Monday, December 19, 2005

Godless **** 1/2

Hautman, Pete. Godless. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.

This was a great book. My library doesn't have this book (yet!) but I read it because it was recommended to me by a public library children's/YA librarian. I am glad I read it!

Jason is rather charismatic. He could sell snow to Eskimos. His mother is a hypochondriac and his father is very religious, to the point of obsession. His father is always trying to get him to be religious, including making him go to the teen night at their church. He isn't interested in religion, but he goes to be a pain and ask questions the youth pastor can't answer.

Jason, along with his friend Shin, come up with a new religion, one that reveres the town's water tower. Shin takes it quite seriously, while Jason is just doing it because he thinks it is funny. Joining them in their church is the son of a local preacher, the town bully, and a girl from the church youth group, on whom Jason has a major crush. Their goal is to climb the water tower, which they do; they end up prying open a door and actually swimming in it, which they consider their "Baptism". Shin starts to take things too seriously along with a few other members.

This entire book really is all about religion. Jason is really quite anti-religion, so if you are a person that is really religious, his approach may offend you, so I would read something else. Jason is really not an athiest, he is really just in search of what he believes in. He isn't into Christianity, but that is all he has been exposed to, and he doesn't know anything else. This is really about finding who he is, and a part of that includes finding out what he believes in. This is more of a character study than anything, so anyone that is more interested in plot and action might be disappointed; not that this is boring, but the focus here is on the characters and who they are, and how they change.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Looking for Alaska *****

Green, John. Looing for Alaska. New York: Dutton, 2005.

*Winner of the Prinz Award, Announced January 23, 2006*

What a fanastic novel. This is a rare instance where I agree that a book that got a starred review in School Library Journal really does deserve that star!

In this book, Miles opts to go to a boarding school in Alabama during his high school years. His roomate, who is nicknamed the Colonel introduces him to the school and his circle of friends, which include Alaska, Lara, and Takumi. They spend their time sneaking off to smoke, drink, and pull pranks on the school and headmaster. We learn rather quickly that Alaska is somewhat troubled. We also realize that something big is coming.

The book's chapters are arranged by days, such as "40 days before" and so on up until "the incident". We don't get to that until 3/4 of the way through the novel, so we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly happens on Day 0. I can tell you that I didn't see it coming! Then after that, the rest of the novel is told as "3 days after" and so on. This format kept me interested and made me aniticipate the climax of the novel even more.

I highly recommend this novel to most readers. It is a rather "deep" read so readers that prefer fluff will not enjoy this one. Not that there is anything wrong with fluff, but if that is what you are looking for, this isn't it. Highly recommended.