storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘YA’

Runelight

In Book Reviews on November 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm
Doubleday 2011

Doubleday 2011

‘Loki,’ said Frey with conviction. ‘He’s the child of demons, and everybody hates him. Plus, he was the one who opened the gate to Netherworld in the first place. Who else could it possibly be?’

‘I’m not sure I like the term demons,’ said Angie, interrupting. ‘Some people might find it offensive.’

‘So what would you rather?’ Heimdall said.

‘Persons of chaotic origin?’

Gods!‘ exploded Heimdall. ‘Maddy’s lost, Loki’s escaped, the End of the bloody Worlds is at hand, and you’re lecturing me about political correctness?’

Nutshell blurb: The old regime is gone, but there is nothing in its place. The old gods are trying to rebuild the sky citadel and reclaim their place, but an old enemy and a new one will thwart their attempts.

This is the second book in this series. If you would like to read my thoughts on the first one you should go ahead and do that first.

Like the first one, I really enjoyed this book. I probably enjoyed it even more. I’ve found that sometimes the first book in a series will serve to set up the characters and world whilst being short on story and plot. I didn’t think that too much of of Runemarks, however I felt much closer to the characters in the second book and by this time knew a bit more about how the world in these stories works. I think that the characters were much more interesting in this book. (They are the same characters, by they way.) I really liked the characters in the first one, but I guess it’s that thing where you finally get to know who they are and what they’re all about and then the book ends. Then you pick up the second book and they are much more like old friends. I suppose it’s the nature of the beast rather than anything to do with Ms. Harris’s writing.

It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my own writing. I’m world-building as well so I’ve been trying to figure out how to go about making it a place that a reader can understand without too much exposition whilst seamlessly merging it with the story.

One thing that was confusing for me was that there are two girls in this book and the view point shifts between them. One is Maggie and the other is Maddy. (Maddy is from the first book.) I didn’t really realise this because, again, I didn’t read the back of the book. So the prologue starts in Maggie’s PoV which didn’t make sense to me because I was thinking that it was in Maddy’s point of view. I read the whole thing and was like ‘wat?’. And then I realised my mistake and had to reread it with the correct person in mind. It absolutely makes sense the more you read the story and realise their origins, but it was confusing from time to time.

This was also helpful to me for my writing purposes. You see, I have sisters in my story and they have very similar names. I’ve now decided to change them as I’m thinking about having the story told from both PoVs. I don’t want to confuse people. Please don’t think that I’m criticising Joanne Harris for this, however. She’s written a few more novels than I have. (And by ‘a few’ I mean ‘oh so many’!) Once I twigged what she was doing, I was ok with keeping the two straight throughout the rest of the book.

I consider it a good thing any time a book leaves me thinking about it long after I’ve finished it. She’s given me a lot to think about with regards to my own writing, which can only be a good thing. She’s also given me a charming and delightful story that I may decide to read again one day.

Runemarks

In Book Reviews on August 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Doubleday 2007

Doubleday 2007

Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I must say that my thought process wasn’t at it’s peak when I saw this in the library. I think that it was something like “Ooh, cool cover. A story to do with runes. Mine.” Upon looking at it further when I got it home (thought process still not really engaged) I thought something like “Oh, there are wolves on the front. Is this a werewolf book?” Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t not read a book just because it has werewolves in it, but I don’t tend to gravitate towards them.

So anyway, then I had a flash of inspiration and actually read the back. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a book based on Norse mythology!

Nutshell blurb: Maddy Smith was born with a runemark on her hand. She learns that this mark means that she has magical powers and she goes on a fantastic quest and discovers what this power really means.

I also didn’t realise that this book was a YA book when I picked it up. But don’t let that deter you, adult peeps, because it was super fun.

Ms. Harris (who also wrote Chocolat) has some mad world-building skillz and this made the story really engaging. Her writing is witty and, well, anything that makes me giggle can only be a good thing.

At the beginning of the book, there is a list of characters as you would have in a play and I knew that it was going to be fun when I saw the list of Norse gods who all had some reason to dislike Loki. The gods had great personalities and all of them genuinely had reasons to hate Loki.

He can't be all bad, can he? He's got a book!

He can’t be all bad, can he? He’s got a book!

I always enjoy learning about the different rules that authors give their worlds and the magic within them. In this book, the glam that a person can cast runs out after a period of time. Low stamina, I guess. It can be replaced by eating and sleeping. These details make a story much more interesting and it inspires me to pay attention to the details in my own writing.

This book has lots of adventure and lots of action. I loved it. I’m quite intrigued by her style of writing and would like to pick up more of her books.

Rot and Ruin

In Book Reviews on April 5, 2014 at 6:00 am
Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2011

Nutshell blurb: An infection has swept the globe that turns people into zombies when they die. People can also get infected when zombies bite them. Benny Imura was rescued by his older brother, Tom, when he was 18 months old and their parents turned. Now he’s all grown up and must find his place in this world.

