Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Originals Book Review

Title: The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0316219433

304 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

The Originals by Cat Patrick has a great premise. Three sisters, Lizzie, Ella, and Betsy, live one life, each girl taking a different time of day. Because Lizzie, Ella, and Betsy aren't really sisters. They are clones.

Their "mother" worked at a lab where they covertly cloned the three girls for a rich couple whose baby, The Original, died. Except the couple just wanted one baby and demanded the other two be destroyed. So the girls' "mother" took them and went into hiding.

The three girls lived as triplets for awhile, but the doctor in charge of the lab was arrested and the government is on the lookout for girl triplets. So a scheme was concocted where Lizzie takes the morning shift, Ella takes the afternoon, and Betsy takes the night. All three of them live as "Elizabeth Best," a seemingly normal teenage high schooler.

But things change when Lizzie is forced to take the afternoon shift and meets cute boy Sean. For the first time, Lizzie realizes how not normal her life is and she's no longer satisfied with just a third of it.

While I loved the premise, the book itself failed to connect with me. The pacing, especially the second half of the book, is slooow. And this is when the shit's supposed to be hitting the fan and secrets are revealed. When secrets are actually revealed, it's anti-climatic and not especially logical.

Lizzie's character is pretty well defined, but the other two girls are characterized mostly by how they dress and what music they like.

The budding romance with cute boy Sean is realistic until the second half, where Sean becomes THE MOST UNDERSTANDING GUY EVER and it strains credulity.

Recommend The Originals to readers looking for a book light on sci-fi and heavy on the romance.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When We Wake Book Review

Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healey
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0316200769

304 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I believe that good sci-fi should be a reflection of modern society taken to an extreme. And I think Karen Healey does this with When We Wake.

Tegan Oglietti is a sixteen-year-old in near future Australia. She loves music, especially the Beatles, and she believes in stuff. She believes in God, she believes in service to country (her dead father was in the military), she believes in family, and she believes that people can make a difference. She's just fallen in love for the first time and she's happy and hopeful for the future.

And then she's shot by a sniper at a rally. It was an accident, really. The bullet was meant for the Prime Minister. But now Tegan is dead.

Well, kind of dead.

Tegan, who had donated her body to science, is put into a cyrogenic state. And then, one day, she wakes up. One hundred years later.

Technology has changed, but people haven't. There are still secrets and lies and conspiracies and murder. And Tegan finds herself in the middle of it all, while trying to come to grips of being the "Living Dead Girl" and finding her place in this new life.

There's lots of action and even romance as Tegan once again tries to makes a difference in the world. She's an engaging character, maybe a little naive, but smart and believable.

The world Tegan wakes up in is also believable, a world that climate change is devastating, although many people don't care or don't realize the extent of its devastation.

Some readers may find the book too PC, but I didn't find it preachy or overly message-driven. The one quibble I have, and it's rather a ridiculous one, is that the supporting characters who become friends with Tegan are all minority-something. I'm an African refugee! I'm transgender! I'm a Muslim AND a lesbian!

I am all for white people writing about people different from them, but this just seemed too much like a 22nd century Benetton ad and Healey is trying too hard to be inclusive. The supporting characters are not stereotypes and like I said, it's a rather ridiculous quibble, but do ALL of Tegan's friends have to be a statement of religious, racial, and sexual tolerance? (Okay, maybe I find the book a little PC.)

I recommend When We Wake to readers who enjoyed Across the Universe by Beth Revis or Altered by Jennifer Rush. There is a sequel coming out next year for readers who want to continue on Tegan's journey.

When We Wake Book Trailer:



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Of Poseidon Audiobook Review

Title: Of Poseidon
Author: Anna Banks
Narrated by: Rebecca Gibel
Publisher: AudioGO
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1620642696

Listening copy via Sync

I realized that my monthly Reader's Corner column had turned into a monthly audiobook review, so I thought I go ahead and just make it an actual audiobook review.

I was able to stock up on some audiobooks thanks to Sync, and the first one I'll review is Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. The story centers on Emma, a good girl who follows in the shadow of her best friend, Chloe. But things change drastically when Emma and Chloe go on a vacation to Florida. First of all, Emma meets cute boy Galen, who has the same mysterious violet eyes that she has. And second, Chloe is killed in a shark attack.

So begins Emma's journey as she learns about the Syrena, a type of mer-people, and her role in a battle between Syrena kingdoms.

Of Poseidon is a good mix of action, romance, and humor. The big plot reveal at the end was telegraphed from a mile away, but it still nicely sets up the next book.

Rebecca Gibel does an admirable job narrating the different characters and giving Emma a strong and slightly snarky voice. My only quibble is that Chloe sounds like she's straight from the Jersey shore, even though she and Emma grew up together and Emma doesn't have an accent. Especially given that Chloe is African-American, it's an odd choice.

I'd recommend Of Poseidon to readers (and listeners) who enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

Here's a taste of Chapter 1:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Genius Book Review

Title: Genius
Author: Steven T. Seagle
Publisher: First Second
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1596432635

128 pp.

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley

Genius, written by Steven T. Seagle and illustrated by Teddy Kristiansen, is a quiet book.

A book, at times, of quiet desperation. Ted is a bona fide genius, the wunderkind that skipped grades and is expected to make a mark. Except now Ted is middle-aged and never really fulfilled all those high expectations.

Ted still wants to make his mark. In fact, he needs to or he'll lose his job and his insurance, right when his wife needs some serious medical treatment. So when his father-in-law, in an Alzheimer's muddle, mentions that he used to be Einstein's bodyguard and Einstein once told him a BIG SECRET, Ted thinks his luck has changed.

If only Ted can pry the secret from the lost memories of his father-in-law.

But the book isn't really about Einstein's BIG SECRET. The book is about Ted and middle-age and choices and trying to connect to the people you love.

The illustrations are sketch-like, suggestions of actions and emotions. Filling in the blanks is the reader's job.

Genius is a quiet book, but ultimately a hopeful one. While it might be a tough sell for teens, it may appeal to those who enjoy thoughtful storytelling.

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