Tompkins County Public Library

Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: The House of Hades by Rick Riordian

This was the book we were all waiting for to come out. (If I was writing this a month or two ago, I'd probably have been mobbed by fans screaming "WHERE ARE YOU HIDING IT?" by now.) And not just because they want the series to continue. The previous book, the Mark of Athena, contained one of the worst cliffhangers of all time (I know, I just reviewed it). Now that it's safely published, let's take another look at it, shall we?

Jason, Piper, Frank, Hazel and Leo are the only ones left on the Argo II with the 40-foot-tall Athena Parthenos after Annabeth and Percy have fallen to the place where, quite literally, all monsters go to die: Tartarus.

Now that they have plunged into hell and need to survive long enough to navigate it to find the Doors of Death, the rest of the team (plus Hazel's brother, Nico di Angelo) is headed for a temple in Greece, the House of Hades, to find the mortal-world side of the very same gate. And while sailing through the clouds over modern Europe doesn't sound too bad as compared to trudging through the eternal pit of all things evil, it turns out to not be that easy.

Many of Gaea's forces are, unlike the earth mother herself, very much alive and wanting to slow the Argo II's progress, with the giants, old vengeful heroes, minor gods, and monkey dwarfs (don't ask). And there's still the Prophecy of Seven to untangle. To storm or fire the world must fall. An oath to keep with a final breath. Speculations fly, and most of them don't bode well. 

The giants, more powerful than both the gods and the Titans, have sided with Gaea, and their might is growing still. Even if the gods could help, they're still stuck on Olympus, suffering from severe Greek/Roman schizophrenia as the rift between Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter grows deeper. The only ones left to face Gaea are the Seven, and what chance do a bunch of teenage demigods have against literally the most powerful being, Earth herself?

To add on top of all this, the Romans are closing in on Camp Half-Blood, led by the power-hungry auger Octavian. War is brewing everywhere. Percy and Annabeth, the anchors of the Argo II, are trying to survive in a place designed so that survival is almost impossible. The mission of those still left on the trireme seems equally hopeless. The heroes have faced some of the worst, but how are they going to get out of this alive?


Well, they do. (Duh.) And to be honest, the constant danger was actually kind of nice. That meant that the couples didn't have as much time to fawn over each other (sorry, but I really didn't like that in MoA—*coughPiper McLean, Annabeth Chase, I'm looking at you). 

And even though no chapters are from his point of view, for once you can really start to understand Nico in this book (as well as learn some very surprising things about him, which may help explain why he's still so bitter). That was definitely a plus. 

(And about Leo...just read it and find out. You'll see. *wink wink*)

One problem with this book—it may have just been the copy I read, but either Riordan was really rushing to get this off the press (which he probably was—see the first paragraph) or he has one of the worst editors I've ever seen. There were blatantly obvious tense and grammar errors all over the place. I mean, I'm only 13, and I could've easily edited it way better than Disney Hyperion did. (Even my little sister, who's nine, caught them all.) COME ON, PEOPLE! (Also, one thing that really bugs me about every single Riordan book I've read—he uses "said" constantly in place of much better words that I could probably think of off the top of my head. Constantly.)

Still, this one was one of the better books. (Well, it's not like I don't like any of the books...honestly, I love them all.) Like before, very good plot, good writing, delving more into the characters so you really get to know them. This one's a 5.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: Gilda Joyce, Psychic Invesitgator by Jennifer Alison

Wow, I really seem to like ghosts, don't I?

Of course, our protagonist for which this series is named isn't much different...

When spunky, smart, headstrong Gilda Joyce's father died of cancer, she was left with her annoyingly nerdy older brother, her now-single mother, an inherited typewriter, and a firm goal. From now on, she would type up crazy stories on her father's aforementioned typewriter, pore over books on the subject of spiritual communication, conduct séances, spy on random people with her friend Wendy, and generally do anything--and everything--she could to come to her goal. 

Yes, she wanted to be--and may already be--not just Gilda Joyce, but 13-year-old Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator.

So when given the opportunity, she jumps on a chance: she takes a break from her spy work and visit her uncle in San Francisco. 

But this isn't a casual vacation. When it comes to Gilda, there's no such thing. No, she's a girl with a purpose. And that purpose happens to be very specific.

