Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lisa's Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

   Ransom Riggs spins a suspenseful plot that begins with a violent murder, a possible monster sighting, and a smattering of bizarre images. Ever since Jacob was a little boy, he was enthralled by his grandfather’s stories about his experiences in Wales as a teenage refugee fleeing the Nazis during World War II. Now sixteen, Jacob has serious doubts about the authenticity of his grandfather’s tales. This eerie mystery is punctuated with dozens of antique photographs of the “peculiar” friends described by Jacob’s grandfather. Is it possible that their special powers might really exist: invisibility, levitation, telepathy, super strength...? Jacob heads for the isolated island in Wales to explore the site of Miss Peregrine’s Home, looking for clues to his grandfather’s secrets. What begins as Jacob’s attempt to sort out his grandfather’s past quickly escalates into an adventure involving time travel, romance, and a fight for survival against dark, bloodthirsty creatures.

   In addition to being a talented writer, Ransom Riggs is also a filmmaker and a photography collector. The photos used in the book are actual vintage prints, and this serves to amplify the overall creepiness of the reading experience. There are a few spots in the book where you may hesitate to turn the page for fear of the photo awaiting you there.

   If you are not already sold on this book, check out the author’s awesome booktrailer. Even more interesting is the video about the making of the book trailer, A Most Peculiar Trip: Searching for Miss Peregrine. Finally, watch Riggs’ video about his eccentric hobby, collecting old photos of total strangers, Talking Pictures.

 

Think this book sounds good? Read it and come to Read & Feed next Monday @ 4:30pm!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tara's Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

I’ve been pretty interested in a lot of the dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature that’s been coming out in the last few years, but had started to get jaded since everything seemed more and more alike. Enter Ashes, the first book in a new trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick, which rekindled my love for all things dark & dismal. Ashes is the story of Alex, a girl with a brain tumor and dead parents, who is backpacking near Lake Superior and considering her future (or lack thereof) when an electromagnetic pulse hits. All electronics are knocked out, many people are killed instantly, and some other people have become…not quite people anymore. Alex eventually finds herself with some other survivors—Tom, a soldier, and Ellie, a young girl—and they struggle against the elements, the wilderness, and other survivors. Alex is also disturbed to notice that she too seems to be changing, and has to deal with that while figuring out how to survive in a devastated world with winter just around the corner. As the plot progresses and Alex travels to new places, the story moves from post-apocalyptic to super-creepy dystopian, culminating in some horrifying situations and tough decisions. The plot, the characters, and the excellent writing reminded me of other great books in this genre, like The Knife of Never Letting Go and Blood Red Road. I don’t remember the last time I read a book that had me as hooked as this one did. I was reading during all my free time and getting irritated by little things like eating or sleeping, which always seemed to get in the way. This first book ends with a crazy-intense cliffhanger, so don’t expect things to be wrapped up neatly, but when the second book comes out, I’ll be one of the first in line to read it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bronwyn's Book Review: Something Rotten by Alan Gratz

Something Rotten is the story of a teenage boy who avenges the death of his father, who was murdered by his uncle. Sound familiar? Maybe not? In this case, it doesn’t matter, because although Something Rotten is based on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, Hamlet, the plot is so modernized and the characters so detailed that the story is excellent even without the Shakespearean allusions.

The story takes place in Denmark, Tennessee, where a paper factory is polluting the Copenhagen River. Horatio (the main character) and Hamilton (the character based on Hamlet) discover that Hamilton’s father has been poisoned. However, everyone else in town believes Rex died of natural causes. With the help of their friend Olivia, Horatio and Hamilton set out to prove that a murder has been committed.

If you are familiar with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, you will pick up on some cool and creative plot parallels. If you aren’t familiar with the play, you will still enjoy Horatio and Hamilton’s adventures. Alan Gratz has done an excellent job weaving a classic play into a modern story that people of the 21st century can relate to.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heather's Book Review: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

I’m not usually a fan of modern prequels/sequels/re-imaginings of classic books. They often to seem to lack the certain something that made the classic so memorable and, at best, leave me wishing that I’d just reread the original instead of spending time on the redux. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel, however, is not one such redux. It’s one of the best classic-inspired novels I’ve ever read, and it might even be one of my favorite books EVER. This Dark Endeavor is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and tells the story of young Victor Frankenstein before he became the mad monster-creating scientist that we all know and love. In the story, Victor lives happily with his parents, twin brother, Konrad, and cousin/adopted sister Elizabeth—until his brother falls deathly ill. Even the best doctors cannot figure out what’s wrong with him, and though Victor has been taught to believe in the power of modern science, he can’t help but wonder if there’s any other way to help Konrad. An alchemic way. After all, there is a secret library hidden in his house, and one of its books contains a recipe for the Elixir of Life…

Not-Really-a-Spoiler: The famous monster never appears here. One would think that Frankenstein without the monster isn’t Frankenstein at all, but that’s not entirely true. Oppel captures the same creepiness, the same sense of urgency, and the same sense of impending madness (or at least maddening passion) that permeated Shelley’s original novel—for readers who like Victorian fiction, anyway. For those who don’t, this book shows you what you’re supposed to feel when you read Frankenstein. This is a novel that I couldn’t read at night. Even when I read it during the day, parts of it still terrified me. That said, this book has some genuinely cringe-worthy moments. The entire second half of the novel is an intense piece of reading, and readers who aren’t looking for something totally engrossing would best shy away from it. (Pun totally intended. Be warned. There really is some gross stuff in the last part of the book.) Readers who love to be startled out of their wits, however, cannot miss this book.