I liked this book for the most part. It’s a young adult book so it feels a bit more sanitised than some of the other zombie literature I’ve read, but I enjoyed it.

This book took a somewhat sympathetic look at zombies and emphasised the fact that they were once people. I liked that approach because most of the zombie stories I’ve read portray zombies as monsters who feed on human flesh. They do that in this story too but some of the characters see the zombie apocalypse as a tragedy rather than a cause for panic.

The result of this approach, however, is that at times the story was somewhat sentimental and shmaltzy. There were scenes in the book that were clearly meant to provoke an emotional response from me but which actually left me felling perplexed. I mean, yes, zombies have families too, however they usually want to eat those family members and therefore should be terminated immediately. I would be horrified beyond belief if any of my family or friends became zombified and I would be really sad and mourn for the people they were, however, I would protect myself and any other living person from those former friends or family members.

As a side note, if you are one of my friends or family members and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended. It’s not that I actually want to chop your head off or in any other way destroy what’s left of your zombified brain but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive. Let’s not make things awkward by discussing this in too much detail. Be advised, however, that if you die and come back to life…I will mess you up.

Another problem that I had with this book is that the people in it were pretty much good or evil. I have a big problem with that. Is anyone ever completely good or evil? I know that there are plenty of people where one side outweighs the other, but in this the baddies were super evil and the goodies were beyond angelic. I have a difficult time identifying with those types of characters.

The zombies didn’t feel like a constant threat which was another strike against it for me. When I read a book or watch a film about zombies, I want the peril to be palpable. Going outside should feel terrifying. A zombie could shamble out of the shadows at any time! Not so in this book. They just kind of stood around until they saw someone to eat.

Despite these flaws, I still felt that it was a good story. It was fast-paced and had good action scenes (always a plus for me). I think that the YA tag is very appropriate for this and would be more suitable for a younger audience. Readers who have had more exposure to heavier zombie stories might find that it lacks intensity. I’m glad that I read it though.

Lies

In Book Reviews on January 5, 2014 at 11:59 am
Egmont 2010

Egmont 2010

This is the 3rd in the series by Michael Grant and I’m still really enjoying them. Since this is the third in the series, I’m not sure how spoilerific this post is going to be but please be advised that I will divulge a bit of information (at least from the previous books). It would be impossible to talk about this book without doing so. If you would like to know what I thought about the two previous books in the series, please see my posts for Gone and Hunger.

Nutshell blurb: Kids are still trapped under the barrier that separates them from the rest of the world. They’ve found a solution to the food problem they were having but have discovered a new range of problems. New factions have formed and kids are fighting against each other in a bid for survival.

It’s been interesting to see how these kids would deal with the loss of the authority figures in their lives and the decisions they make. Mr. Grant doesn’t shy away from heavy subjects, such as cannibalism, even though we’re dealing with kids.

The event which caused the barrier aka the FAYZ to be created also resulted in some of the kids receiving special powers. It has also caused the wildlife that was trapped with them to mutate creating even more peril for them. In the previous books, the kids were separated into two factions: the kids from Coates Academy and those from Perdido Beach. In this book, there’s been yet another schism between the kids with special powers and those with none. Some of the kids who don’t have powers are terrified of those who do and have declared war on them.

It’s quite an interesting situation because the kids with powers in Perdido Beach are trying to establish a system of government in an effort to return to some sense of normalcy. They lack the ability to enforce these laws and are constantly frustrated in their attempts to give everyone a stable living environment. But hey, most of them are under 15 . Whaddya expect?

One thing that made me a bit skeptical is the addition of new characters into the story. I would have thought that we would have met everyone who was noteworthy in the first couple of books since we’ve been trapped under a dome since then. As it turns out, there’s an island off the coast that was the home of a celebrity couple who adopted kids from several different countries (Brangelina, anyone?) and the kids have no idea what’s going on. They end up getting dragged into the mess eventually. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief on this subject. For now. In the last book, the kids on the mainland were starving and trying to find food. They all knew about this island and they have boats. Why wouldn’t it occur to them to travel to it? I’ll have to see how it plays out in the next book. Hopefully there will be a plausible explanation.

We also get more of a view on what caused the barrier to be created as well as a brief snapshot of what is potentially happening outside of it.

This was a very fun and exciting book to read and I did so quickly. I’m a bit leery series that go beyond three books. Sometimes I find that they have a tendency to drag things out that could have been said or explained in less time and space. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case with these books so I’ll definitely pick up the next one when I see it in the library.

