Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I never knew there was a sequel to Everlost until recently. But that's what Everwild is. Go read the first book, or at least its review, since I think I did a decent explanation in the review entry. Anyway, Everwild takes place a fair amount of time after the first book. Nick is the Chocolate Ogre who opposes Mary Hightower, and Allie and Mikey are journeying on their own. We get a bunch of new characters, too, including other skinjackers besides Allie and an ecto-ripper. What surprised me a lot about this book is how heavy on the romance it was. I mean, it's not like Shusterman never has any romance in his books that I've read, but it becomes much more of a driving force in this novel. The interaction with the living world also increases, as do the stakes of everything. Near the end are some moments where I couldn't quite believe that the antagonists were actually going to get away with what they did. The mysteries of Everlost increase. What is west of the Mississipi? Also, Allie's time in Memphis totally did not pan out how I thought it would. But the upshot of this all is that Shusterman has crafted a page-turner that works and continually surprises the reader. Check this series out.


So apparently I didn't review this book back when I originally read it. Whoops! It's high time I corrected that mistake, because all of you out there in Readerland deserve to know about this great series. Well, I just read Behemoth, the second book in this series by Scott Westerfeld, but for this entry I'll only talk about Leviathan, the first book. That's what's in the subject line of this article, after all.

Especially after reading Behemoth, but even before, this book really has that feel of a first book in a trilogy. A lot is set up and many new concepts are explained. There's conflict and a resolution at the end of this book, but it doesn't really feel like anything was completed. It's not bad, just makes you really hungry for more. Now, in the world of Leviathan, it's similar to our world prior to WWI, but the big difference is in the war machines. Germany and Austria-Hungary use giant mechanical war machines and are known as Clankers because of their reliance on machines. Great Britain and its allies are Darwinists and use science to create modified animals, including great living airships that are whole ecosystems unto themselves. Personally, I think the Clankers have the cooler way of it, but Westerfeld gives the two sides equal treatment. So who are our main characters? Alek, an Austro-Hungarian prince on the run, and Deryn, a girl disguised as a boy so she can serve on a British airship. I like Alek. He's a bit spoiled because of his upbringing, but he's also kind and willing to learn. Deryn seems like she'd be a bit annoying to be around because she's a bit superior and cocky, but her point of view sections round Deryn out a bit. The supporting characters are all decent, but special mentions go to Volger and Dr. Barlow for the layers of depth each possesses.

I'm gonna end this review here, since it's harder than I thought to talk about Leviathan without letting what I know from Behemoth influence things.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is not the sort of book I'd normally read. But I was feeling woefully under-read when it came to Literature and the sort of books that you're supposed to read, so I checked a bunch out of the library, including Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. And I was hooked very quickly. Right from the beginning, Christopher, the narrator, is distinguished by his voice and the very deliberate way he tells the story. The story, we are informed, is about who killed Wellington the poodle, a dog of whom Christopher was very fond. Because of his specific way of looking at the world, Christopher places solving the crime as a matter of great importance, and his detecting soon leads to unraveling an even deeper secret. Throughout the book there are digressions about prime numbers, colors, constellations, maths problems, and other things. In some ways I'm reminded of Life of Pi. Even though this book is about a struggling family, it worked for me, I think, because of Christopher's matter-of-fact way of narrating things. There was never any sense of being supposed to pity the Boones. However, I still did sympathize with his parents. We never get a name for what's going on with Christopher, but even though he's smart in many ways, it's also clear that he's high-maintenance, and that can't be easy on parents. In the end, though, this is a hopeful book with an uplifting conclusion, and I'm glad I read it.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

So I've seen the Scott Pilgrim movie, and it was pretty cool. I have to say that the art style of the graphic novel is very appealing to me. The characters are cute-looking, but it's not jarring when paired with fight scenes and such. For a series that apparently focuses on Scott fighting Ramona's evil exes, Ramona's introduction takes a while. Scott seems like somewhat less of an unappealing jerk in the graphic novel than he does in the movie. Also the fact that he's not played by Michael Cera in this version is good. Don't get me wrong, I like Michael Cera, though he will always be George Michael Bluth to me, but he just doesn't seem like a Scott Pilgrim to me. I have much less to say about this than I thought, probably because, having seen the movie, it's hard to comment on just the first part of the story. Well, maybe I'll read the rest of this series.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monsters of Men

This entry has spoilers. The book is good, the entire series is good, just take my word for it and read these books.

Monsters of Men was everything I hoped and more than I expected. A brutal, gut-wrenching finale to the series that didn't pull a single punch. Complications were introduced and resolved, but layered on top of one another. Every time you had some hope, something would go wrong, but before things were truly doomed, the heroes would pull through. That is what makes this series so great, that it's hopeful, even when hope's hard to come by. The ending, too. When I thought to myself about how I thought the series should end, my thought was that for it to end happily, with everything resolved, would be betraying the spirit of the story. Rather, it had to end with hope for the future, with the main conflict resolved but still a ways to go with fixing everything.

