Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quick Reviews

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Hiaasen's first foray into YA, Hoot, was an excellent book and a huge hit. Scat continues his tradition of writing about the eco-system in Florida. The usual elements are there: young and resourceful protagonists who are passionate about the environment; odd adults, a few of them sympathetic; greedy big corp guys; and endangered species. And great writing.

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
A mark of a classic is that it feels current and timeless simultaneously. Can a book published in the early nineties be considered a classic by 2009? I believe it can in the current publishing landscape. And Sarah Byrnes is one in my opinion. The questions raised and arguments presented are honest. The characters feel authentic. And Mobe is the best. Nit pick: the bad guy is too despicable to be believable.

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
Brilliant opening: A thief is a lot like a wizard. I have quick hands. And I can make things disappear. But then I stole the wizard's locus magicalicus and nearly disappeared myself forever. Nit pick: the age of the protag seems to make a leap in the middle, from 11 or 12 to about 15 or so.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
A glimpse into an intriguing world, that of the American Blue Bloods. But even within the exotic setting of a prep school, we see the same type of players at work. I admire the author's very sure hand in writing. Nit pick: Frankie's motivations aren't always clear. I am never sure if her plotting and actions are driven by revenge, or a desire to prove girl supremacy, or a way to keep her boyfriend, or simply because she can. This is a character I can't relate to very well even though her capers are interesting.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Just as imaginative as the first one. Nit pick: why would Ron seek out Lockhart after they've figured out how to get to the chamber? Percy as red herring is a bit obvious, but the real chamber of secrets opener is a surprise.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Raw, honest, haunting. Not a hint of the whiny, self-absorbed, and self-righteous teenage narrator in some YA books, especially those dealing with Issues. This narrator doesn't seek sympathy. She is struggling to understand not only the people around her but her own motivations. She lets us in on her journey, which can be difficult at times, but I'm glad to have gone along with her. It's be one to read again.

1 comment:

Annie Louden said...

I love Speak. I think I read that book in one day in high school.

I like your succinct reviews and your quick nitpicks. Your thoughts are well-rounded, and I have enough info to decide if I'll give these books a try.