Stories of her aunt Melanie Splinter, her uncle's sister, surround the wealthy, old California mansion. More specifically, of her aunt's death by falling from the mansion roof. Or was it her alleged suicide? Did she jump off? Whichever it was, Gilda's curious, and wants to find out.

However, there are some problems to deal with. For one, her uncle is quick to clam up once anyone starts digging into this mystery, making investigation more difficult. For another, Gilda's cousin Juliet may have the life other girls her age dream for, but that dampened considerably when an attempted séance at a sleepover years ago lost her all her friends and made her life actually quite miserable. In fact, just before Gilda arrives at the Splinter mansion, Juliet almost went the way of Melanie--that is to say, suicide--and would likely have followed through if not for the sight of a ghost.

It turns out Gilda has a lot more to investigate than she originally thought. And as she delves deeper into this mystery, the danger doesn't seem to be getting better. Will she be able to convince Juliet to help solve the case with her, or even to bring Melanie's spirit to rest?

Okay, to be honest, I hate scary books. I'm extremely (extremely) paranoid about the paranormal, and anything else moderately creepy. (Like Doctor Who, for instance. Amazing show, but terrifying.) I don't need help imagining these things. (I can only hope this wears off before I start reading Stephen King.)

Still, Gilda's headstrong, wacky, almost goofy attitude makes the whole series hard to resist. She keeps going on with the investigation no matter what, so you can't help but want to finish the case with her. And while the later books (such as Dead Drop and The Ghost Sonata) do tend to be a little creepier, the charm remains (although it does wear off a little as Gilda gets older).

The introduction is a little choppy and rushed, but you pick up the rhythm pretty quickly (I'm guessing this is Alison's first book) and from my experience, you can read them out of order without a problem (This was the third book I read in the series; I started with my now-favorite, the Ghost Sonata.)

This book, as well as all of its sequels (The Ladies of the Lake, The Ghost Sonata, The Dead Drop, etc.) are all worth a read.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Who likes the paranormal? Graphic novels, anyone? I know I'm nodding my head enthusiastically for both of these, particularly the latter, but what about you? Yes? Then I have the review for you.

Spunky, sarcastic Anya, being a native Russian now living in the U.S., has found that acting "normal" is the way you survive in an average high school. She's done everything she can-- getting rid of her accent, finding things to wear that aren't from Goodwill, avoiding certain...people. Like Dima. Dima, a fellow classmate and Russian, is the small, skinny, bespectacled "nerd" (who commonly gets picked on because of this), and with him trying to follow you around, even if he does need someone else to relate to, doesn't make Anya's goal of being an average kid that easy. Not only that, but her only friend doesn't seem to know "being funny" from "making fun" too well. 

Well, that is, until Emily comes along.

Emily seems nice enough. She even helps Anya in school. They soon become good friends. There are a few teensy problems, though. Like how she can't touch anything on her own. Or that Emily can fly. And pass through walls. Like the fact that, well, Emily's been dead for the what, past century or so?

Okay, back up. If Anya hadn't accidentally fallen into the cemetery well on a detour on her way to school, this book wouldn't have any plot. She also wouldn't have found a skeleton waiting for her at the bottom. Guess what? As if she wasn't creeped out enough, it turns out that skeleton isn't as dead as she thinks.

But we know better. So when the dust settles, what she isn't expecting to find is her new best friend--and future worst enemy.

Although, they don't exactly hit it off at first. In fact, Anya wants nothing to do with her new ghostly host. Her main priority is to get out of the dark, creepy well and get home to resume her normal life, which does not include Emily. And, once she is finally lifted up and out and back home, that's exactly what she expects. 

She knows (Emily herself told her) that ghosts can't get away from their bones; they're kind of "bound" to them. And as far as she knows, Emily's skeleton is still resting in peace at the bottom of the well.

But when it turns out that she accidentally took some of Emily with her, Anya's life is about to get a lot more...well, interesting. At first, Emily uses her skills to help Anya in school with tests (the ultimate shrinkable friend), and to aid Anya in winning over her crush, Emily being a bit oblivious the fact that he already has a girlfriend. For once, things in Anya's life are looking up.

Unfortunately, Emily isn't all she seems. Soon, everything about her comes into the light--the life she lived, the motives she holds, the lies she's told and the grudges she's held surrounding her death. Anya knows she needs to stop Emily before she gets out of control, but is she already too late?

