Sunday, July 5, 2009

Read this week (4)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
My review from Goodreads:
I finished this book in one day. I was both horrified and intrigued by this plagued world with more undead roaming the earth than the living. An infection has spread across the world, but to Mary and her village, this is the only place on Earth left with survivors. It reminds me of The Giver because of the village's separateness from the rest of the world. It also reminded me of Bones of Faerie, especially when the six siblings and friends set out on the path to escape the dangers of their invaded village. While a handful of characters dominate this story, Mary is the one that evokes the most emotion - she's willful, determined, stubborn, hopeful, curious, and insatiable. I didn't agree with all of her actions, but I understood her choices, as hard as they may have been. This is an excellent dystopia, a scary look at the world depleted by the Infection, with a few left struggling to survive.

The Eternal Smile by Derek Kirk Kim and Gene Luen Yang
This graphic novel is actually three short stories, unrelated to each other except perhaps by theme. This book has been getting rave reviews, but I was left feeling "eh." I enjoyed the first story, about a boy in a fairy dream world, with him as the prince out to kill the Frog King in order to gain the princess' hand in marriage - with a rather unexpected twist in the end. The next two stories also had those strange twists, but they were not so unexpected as the first. They're life stories and they're sweet and sometimes heartbreaking, but I don't know why they were there together. Perhaps if this was instead an anthology of such stories, I'd feel better about it. But the similarity to Yang's American Born Chinese - three seemingly unrelated stories - was too distinct, yet it failed in connecting the stories. The illustrations, however, were wonderful, and I would go back just to look at them. Especially those in "Urgent Request," two-toned drawings in rounded panels about a woman who hates her job and seeks refuge in a make-believe world where she aids and meets a Nigerian prince - that story could have stood alone.

Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
I started this book weeks ago and was too angry to finish it until now. Angry because the main character Nikki despises the library yet works there as a student library assistant anyway. But I'll get into this in my forthcoming "libraries in books" post. Here's an excerpt from my Goodreads review:
Nikki is starting eighth grade at a new school, Westchester Country Day Middle School, where she feels like she does not fit in at all. This book is her diary, complete with love poems, comics, and sketches, reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
It's a cute book for 6th/7th grade girls. New kids at school. Those wanting to fit in with the popular crowd. Kids that feel like they have embarrassing families. Nikki writes about her everyday life, which to her is filled with catastrophic and life-changing events on a daily basis. From first crushes to best friends to mean girls and annoying little sisters - I looked back on my middle school days, and while the pop culture references were a bit much, I could definitely relate. Warning: Nikki loves the Tyra Banks show... and writes about it constantly! This gives the book less lasting power, but it's relevant for the right here, right now.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
I tried to read this book this week, but after fifty pages, I gave up. Darcy is obnoxiously rude and sarcastic - yet a lovesick puppy. Zombies invade balls and carriage rides across towns. The sisters are trained in combat, carrying daggers in their stockings. There is a target audience for this book - and I do not belong to it. My students, however, have read and presumably enjoyed it, if not were at least amused by it. My younger sister, I'm sure, would love it. I'm not a fan of the gimmicky zombie appeal - the cover alone makes me cringe. But like the vampire craze of last year, zombies have invaded the current book market.


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