Three-Star Books 2013 Part Two

Doll Bones by Holly Black: Goodreads synopsis: Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity.

My review from Goodreads: Pitched a little younger than I realized. Pretty good, although some long stretches where not much happens. Fairly effective rendering of the inside of an imaginative 12 year old boy's head. The way the kids overcame obstacles on their trip was also quite realistic and interesting to follow. I have a strange relationship with Holly Black's writing - I first read Tithe and was quite underwhelmed, but everything I've read since - mostly short stories, I think, - has been brilliant. Oh, uh, there's an obvious conclusion to be drawn there, huh? I should try another book, though. 

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card: Goodreads synopsis: Danny North knew from early childhood that his family was different, and that he was different from them.  While his cousins were learning how to create the things that commoners called fairies, ghosts, golems, trolls, werewolves, and other such miracles that were the heritage of the North family, Danny worried that he would never show a talent, never form an outself.
He grew up in the rambling old house, filled with dozens of cousins, and aunts and uncles, all ruled by his father.  Their home was isolated in the mountains of western Virginia, far from town, far from schools, far from other people.
There are many secrets in the House, and many rules that Danny must follow.   There is a secret library  with only a few dozen books, and none of them in English — but Danny and his cousins are expected to become fluent in the language of the books.  While Danny’s cousins are free to create magic whenever they like, they must never do it where outsiders might see.
Unfortunately, there are some secrets kept from Danny  as well.  And that will lead to disaster for the North family.

I read this again because all the OSC books that weren't Ender's Game were starting to blend together in my head, and I realized I was confusing The Lost Gate with this book. This was interesting, of course, with the customary emphasis on complicated relationships between people and a doubled plot that took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. I think I'll stop reading OSC series books until all the books are out though - it's too hard to keep them straight and remember enough to read the next book.

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo: Goodreads synopsis: How do you catch a killer when you're the number one suspect? A man is caught on CCTV, shooting dead a cashier at a bank. Detective Harry Hole begins his investigation, but after dinner with an old flame wakes up with no memory of the past 12 hours. Then the girl is found dead in mysterious circumstances and he beings to receive threatening emails: is someone trying to frame him for her death? As Harry fights to clear his name, the bank robberies continue with unparalleled savagery.

My review from Goodreads: Pretty good entry in a solid series, although there were three or four 'surprise' endings, which sort of made it feel like it was ending....and ending...and ending...

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: Goodreads synopsis: Poignant, evocative, and unforgettable, The Space Between Us is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A powerful and perceptive literary masterwork, author Thrity Umrigar's extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.

The plot device on which the novel hangs is quite contrived, but the rendering of the differences in life experience of people in different castes is incredibly vivid, pity-and-rage-inducing. 

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill: Reviewed on blog. I recently caught myself thinking about this as if it was a Stephen King book. Clearly, my first impression of it was bang on. 

American Morons by Glen Hirshberg: Goodreads synopsis: From the author of the acclaimed novel THE SNOWMAN'S CHILDREN and the award-winning collection THE TWO SAMS comes American Morons, a new collection of dazzling and haunting tales...
Two traveling college students confront their disintegrating relationship and the new American reality in a breakdown lane along the Italian Superstrade. A woman chases the ghost of her neglectful father to a vanished amusement park at the end of the Long Beach pier. Two recently retired teachers learn just how much Los Angeles has taken from them.
In these atmospheric, wide-ranging, surprisingly playful, and deeply mournful stories, grandkids and widows, ice cream-truck drivers and judges, travelers and invalids all discover -- and sometimes even survive -- the everyday losses from which the most vengeful ghosts so often spring.

I borrowed this collection because I read a searingly memorable short story by the author in a mixed-author collection. At least I thought I did, but I just looked up the story and it turns out Glen Hirshberg DIDN'T WRITE IT! How embarrassing for me! Well, happy accident then, because this collection was really cool. But geez man. I'm losing it. (The author of the short story I was thinking of is Steve Duffy, in case you're dying of curiosity. The story was called "Certain Death for a Known Person". Excuse me while I check the library catalogue for something else by Steve Duffy.)

