Monday, January 17, 2011

Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

Finn (short for Finbar) and his family just moved to New York, and not a minute too soon for Finn. He's looking forward to going to a public school (where there are girls) and getting away from his superstar twin.

Finn has some incidents to get through first. He finds out he's allergic to the sun (after a horrible trip to the beach), he gets mistaken for a vampire on the subway, and he doesn't really know how to talk to girls in the first place. Until he realizes his allergy is the key--he can pretend to be a vampire. He does some research and practices being moody, stormy, and standoffish. But the girl he ends up falling for has no time for vampires...especially pretend ones.

I liked Finn and how the book flows. He tells his story as we jump from present to past, then back again. I don't doubt that the people who do pretend to be vampires (or are convinced they are...) would be a little offended by Finn's perception of what it means to be a vampire, but the story is suppose to be amusing, and it works. Otherwise I'd find it sad that people actually believe vampires exist.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Zombies vs Unicorns, editted by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Zombies vs Unicorns is actually an anthology of 12 stories dealing with either zombies or unicorns. Holly Black is the head of 'Team Unicorn' while Justine Larbalestier is the head of 'Team Zombie'.

Each story is given commentary by the editors at the beginning about the pros and cons of zombies and unicorns. While the deciding factor is up to the reader, their comments and debate are hilarious.

Out of all the stories, I enjoyed "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn" by Diana Peterfreund, "Bougainvillea" by Carrie Ryan, and "Prom Night" by Libba Bray. Not that the others weren't also great, I just enjoyed these three most of all.

The only thing missing was a story of zombies and unicorns fighting each other...

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

Jenna lost a year and a half from her life. Something terrible happened and she's just now, at the age of 17, learning how to walk again, speak again, get her memory back, and function. Nothing around her looks familiar, and she can't believe her two best friends (when she remembers that she has best friends) aren't coming around to see her. But her parents moved her from Boston to California while she was still out of it, and she believes that's why she hasn't seen anyone else.

As her memories start to come back, Jenna really wonders what happened to her. Why her grandmother--Lily--can't seem to stand the sight of her. Why she's not allowed to go outside. Why her mother spends so much time hovering. And why they moved from Boston, where her father still works.

Slowly those questions are answered, but only bring up new ones. Including when it's ok to let someone go.

A combination of prose and poetry, Jenna's story is powerful and heart-wrenching. We learn as Jenna does about her condition and exactly how far her parents go to save her life. And the lives of her friends. This did remind me a bit of Robin Wasserman's books, but it is definitely not the same. A good sci-fi novel.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The town of Gentry has a strange history and present. The town suffers none of the problems of their neighbors, they flourish and thrive. Yet, no one is really happy in Gentry. And that's mostly because of the replacements.

Every home wards against their babies being replaced. Every seven years innocent blood must be spilt by the Lady to continue her favor towards Gentry. It's ignored by everyone who can. Especially since the replacements don't last very long.

But then we have Mackie. Mackie is also a replacement--but a rare one. He survived when almost none of the others do. He's allergic to iron and certain foods. Everyone knows he's different, but they choose to ignore it or avoid him completely.

Then Tate, one of Mackie's classmates, has a sister who dies. And while everyone in town is mourning, Tate is annoyed. And she wants Mackie's help in finding out where her sister really is. While Mackie has more concerns--he may be dying. And help for both things can only come from one source.

A dark story with a few bright spots. Not something you want to read if you have young children, definitely. Mackie's life is a tangled mess that takes a while to pull apart. I enjoyed the story, even though I wondered if I should be buying iron to hang over my door...

Kiss Me, Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

Scarlett regrets more than anything the two wishes she made at New Year's, instead of resolutions. She'd like to have boobs and a kiss from her crush Dan McAndrew.

Her first wish comes true and makes gymnastics even harder to balance.

Her second wish also might come true when she's invited to a party only the popular kids are going to--abandoning her two best friends.

At the party she does get her second wish--she and Dan kiss. And then he dies.

Scarlett's sent to her grandmother's school--Wakefield Academy. And while she struggles to fit into a more academic school, she prays no one learns her secret.

But secrets can follow you anywhere. And when a note appears in her desk saying "It's not your fault", Scarlett is determined to catch who put it there and find out the truth to Dan's death.

Scarlett is a likable character and I enjoyed reading this first in 3. Her point of view is looking back over events, so there is some foreshadowing and her regrets over what happens comes off the page in waves. There are some anxious moments throughout, but mostly the mystery of how Dan died and how she was involved are center to the story. I can't wait to read the next one!

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Dan wants to be a reporter. He's a senior this year, and is confident he'll be chosen editor of the school newspaper. When his classmate Alyssa is chosen instead, Dan can't believe it. Even worse, he's given sports instead of features.

Now Dan, or Mitch as everyone calls him, decides to do the best he can. He's determined to find a story worthy of his talent and along with his photographer, Kimi, he thinks he's found one in the new student Andy. Andy also plays football, although he doesn't appear in public to be any good. Catching him playing when he thinks no one is looking, Dan discovers Andy has a lot of talent.

Mitch and Kimi decide they need to expose Andy's story. What they don't realize is why Andy is so secretive.

While the story doesn't start off as a thriller, it definitely ends that way. Mitch or Dan, is a great character and narrator. There is lots of football talk--some volleyball too. But the reader could be confused by what's going on on the field if they don't know anything. Mitch and Kimi spend a lot of time following Andy around and trying to figure out his story, so sports are not the main issue. Many of the characters here are more than 2-dimensional.

Worldshaker by Richard Harland

Col (or Colbert...) lives on a city ship known as Worldshaker. It's the year 1875 and he lives on one of the Upper Decks with his parents, sister, and baby brother. Col is selected to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and become the next commander.

As the successor, Col knows his actions must be above reproach. But he's already violated their basic rule by not turning in the Filthy who broke into his room. The Filthy--Riff--escaped from the officers forcing her to become a Menial and all she wants is to get back Below.

Col agrees to help her so he won't get caught. He doesn't know why he doesn't just turn her in, but he can't. They break into the lower decks and send her back Below. After she's gone, Col hopes life goes back to normal, but he can't help but think about her. And when it appears his peers are going to teach him a lesson, Col decides he needs her help to save his life.

While he realizes the danger in such a task, he doesn't realize the chain of events he'll start just by falling Below and surviving...

Action-packed and adventurous. Col is a likable, although naive, character. Riff is especially funny, but also a little naive. Col attempts to change the world and his trust in adults is frustrating and enduring at the same time. A great steampunk novel.