Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

When I read the blurb for this book I immediately thought that it would be like a modern day Jim Jones/People’s Temple/Guyana tragedy.  (I didn’t realize how that dated me until I talked to a colleague who as younger than me and didn’t have that cultural reference.  Talk about devastating, I don’t think of myself as old.)  I wasn’t too far off, though I was pleasantly surprised by the twists in the plotline.  I don’t mind when I know the road the plot is taking, when  we end up going the scenic route.  

Students will get caught up in the danger of Escape from Eden. Fear is a big motivator. Fear for the characters, fear that something like this could (and did) happen.  I needed to know if Mia and Gabriel would be okay. As a mom, I wanted to slap some grownups, even as I can understand their fear.  

Goodreads summary

Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s fa├žade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Program by Suzanne Young

Kindle   Nook   Kobo

Ugh, I made myself finish this one.  I’m going to give it one star and hope it doesn’t make the Gateway list, I do not  want to buy it.  The Program made me uncomfortable and not in a thought provoking way, but an eye-rolling way. Everyone feels like a stereotype.  Sloane is the whiny protagonist, Lacy is the slutty best friend.  James is the”bad boy” boyfriend.  Realm is the insider manipulator. Mom and Dad are just caricatures.  I kept waiting for the government conspiracy theory, and wasn’t disappointed to find may be coming in the sequel, as they are escaping to the “rebels.”  Sigh.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I am the Weapon (originally titled Boy Nobody) by Allen Zadoff

Kindle    Nook

“Not a sensation...a feeling.” Boy Nobody

This one did not end the way I thought it would.  I love when that happens!  As a series starter, there was a bit of world building, with rather a lot of “inner narration,” but I didn’t mind it.  We still have questions at the end from the over arching plot, but the main one in this novel is wrapped up.  Boy Nobody reminded me a lot of I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, the differences being no aliens, and the hunted being the hunter.  But the similarities were numerous.  There is a friendship with the awkward outcast, romance with the popular girl, grudgingly given respect from the jock, previous moves from place to place, no real parent to speak of and no real happy ending, either.   Is Allen Zadoff, Pittacus Lore?  Hmm, I’ll have to compare the next two books to see if my hypothesis holds.  I am seriously intrigued.  

I think, my boys will like this book.  It’s not as long as some others, so maybe it won’t be s intimidating.  The action moves fairly quickly even with all the thinking Boy does in his head figuring out the next step.  I liked the defense tips, so we weren’t surprised when he did what he did.  The ending may disappoint girls who read it, if they are looking for a book with more romance, but the boys may feel a bit justified.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Proxy by Alex London

Proxy reads like a dystopian retelling of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  Class, luxuries, technology, medical care, debt, and housing separate the rich from the poor.  I liked this book.  I feel like there could be a sequel, but there doesn’t have to be.  Not all questions have to be answered.  All I could think about after I finished this was single words, impressions from the book.  I put them in a poem.  It sums up my feelings rather nicely, I think.

     delegate, envoy,
     agent, representative,

     owed, interest,
     fees, repayment,

    work, wages,
    purchase, labor,

    offering, donation,
    victim, propitiation,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winger by Andrew Smith

This book...I finally finished it after starting and stopping several times.  When I put my mind to it, I still took a whole week.  I hadn’t been interested because I’d started it on audiobook.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that out loud where anyone else could hear it; there are multiple f-bombs dropped in the first chapters.  I was scrambling to turn it off at school!  Yikes!  Also, there are comics and other small illustrations throughout that really add to the story.  I had no idea, and would have missed out if I hadn’t actually read it.  

My interest was finally perked by author Kelly Halls, when she told me that she and Andrew were best friends in high school, and she’s in this book.  So, I started over with the intention of looking for her.  This time, I found it funny, and when I finished it...heartbroken.  I’ve had a hard time getting other people to read this book, and finish it, perhaps my  own reluctance has played too big a part in that.  Now, I can do a better job of “selling” it.  

Goodreads summary:
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.