Saturday, October 22, 2011

#49 In the Woods by Tana French

One day, near the end of summer, Adam Ryan is found in the woods with scratches on his back and blood pooled in his sneakers. His two best friend whom he had been spending the whole summer hanging out with in the woods are gone, never to be found. Not even their bodies. Adam is near catatonic and remembers nothing of the events that happened that day.

Twelve years later, Adam has reinvented himself as Rob Ryan, a detective assigned to the murder squad. He has managed to transform himself into a polished gentleman with a "BBC accent" (don't have BBC, don't know the accent, but I think I get what she's trying to say). His life is pretty good, owing to a great partner, the awesome Cassie Maddox. Things are going pretty great until a case of a murdered 1 year old girl emerges, killed at the very same woods Ryan once lost his friends. The case, with its many complications, slowly rocks Ryan's carefully constructed world and friendship.

The main mystery itself, the murder of the little girl, is not really that clever or complicated. If one looks really hard, lots of clues are dropped about what really happened. But the mystery itself is not what makes the book. The depth of characterization of Rob and Cassie is really good. The book is told in the first person by Ryan and of course, you have to decide if he is a reliable narrator or not. His friendship with Cassie is really interesting and you root for their friendship. But Ryan is a damaged soul, and things do NOT turn out all ok.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing is quite beautiful, especially for a mystery. The characters really stuck with me and I liked them and rooted for them despite their obvious faults.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#48 - Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

I must be in a hurry to finish CBR, I have been reading YA non-stop. Well, the first 4 was a series so I guess that makes it a little better. This is just some random book I picked up at a used bookstore, it sounded interesting. YA rock and roll fiction.

Leo Caraway is a typical Type A achiever. Young Republican, Harvard bound, scholarship holder. But he is not some douchebag asshole, he is just a good hardworking kid, who just wants to do well in life. And he's not actually that typical. His bestfriend is an abrasive punk/goth girl, and he finds out, his biological father is actually King Maggot (or is he?), vox for one of the most influential punk bands in history (book history). When he loses his scholarship (due to him basically being a good guy and doing the right thing), he decides to find his father and try to get some harvard tuition money out of him.

What happens next is a madcap adventure, with him serving as a roadie in Purge's reunion tour. The situation is at times awesome and at times horrible. But it leads to some bonding time with his father and some sexy time with the bestfriend. He, in typical YA fashion, learns something about his parentage, the world, and most importantly himself.

I liked the way the paternity issue was resolved. I think it was unusual and deliciously bittersweet. On the whole though, I though it was just an ok read. Nothing special really. I am just a sucker for "rock and roll" books, but this one was not that inspiring. Not horrible but sort of bland.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

# 47 - Ms. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

X-men, Victorian edition (actually, 1940, but the pictures feel more Victorian). Present day, Jacob is a typical disaffected youth, pharmacy heir, and loner. Poor little rich kid he was. However, his close relationship with this peculiar grandfather proves a gateway to fantastical adventures. His grandfather always had weird stories (and even weirder photographs) for Jacob, which unfortunately, as Jacob becomes older seems more and more like just his grandfather's fantastical imagination.

His grandfather's death, though, leads Jacob to see the horrible monsters his grandfather has long been afraid of, and to learn that the stories may be true after all.

So there are kids with superpowers, time travelling and whatnot. It was an ok book but came eay below my expectations considering the creepy pictures. I was really expecting something a bit darker and deeper and creepier. Not so much the standard fantasy/adventure that this book was. The plot, as well as the monsters, just seemed a bit childish to me. Well, this is after all a YA book, so maybe, as noted in my Uglies review, I am too old for YA. I hope not.

But the pictures! Man, the pictures are the best part of the book, as well as how the author managed to make stories around the picture. That was cool, yeah.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

# 43, 44, 45 and 46 - Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras by Scott Westerfeld

I read the series in the course of 2 days, when I was taking my MCLE (Mandatory Continuing Legal Education), that's two 9-hour days of lectures which are supposedly updates, but really was more like a review. I am not ashamed to admit that I love YA, and I am very proud that I like sci-fi. I was not initially drawn to these books which were ubiquitous in out local bookstore chain. I just seemed too glossy, like Gossip Girls or Vampire Diaries, only with extra sci-fi. But., I read a lot of positive reviews so I decided to try it out.

One thing I will say, it is definitely a fast read, and a compulsive one. Or maybe I was really bored in the aforementioned 2 9-hour days. Well, anyway, I did finish it in 18 hours, more or less, so that's something.

The story was interesting, but also a bit implausible (yes, I know it's sci fi). So in the far future, humanity has retreated to enclosed (but not, like, heavily guarded. or is it?) cities where everyone is turned pretty on their 16th birthday. At least, that's the case in the city our heroine, Tally Youngblood lives. She is a normal teenager, feeling grossly ugly and super excited to turn pretty. But things get interesting when she meets a rebellious friend and learns that there is a different life outside of the city walls and that turning pretty might not just be a physical thing. The first three books focus on Tally's story of being an ugly, turning pretty, and then becoming special. The fourth volume, extras, is a stand-along story with new characters and Tally and the gang showing up in the middle of the book.

Did I like it? It was ok. Not so much. It was a bit too YA for me. Although it dealt with issues which are good to think over and discuss with kids, it was too obvious for me. Like, kids, you are beautiful just the way you are! Kids, what is peace without freedom?! And everything was too pat sometimes. And as I said, I found the premise itself a bit unbelievable, as in, I cannot believe that that is one of the possible roads humanity might be taking. Extras, is a little more based on the present world where worth is ranked through how popular one is, and everyone is followed around by their own personal news feed. Sounds more like the present, yeah?

I got interested though, in the mythology of how the world got to be the way it was. I enjoy the big picture much better that the interpersonal drama of the characters.

All in all, it was ok. I didn't hate it. Just a normal YA book. Maybe I was spoiled on amazing YA that a pretty good one seems just ok to me. Or maybe I'm too old for this shit.