Monday, July 27, 2009

Y: the Last Man by Brian Vaugh

Y: the Last Man is a comic book (graphic novel) series that is definitely for mature audiences and not what you normally think of with comic books. There are no superpowers or superheros and none of the frames are meant to have you rolling in your seats laughing. True there's action, but this one is a little bit more serious than you'd expect when wandering through the comic book section.

The story revolves around a plague that wiped out all of the men and male animals, except for two : Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. On their journey to make sense of what happens and to reunite with Yorick's girlfriend who is on another continent, he picks up a bodyguard from the Culper Ring known as 355 and Dr. Allison Mann who hopes to clone Yorick and bring back the male population. Along the way they face opposition from two main groups - The Daughters of the Amazon desperate to destroy anything related to man, and the Israelis who want to capture Yorick in order to create war and therefore peace (I didn't really understand their motivation). Through a series of ten graphic novels and four years, Yorick and his group travel the world and run into an interesting set of characters, some friendly and others quite dangerous. The fate of the world rests in their hands and they'll do anything and everything to make sure Yorick stays alive.

As I said, this novel is definitely for mature audience. Not only does it have language issues (the F word is a favorite among the characters) but there are large amounts of violence (I think that a major battle and death happens in just about every novel) but nudity (male and female). The story also has it's complex moments that might be over the heads of certain reader. I still have no clue who/what the Culper Ring is. They might have explained it 50+ times, but it still doesn't make much sense and I'm still a bit fuzzy on the Israeli's motivation. Now I have to admit that I didn't read the first book but there was a nice synopsis in the second book, so I knew the gist of things. Maybe that would explain more and drive home the necessity of reading them all. The first few books had the synopsis but that ended around book four or five. Either way, I made it through the book and really began to feel for all of the character. Each one has its charm and you can't help but feel their desperation, pain, love, and hope.

This graphic novel series is really interesting in how it interprets the world without men. It's definitely eye opening to see the impact that they have on the world but, at the same time, I wonder if the reaction of women is a little askew. I highly doubt it would end up as violent as this novel depicts, but, then again, that wouldn't make a compelling story now would it? Now I'm not a graphic novel person, at all, but this one held my interest. I really don't think that it will appeal to younger audiences but older readers who like graphic novels but want a little bit more meat to the story would find this enthralling.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love by Rosie Rushton

This novel is a modernization of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and my knowledge of that novel is a little rusty, limited only to watching the movies a last year, so while I've picked up some similarities, I can't fully comment on how accurately it pulled off the adaptation. Beyond being an adaptation, accurate or not, this novel was one that I didn't want to put down. It was a really smooth read with characters that I felt for and plot lines that drew you in.

Ellie, Abby, and Georgie are three sisters who live in a lush house with their divorced mother. Their father still pays the bills but when they visit him and his annoying new wife, he seems tired and troubled by something. When he dies a few days later from a heart attack, the girls learn that he was having financial troubles and put their house in his wife's name to cover a bad investment. With her the new owner of the house, the girls are forced to move to a small village. As the girls adapt to this new life, they find themselves in their own little trials of love. Ellie has fallen for Blake, her stepmom's nephew who, while pursuing her with earnest, seems to have a girlfriend that he can't seem to get rid of. While Abby tried to help her new friend Chloe win Nick's affections, Nick falls in love with Abby. In the meantime, Abby has a relationship with Hunter who seems too good to be true. Georgie, the tomboy of the group has a new friend who just might want to be more than friends.

This novel proved to be really enjoyable without what I would consider soap opera moments. Abby is a bit dramatic at times, but that's her character, a drama queen. I still felt that her situations were believable and not at all over the top. Ellie is supposed to be the reserved character, but I felt that she did give into her emotions more so than Jane Austen's Elinor. I wish that Georgie has a bigger role. I know that Sense and Sensibility focused on the two older sisters and so Georgie's storyline was probably thrown in for fun, but it could have been developed more. I would have like to know more about why she made her final decision. To me it came out of nowhere.

