Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster YP FIC LANCASTE

You are obsolete.

Kyle Straker and his not friend/ex girlfriend (it’s complicated) Lilly agreed to be hypnotized at their small village’s crummy talent show so their friend wouldn’t die on stage. But after they wake up there is something different about everyone in town. Kyle, Lilly, and the two other hypnotees are the only ones that can move. When they are all about ready to completely go nuts they realize everyone is moving again. But now they’re different. And when Kyle and Lilly realize how different they will find that there is no going back.

This is a creepy, touching, sad, ingenious Sci-fi thriller that will make you think and feel. It is told through a future editor’s presentation of Kyle’s audio tapes. Occasionally the editor interjects a note for his audience to explain expressions that are foreign to his society. At first this adds an excellent amount of humor, showing how often anthropologists can misunderstand cultures and academics can misunderstand texts, but as the story goes on and Kyle and Lilly’s fate is revealed it becomes another part of their alienation. Really this book is a very eerie look at what would happen if everything you ever knew was changed in an instant. Like any truly good Sci-Fi it is a way to look at our world and lives through a different lens. Lancaster shows how technology can separate and alienate as well as connect people in an incredibly chilling way. What makes the story so effective is how realistically the characters react to the impossible seeming situation: sort of wander aimlessly, trying to figure out what’s behind the strange change in their town. I recommend this to anyone who wants to read something fun, thrilling, and thought provoking. Human.4 is an amazing debut novel and deserves to be a Sci-Fi classic.

Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence by Geoffrey Canada Adapted by Jamar Nichols 305.23 CANADA

Geoffrey Canada’s excellent memoir of growing up tough in the Bronx has been adapted into a powerful black and white graphic novel. Geoffery tells stage by stage how he learned from child to adolescent to man to use violence to define himself and survive the streets of the Bronx.

This is a well told look at the burden of violence in the inner city. Geoff has to fight and always show his strength or he will lose all standing in his Bronx neighborhood. The older he gets the more violent his peers and he must become to survive until he must make a decision to reject violence or be consumed by it. The art has a simple style that looks like a mix of funky 70s comics and street art and fits the story to a tee. Fist Stick Knife Gun takes you to another time and place and perfectly captures the fear and power of living surrounded by violence. A great read for fans or urban fiction.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman YP FIC FORMAN

The companion and sequel to If I Stay, Where She Went gives us Andy’s side of Mia’s story. For starters Andy did not…take…it…well. Fortunately he parlayed his mix of guilt, grief, rage, loneliness, and sadness into songwriting and has become a rock star. Unfortunately, its three years later and he still has all of that guilt, grief, rage, loneliness, and sadness. At the same time as he is living it down in LA, Mia is a rising star at Juliard. When chance gets Andy stuck in New York they intersect for one night. As Mia shows him the city their past, present, and future collide and leave both wondering where to go from here.

Told in first person in a similar straight forward style as If I Stay, this book has all of the lyrical strength of the first book. It’s very different in tine, however, as Mia was usually sad, wistful, happy, or longing and Andy is usually bitter and angry. His moodiness may put some readers off, but I found it gave the book an edge and drive that was unique from the first title and made his voice refreshingly different than Mia’s. I honestly picked this book up a little hesitantly. If I Stay had the Big Decision to drive the plot: Will Mia Live or DIE!!!? was quite the hook. I was worried a book about hanging around a city and talking wouldn’t compete. But it totally does. We get to learn about how Andy dealt with the events of the first book and see the results of Mia’s decision. The question of “How can they possibly fixed their broken relationship?” is just as compelling a Big Question. This is a perfect companion to the first book and has just as much to say about life, grief, and the power of love.

Tall Story by Candy Gourlay YP FIC GOURLAY

Everything about Bernardo is tall. Not only is he eight feet at 16, but also he is seen as a Folk Hero that protects form earthquakes in his small village in the Philippines. Everything about Andi’s life is coming up short. She’s considered too short for basketball and when she FINALLY gets to join a team her parents move her. Then when her GIANT half-brother Bernardo moves to London to live with them nothing is the same. But Bernardo is more than he seems, and after he comes miracles begin to happen.

What works so well about this book is that each chapter is told from the perspective of either Bernardo or his sister Andi, each taking turns. This helps to highlight how different they are and makes the times that Bernardo causes Andi trouble all the funnier, because we see it through both their eyes. A lot of the comedy comes from Bernardo being such and outsider to modern society and the rest comes from how spunky and quick witted Andi is. This is a funny, lighthearted read that will definitely grab sports fans. Andi’s basketball storyline provides some of the funniest and most exciting moments of the book. When the more magical (although the author never makes clear if it is magic or chance) elements appear they seem natural, because Bernardo has been talking about magic for so long. This is a kind of fun, quirky hidden gem that is filled with true to life but larger than life characters and lots of genuine heart.