Okay, this is an amazing book. Not only do I like the story and the characters, good and bad, but it offers something else that you can't get out of a normal book that I absolutely adore: the artwork. Vera Brosgol's style is bold, simple, Scott-Pilgrim-ish, but still appealing and unique. It has a nice texture (I can't put it a much better way; yes, I know it sounds weird) and feel to it that's smooth, flowy, and fun to just look at. The artwork is more than half the reason I read these graphic novels/manga. Sure, the story can be great, but a style I really don't like will make the reading--let's just say not very fun. In the case that I do like the style, I hoard the book as long as I can (sorry, public library system) and study the drawings and try to imitate them. Good art can sometimes almost make up for a bad storyline. Fortunately, Anya's Ghost doesn't even need the backup.  :)

Read and enjoyed Friends With Boys? If so, you'll almost fool-proof love this like I did. If you didn't? Read it after this one. It's just as good. And they'll both take you on a wonderful high-school-supernatural ride.

Five stars

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordian

Okay, let's recap. Percy, Hazel and Frank have gone on the quest to Alaska. That's done. But the Prophecy of Seven is far from over. This one in particular is very deeply layered. We already know six of the seven heroes: the aforementioned three, plus Jason, Leo and Piper. It turns out that the last demigod plays a more vital part in this quest to stop Gaea from awakening thank even she knows.

But for now, Annabeth has almost been worried out of her mind looking for Percy for an entire half a year, and finally she is able to reunite with him after the Argo II (the Greek trireme/warship that travels by both air and sea, built by none other than Leo Valdez, which he doesn't get nearly enough credit for) descends on Camp Jupiter, with her and the original trio from the Lost Hero of Jason, Piper and Leo.

But even though they came in peace, Romans can be known for attacking anything dangerous-looking on sight, and the Argo II does not exactly look friendly, considering the Greek ballistae, a martial-arts-obsessed satyr with a violent streak (and a vicious baseball bat) on board, and a steaming, smoking dragon figurehead (none other than Festus) that can shoot fireballs at an opposing enemy. Even when a team of friendly demigods come off, including Jason Grace, the beloved son of Jupiter and camp praetor alongside Reyna, the Romans still have their doubts. Greeks and Romans have never met without bloodshed; even though, the success of stopping the Earth Mother's rise to power lies in the two groups becoming allies, and while distrust lingers on both sides, it's very likely this time will be no different.

Unfortunately, it isn't very long when everything goes downhill. The Argo II begins firing its ballistae on New Rome, and before you can say "gorgon" the power-hungry Oracle Octavian has the half-bloods of Camp Jupiter whipped up in a battle frenzy. It's all the original seven (including the Romans, which are contributing to the "sides getting along" part) can do to get back on the ship and escape before they get killed. Then they realize that it's now their job to start the next part of the quest: returning to Rome, the original Rome, and facing a greater danger than almost any demigods before them.


First, a little note to the author: this is Percy Jackson, not a romance novel! I could tolerate the first two books pretty well, but this time around Riordan is laying on the love aspect a little thick. As much as I like Annabeth, as she was awesome in the original series, her chapters (these books alternate viewpoints) are the worst. Yes, I know you and Percy, your newfound boyfriend, have been apart for six months. Okay, I get that. But it does not give you an excuse to talk about him every other paragraph. Combined with her and Jason/Piper, it's all I can do not to roll my eyes and sigh in exasperation every time they mention him. (Plus give myself a migraine via whacking myself in the head.)

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that Riordan is trying to write for the mid/older teen range, and in my view, he's doing pretty well. Love can be an essential part of these books. But if I wanted to read a romance novel (which, by the way, I almost never do), I'd read a romance novel. This is a little ridiculous.

And while some of the relationships just fall into place pretty well ("Percabeth", for example, despite the whole Annabeth problem), I have a feeling that Jason and Piper just won't work. It feels forced and artificial, not necessarily because of Piper talking about her boyfriend 24/7 (though this really doesn't help), but because of Jason. If there ever was an example of a "Mary Sue/Marty Stu" (a "perfect" character that does everything right and who everybody loves, either female or male, though they are commonly female) in this series, then he is it. He's the perfect son of the sky god; powerful, handsome, always making the right decisions, praetor of Camp Jupiter, respected by everyone on the Argo II and otherwise. He had a bit more of an excuse for being a flat character when he had amnesia, but this is going too far into the series. Besides, even Percy still acted like himself, even when his memory got stolen by Hera. Jason, on the other hand, has no excuse whatsoever.

