma is unthinkable.  This psychological thriller would make a great movie.

Warnings on: mature themes.
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

What the Carrie Ryan?

This is the sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I didn't like but think it was only because I'd just read Jane Eyre.  Just for your information, you should never read anything after Jane Eyre.  Just give recreational reading a break for a couple of weeks and allow your brain to reset to a more normal level of prose.  Cuz Charlotte Bronte is just too awesome.

(EDIT: I went back and read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Jane Eyre WAS the problem. I am actually quite a big fan of Ryan's. She does brilliant short fiction too. Brilliant.)

Ryan's prose is perfect.  Efficient, but beautiful.  Did I mention this is a zombie book.  It's a really creepy one too.  And well-written.  A well-written zombie book.  Post-apocalyptic, zombie, literary-style, YA romance?  What the heck.  Kudos, Carrie Ryan.  Kudos to you.  I had nightmares.

Warnings on: zombie stuff.


There Is No Long Distance Now by Naomi Shihab Nye

A series of short short stories, There Is No Long Distance Now is a gorgeous look into human interactions with young adults as the main characters.  I was spell-bound from the first paragraph.

Brilliant, brilliant prose.

And it's no wonder, because Shihab Nye is a poet.

I will be purchasing my own copy.
How To Save A Life by Sarah Zarr


Jill is a senior who should be thinking about the future, instead she's stuck in the past, still grieving over the unexpected death of her father ten months before.  Her mother decides to adopt a baby and brings the birth-mother, an unwed teen named Mandy, to live at their house until the delivery.  Mandy has her own emotional baggage to deal with.  Jill doesn't want to have anything to do with the adoption.  The dynamic between the three women is fascinating to watch.

The narrative is told from two perspectives: Jill and Mandy, who switch off every chapter.  This is the first time Zarr has done this and her adroit handling of the split narrative is admirable.  Each character has her own unique voice, both compelling.


This beautiful tale of loss and life really touched me.  I sat and marveled over more than one sentence, but here's an example: "Her face is a sheet of ice."  I know, right?  Sarah Zarr, congratulations on another triumph.  I really care about these characters.

Highly recommended.  Warnings on: mature themes, including sexual abuse.


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

I find describing this book a difficult task.  I enjoyed it very much. Actually, on a portion of the book toward the end, I experienced a visceral reaction to what I was reading.  I was overcome by anxiety and serious stomach-ache when I began to find out what had been happening with a certain character.  I loved that.  It's just that, this book is hard to put a finger on.  It's contemporary YA lit. It's literary . . . it's really beautiful actually.  But in a completely unexpected way.  John Corey Whaley did very interesting things with the prose.  The POV kept changing.  It would flip from first person present, to second person (I know!), and third person.  Flashbacks told in the past tense.  It reminded me of Fight Club that way (also a debut novel) which you all know I thoroughly enjoy.  He weaves in an odd subplot that ends up having a huge impact on the main character's story.  Zombies are prevalent, but it's not a zombie book.  And the bird on the cover might lead you to think that it's about birds.  There are birds, but they're more of a metaphor.  There are angels too.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.  I can tell you this though:  I literally sobbed at the end.

Warnings on: language, sexual situations, SUSPENSE.

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