Pure by Julianna Baggott: Goodreads synopsis: We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . . 
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.
Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . . 
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her. 
When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

My review from Goodreads: Really quite good - a bit of a fresh take on the pseudo-apocalypse, if that's even possible. The characters are well drawn and the fused people are a rich trope - grotesque, but somehow whimsical. But when I was about halfway through I was possessed by a sudden cold suspicion, and flipped to the last page to find....*shock and dismay*.... END OF BOOK ONE. And this is NOT a teen novel. By all that is holy, why does everything keep turning out to be a trilogy? And there should be a hard and fast rule that if it is a trilogy, "Book one of (whateverthefucktrilogy)" should have to be printed on the book cover. So over all, I'm a little bitter about the whole experience. (Note: it turns out there was only one sequel, so it was actually only a .... duo? diptych? diology? Hey! Maybe they're all trilogies because there's no good word for a literary twosome. More likely there is one and my beer-battered brain is not retrieving it at the moment. Anyway, the second book is in the four-and-five-star post, so I'm less bitter about the experience now.)

A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones: Goodreads synopsis: Time City - built far in the future on a patch of space outside time - holds the formidable task of overseeing history, yet it's starting to decay, crumble .... What does that say for the future of the world ... for the past ... for the present? Two Time City boys, determined to save it all, think they have the answer in Vivian Smith, a young Twenty Century girl whom they pluck from a British train station at the start of World War II. But not only have they broken every rule in the book by traveling back in time - they have the wrong person! Unable to return safely, Vivian's only choice is to help the boys restore Time City or risk being stuck outside time forever.

A little lightweight, even for her, but good fun.

Music Makers by Kate Wilhelm: Goodreads synopsis: Music Makers is a collection of five stories.
Music Makers - Jake is sent to Memphis to do a puff article about an old, recently-deceased jazz pianist. There he learns about the true power of music, especially the “other music” that permeates an old southern mansion.
Shadows On The Wall Of The Cave - Joey was six when he vanished in the limestone cave in Kentucky, and he was six when he reappeared years later.
Mockingbird - Outwardly identical twins, inwardly two distinct individual women, Yin and Yang, day and night, right brain and left brain. If only one can win, will the other survive?
The Late Night Train - In the bitter cold of winter, the train whistle sounded as if it were coming closer and closer. Mother, father and adult daughter live together in a paralyzing impasse, but the late night train offers a way out.
An Ordinary Day With Jason - The strange thing about Jason is that a mysterious staircase might suddenly appear when he is innocently playing with his toys. Neither he nor anyone else should ascend the stairs, at least not yet.

Sigh. I don't know. I discovered Kate Wilhelm years ago, with one incendiary short story collection (The Infinity Box) and the Charlie and Constance series, which seems infinitely rich and strange, their relationship a lovely dance and the plots always admitting the possibility of strangeness. Then she started writing the Barbara Holloway series, which seemed lamentably pedestrian by comparison. Then I discovered this collection and a couple of new (or new-to-me) Charlie and Constance entries in the Kindle store. But I'm too old now, or something - the magic has worn thin. So, while these are perfectly charming stories, something seemed to be missing. 

Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley: Goodreads synopsis: Nick Naylor likes his job. In the neo-puritanical nineties, it's a challenge to defend the rights of smokers and a privilege to promote their liberty. Sure, it hurts a little when you're compared to Nazi war criminals, but Nick says he's just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage and put his son through Washington's elite private school St. Euthanasius. He can handle the pressure from the antismoking zealots, but he is less certain about his new boss, BR, who questions whether Nick is worth $150,000 a year to fight a losing war. Under pressure to produce results, Nick goes on a PR offensive. But his heightened notoriety makes him a target for someone who wants to prove just how hazardous smoking can be. If Nick isn't careful, he's going to be stubbed out.

My review from Goodreads: I enjoyed this more than I expected to: I had to read it for book club and I'm not a big lover of satire, especially extended over an entire novel. It does sometimes become almost unforgivably silly, and it's very formulaic, but there are some hilarious moments, some touching ones, and the writing style is skillful.

This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It by David Wong: Goodreads synopsis: From the writer of the cult sensation John Dies at the End comes another terrifying and hilarious tale of almost Armageddon at the hands of two hopeless heroes.
WARNING: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.
You will dismiss this as ridiculous fearmongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fearmongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection-the creature secretes a chemical into the brain to stimulate skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That's just as well, since the "cure" involves learning what a chain saw tastes like.
You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You can't see it, because it decides what you see. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed. So what happens when your family, friends, and neighbors get mind-controlling skull spiders? We're all about to find out.
Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is not the same as having caused it. I'm just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it.
Either way, I won't hold it against you if you're upset. I know that's just the spider talking.