Seeing as my knowledge of the original isn't fresh to compare the book, I'm not boggled down by how the book failed to smoothly adapt. If you don't even consider this book an adaptation, it is a really good book. It's a nice fast summer read without being shallow and full of fluff. I would definitely recommend this novel.

Since reading this novel, I have read Sense and Sensibility and there are some stark contrasts. Lucy isn't vindictive in the original and the Hunter character (Willoughby) isn't half as selfish in his wants and hurtful in his actions. Brandon isn't as pushy as Nick and other comparisons abound but it doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the book, unless you're reading it as Sense and Sensibility. It's inspired by the novel but not the same novel except in modern times (although I can see how certain changes occur to fit in modern times). Basically, forget everything you know about the original beyond Elinor being reserved and in love with one man who has a girlfriend and Marianne (Abby) being a drama queen who has one man whose affections she doesn't return and another love of her life who breaks her heart. These similarities remain but the telling is up for interpretation, as in any interpretation of a novel, whether it be a retelling or a movie. I must insist that: THIS IS A GOOD BOOK! READ IT WITHOUT A THOUGHT OF JANE AUSTEN. ANY COMPARISON WILL KILL IT!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paper Towns By: John Green

Right away, I think of the title of this novel. What exactly does "Paper Towns" mean in this novel ? Paper towns were towns that started to develop, and never were finished. They became abandon , and incomplete. When you approached the "paper towns, grass was growing big time , and everything was stopped for further construction .

This novel takes place in Florida. The teens in the novel Ben Radar, Larry and Margo Roth Spiegelman, and Quentin attend Central Florida High School. One month before Quentin, and Margo Roth Spiegelman graduates from High School, Quentin and Margo were able to break into SeaWorld, and not be caught.
The interesting thing is that Quentin, and Margo Roth Spiegelman were next door neighbors for years. Quentin had a crush on Margo for a long time, they became close friends in their teen years. Quentin was an export at sneaking into Margot's bedroom, and visa verse.

I thought the novel had a lot of excitement, and a lot of fun to read.

LRD 7/18/09

Take a Chance on me Gossip Girl By: Cecily von Ziegiesar

This is a series of novels, about girl's who want to be in the limelight. They flaunt themselves in order in order to be better models for magazines, and television on occasion . The main personality of the novel are are Jack, a girl who seems to like, and hang out with J.R., and affluent connections that Jack could use for her career. Jack still involved with her ballet, and very eager to improve her techniques. Jack is a young lady, who is determined to reach her goals. The novel presents the reader with different people who are friends of Jack in different activities, and places.
You must read the novel in order to follow the plot in all the in's and outs of the events.
It is a very intriguing novel. I do not want to give awayanymore details. This is an easy read.
I recommend it to teens in 10Th grade.

LD 7/18/09

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Killer: A Pretty Little Liars novel by Sara Shepard

**SPOILER WARNING** This is book six in the Pretty Little Liars series and will reference information from previous books. I won't give away too much from this novel, but the others might spoiled. Read on with caution...

This is the sixth book and I think the storyline might be getting a little tired and a little bit like a soap opera. I mean, when it doubt of what to do next, bring a character back to life, which is exactly what this novel does. Now it's been a few months since I read the series, so maybe it's just lost some appeal, but I felt like the story is getting a little old.

The last novel ended with the girls finding Ian dead in the woods. They bring in Officer Wilden and when they reach the body, it's gone. A search ensues, but not until the next day, which has the girls wondering if something, besides a body, is being hidden. After a few days, though, the dead body is deemed a hoax and soon Spencer receives an IM from Ian, which has even the girls convinced he's not dead. In the meantime, Emily's progressing in her relationship with Issac, but is getting some negative vibes from his mother. Hanna hatches a plan to double cross her stepsister Kate by stealing the man she likes but Kate isn't that easily foiled. Spencer is still facing major neglect and attitude from her parents but has success finding her real mother, which gives her hope of an escape. And finally, Aria moves in with her dad to avoid her mother's creepy boyfriend and hopes to form a relationship with an unlikely candidate - Ali's brother Jason who, according to A, has a major secret. Speaking of A, she's been sending Emily and Spencer "Clues" to Ali's murder, which has them wondering whether this A is out to get them or help them. And what's up with Wilden who seems to be everywhere and acting a little odd.