Overall, the plot was really, really good and well thought-out (as usual), but from those previous paragraphs, I think you get my drift. In my opinion (hey, that's what this blog is all about!) the love needs to be toned down, BIG TIME. Good writing (really, really good), and even more good jokes than the last two books (Team Leo and iguanas; need I say more?), but it's getting suffocated a bit by the romance. I'm really hoping Riordan's gotten ahold of himself for the fourth installment of the House of Hades.

4 and a half stars

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup

I'm sure there have been books written all over the place about books and stories being real. (I know, I'm about to write one.) But what about stories you create on your own?

This is where we meet the Book of Story Beginnings.

Other than being the title of the novel I'm reviewing, the Book of Story Beginnings is an actual book--in the story, at least--that is built on imagination. It is a special book (well, more of a blank journal) that holds more immense power than you could imagine.

Why is it called the book of story beginnings? Because within its pages and outside them, stories come alive and take on a path of their own. The Book even warns you on its cover:

"Beware, you writers who write within;

Be mindful of stories that you begin;
For every story that has a beginning
May have a middle and an end.
Know this, too, before you write:
Though day must always lead to night,
Not all beginnings make good tales;
Some succeed, while others fail.
Let this book its judgment lend
On whether and how your beginning ends."

And it all starts when you write "Once upon a time."

Lucy is one of these people who has written in it. She's a writer, albeit a young one at only twelve years old. So when she and her family move from the big city to the middle of nowhere in their relative's house in Iowa, she has no idea she's going to be going on the adventure of her life.

It all began when Oscar, her present great-uncle, wrote in the book of story beginnings back in 1914. He was an aspiring 14-year-old writer, and thought of the book as not much more than his countless other notebooks filled to the brim with his stories. So when he wrote about a boy who rowed out to sea from his house in the middle of Iowa, it gave him a big surprise when one night in bed he heard the sound of waves crashing against the hill on which his house was perched. Not knowing what else to do, he went outside and upon finding a rowboat and oars waiting for him on the front lawn and suddenly there he was, rowing out to sea from the middle of the United States, to never be seen again.

The only one who knew what had really happened who could still tell the tale was his younger sister, Lucy's great-aunt Lavonne. To the day she died, nobody believed her. They thought Oscar had run away, because the ocean had disappeared at the morning light. But before she had died, she had written Lucy a letter. She recounted a recent dream she had seen, and it was of the night Oscar had gone. In the dream, when she had called out to Oscar, he had yelled back over the roaring waves: "Lucy will explain."

Almost a century after that night, Lucy moves into the house that Oscar once lived in with her family and finds the book of story beginnings. Like Oscar, she has no idea what it can do. Her life is turned upside down as soon as she writes the words, "There once was a girl who had a father who was a magician."

All she wanted was for him to be able to fix her parents' problems: fights between them, the family's money, her father's unstable job. But all of a sudden her father is tinkering with alchemy and magic from Lavonne's old books and studies, and when he makes a potion that transforms things by imagination, Lucy watches in horror as he turns himself into a crow and soars out into the world beyond.

The potion also reveals Oscar from the most unlikely hiding place, and it's up to the two of them to embark on an adventure to save Lucy's father and enter a world woven of stories that they never could have imagined.


I don't think I have any problems with this book. For being the author's first novel, it is incredibly richly and intricately woven with interesting characters and settings, as well as a fresh and original plot, and definitely is the kind of book that takes you in and makes you read it to the end. It may be written for a slightly younger audience than the teen genre (maybe around ages 7-12), but that shouldn't matter. I loved the Book of Story Beginnings, and you will too.

5 stars

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordian

Okay. You've already read the Lost Hero. I've just written a review for it that's almost as long as the actual 1-inch-spine book (well, it might as well be). Well, guess what? There's more.


[A WARNING: This is a sequel, so it contains critical information (yes, spoilers) from the end of the previous book, so I'd recommend reading the Lost Hero before reading this review. Thank you.]


