Trisha’s April Roundup
If I were better organized, I would have finished reviewing these books earlier (because I do think they all deserve long reviews), before giving the ARCs to teens or returning the books to the library. But all I did was make really brief notes about them, and it’s been a few weeks since I read some of them, so…
Airman by Eoin Colfer
When Conor Broekhart is unjustly thrown into prison, his thoughts naturally turn to escape. But his jail is Little Saltee Island. It’s a miserable place, where prisoners are forced to mine for diamonds in brutal conditions, and the only way he can escape is to construct a flying machine. Simply surviving is difficult, so how can Conor even hope to build his machine?
To compare Airman to some of Colfer’s previous books (and for the record, I am a huge Artemis Fowl fan), although it’s not as funny as the Artemis Fowl books or Half-Moon Investigations, it still has moments of humor and wit, as well as their fast pace and excellent plotting. What I loved most about Airman is the characterization of Conor. Here’s a kid who has everything going for him—a place in society, brains, ability, etc.—when the book starts, and he’s still likable. When he’s thrown into prison, Conor gets darker, realistically so, but never crosses the line that makes us stop rooting for him. A fantastic book.
Fancy White Trash by Marjetta Geerling
Abby Savage doesn’t want to end up like her mother and older sisters, none of whom have made it to their high school graduation without becoming pregnant, all of whom have made disastrous choices in love. So Abby created rules, the One True Love Plan (based on knowledge gleaned from soap operas), which she thinks will enable her to break free from the romantic/procreative history of the women in her family. She wants her life, and potential boyfriends, to be safe.
Abby’s thoughtful narration grounds the book, turning Fancy White Trash from what could have been a print version of The Jerry Springer Show into an examination of the family and friendships that have shaped a young woman’s life. Reminded me somehow of Carolyn Mackler, though I can’t say exactly why.
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
I liked Wicked Lovely but was enthralled by Ink Exchange. It’s darker, more intense than Wicked Lovely, terrible in the “exciting terror, awe, or great fear” sense of the word. The age recommendation on the ARC was for ages 12 and up, but I think I’d feel more comfortable saying 14 and up.
As much as she wants a tattoo, Leslie has not found the design that was meant to be applied to her body. Then she sees a design that calls to her, but she has no way of knowing that the tattoo she gets will draw her into the faerie world. Leslie was ignorant of faeries despite being a friend of Aislinn. Just as Leslie had been keeping secrets from Aislinn, not admitting to anyone the truth about her home life or the extent to which her junkie brother would go to get a fix, Aislinn has been determined to keep Leslie from finding about the fey and Aislinn’s place with them. But the tattoo Leslie gets connects her to Irial, the ruler of the Dark Court, because he needs Leslie—or rather, the sustenance Irial has planned for the tattoo-bearer to provide—for the Dark Court to survive.
Ever since she was a kid, Janie Hannagan has been falling into other people’s dreams. It’s turned her life practically into a nightmare. At work and at home, Janie can often isolate herself enough to lessen the effects of other people’s dreams, but that’s not the case at school. When people fall asleep and dream in school, Janie experiences the dream with them, even though the dreamer has no idea that Janie’s in their dream, observing what they see (and even though I’m not sure how exciting the dreams of students who fall asleep in school would be, since most vivid and memorable dreams occur during REM sleep, and REM sleep doesn’t occur until we’ve been asleep for about 90 minutes. Although I suppose you could make the argument that most teens are sleep deprived and hence would fall into REM a lot sooner when they fall asleep in school.).
In any case, my one question about sleep science aside (which didn’t actually occur to me until after I finished the book), Wake is a compelling book that grabs the reader from the very first page, when Janie falls into a classmate’s dream. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel, Fade.
Ancient India by Anita Dalal (non-fiction)
Very attractively designed and includes everything librarians love to see in children’s and YA non-fiction, like a map, timeline, bibliography, further reading section, glossary, and an index. There’s even an interview with an archaeologist! But with all of that, not to mention all the photos, there wasn’t very much space for actual information. I hope this will get some readers interested in archaeology/ancient India, but anyone looking for specific info besides dates and locations, particularly past 7th grade, will probably be better off getting one of the books listed in the further reading section.