So we've got A leaving them notes, but they're not so nasty this time around. In fact, most of the notes aren't even about taunting the girls which is an interesting turn of events. Come the end of the novel, though, one note isn't interpreted, but that's unimportant. What is worth noting, though, is that this series is kind of losing steam. Like I said before, it's becoming a bit of a soap opera. I mean, Ian is blue and bloated, obviously dead, and then he's not? I won't even mention the end of the novel which has daytime soap written all over it. Hanna and Kate are acting like total soap divas with the backstabbing and stealing boys and playing the victim to corrupt people. Isaac's psycho mom leaves me wanting to scream, "COME ON!" Spencer's parent's need to be slapped. I mean, how many parents hold that big of a grudge? And then Spencer's desperation to be loved is her own downfall, which is really sad. She was probably the only character that I felt bad for. She had it worst out of all the girls because she's asking for forgiveness and getting the raw end of the deal, which makes her desperate, but not in the nasty way Hanna is desperate. You can't help but sympathize with Spencer. One thing that I would have liked is a little bit more clarification of the previous novel. It has been months since I read it, so I completely forgot how characters landed where they were. There was some back story, but I would have liked a little more. Granted, if you're reading one novel right after the other, that might be annoying and unnecessary, but after a long hiatus, I felt lost at times.

The mystery of A remains, although the girls definitely seem to be zooming in on some key information that is either going to solve Ali's murder or maybe they're on yet another wild goose chase. That is still working for the novel, but the personal lives of the girls is getting just a little too dramatic and slightly hard to swallow. Maybe pull back the drama and add more mystery. After the surprise ending, though, I'm still looking forward to another novel and would recommend the series.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kiss of Life - Daniel Waters

* Spoiler Warning - Events that take place at the end of Generation Dead will be talked about. So if you don't want to be spoiled stop reading at the end of this sentence.*

After Adam is shot and comes back to life, Phoebe is over at his house each day to take care of him. Adam's mother, father, and brother deal with his differently biotic state in their own way. Phoebe, Marci, Collette, and other differently biotic kids are continuing their Undead studies class along with doing work study hours at the Hunter Foundation. Pete, the person who shot Adam, is doing his community service at Hunter, which makes everyone in the Undead studies group uncomfortable when he's around. Tommy, who Phoebe dated in Generation Dead, tells the group one day that he is leaving and heading to Washington D.C. to get rights for the differently biotic. After Tommy leaves things start to spiral out of control. A group of humans (Pete included) who think that the dead should stay dead, wear zombie masks and dig up graves to make it look like the zombies are recruiting. They then make it look like zombies killed a defense lawyer and his family whose clients are differently biotic. This leads to martial law being declared on the differently biotic and in the schools they are separated from their human classmates. With all the rest of the zombies having been either been killed, imprisoned, or left Oakton what does that mean for the few who remain?

T.B. 7/12/09

Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

In a world where Miley Cyrus and her alter-ego Hannah Montana are household names, this novel is a little passe. True, this is a reverse situation - rather than a normal girl pretending to be a rock star, a Hollywood star is pretending to be a normal girl - but the concept isn't anything original. That's not to say, though, that the book wasn't enjoyable as it was a light read. It was just very predictable.

