Sunday, March 3, 2013

2013 YALSA Hub Reading Challenge - Update #3

I was starting to feel somewhat dispirited about this challenge, as it was feeling like a chore to get through these books. Thankfully, I'm done with Paolini and was able to read books by two authors who are actually skilled in using poetic language (rather than barfing up a thesaurus on every page).

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Book four in the Inheritance cycle (audiobook read by Gerard Doyle).

Eragon continues to fight minor battles and to train, but will he be able to defeat Galbatorix in the final battle?

I'm torn about how to review this book. I might have liked it better had I read it instead of listening to the audiobook. Though Gerard Doyle does a fine job with the narration, Paolini is definitely too wordy for my taste and the reader can't skim with an audiobook! I found many of the battle scenes boring, despite the gory descriptions.

This book, and the series as a whole, had much promise. However, it needed a stronger editor to help the author focus on the storylines that were critically important.  Several plotlines started out looking promising and then simply sputtered out with no resolution. Others were added for no obvious reason and did nothing to further the story.

Every Day by David Levithan

"A" wakes up in a different body every day, and experiences the world from within the various realities inhabited by these bodies. "A" has made peace with his existence and does his best to do no harm to the bodies he borrows each day. Everything changes when he meets Rhiannon and falls in love for the first time. Can they find a way to be together?

What I loved about this book was the author's obvious love of language. The writing itself is beautiful and well-crafted. Take this passage as an example:

"There is a part of childhood that is childish, and a part that is sacred. Suddenly we are touching the sacred part--running to the shoreline, feeling the first cold burst of water on our ankles, reaching into the tide to catch at shells before they ebb away from our fingers. We have returned to a world that is capable of glistening, and we are wading deeper within it."

I also enjoyed the major theme of the book, that love is love, wherever you find it. No matter how different people appear on the outside, what we all want is to be loved for who we are. Perhaps if we could focus more on our human similarities, rather than our differences, the world would be a better place. Despite a few things that I didn't like about the book (the Twilight-ish stalker elements, for example) overall, this message of honoring love in all its forms is a good message for teens and adults alike.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (the first in a new series, hooray!) is my favorite type of book--a blend of genres, fun to read and difficult to classify. It's a mix of fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, and suspense, with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. Bray has painstakingly researched the Roaring Twenties and her gorgeous prose brings the period, and her characters, vividly to life.

After getting in trouble back in Ohio, Evie O'Neill's parents send her to New York to stay with her uncle. An expert in occult matters, he runs The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--known by the locals as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. When Uncle Will is asked to help the police investigate a series of brutal, occult murders, Evie comes along for the ride. Will her ability to "read" objects help her solve the crimes or make her a victim?

Evie is not the only character with a special gift. There's also a pickpocket on a mission to find his mother, a Ziegfeld girl hiding from a dangerous past, a numbers runner with healing powers, and a museum employee who is more (and less) than he seems. Despite the supernatural elements, these characters are well-developed and realistic.

Highly recommended, though you might want to hold off a bit, as book #2 (as yet untitled) isn't due out until the spring of 2014.

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