Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Yet another wonderful fantasy novel from an Irish author! Maybe it is the reach history of fairies and leprechauns that comes from Ireland that makes its authors so good at telling original fantasy stories for kids. This time author Landy invites readers to the magical world of skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant.

Along with Stephanie, a young girl who has just inherited her late uncle's estate, we are introduced to a world of magic most mortals know nothing about. Skulduggery, a snappy dresser not to mention a hysterically funny elemental mage, is our guide into this world. Formerly human, but now a magical skeleton, Skulduggery is out to stop the evil Serpentine from stealing the scepter of the ancients. Stephanie is the key to it all and it his job to protect her and also take her under his wing.

Now, I must admit that this whole story is of course fantasy, but I did find it hard to believe that an immortal skeleton detective would pick a twelve-year-old girl to be his new partner, even if her uncle was his friend. Besides this little bit, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it for upper elementary to adults. I especially enjoyed the audio version which includes an interview with Skulduggery himself at the end. Can't wait for Landy's next installment in this good versus evil series.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green

When I first picked up this book I assumed it would take place in Alaska, boy was I wrong. It turns out that Alaska is the name of a girl. Alaska is the new friend of Miles Halter. Miles is the main character, but the story is about both of them.

You see Miles has just started his junior year at a new boarding school in Alabama. Miles doesn't have a lot of friends at his public school in Florida and hopes things will be different as he searches for his "great perhaps."

Every character in this book as a certain quirk that doesn't necessarily define them, but more accentuates their personality. Miles is obsessed with last words. Alaska collects books and plans on someday reading most of them. Miles' roommate, Chip, is a genius who memories the capitals of countries for fun. There is even a Japanese rapper in their eccentric group.

Together the four struggle to find their place in this world and to solve the last words of one man, "how will I ever escape this labyrinth?" If you are looking for a touching coming of age story with some edge and depth to it, this book is for you. I found this book to be different than anything I had read before. It is a great book for older teens and adults alike.

Note: There is graphic language, sexual descriptions, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use in this book.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Memoirs of a Teeange Amnesiac

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Imagine forgetting the past four years of your life. That’s what has happened to sixteen-year-old Naomi. Due to an accident, Naomi has forgotten all about her parents’ divorce, her mother’s new family, her dad’s fiancĂ©e, her boyfriend, her best friend, how to drive, and much more. For Naomi, it is like waking up in the life of a different person.

With the help of the new boy at school, James, and her best friend Will, Naomi begins to put her life back together and tear it down again. Naomi does not like the life the girl she was had picked for herself, so Naomi begins to change it. This confuses those around her who liked the old popular and cool Naomi to the new one.

This book really is a deep read. There are several difficult topics that Naomi must deal with including: sex, her adoption, and her mother’s affair. After finding out about Naomi’s life, it is no wonder her brain has decided to forget it.

Adding to the mix of Naomi’s life is the self-destructive James. James is the one who discovers Naomi after her accident and she is immediately in love with her. However, James has problems of his own, problems he wishes he could forget like Naomi did. This relationship along with Naomi’s relationship to Will and her boyfriend, Ace, all add to the depth of this book.

I really recommend this book to older teens and adults. It is a different take on the typical amnesiac storyline and it has enough emotion, depth, and heart to really affect the reader.

The Will of the Empress

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

A surprise addition to Pierce’s two magic circle series (The Magic Circle and The Circle Opens), this book rejoins Tris, Daja, Sandry, and Briar as they meet up once again. The four are now eighteen and have seen a lot in their short lives. Their magical connection has been closed, much to the dismay of Sandry, due to the others wanting to keep their now adult thoughts to themselves.
In a bit of a road trip book, the four travel to Namorn, Sandry’s mother’s homeland, to inspect Sandry’s lands there. As always, trouble follows the magical siblings. This time an evil empress named Berenene dor Ocmore wants to keep Sandry in Namorn in order to keep her money there, she also wants the four as powerful mages. Being strong willed the four will play by nobody’s rules but their own.
Now that the four are grown-up, the book is more grown-up too. Issues of love, rape, murder, and kidnapping are all prevalent throughout the book. Pierce also delivers on her promise to include more homosexual characters into her books as one of the main characters discovers their true sexuality.
Fans of Pierce’s work will not be disappointed as she weaves together (just like Sandry) magic, adventure, love, and friendship. This book has it all and will keep you wanting more. I only hope for another unexpected sequel about four of my favorite fantasy characters.
As a side note, this book is available in a full cast audio version. The audio version is narrated by the author herself and is done extremely well. The music and cast fit the story perfectly and add to this wonderful novel.