Good crazy profane hysterical fun with some thoughtful bits thrown in. I reviewed the first book in the series here

Bad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus: Goodreads synopsis: On a hot June day the body of a sixteen-year-old girl washes up on a river bank outside of Frankfurt. She has been brutally murdered, but no one comes forward with any information as to her identity. Even weeks later, the local police have not been able to find out who she is. Then a new case comes in: A popular TV reporter is attacked, raped, and locked in the trunk of her own car. She survives, barely, and is able to supply certain hints to the police, having to do with her recent investigations into a child welfare organization and the potential uncovering of a child pornography ring with members from the highest echelon of society. As the two cases collide, Inspectors Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein dig deep into the past and underneath the veneer of bourgeois society to come up against a terrible secret that is about to impact their personal lives as well. In Nele Neuhaus's second U.S. publication of her enormously popular series, tensions run high and a complex and unpredictable plot propels her characters forward at breakneck speed.

My review from Goodreads: As a police procedural, this works well. The author does a good job of introducing the different characters and narrative shards and then piecing them all together. I enjoy books where several stories begin and then intersect in sometimes surprising ways.

There are some issues with writing and dialogue which might be due to translation, and a couple of passages where characters seem to undergo shifts in perspective or behaviour that aren't credible; there are a couple of incredibly clunky passages, such as when the main policewoman character is cozying up to her husband and their dialogue is "are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "I don't know. What are you thinking?" "I'm thinking" ARGH. Please tell me that was something witty in German that simply wouldn't translate. Hanna's relationship with her daughter is actually quite realistic and affecting, but then the daughter has a sudden moment of clarity and self-reflection that seems highly unlikely.

On the whole though, this is a good mystery. 

Sunshine by Robin McKinley: Goodreads synopsis: There hadn't been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts.
Vampires never entered her mind. Until they found her.

This wasn't even on my pile. I bought it at some point and stuck it on a shelf in the living room. Last week I was taking my daughter to the walk-in clinic and she had a book and I needed one, and my shoes were already on, so I grabbed it from the nearest shelf. I always feel a little caught off-guard when I slam a book into the rotation like this, and it's November, so who knows if I can review it fairly?

There are certain authors who I think of positively, and then when I examine the assumption more closely I realize I haven't read much, if any, of their work. I think Robin McKinley might be one of them. This started out really well - loved the character of Rae/Sunshine, loved the world-making, loved the atmosphere of Charlie's coffee house and the cast of characters. The plot set-up was nicely tantalizing too.

Then..... then.... I don't know, things just kind of go limp. In a very nice kind of way, but still fairly limp. There are things Sunshine wants to know about the mysterious vampire who chose not to eat her - why do the other vampires hate him? Why is he old and yet able to withstand sunlight unlike other vampires? Why is she sexually attracted to him when she has a lovely boyfriend and vampires and humans are never attracted to each other because vampires are nasty beings who EAT HUMANS? - but she keeps saying things like "there were so many questions I didn't want answers to". Except, for chrissakes, THE READER DOES WANT ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONS, and McKinley doesn't give them to us either, and not in a 'non-closure, figure-it-out-for-youself' kind of way, just in a 'didn't bother' kind of way. The set-up for the final confrontation is interminable, and then the confrontation is over in a couple of pages. 

The writing is kind of circuitous and conversational, with multiple tangents and meandering sentences, which I went back and forth on being cool with and being annoyed by. On the whole, I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would at the beginning, and I think it could have been much better. 

Under the Dome by Stephen King: Goodreads synopsis: On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away. Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.

My review from Goodreads: Not quite sure how I feel. Didn't hate it, didn't love it. It was long. It was really, really long. There were some good parts, but nothing really popped. It still kicked the shit out of the tv series. (Note: Having recently reread The Shining and read Doctor Sleep, I'm even more assured in my assessment of this book as a bit of a clunker in the King oeuvre). 

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld: Goodreads synopsis: Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of American Wifeand Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief. 
From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
 Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny. 
Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.

