Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee YP FIC LEE

Mary Quinn is back and now she’s a full member of The Agency: a group of undercover lady detectives posing as a boarding school. This time Mary is undercover and switching genders as she poses as an apprentice builder and a boy to uncover a mystery at a clock tower, but her focus is pulled towards helping the impoverished workers she meets and by a reunion with an old friend.

This second outing is even better than the first. Mary is a strong female hero that gals and guys alike can root for. Li does a great job of bringing the grit and grime of turn of the century London to thrilling, sooty life. The mystery is compelling and will keep readers hooked and the romantic subplot is as sharp as in the first book. This really is a satisfying series for fans of mysteries or historical fiction. You won’t HAVE to read the first book A Spy in the House to keep up with this one, but it is a really good read too so you might as well.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld YP FIC WESTERFE

The war between the technology obsessed Clankers and the bio-engineering enthusiasts the Darwinists continue in this action packed sequel to Leviathan Our heroes Prince Alex and Deryn are trapped between enemy lines in Clanker run Germany and have to use all their abilities to survive.

The Leviathan trilogy is a Steampunk look at the beginnings of WW I. Steampunk takes historical settings but adds cutting edge technologies that are powerd by the fuels and sciences of the time. So they have a giant whale warship for the bio-engineering Darwinists and the clankers used steam powered robots. It makes for very fun reading and lots of great action, but Westerfled goes above and beyond the call of duty by filling his books with interesting and well developed characters that readers can get behind. Definitely read Leviathan before picking this one up, but if you like sci fi or you like historical fiction but are looking for something kind of different then this series is for you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

You by Charles Benoit YP FIC BENOIT

You are just an average 15 year old guy named Kyle Chase. You run with the kids everyone calls losers and people say You make all the wrong decisions. Maybe they’re right because there is a lot of blood and You aren’t sure when exactly everything went wrong. Was it when You started running with the Hoodies? When You met the new kid Zach who keeps pushing You to take bigger risks? Was it what happened with Ashley? Decide fast because time is running out to figure out where You went wrong.

You makes the rather risky decision to tell the story in the second person. The reader is the ‘You’ of the story which ends up really drawing you in. Kyle is really talking just to himself, but by saying ‘you’ he is distancing himself from the horrible act the book ends with. It really works to build the tension and suspense. Kyle is a pretty normal kid, so it makes the ending very jarring. It shows how little mistakes always lead to larger ones and if we lose track of who we are then we run the risk of losing everything. This is a tough, raw, gritty book that will likely leave you stunned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Cruisers by Walter Dean Myers YP FIC MYERS

Zander Scott and his friends Bobbi, Kambui, and LaShonda call themselves the Cruisers because that exactly what they expect to do, cruise through the DaVinci Academy for the Gifted and Talented in Harlem with a solid C and little to no effort, but their underachieving ways have finally caught up with them. Now the assistant principal has tasked them with stopping a new civil war! The high school has been split into the Union and Confederate sides as a way to teach about the civil war and if the Cruisers can’t get the sides to come to a truce they are going to be booted out. But when real life racial tensions make the assignment all too real and the Cruisers may have to actually TRY.

Walter Dean Myer is an all time great writers of young adult lit. He writes such real and raw books that pull no punches, so I was surprised he was writing a book aimed more at middle schoolers than teens, but he pulls it off very well. the book is smart, fast paced, and all the characters feel real. Myers is always great at looking at the really tough issues like racism, war, and class, but without ever getting boring or preachy. One of the really tricky question of the book is, what would have happened to America without the Civil War? A great read for people that want a new series about the middle school set but with a cool urban flair.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness YP FIC NESS

War makes monsters of men. Todd and Viola having finally captured Mayor Prentiss only to discover that an army of Spackle (a race indigenous to the planet humans have colonized) are bearing down on them. Todd must make allies with his most hated foe while Viola is forced to fight alongside Mistress Coyle, who tried to make Viola an unwitting suicide bomber just hours before. With all sides determined to destroy each other utterly and the Spackle being led by one that personally wants to see Todd dead, there seems to be no road for peace possible in this thrilling and complex end to the Chaos Walking Trilogy.

This is the best book I have read all year. The Chaos Walking Trilogy is filled with complicated and fascinating characters that have to make difficult decisions that never have neat answers. The trilogy pushes the main heroes Todd and Viola through amazing suffering and never gives them an easy out for a choice. Their choices always have serious consequences that echo throughout the entire series. And Mayor Prentiss is maybe the best villain in YA literature ever. He is more complex than most heroes and it is great fun to try and guess what he is really up to as he manipulates everything around him. Besides great characters the plot is filled with amazing suspense and loads of huge twists that will completely blow you away. The series as a whole is good at doing this but Ness really brought the best to the last. And if plot and characters being some of the best in YA lit weren’t enough the writing is really great too. We get the perspectives of Todd, Viola, and the Spackle that wants Todd dead called The Return. Ness created a whole culture for the Spackle that makes the war much more tragic because the reader is torn on which side to really want to lose. All in all if you enjoy reading good YA series then you should absolutely read the entire Chaos Walking Trilogy. Start with the Knife of Never Letting Go.