Monday, February 25, 2008

Feathers ****1/2

Woodson, Jacqueline. Feathers. 2007.

This is a Newbery Honor Book.

This was a great book. I normally only read books aimed at HS students, but this book was a Newbery Honor book so I thought I would read it anyway. No high school student would be interested in this book at all, but younger readers would.

Frannie is going through a lot. She lives on the side of town where all of the black people live. Her brother is deaf. Her mother has lost babies in the past and is pregnant again. A new white boy moves in and is the only white boy at their school. Because of his long hair, people start calling him Jesus Boy. Immediately, some of the school bullies start to give him a hard time. Frannie feels a connection to him but doesn't want to get involved and become a target of the bullies herself.

Frannie is an honest and flawed character. She is easy to like and her story should keep readers interested.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Before I Die ****

Downham, Jenny. Before I Die. 2007.

I read this book because it's on the ALA's Best Books for YAs List. In fact, it's in the Top 10. After reading the book and finding it lacking, I looked at some reviews of it on Amazon. It seems that people either really love this book or, like me, don't understand what all the hype is about. I wanted to give three stars, but given the fact that so many people loved it, I decided to bump it up an extra star. I figure dozens of other people have loved it, so I should take that into account.

The main character, Tessa, is dying from Leukemia. She has a list of 10 things that she wants to accomplish before she dies. Some of these things include having sex, falling in love, getting her parents back together and breaking the law. She manages to fulfill all of the things on her list, or least tries.

The book might be rather depressing to some, although I didn't think so. I saw it as a positive story, at least insofar as Tessa was trying to make something positive out of the little time she had left. I think the problem I had with the book is the characters, Tessa in particular. They were unlikable. Tessa isn't really likable at all. Her best friend Zoey seems like a bad influence. Her mother is a loser. Her father is a main character, but I didn't get a sense of anything about him. I think, since Tessa is the narrator, that it's all about her and she doesn't bother with telling us much about him and his life. I don't think she even bothers to know what her father's life is like outside of taking care of her. I know she is dying but she seems awfully self-centered which makes her unlikable to me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

American Born Chinese ****1/2

Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. 2006.

I am a little late to the party as far as this book is concerned. It won all sorts of awards and accolades and I am just now getting to it. In my defense, I am not really into graphic novels, so I put it off for that reason.

Anyway, the book starts out with appears to be disconnected stories. Then, as the book comes to an end, the different story lines come togehter and it all makes sense. The story primarily revolves around Jin Wang, a new student in school. He was born in America, but is of Chinese decent. He eventually befriends a new Taiwanese kid who is, as he calls it, fresh off the boat. They stay friends all through school until there is a fight that splits them up. Meanwhile, we hear the story of the Monkey King. We also have a story line with a white boy that is followed around by his embarassing Chinese relative who is a total stereotype. It's a little hard to explain the book, honestly.

Fans of graphic novels would enjoy it. Anyone looking to read something different should check this one out. It's definitely different and interesting.

Monday, February 11, 2008

If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince? ***1/2

Kantor, Melissa. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where is my Prince? 2005.

I could tell you what was going to happen in this book right from the beginning. This is stereotypical YA lit. In a nutshell: Girl's mother dies. Girl's father remarries a woman with two children. Father moves them across the country. Stepmother treats her unfairly. In the end, they come to an understanding and live happily ever after. And, on top of that, there is the "new girl" stereotype on top of it. She falls for the most popular guy in school, he falls for her and now she is instantly popular too, even though no one would talk to her just last week.

There is nothing new here, but it's still entertaining if if you are into this sort of thing and haven't read it 20 times already. The good thing about this one is that Lucy is pretty cool and readers might enjoy her sarcastic wit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The UnResolved ****

Welsh, T.K The UnResolved. 2006.