Kaitlin Burke is America's Sweetheart, starring in everyone's favorite prime time soap, Family Affair. When shooting for the season wraps, she's tired of working and keeping her cool around her costar Sky would likes nothing more than making Kaitlin's life miserable. With the future full of press tours and Hollywood related obligation, Kaitlin would love the opportunity to get away from it all. When her best friend Liz, who isn't an actress, talks about high school, Kaitlin hatches a plan to go undercover and enroll in school as a break from her Hollywood life. After convincing her agent and Family, Kaitlin enrolls in Clark Hall as Rachel Rogers, a new student from England. A wig, color contacts, and glasses, not to mention a discount wardrobe filled with the dreaded fabric of polyester, and Kaitlin Burke is no more. Everything works out great. She makes new friends, falls in love, and still manages a meeting with her favorite director for the role of her lifetime. Things, though, start to get crazy when she learns Sky is also up for the role, her friends want Kaitlin Burke to host a dance, her Sidekick which has become her lifeline is stolen, and it turns out that Sky is hosting the dance since "Kaitlin Burke" can't. Fears abound that her secret will be revealed and, if that happens, she might lose all of her new friends, the role of her dreams, and any chance of working in Hollywood ever again. Oh the drama!

Okay, so like I said, this book was predictable. Of course her secret is found out and like all books, she still lives happily ever after. While there's nothing exactly wrong with something being predictable, it's not as enjoyable as being thrown a curve ball. I'm not saying I wanted Kaitlin to be friendless and miserable, but it was all just too typical from the first day she stepped into the high school. One thing that bothered me slightly is that I didn't buy the British accent. I know that I couldn't physically hear her talking that way, but usually when I read a book and the character has an accent, there are certain clues that make me read that dialogue with the accent - it drove me crazy when I read one book. That though, wasn't the case and I didn't find her convincing. Half the time I forgot she was supposed to be British. I think a few more clues would have made her undercover scenes more convincing, but that's a minor detail.

Overall, my only complaint about the book is that it's predictable. Now, this is a continuing series and in the next books she's not undercover, so maybe the rest of the series isn't predictable, maybe it is. Whatever the case, it was a nice and light summer read that isn't too complicated but still enjoyable. The characters were like-able and you did want it all to work out in the end. So yes, the characters carry the story and hopefully the following books make up for the slight disappointment of the novel.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Revenge of the Cheerleaders by Rallison

Rallison has been a popular author here so I decided to find out why. Its a quick read, there is lots of boy/girl action and a bit of a crisis and resolution. Seems that goth boy Rick has it in for the school's cheerleaders and uses his musical talent to embarrass the them any chance he gets. He is trying out for a talent show and Chelsea decides that she will also try out and win and show him a thing or two. Rick is dating Chelsea's goth like younger sister Adrian who is always in her talented sister's shadow. Chelsea meets and starts dating heart throb Tanner not knowing he is Rick's older brother and Tanner does not know that Adrian (who Rick's family disapproves of) is Chelsea's younger sister. When they all end up in the same place together and Rick and Chelsea are putting each other down big time Adrian does not understand that Chelsea is not interested in Rick and not stealing him from her. Just before the big tryouts beer is found in the gym bags of several of the cheerleaders thus eliminating them from cheer leading and from the tryouts. No one knows how it got there but Rick is suspect. Adrian vanishes and the other three join forces abandoning the tryouts to find Adrian. That's pretty much it. There isn't much depth here but I guess if the kids like Rallison so be it - their reading. JDW

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Magician by Michael Scott

This is the second book in the "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" Series
Nick, Sophie, Josh and Scatty have escaped Dr. John Dee by following ley lines to Paris, Flamel's home. They are headquartered in the home of St. Germain and Joan of Arc. Josh is given a sword and the final pages of the book that Dee covets. They must try to escape Dee and his minions while planning to get back the book. Josh's powers are at least partially awakened while the group battle their enemies and escape once again. This is a fun action adventure fantasy that reads fast and I enjoyed. Flamel's wife temporarily imprisoned on Alcatraz has her own exciting adventures and appears will soon be rejoining Flamel and the rest.
JDW 7/7 09