I'm kind of wondering now why I didn't give this four stars. It was well-written, non-formulaic, memorable and imaginative. I thought the relationship between the sisters was exceptionally well-rendered. It was a great story. 

Breed by Chase Novak: Goodreads synopsis: Alex and Leslie Twisden told each other they would do anything to have children. The price didn’t matter. But the experimental procedure they found had costs they couldn’t foresee.
Adam and Alice Twisden’s lives seem perfectly normal. Except that, every night, without fail, their parents lock them into their rooms.
And the twins know that the sounds they can hear are not just their imagination. They’re real. And they’re getting louder...
From a new name in horror, Breed is a stunning thriller in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, brilliantly written, daring, and unforgettable.

My review from Goodreads: Call it three and a half. The writing is good enough to make the characters more fully realized than they often are in genre fiction. Like the best horror tends to be, much of it is wrenchingly sad.

Help for the Haunted by John Searles: Goodreads synopsis: It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.
Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.
As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family's past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years.

It wasn't bad. But it wasn't what I wanted it to be. I don't know how to say anything else without being spoilery, but it's really quite a good story. Just really not what I was expecting, and I really wanted what I was expecting. 

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead: Goodreads synopsis: Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.

My review from Goodreads: CRAP, I didn't WRITE a review on Goodreads. Every year I tell myself to write more reviews on Goodreads so I won't be stuck doing this post trying to remember stuff about every book and come up with something intelligent to say. This wasn't an out-of-the-park home run but it was a nice solid hit for a young age group. I liked the Thoreau references and I'm a sucker for an amnesia tale, wildly improbable as they inevitably are.

Shards and Ashes by Melissa Marr: Goodreads synopsis: Gripping original stories of dystopian worlds from nine New York Times bestselling authors, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong.
The world is gone, destroyed by human, ecological, or supernatural causes. Survivors dodge chemical warfare and cruel gods; they travel the reaches of space and inhabit underground caverns. Their enemies are disease, corrupt corporations, and one another; their resources are few, and their courage is tested.
Powerful original dystopian tales from nine bestselling authors offer bleak insight, prophetic visions, and precious glimmers of light among the shards and ashes of a ruined world.

I'm also a sucker for dystopian worlds and apocalyptic scenarios, when they're well done. I really enjoyed this collection.

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin: Goodreads synopsis: For Matt and his sisters, life with their cruel, physically abusive mother is a day-to-day struggle for survival. But then Matt witnesses a man named Murdoch coming to a child’s rescue in a convenience store; and for the first time, he feels a glimmer of hope. Then, amazingly, Murdoch begins dating Matt’s mother. Life is suddenly almost good. But the relief lasts only a short time. When Murdoch inevitable breaks up with their mother, Matt knows that he’ll need to take some action. Can he call upon Murdoch to be his hero? Or will Matt have to take measures into his own hands?

This was very well done, but so different from the two other books I've read by this author (this one and this one) that I kept being slightly annoyed by the non-appearance of curses or otherworldly nefarious creatures.  Nothing but relentless realism here, though. Vivid, realistic and upsetting.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Goodreads synopsis: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

I'm going to try really hard to be honest here, even though I find it humiliating when I avoid a series like this for years and then somehow slip and wake up with my face on the finished book. I'm not going to pretend I didn't like it, or that I could stop reading it, or that I'm not waiting impatiently for the next one to show up on my holds list at the library. But wow, uncomfortably rape-y bits? And people keep saying it's not really a romance, but geez, it's totally a romance, with some unrepentant Harlequin-like elements - someone said that Jamie was such a wonderful, flawed, real character - WHAT FUCKING FLAWS? Also, Claire is a pretty great character, and I liked that the author didn't conveniently make it a bad marriage that she leaves behind, but does she not make a pretty quick peace with being married and incredibly connubial with another man? And is that not some pretty self-serving pseudo-religious claptrap Brother Whoever serves her at the end to make it all more palatable? And the Redcoats showing up every time things settle down made me feel like I was watching a Star Trek episode - you start settling into a nice little story about life on an Irish farm and getting some insight into childbirth and medical wisdom in the eighteenth century, and then there's space goo leaking around the barn door or something. I'm saying this badly. Whatever. 

