Saturday, September 1, 2012

Book Reviews - August 2012

The Last Universe by William Sleator

Found this at a used bookstore.  My copy has half of a round sticker partly torn off in the sky area of the cover.  The sticker looks like a planet and I thought for a couple weeks that it was part of the cover art.  Then I realized it was a sticker and felt silly.

This book is about siblings Susan and Gary, who live in a house that's been in their family for generations.  They begin to explore the garden planted by their crazy uncle Arthur and get more than they bargained for.  The garden sends them on an unexpected and frightening adventure, filled with quantum mechanics, probability clouds, multiple universes and Schrodinger's Cat.

If you like fictional tales that delve into theoretical physics, you'll like this one.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

This is the second book in The Chemical Garden Trilogy.  I don't really know what that series name means, but I do like these books.

Fever follows the continuing story of Rhine, who was kidnapped and sold into polygamous marriage in Wither.  The misguided work of scientists to infinitely prolong human life has left the younger generations with an awful inheritance: girls die at age 20, boys at age 25.  In order to find a cure, men marry multiple girls, hoping to conceive a child born with immunity.  Wither spoiler alert: Rhine escaped her captivity, but she's fallen into the wrong hands once again in Fever.

Will she be able to find a way to her twin brother, Rowan?  Or will her time run out before she has a chance to see him again?  Recommended.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

This memoir by a Mormon, female, stand-up comedienne from New York chronicles the challenges facing a religious "big" girl in the Big Apple.  Written in a witty voice that had me laughing out loud, I recommend this book to all finding it hard to fit in.

Elna Baker is FUNNY.

Warnings on: language, sexual situations.

 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Teen thief Gen is released from prison to steal something for the king.  Set in the Middle-Ages Mediterranean, this adventure pits Gen against royals, soldiers and even gods.

His captors think they've got Gen just where they want him, but the wily thief might be able to turn this sticky situation to his advantage in the end.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

You might remember Jaycee Dugard's story from the news.  Kidnapped at 11 and held captive for 18 years by a drug-addicted pedophile and his wife, the author was able to survive during her ordeal, learning much about herself and her love for animals and children. This memoir is a harrowing account of the unthinkable.  Written from her adult perspective, it becomes a powerful story of hope.

This book is very detailed and graphic.  Not recommended for sensitive readers.

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

In February 2007, Black and Larbalestier began a blog debate on which was better: Zombies or Unicorns.  They received so much interest that they decided to put together a book that might answer the question once and for all.  Twelve stories from some of the hottest names in YA fiction weigh in (so to speak) on the argument.

I enjoyed this anthology.  I recommend it to both lovers of zombies and unicorns.  I love both, so I was very pleased.  In the end, there is one clear winner: the readers.

Warnings on: language, violence, sexual situations.

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn does his best to survive in a world devastated by war and the super-flu in this post-apocalyptic tale.  He and his family have eked out a living as salvagers, but his grandfather's death and father's accident have left him alone.  He comes to Settler's landing, a community that seems to have been untouched by the destruction, almost too good to be true.  And we know that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

This book was a pretty quick read.  Fans of dystopia and post-apocalyptic will like it.  I'll definitely pass it along to Cyndal.

Warnings on: violence, end of the world themes.

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

This novel, told entirely in images, follows piano prodigy Glory through family tragedy, young love and mental illness.  Part mystery, part meta-fiction, this book is beautiful and fascinating.  The story unfolds toward an unexpected ending that has you turning back to the beginning the minute you finish it.

The part I'm most excited about is the changing book industry.  I love it when a great idea can succeed outside the box.