Category Archives: ya book reviews

YA Book Review: The Reluctant Assasin by Eoin Colfer

 

The Reluctant Assassin (W.A.R.P., #1)

I am a HUGE Artemis Fowl fan. So, despite the fact that I found Unplugged, Eoin Colfer’s adult novel, not to my taste, I was excited that he had a new young adult series coming out.  Given my growing stack of summer To Reads, I decided I’d knock it out in audio form, and quickly downloaded it. First of all, let me say that I found the narration quite good.  Maxwell Caulfield does an excellent job with the many accents and characters, and his pacing is excellent.

As for the book, well, I can’t say I was very impressed. It’s a fine time travel novel, but it’s definitely not outstanding. I never felt sympathetic toward any of the characters, which made it hard to care if they lived or died. There is plenty of action in this book, though. Perhaps a little too much — if not for the sometimes brutal violence sprinkled throughout, it would be an excellent tween crossover title.  Since there is some gore and torture, though, I wouldn’t feel super comfortable giving this book to a tween who is a bit tenderhearted.

One super-minor thing that bugged me like crazy was the fact that Chevron, one of the main characters, never uses contractions. Given that she’s a Native American, it seemed a little weird and old-fashioned – almost like people who think that all Native Americans speak in broken English with halting grammar. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Eoin Colfer intended, but that’s the way it read to me.

This book wasn’t very long, but it seemed to take me forever to get through it. I think that, Artemis Fowl notwithstanding, Eoin Colfer’s style just isn’t my favorite. I definitely won’t be picking up the next book in the series, although I would recommend it to teens who are looking for a little Victorian-time-travel-action.

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YA Book Review: Dodger

Let me preface this review by saying that Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. From his books geared toward the youngest of young adults to his adult fiction (Discworld, I love you!), he manages to consistently hit it out of the park with funny, touching novels full  of likable but flawed characters.

That said, Dodger fell a little flat for me. Set in Dickensian London (and, in fact, Dickens himself shows up a time or two), Dodger chronicles the adventures of, well, Dodger. Tosher extraordinaire, Dodger scours the sewers below London for gold, coins, and anything else he can lay his hands on. But he’s not just a tosher; he’s also a geezer – part con-man, part guardian angel of the neighborhood. Known by all, Dodger often finds himself in sticky situations. Luckily, he’s an expert at getting himself back out of them!

The stickiest situation yet arises when Dodger, toshing during a rainstorm, comes to the aid of a young lady who is being thoroughly beaten on the streets. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Dodger is embroiled in international espionage, the tricky world of journalism, and plots of murder!

I’ll be the first to admit that historical fiction isn’t really my cup of tea. Occasionally, something will really jump out at me, but it’s definitely not a genre I reach for first. Part of my lack of complete joy about this book probably comes from that.

However, I do think that this book isn’t quite up to the normal Pratchett standards. While lots of things happened, I didn’t find the plotting to be particularly well done. It was definitely a meandering tale, in what felt like was a direct tribute to Dickens. I think the lackadaisical plot would have worked better, though, if the characters were a bit more compelling.  Although they were all well-developed, they felt like very detailed line drawings with no life or color.  For example, Dodger, although interesting and funny, consistently felt younger than he is supposed to be, to the point where I frequently had to remind myself that he was not a child, but nearly an adult.

Overall, Dodger is a fine book. Perhaps if it wasn’t by Terry Pratchett, I wouldn’t have been so hard on it – although I probably would never have picked it up in the first place/

 

YA Book Review: Pretty Girl-13

Angie leaves her tent on a Girl Scout camping trip to pee, and wakes up three years later, dirty and confused, on the street

Pretty Girl-13

in front of her house. What happened in the intervening years is a complete mystery to her — that is, until the personalities her brain developed to protect her from her ordeal start to make themselves known. Can she piece together her history — and does she even want to?

Pretty-Girl 13 by Liz Coley definitely intrigued me with its unique premise. Despite the fact that dissociative identity disorder (also known as multiple personality disorder!) is so rare and complicated that many mental health professionals doubt it exists at all, it is incredibly intriguing. The idea that the human mind can go to such lengths to protect itself is awe-inspiring.

The most interesting parts of  Pretty Girl-13 are those in which Angie is dealing with her multiples, and the confusion and frustration she feels is well conveyed. The rest of the book, including the plot and the characters, are spotty at best. There are some coincidences and developments the bend believably almost to the point of breaking, the love interest once Angie returns to school is a bit too perfect, and everything gets wrapped up so neatly that it’s almost unsatisfying. Nonetheless, this book is a fairly quick read and definitely recommended for teen fans of psychological thrillers or those with a fascination with kidnapping cases.

YA Book Review: Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

I figure since I’m reading lots of young adult books anyway, I’d let you guys know what I thought of ’em! So, I’m going to start posting a weekly YA Book review, just for something a little different.

Teeth

One of the strangest and most engaging books I’ve read so far this year, Teeth by Hanna Moskowitz isn’t like anything else on the shelves.

Rudy had the most normal of normal lives. That is, until his family moves to a strange island populated with magical fish that have the power to heal. Why does a young family need to live on an isolated and desolate island with healing fish? Because Rudy’s little brother is dying at the ripe old age of three.  Lonely and bored and being driven half-mad by the screaming sea, Rudy is desperate for something to do. He didn’t expect that something to come in the form of a fishboy. Nothing like the mythical mermaids you know, Teeth is angry and freakish and completely enchanting to Ruby. But how can Ruby balance out Teeth’s desire to save the magical fish with his brother’s need to live?

This book is incredibly thought provoking and heartbreaking. Full of the most difficult decisions these characters will ever have to make, this magical realism title offers no easy answers.  Even if you’ve read every single paranormal romance about creatures and people trapped between two worlds, you’ve never read anything like this.

Recommended for folks who like their stories dark, or those who are looking for truly strange and innovative modern fairy tales.