I have to admit that I had never heard of the boat accident that is detailed in this book, despite the fact that it was apparently a huge disaster. The book in narrated by Mallory who is dead. She begins by telling us how she died--her and her family were on a boat headed to Long Island for a church activity in 1904. She meets Dustin in an empty room so they can kiss. While they are in the room, a group of boys catch them and a bit of a scuffle occurs. Shortly thereafter, the boat catches fire.

Mallory dies in the blaze and then sticks around, visiting her family, Dustin, and those that are partially responsible for the wreck. There is plenty of blame to go around but no one seems to be able to figure out the truth. The grieving familes, thirsty for revenge, want revenge on Dustin, who they believe to be at fault.

This was a great book. It's another in a recent trend in YA lit in which a dead person narrates the story. This one was very well done and I recommend it for fans of historical fiction.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Persepolis *****

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. 2003.

I'm a little embarassed to admit it has taken me this long to read this fabulous graphic novel. I saw an advertisement for the new movie and it reminded me that I had been meaning to read it for years.

This is an autobiographical work about Marjane's childhood in Iran. It starts out with her going to school as a carefree girl, and then shows the changes that occurred in the country as it came under religious rule. All of the girls had to wear the chador and follow other Islamic rules. This was a hard time for Marjane's family since they were a modern family and opposed the new regime. Then the war with Iraq occurred which made things even more unsafe for the citizens of Iran.

I think even people that aren't generally interested in graphic novels would enjoy this book.
Not only is there now a movie version of this book but there is a sequel entitled Persepolis 2.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Heroines ****

Favorite, Eileen. The Heroines. 2007.

This is an adult book appropriate for YAs.

Penny and her mother Anne-Marie live in the Bed and Breakfast in which Anne-Marie grew up. Throughout her life Anne Marie has had visits from famous book characters. The first was Cathering Ernshaw from Wuthering Heights. She arrives at the part where she is deciding who she should marry. Heathcliff comes after her and eventually they are sent on their way to finish their story. Over the years other characters have visited, including Ophelia, Scarlett O'Hara, and Madame Bovary.

Now, in the present, Deirdre arrives. At first they don't realize she is a Heroine but then they figure that out, but not from what story she comes. Conor, a King, comes for her and Penny is the one that ends up dealing with him. When she returns home, the cops have been called already so that forces a trip to the ER for a rape kit, even though she wasn't raped. Sick of her mother putting the heroines first, Penny goes nuts in the ER and is finally placed in the psych ward for being a paranoid schizophrenic.

This is a really cute story. It's light-heared and it's nothing serious, just some good fun. Recommend for female readers who enjoy off-beat books.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Luxe ****

Godbersen, Anna. The Luxe.

I am just getting back into reading YA novels again after taking a break. I forgot to review The Luxe a few months ago when it first came out. I had been eagerly anticipating it and was over the moon when it came in at my local public libary.

The book didn't disappoint. I would describe this as a historical Gossip Girl. The characters are all rich teenagers growing up at the turn-of-the-century. Elizabeth is in love with one of the servants but she is forced to marry Henry. Henry doesn't want her either, but he must marry her or he will be disinherited. Meanwhile, Henry is in love with another girl who also wants to marry him. When he chooses Elizabeth, she freaks out. Elizabeth supposedly dies by plunging into the Hudson River, but it's not clear if she is dead or if she ran away. This leaves things open for further installments of this new series.

I highly recommend this new series to girls who are fans of series fiction or historical fiction.

Poseur ***

Maude, Rachel. Poseur. 2007.

I found this book to be "just OK." It didn't draw me in like some other series like Gossip Girl. The characters in this book all attend a private school in LA. They are all registered in a special projects class in school. These four girls decide to start their own clothing line, and they only have a short time in which to do it. Complicating matters is the fact that they are all very different from each other. Janie isn't rich and she comes from The Valley. Charlotte is rich and spoiled. Melissa is the daughter of a famous musician. Petra isn't into fashion or the rich lifestyle.

While not realistic, teens who enjoy this sort of series fiction will probably enjoy this new series.