24 February 2011

grimm legacy, quatrain and neverwhere

posting reviews of books sure makes it seem like i'm reading more than i thought! i just hope they're interesting to the other bookworms out there.....

the grimm legacy by polly shulman

this book has a library i'd love to work in. the setting is urban fantasy and as a young adult book, it was engaging and quick to read. i liked it, but there was something lacking. this fell between uglies and pretties by scott westerfeld, which i'll review after i've read the last book of the trilogy. they were all decent books, but read so close together impressed me with the same flaw.

harry potter caused an explosion of YA sci-fi/fantasy, with positive and negative results. there's fascinating new worlds, retellings and twists on traditional tales. for me, the main difference between adult and YA novels has been the age of the main characters. the dilemmas should be somewhat adapted to the character's age, but more to their life situation. either way, adult and YA novels should have a feeling of reality and depth that brings me back for a second reading. some of the recent YA books, including the ones above, lack that sense of reality and depth. there's a little too frequent use of hollywood's favorite plot twist - no clear and honest communication rather than true moral dilemmas. it's a bit too easy to guess what's coming next. really, it's almost like there's not much effort to write a real story. the fantasy bit is the setting, the background. how the characters solve their problems is what grabs our attention and makes a story relevant for re-reading. communication issues are boring, just stop being a coward and talk - not telling your friend something should not be the main problem the book solves. the newer YA books have interesting worlds and are fast reads, but CS lewis and madeleine l'engle still have 'em beat.

what do you think? any opinions on the new trends in YA books?

quatrain by sharon shinn

this book is a collection of four short stories/novellas, each set in a different world previously published by the author. i grabbed it for the first story, set in the world of samaria and the archangel series. it was a decent story, set in the same time period as archangel. the other stories were in worlds i hadn't read yet. the second story, blood, was my favorite. it's got very different cultures and customs clashing in the background of a young man's personal quest. this story was most successful at drawing the world and its conflicts in a short space. the next story, gold, was very fluffy - an immature princess and her unconvincing story. the last story was another good one. in a world again brought to life with few words, it tells of an outcast with a mystery to solve. the second and fourth stories will have me looking for other books about those worlds.

neverwhere by neil gaiman

i am a fan of gaiman, his books have good plots, good twists, and incorporates fantasy and mythological elements in new ways. neverwhere is one of my favorites, which i am re-reading after watching the 6 episode tv series. if you've read the book and liked it, it's a decent enough show. it's a bit odd, just like the book. chuck thought it seemed hokey and unrealistic - like it couldn't really happen. the book was more convincing but the series is not bad if you're at the bottom of your netflix queue and waiting for the new doctor who season to start.

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