Bottom line - Gabaldon is a genius. What is it about these books that leave me with the exhilaration of a well-told tale, yet feeling a little dirty inside? I guess that's the thing about guilty pleasures?

Be My Enemy by Ian McDonald: Goodreads synopsis: Everett Singh has escaped with the Infundibulum from the clutches of Charlotte Villiers and the Order, but at a terrible price. His father is missing, banished to one of the billions of parallel universes of the Panoply of All World, and Everett and the crew of the airship Everness have taken a wild, random Heisenberg Jump to a random parallel plane. Everett is smart and resourceful and from a frozen earth far beyond the Plenitude plans to rescue his family. But the villainous Charlotte Villiers is one step ahead of him.

Bit of a fail grab from the library shelves. I'm not sure I didn't have a small seizure and grasp it reflexively - what the hell would possess me to try reading something with "random Heisenberg jumps" in it? I don't LIKE my science fiction hard. Also, hello moron, it's the second in the series. Still, kind of different and interesting. Although when I cracked it open for the first time and read the jacket copy, I said "WHAT?" out loud. Mystified. Truly.

When We Wake by Karen Healey: Goodreads synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027—she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies—and wakes up a hundred years later, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
The future isn't all she had hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better world?
Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

Pretty fresh take on the displaced-in-time trope. Good voice, believable rendering of a teenager waking up a hundred years past her time. The friendships are endearing, and the romance isn't too formula. Also, praise the gods, it's not the first in a trilogy. (Except, JOKE'S ON ME, It TOTALLY IS the first in a trilogy! It says #1 RIGHT AFTER THE TITLE on Goodreads! People, I've gone into active, self-deluding denial about the trilogy phenomenon!)

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan: Goodreads synopsis: Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

Good fun. And there's a curse! I love curses! Yeah, it's to be continued. I've totally

Legion by William Peter Blatty: Amazon synopsis (It's midnight, I'm tired and my allergies are kicking up and Goodreads is fucking with me NOW? On the VERY LAST BOOK?! REALLY?!): Just in time for the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist -- Legion, a classic tale of horror, is back in print!
A young boy is found horribly murdered in a mock crucifixion. Is the murderer the elderly woman who witnessed the crime? A neurologist who can no longer bear the pain life inflicts on its victims? A psychiatrist with a macabre sense of humor and a guilty secret? A mysterious mental patient, locked in silent isolation?
Lieutenant Kinderman follows a bewildering trail that links all these people, confronting a new enigma at every turn even as more murders surface. Why does each victim suffer the same dreadful mutilations? Why are two of the victims priests? Is there a connection between these crimes and another series of murders that took place twelve years ago—and supposedly ended with the death of the killer?
Legion is a novel of breathtaking energy and suspense. But more than this, it is an extraordinary journey into the uncharted depths of the human mind and the most agonizing questions of the human condition.
The answers are revealed in a climax so stunning that it could only have been written by the author of The Exorcist—William Peter Blatty.

My review from Goodreads: Weird. Deliciously creepy. A little cheesy. Mostly saved by the delightful Columbo-type philosophical detective.


Nicole said…
The Space Between Us looks exactly like a book I would really enjoy - noting that down.
Maggie said…
Pure was the last YA postapocalyptic/dystopian book I read about 1.5 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the to be continued was the straw that broke the camel's back. Evidently, I spent far too much of the Summer of 2012 picking up and reading YA books that were the first of planned trilogies. I was so frustrated by seemingly every YA writer's inability to wrap up a damned story in one friggin' book that I just stepped away from YA entirely. Am considering going back but only with caution. I will check the front, back, sides, and reviews of any dystopian/ apocalyptic YA book with care to find out if it's the beginning of a series before I begin reading it.

That said, am hurrying to my library account to reserve a bunch of books you mention here.
StephLove said…
I like the Apocalyptic stories, too. I think the appeal can be escapist, imagining all your current troubles swept away, replaced by much worse ones, of course, but paradoxically appealing nonetheless. Ditto amnesia, though I don't actually have as much of a thing for that.
Magpie said…
i fell down that outlander hole too... i've only read the first two, but wow. yes, bodice-rippers, but well-done historical fiction, with a side of time travel, and decent writing.

Popular posts from this blog

Clothes Make the Blog Post

Laying bare my haddock... er, soul