I’m not quite sure how I read [and loved] Peeps, the Uglies series, the Leviathan series, AND Afterworlds but managed not to get around to this book until now… I’m just special like that! Though I felt the references to pop culture and technology definitely “dated” the story a bit, I think it is still relevant enough to recommend to today’s teens. After all, society still cycles through “cool” fashions and trends. And I don’t think many people really consider WHY and HOW things become “cool” — they just fall into the trap of wanting the next “cool” thing. I encourage my kids (my biological children and the ones I work with) to question everything instead of just taking other people’s word for it. I also encourage them to trust their own instincts and to find their own style instead of caring what other people will think. As long as you’re not purposely trying to offend other people, I think you should embrace what you love and just go with it. Hopefully, this story will help some tweens and teens see the light.
Hunter Braque was a “cool hunter.” He was literally paid, mostly in free shoes, to report upcoming trends and fashions to a major corporation he called “The Client.” (Throughout the story, Hunter left out the names of the brands/companies to which he was referring — but he gave just enough information that the readers could likely fill in the blanks on their own.) Hunter actually worked for a woman named Mandy, who reported back to The Client after “cool tastings” (aka focus groups). When Hunter met Jen, he just knew Mandy would want to meet her too and got her an invitation to a cool tasting. Jen’s new perspective earned both Hunter and Jen an invitation to a super-secret meeting with Mandy, but then Mandy never showed up. After hearing Mandy’s cell phone ringing from inside the abandoned building, Hunter and Jen broke in and found a stockpile of the coolest shoes they’d ever seen. They weren’t sure what to think, but they were pretty sure Mandy was in trouble and that it had something to do with those shoes… Action and mystery combine for a super-fun read that also questions the conformity and consumerism that run rampant in our society.
This book was an interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, and science fiction. I can certainly see why it won the Newbery Award, since it was well written, pays homage to a “classic” children’s book, and has a nostalgia factor for the teachers and librarians who grew up in the 70s and 80s — especially with all the references to Miranda’s mom practicing for her appearance on the game show $20,000 Pyramid. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that a lot of tweens and teens would find it difficult to really get hooked on this story. I was curious about how things would play out in the end and all, but the story didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat.
One day, as Miranda walked home with her best friend, Sal, he got punched in the stomach. The kid who punched him was new to the neighborhood and didn’t even know Miranda or Sal, so there didn’t seem to be any reason for the attack. Even worse? Right after that incident, Sal began to get distant. Miranda felt lost without Sal, since the two of them had been constant companions since their early childhood. And then, when the hidden/”emergency” key to her apartment went missing and she found a strange note hidden in a library book, Miranda got understandably freaked out. Especially since the author of the note seemed to know things about her — even things that hadn’t happened yet. Fans of A Wrinkle in Time are sure to enjoy the way Miranda’s life experiences drew parallels to that book and made her question the real possibilities of time travel. I think there are enough details, nevertheless, that the story will still make sense to readers who aren’t familiar with L’Engle’s work.
So, I know that I said I wasn’t going to post reviews about sequels/series books anymore… but it’s been ALMOST THREE YEARS since Seraphina came out. And I seriously love this story, so I want to be sure fantasy readers realize this awesome book is out there. So… Yeah. I’m reviewing it anyway! :-P
Growing up, Seraphina never realized there were other ityasaari (half-dragon/half-human beings) like her. Her father had always done his best to keep her true identity a secret, out of fear for her safety, so she lived a very sheltered life. After people found out her secret, though, and because there was a major conflict brewing between humans and dragons, Seraphina and Queen Glisselda have decided that tracking down the rest of the ityasaari might be their best chance to put a stop to the war in Goredd. Richly imagined and full of action, this book should be well received by fans of other dragon tales like Eragon and The Last Dragonslayer.
Some people are confused by the fact that I can’t handle “scary movies” but am so intrigued by novels and biographies about serial killers. During my freshman year of college, I actually scared the student assistant at my college library. He asked which class required me to watch so many A&E Biography specials about serial killers and I answered, “It’s not for a class. I just think they’re interesting.” He shoved the movie across the counter and practically ran into the back office. When I returned the next week, he was nowhere to be found. Fortunately, we met through a mutual friend a few months later and figured out that we recognized each other because he was the AV guy at the library and I was the “creepy serial killer girl.” I was able to elaborate about how my interest was piqued during a high school psychology class and that viewing habits were based purely on curiosity. (Up until that point, apparently, he had been worried that I was a serial killer in training or something like that… Oops!)
Cath was not just a Simon Snow fan. She was an über Simon Snow fan who actually had followers of her own. How? Cath wrote fan fiction. More specifically, she wrote Simon/Baz fan fiction. And her story, Carry On, got tens of thousands of hits every time she posted a new chapter. While I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that Cath entered college with the intention to be a fiction writer, I was interested in how she struggled with creating stories all her own even though the fan fiction flowed so easily for her. And even more than that, I was impressed by how wholly I found myself being absorbed into Cath’s everyday life and her struggle to adjust to the new realities of her life as a college freshman.
Sorry I never posted a review last week. I had every intention of finding a few minutes to post a review but… well… I was on vacation and I was just having too much fun with my family! ;-) We spent the week in NYC and did a variety of cultural, educational, and just plain fun stuff. Every day was exhausting, but my son insisted that we still make time to read at least a chapter every night before we crashed at the hotel. As much as I enjoy reading with my kid, it was a little creepy — because we were reading the dead & the gone, which is all about post-apocalyptic NYC! And because we were reading that book, it reminded me that I had to finish the Monument 14 series (another post-apocalyptic story) when I got home. So, I decided that would be the subject of my first post back.