The three-demigod team of Jason, Leo and Piper have returned from their quest. Not only that, but along with them, Camp Half-Blood puts together the pieces and has discovered something: their camp isn't the only safe place for demigods. There's another camp.

Another Roman camp.

The thing is, our protagonist from the original series, Percy Jackson, doesn't know that. He's lost his memory, met a pack of wolves lead by none other than the she-wolf Lupa, and has found himself in the least likely of places--southern California, no less--fighting for his life against a pair of Gorgons that wouldn't die.

Unfortunately, Camp Jupiter doesn't know about Camp Half-Blood any more than Percy does. So when he finds his way there and finally kills the Gorgons by dissolving them in the Little Tiber, the river that runs near camp, and reveals himself to be the son of the Sea God, nobody knows how he survived as long as he did. A sixteen-year-old demigod would normally have been killed by monsters a long time ago. To everyone at camp, Percy is a mystery.

Unlike in the Greek world, Poseidon (Neptune, whatever) isn't exactly the most popular god. Romans feared the sea. So it's nobody's surprise when he joins the Fifth Cohort at Camp Jupiter--the "loser" section. The cursed cohort. That's where Hazel and Frank are, and they know why. Hazel is cursed even more than the cohort itself. The only thing Frank is good with is his bow, despite being the size of an ox, a weapon frowned upon by New Rome, and still hasn't been claimed; he hopes desperately that his godly father is Apollo, so he'd have an excuse for his choice of weapon. And as for Percy, it isn't just the fact that he's the son of the sea god. Reyna, the camp praetor, has heard things about a child of Neptune. Unfortunately, not all of them are good.

The already unusual setup gets even stranger when a god--yes, another one, after Hera (sorry, Juno) gave Percy passage into Camp Jupiter--appears at camp, claims Frank, and issues a quest led by his son. After choosing his two companions--Percy and Hazel--Frank and his teammates are sent off on a quest to Alaska, the land beyond the gods, to free Death so those who die stay dead, including monsters. As they get closer to the icy state, they get even closer to the root of Hazel's curse, and soon begin to realize that they may be a bigger part of the Prophecy of Seven than they imagined.


Man, this series really is living up to its high expectations--the Son of Neptune is just as good as its predecessor, the Lost Hero; if anything, it's even better. The romance element isn't totally gone (this time around, it's Hazel and Frank), but it's definitely toned down and definitely feels more honest than with Jason and Piper. (At least, I'm not banging the book against my forehead in exasperation or mentally yelling at the characters to SHUT UP ALEADY! GAH!...) Not only that, but even with the couple thing going on, both characters still remain consistently realistic (well, as realistic as possible for a YA fantasy novel) and inherently awesome.

So, what are you waiting for? Read this already!

Five stars (obviously...)


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

In Marina's world, there are only three things: 

The Arclight, the Grey, and the Dark.

The Arclight is life. Home. Safety from the Fade. The Grey is a barren no-man's-land, devoid of life. The Dark is danger. The Dark means the Fade. And if the Fade take you, if they can convince you to come with them, to be one of them...all is lost.

The world we live in now, the world as we know it is now darkness and oblivion, remembered and seen only through mementos from the past: photographs, newspaper clippings. The Arclight is the only safe haven for humankind left, the light creating a so-called barrier against threats; the only other known life is the Fade.

Whether or not the Fade are considered life is another story.

They appear to most as ghostly figures composed of entirely shadow, hooded, tattered robes falling over silver eyes. Pure evil. That's how Marina describes them. But when the purple warning lights begin to blink to inform the residents of Arclight that the Fade have found their way around the barrier, everything changes.

The one thing Marina knows about her past, the one thing they told her as she lay recovering in the Arclight's infirmary: She survived the Fade. And nobody survives the Fade. And when they invaded...everyone's suspicion was that they were coming not to attack, but to bring someone back. And Marina is thinking the same thing: they were coming for her.

Nobody knows why. All they know is that it has something to do with Marina surviving the Fade. But when she meets one of them, one of the Fade the Arclight has within its borders of light, Marina's already pain-filled, chaotic life gets turned upside-down. He leads her into the Grey, into the Dark, and after meeting some of his kind, his kin, Marina begins to realize with horrible certainty who she really is.