Hunger

In Book Reviews on September 11, 2013 at 6:43 am

Hunger

First published in the USA 2009 by HarperTeen
First published in Great Britain 2010 by Egmont UK Limited

Nutshell blurb: The adults have all disappeared leaving everyone under the age of 15 behind. The kids who survived the first book now face a food shortage. They also have to contend with the fact that some of them are developing strange powers.

This is the second book in this series (you can read my thoughts on the first one here).

The first book deals with the fact that everyone over the age of 15 had disappeared leaving kids behind in a small town in California. Being kids with no adult supervision, they made the mistake of not planning ahead with their food. They ate all of the candy/ice cream/junk food and let a lot of fruit/vegetables/meat go to waste.

In this book, those consequences kick in as they now have to ration what they have left. The kids that are left are separated into two factions; those who live in Perdido Beach and those who live in Coates Academy. These factions do not get along and are being broken down further into kids who have strange mutant powers against those who don’t. Throw a nuclear power plant and some mutating animals/insects into the mix and you’ve got a really exciting story filled with peril and action.

This series is YA and it recommends that the reader be 12+ due to “scenes of cruelty and some violence” but that doesn’t mean that it’s a light and comfortable story for adults. These kids deal with some heavy problems, only without the benefit of adult supervision.

One of the problems is that the town is being run by a 15 year old. He’s managing over 100 kids who have no discipline and no desire to harvest food that is growing in the surrounding area. Some of the kids get into alcohol or drugs and one of the girls has an eating disorder even though they are on the verge of starvation.

This book also comes closer to explaining why it all started.

I love this series. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I find it fascinating to imagine how people would survive in a post-apocalyptic world with limited resources. It’s especially interesting to imagine how kids would survive. In this book, they don’t always make the right decisions (even the main characters) but they do the best they can. Some of them try to do things to give their world some semblance of normality, such as creating currency.

There is a lot of action and even though it’s YA, Mr. Grant doesn’t pull punches. People get hurt. People die. There are lynchings. The only real defining characteristics that make it YA to me are the fact that there is no sex and no swearing.

It’s a fantastic series (so far) and I’ll be getting the third book the next time I go to the library.

If you’ve read these books, I’d love to know what you think. (No spoilers, please!)

Gone

In Book Reviews on July 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

Gone

Egmont Press 2009

One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone. There. Gone. No ‘poof’. No flash of light. No explosion.

Nutshell blurb: One day, everyone aged 15 and older disappears leaving kids to fend for themselves.

I wasn’t sure what I would think about this book at first. Sometimes books aimed at kids are so far below my reading level that I can’t take them seriously. They could be very well written but the fact that they are aimed at kids means that they’ll be written differently. (I’m still trying to slog through Harry Potter.) If a book has an interesting premise, I’ll give it a try regardless of whom it’s written for.

And in this case, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved this book. It was written for kids, but it never talks down to them and the action was pretty intense. Mr. Grant didn’t pull punches and I respect him for that.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love stories which provide a picture of how people handle adverse situations and the choices that they have to make. I really like reading how people think that children would react in these situations with no adult guidance. It’s interesting to see what authors come up with. I think that Mr. Grant nailed it in this case. Kids are selfish, unsure of themselves, and need authority and guidance (although I guess that could be said of adults as well). I think that if they had to forage for food in deserted supermarkets the candy, pop, ice cream and junk food would be the first things to go. Their first thoughts wouldn’t be to see if anyone needed help. They would most likely mill around until someone corralled them and gave them tasks to do. I’m in no way saying that people under the age of 15 are stupid, but I think that adults who have more life experience would struggle in these situations too so it would be silly to think that kids would be able to behave the way we think that they should.

It was great to see that some of the kids accepted that they were alone and finally tried to sort things out, but they had to contend with bullies and other forces which thwarted them at every turn.

This was a long book at 570 pages, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the next one.

Currently Reading…

In Library Day on June 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Life as we Knew it

I finished The Last Wish on Friday (thoughts on the book to come) and have started a new commute book. I don’ t know about you, but I find it very exciting to start a new book. I’ve started reading Life as we Knew it by Susan Pfeffer. Unlike the previous post-apocalyptic book I read, this one is very much YA . There’s nothing wrong with that, but talk about shifting gears. In my last post, one of the critiques I made was that the fifteen year old boy seemed older than his age. In this book, the protagonist is a sixteen year old girl and so far she sounds very much like a sixteen year old girl. I’m actually finding her kind of annoying. (Yes, I know. I’m never happy.) To be fair, I was pretty annoying when I was sixteen. I’m reasonably sure that I’m not the intended demographic for this book, but the story is good so far, so I’ll stick with it. Unless, of course, the character becomes TSTL. (For those of you not up on the lingo, that stands for Too Stupid To Live.)

Only time, and a few more commutes, will tell. I shall let you know my thoughts anon.

 

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