Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 YALSA Hub Reading Challenge - Update #5

Busy with other things this week and only got two books read.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I debated about my rating for this book. The first part of the book is difficult to read, due to switches in tense and a narrator who talks about herself in third person. I'm not especially interested in aircraft and engine repair, so some of the details, while well-researched and, I'm sure, fascinating to many, didn't always keep my attention. HOWEVER, the story gains momentum as it goes, and the ending is marvelous.

It's difficult to write an accurate review of this particular book without spoilers, but here goes...

Maddie and Queenie, raised in very different social circles, become best friends during WWII. Maddie is a pilot and Queenie a spy. 

When Queenie is captured by Nazis in France and broken by torture, she agrees to cooperate in return for a quick death. Her written confession makes up the first half of the book. Initially, the flow of her narrative is hard to follow because of the switches from present to past tense. Once you get used to it, though, it actually helps keep track of past versus present events. 

The last part of the book is more reliably narrated by another character and sheds light on Queenie's story in some surprising ways. 

The friendship between Maddie and Queenie is realistic and moving. They are both strong characters, each a hero in her own way. 

Highly recommended historical fiction. 

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Book one in the Raven Cycle.

Blue comes from a family of psychics, but can't see the future the way the rest of her family does. Her talent is to amplify psychic energy. For the first time ever, while gathering the names of the soon-to-be-dead on St. Mark's Eve, Blue sees a spirit; his name is Gansey and he's a Raven Boy, one of the arrogant rich kids who attend a local private school. 

Gansey is on a quest to find a legendary Welsh king, and he's roped in his friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, to help him. The boys and their relationships with each other and with Blue are interesting and well-developed. Blue gradually gets to know the boys and becomes enmeshed in their quest. 

The story is complex and an effective set-up for the new series. I'll be interested to see how the story continues to develop. Stiefvater fans will eat this one up. 

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