While this book is somewhat confusing at times, it's still a well-written, creative, imaginative first novel from McQuein. Though the setting has changed, the human race is nearly decimated, the characters are still very authentic and very real. The story takes a very surprising, yet very interesting twist at the end, and really pulls the book together. It was, as I mentioned before, a little confusing and rather fast-paced, but I think that may be just me. Enjoy this book. Give the new YA book arrival Arclight a read.

4 and a half stars

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordian

If you're reading this, like me, you may have already read and loved the popular (but well-deserving) Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordian, cleverly blending ancient Greek myth and the modern day. When I first read the last page of the last book in the five-part series, I wouldn't have guessed that the story would continue.

Well, it did.

Imagine you've just woken up one day with no memory but your first name. You don't know where you come from, who you are, and what you're doing where you are now. Then you can imagine being Jason. Jason, after his famous namesake in Greek mythology, has just opened his eyes to find himself on a school bus with people, maybe even friends he can't remember, holding hands with a girlfriend, Piper McLean, he's never seen before in his life. Her and Leo Valdez, somebody who had supposedly been Jason and Piper's friend, are convinced beyond a doubt that Jason is one of the students who had become friends with them at the Wilderness School, a school for what Leo calls "troubled kids". Only Gleeson Hedge, the school coach who keeps order with a baseball bat, knows that Jason is, well, unusual. (This may be helped by the fact that Hedge is strange himself.) 

But before the Coach can, or will, explain much, things begin to go wrong on a field trip to the Grand Canyon and him, Leo and Piper are whisked off (via pegasi) to a place Annabeth, the one who took them there, calls Camp Half-Blood. "A place for kids like us." It's only when they get there that they begin to understand: 'kids like us' translates to 'demigods'. The Greek myths of old are very much alive and part of us.  Annabeth's boyfriend, Percy, has disappeared without a trace. And a prophecy from last summer, right after the Titan War ended, has set in motion. The next Great Prophecy, and it may be even more dangerous than the first. And Jason, Piper and Leo are all a part of it.


If anything, I think that this next series, the Heroes of Olympus, may be even better than the first. It delves deep into some of the more obscure references and stories in Greek and sometimes even Roman myth (such as the Boreads, Gaea (the Greek equivalent of Mother Earth), King Midas, and others), as well as creatively incorporating events and, more importantly, characters from the previous PJO series. The new, fresh cast of characters share the same witty, funny attitude similar to the people we know and love (and sometimes even hate) from Percy Jackson, while retaining interesting and very individual personalities. Riordian also begins to introduce the Roman side of these myths, which begins to play a bigger and bigger part in the books as the series progresses.

One thing I found annoying about this (and the sequel, Son of Neptune), and an opinion that is probably not a problem for many other readers, was as the characters are now in the 15-16 age range, romance plays a stronger part in the books than in the original series. For example, Piper, who turns out to be a brave and skilled fighter, still thinks about all the little ways she thinks Jason, the boyfriend she never had, is 'cute', almost to the point where I want to take the book and smack myself on the forehead a couple times out of sheer frustration. While this aspect isn't quite enough for me to dock an entire point off this awesome book's rating, it's still rather annoying to me (however necessary it might be, as this is a book about characters who are mainly in their older teens, and Riordian knows his age groups pretty well), though others would probably welcome it.

All in all, this is a highly recommended book. (It isn't absolutely necessary to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians first, but highly advised that you do so if you haven't already. Not only is it good, but you'll understand this one a lot better if you do.) I literally learned all I know about Greek and Roman myth from Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus, and in the most fun way possible. Read these books; you'll thank me later.

Four and 3/4 stars (I take this rating thing very seriously.)
-Yani (more on me later)

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The setting of the Road is your worst nightmare come alive.  Set in a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has been doomed to extinction, with only a few scattered remnants of the once proud human race remaining.  And ash.  Ash is everywhere.  It covers the sky and the world both, leaving everything gray and dead.  In the center of this lifeless and nihilistic setting is a father and his young son, “each the other’s world entire” who are trying desperately to survive in this world where survival seems unlikely.  There is simply nothing left at all.  Not a thing.

