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.
So, I know I just posted a review of another book last night, but this book was so AH-MAZING that I just couldn’t stand to think of waiting to review it. Let’s just look at this as preparation for Thanksgiving, since you’re getting an “extra helping” of YA awesomeness this morning. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge how insane I was for waiting so long to read this book. I was among the first people on the request list, but I ended up sending it back and re-adding my name to the list because it showed up when I was in the middle of another book and didn’t think I would have time to read it then. Well… Even though this book was rather large (599 pages), I ended up reading it in ONE WEEK! Considering the fact that I didn’t have any days off from work and/or caring for my kids, that’s crazy! But, this book is crazy good, so I went to extremes to stay up late reading. I’m talking, get up and walk around when I feel my eyelids start to droop or purposely playing Candy Crush before sitting down to read because I know the glow from electronics makes it harder for me to fall asleep. Yeah. I’m dedicated like that! ;-) Continue reading
Because of a few books I suffered through in high school, I didn’t used to think I could enjoy historical fiction. Neither did I realize, apparently, that I liked steampunk — partly because I wasn’t even 100% sure what the label even meant when I first saw it used on librarian listservs. But, considering what a huge nerd I am for Firefly and how much I loved Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series, it is apparent that I liked steampunk even before I realized it was classified as such! Luckily, I have some awesome teen readers who clue me in on the books they love and think I should be reading, too, because they’re why I finally got around to reading Leviathan. Thank goodness I listened, because this book was awesome! It’s just too bad that I somehow managed to forget to post a review about this book back when I read it [about 2 years ago]… Luckily, I have the ability to fix that oversight right now.
In this alternate history of World War I, the German forces [called Clankers] used steam-powered war machines like tanks and the Allied forces [called Darwinists] utilized living creatures as war machines. The Leviathan, for example, was an airship made from a living whale-like creature. Though it looked much like a Zeppelin, it was MUCH cooler because it depended on a complex ecosystem in which the waste-products of smaller organisms [living inside] to provide the helium-like substance that made it float. Add that to the fact that people were walking around inside the beast/ship, and it’s not hard to understand why a science geek like me was just as enthralled by the Darwinists’ creations as I was with the whole rest of the story! If you like action and adventure, and you’re not opposed to possibly learning something about world history, this is a book you should probably read. (Just be sure to check out the author’s note in which Westerfeld explains which events/facts were true to history and which he created for the sake of his story.)
Holy crap! This was one crazy anthology! It wasn’t really what I was expecting — after all, only one unicorn story made any mention of farting rainbows, while a few of the zombie stories seemed more like love stories and inspirational stories than horror or gore — but I loved it just the same. The story introductions, written by editors Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, were rather humorous arguments as to which of the “teams” was winning [based on the stories so far] and always added something extra to the stories themselves. The scary thing is, to be honest, I think I may have been converted from “Team Unicorn” to “Team Zombie” in the end! If you’re looking for some awesome stories that get away from the typical unicorn and zombie stereotypes, you’ll want to check out this book. Happy Reading!
Posted in book review
Tagged Alaya Dawn Johnson, Carrie Ryan, Cassandra Clare, Diana Peterfreund, Garth Nix, Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Kathleen Duey, Libba Bray, Margo Lanagan, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Naomi Novik, scott westerfeld, Zombies vs. Unicorns
Specials was originally supposed to be the final installation in an Uglies trilogy, but I can certainly see why people couldn’t help but write to Scott Westerfeld to explain the “secret definition of trilogy” and beg for another book! Somehow, although I was super-excited to get one more chance to read about the world of the Uglies, I managed to forget to post about this book when I finished… Please forgive my slacker ways!
There have been a whole lot of changes in the world since Tally Youngblood and her friends exposed the truth about the mind-alterations that routinely took place during surgery to make Pretties more complacent. Now, there are a lot of “tech heads” who get high-tech upgrades during surgery and “surge monkeys” who get extreme modifications to stand out and be different. In Japan, there is now a pretty strong “reputation economy” in which a person’s “face rank” (popularity/infamy) dictates his/her power and wealth — a throw-back to the old days when superstars had tons of power and influence just because they were famous. This story centers around a 15-year-old Japanese girl named Aya Fuse, whose goal is to become a famous “kicker” like her brother. She knows that finding a story big enough, and being the first one to kick the story to all the feeds, would boost her pathetically low face rank.
When Aya finds an amazingly kick story — a secret clique called the Sly Girls who enjoy extreme stunts like train surfing — she is torn between remaining loyal to her new friends and finally attaining the level of fame she has hungered for so long. But then, the Sly Girls stumble across something that could be weapons of mass destruction and Aya wonders if she even has the right to keep quiet anymore. Fame always seemed so cool, but kicking this story could put her in the sights of some very dangerous people. Will Aya have the nerve to follow in the tracks of Tally Youngblood and risk herself for the greater good, or is face rank really all that matters to her?
Tally Youngblood has been through quite a bit since her 16th birthday. In Uglies, Tally was forced to become a spy for Special Circumstances, but decided to remain an ugly after falling in love with a Smoke-born boy named David. When her attempt to destroy Special Circumstances’ tracking device actually sets it off, though, she gives away the formerly secret location of The Smoke and endangers all of the people she has come to know and love. In Pretties, Tally sets out from the New Smoke after agreeing to be captured and turned Pretty in order to test a cure for the brain lesions that control the minds of people who have gone through the Pretty transformation. In between her operation and the delivery of the cure, though, Tally forgets most of the details of her former life (including her love for David), and manages to fall in love with a Pretty named Zane. And now, in Specials, Tally has been captured and forced to undergo a second surgery to make her a Special — someone with super-human strength and reflexes who works for Special Circumstances. Rather than lament her new status, though, Tally decides to embrace her new body and the responsibilities that come with it. She even comes up with a plan to get Zane turned into a Special so that he will no longer suffer the consequences of his former brain damage and the botched operation that was supposed to have fixed it. Things rarely go as planned, however, and Tally soon finds herself at the center of a whole new debacle.
In this second book of the Uglies series, Tally has been brought back to the city and turned into a total “Prettyhead.” She has forgotten all about being an Ugly, meeting David, and helping to found The New Smoke. As a New Pretty, Tally’s entire day is taken up by preparing for parties, going to parties, and then recovering from all of her partying. When Tally and her new boyfriend, Zane, encounter an Ugly from the New Smoke, though, everything changes. A note, from [Ugly] Tally herself, explains how Tally has given informed consent to take an experimental drug that should “cure” her Pretty brain and that she needs to take the two pills that are inside. Nervous about possible complications, but worried about getting caught by Special Circumstances while they have the pills in their possession, Tally and Zane agree to each take one pill. What happens next is beyond their wildest expectations…