And yet the Father and Son continue to persist, with the former doing everything humanly possible and then some to keep both himself and his son alive.  Their interactions are often such that if you were to read a few conversations between them and nothing else, you might not think this was a post-apocalyptic novel, but just the everyday life of father and his young son.  The love these two have for one another is undying, and that is part of what sustains both them (and the reader) as they trudge through the utterly bleak and lifeless wasteland that was once the world.  There is nothing exciting or adventurous about this particular post-apocalyptic world.  What precious few other humans there are, rightly dubbed “The Bad Guys” by the ever-innocent boy, have resorted to cannibalism, which goes to outright barbaric and appalling extremes near the end of the novel.  Indeed, this novel is not for the squeamish or overly-sensitive, as the book shows both the absolute best and worst t  hat humans are capable of in equal measure. 

Cormac McCarthy’s writing style in this book is atypical of what one usually finds in a novel.  There are no quotation marks or commas, which can make knowing when characters are talking a little hard initially, but you’ll know when characters are speaking after a while.  The writing style helps to add a feeling of bleakness and emptiness, as here in this nightmarish vision of the future, even most punctuation marks have been lost.

 And yet for all of this being a world in which no hope remains, the story’s tone is ultimately idealistic.  It shows how a father and a son’s love for one another sustains them both through the worst and most miserable of conditions, and how neither ever gives up the other.  The boy in particular never loses his idealism, even when bearing witness to the worst of humanity.  I will not spoil the ending, but I will say that it is not what one might expect coming into the novel.  And in the end I believe that it is the best kind of ending a book like this can have.

 If you can stomach the bleakness and at times monstrous actions of surviving humans, “The Road” is a good read, showing again, the best and worst that we are capable of, and one of the strongest pieces of proof there is that dark and cynical are by no means the same thing.

4 Stars

Antigone by Sophocles

I enjoyed this book, although its Greek, and actually a play, because for the most part, I could understand it. Maybe this review doesn't belong on this website, because from my experience, few teens will choose to read a Greek play on their own. However, in high school, at some time or another, you'll probably have to read it. And I actually liked Antigone - it was short, had an interesting plot, and made me think about who was actually the protagonist and antagonist of the story. Just be warned that there is and abundance of incest and death.

3 Stars

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Teen Read Week!

October 14th-20th marks Teen Read Week - a time to celebrate reading as entertainment at Tompkins County Public Library - and this year's theme is "It Came From the Library"!

The kinda creepy theme coincides well with the upcoming Halloween holiday, so try a horror, thriller, or monster book this week! We've got a big display of scary stories to choose from.

If horror isn't quite your cup of tea, YALSA announced the 2012 Teens' Top Ten winners! Did you vote? See if your book made it, or just see what books other teens think everyone should check out.

We've got a couple other fun things going on at TCPL for teens this week, by the way. Stop by any time and make a monster! There's a "Creature Creation Station" parked in the teen area with all sorts of odds and ends for you to glue, staple, and tape together. Show us your weirdest, greatest alien or monster.

And don't forget about our Movie Marathon - the first in our monthly marathon series. To celebrate Teen Read Week we'll be showing Beetlejuice, The Woman in Black, I Am Legend, and Ghostbusters on Saturday the 20th, starting at 10AM. Come for one or stay for them all!

Hope to see you at the library this week!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Like Us On Facebook!

Good afternoon, loyal Opinionaters! The Library now has a Facebook page just for you. Mosey on over to our new page and "like" us to keep up-to-date on events, new books, and silly pictures of cats!

Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones

Though to read this book its encouraged to read the series, on its own Conrad's Fate is gorgeous. This is my favorite book of all time because of it's humor mixed in with events ranging between serious and ridiculous. I fell in love with characters, and the plot of Diana Wynne Jone's books has this beautiful way of starting of with tiny little tendrils of story and fact leading in to the final climax event in which every character and loose thread is tied in, ensuing hilarity. I would recommend this book to anyone as well as really any Diana Wynne Jones book.  

5 Stars

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Event

Come to the Tompkins County Public Library this Thursday, September 20th at 5:00 to catch a free showing of The Hunger Games! We'll be eating popcorn and enjoying this fine film in the Thaler/Howell room.

Speaking of The Hunger Games, have you found your next favorite dystopian series? If you're looking for some great book suggestions, the librarians at Lawrence Public Library have created this convenient flow chart to help choose your next read. So You Loved The Hunger Games...What Should You Read Next?