The relationship between Todd and Viola, always paramount, was well handled. Trust that was tested in The Ask and the Answer was strengthened even as new pressures were put upon it. The development with Todd's Noise and Viola's illness kept things believably tense between the two without sacrificing the devotion they have. The new viewpoint character was a total shocker, but it makes perfect sense. I knew that 1017 was going to show up, but I didn't expect his role to be so big. Not, perhaps, as interesting to read about as Todd and Viola, whom I'd already come to like, but still a new and wholly different perspective on this world and the conflicts. And, really, it was great to see more of how the Spackle lived and fit into the world. The Mayor stayed an interesting villain for the most part; he kept his chessmaster smarts pretty much the whole time. Near the end, when Ben came back, I was afraid of woobiefication, something coming up that would seem like the reader was supposed to think the Mayor wasn't so bad after all, he just needed love or whatever, but during the final confrontation when he revealed how the Noise was driving him crazy, I was able to buy that as motivation and think the ending was satisfactory. I also could respect the aftermath of that encounter, where we got another gut punch like this series is so good at serving up, but without losing that final hope for the future. Like I said earlier, that's what I love about this series, that despite all the bad stuff that happens, it keeps pushing the fact that you gotta have hope.

The pacing was kind of my only issue. A lot needed to happen, and because of the type of characters that Mistress Coyle and the Mayor are, there was a lot of one-upping and politics and whatnot that kind of seemed to drag on in between the more main events. But that didn't stop me from reading the entire thing in about three hours just now, so yeah. Uh, so perhaps I could have said more or been more coherent if I had put this entry off, but, well, I didn't exactly plan to read this book tonight, I should have been in bed a couple of hours ago, but I teased myself by reading the first prologue pages and then just had to finish it. Unlike Mockingjay, this was a worthy conclusion to the series, although I guess I do have to admit that I probably still like the first book in this series best, just because I absolutely love the dynamic between Todd and Viola, and the second and third books don't have them together as much. But yeah, that's all. Off to find fanfiction for this series. /o/

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Maze Runner

This three a.m. post brought to you by my guilt for not updating more often. And so, let us discuss... The Maze Runner. By James Dashner (which is a really cool name), this YA novel takes place in a frickin' creepy place called the Glade. The Glade is surrounded by a maze, and aside from the several dozen teenage boys who inhabit the Glade, there's no one. One day a fellow name Thomas arrives in the Glade. Like all of the other boys, he can't remember anything but his name. Freaked out by this, Thomas is determined to find an answer to the mysteries of the Glade and the maze that surrounds it. As he becomes accepted by the other Gladers, Thomas begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Things only get more complicated when a lone girl arrives at the Glade, and Thomas is sure that he's seen her before. Now, with his new friends and allies, he must solve the maze - if that's even possible.

Okay, now that you've got an idea as to what this story's about, may I just say that where this book scores its biggest hit is in the creepy ambiance that you always feel when you're reading it. The Glade's not natural, the maze is more horrifying the less you know of it and the secrets behind it, and even the end of the book, with its sucker punch lead-in to the next book, just amps up the quiet horror of everything. As for characters, while I can't say that The Maze Runner has the most brilliant characterization or fascinating characters that I've ever seen, the cast of this book is definitely above average. Thomas is a bit... not bland, just... he definitely feels like he's supposed to be the hero, that is, you can tell the author constructed him to fit that role as you read. Not a bad character by any shot, though. Chuck was another character who was obviously supposed to fill a role as a sort of morality pet (or a similar trope; it's late, and I dare not make a full-fledged foray into TV Tropes to get exactly the right trope) or whatever to remind Thomas of what he's fighting for. Alby, Newt, Minho, and Teresa were all quite satisfactory to my mind. Teresa didn't fall into the trap of being all Girl Power and acting stupid and coy just because she's the token girl or whatever. Basically I just thought she was a pretty convincing female character. The Keepers of the Glade were all interesting to read about, and even though they didn't all get equal screen time, you still got the feeling that there were characters outside of the main characters who mattered in this little society.

Overall, The Maze Runner is a gripping read. Mystery with a bit of a horror feel and the promise of more to come in the sequel. If you're looking for a satisfying YA novel, check this out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alien Secrets

Alien Secrets by Annette Curtis Klause is a book I remember from grade school or so. Puck, the novel's protagonist, is a young girl, good-hearted but curious and not at all docile. Really, I think she's quite well-written, with Klause balancing Puck's troublesome tomboy aspects with her respect for people who prove themselves worthy of trust and her schoolgirl crush on a college-age older guy. Okay, so that this isn't all being said in a vacuum, have some plot. See, after being kicked out of school, Puck is being shipped off from Earth to reunite with her parents on an alien planet. On the ship she meets an alien from the same planet to which she is headed, a fellow named Hush who has been entrusted with a symbol of his people's freedom. However, someone on the ship is out to steal the artefact, and if that's not bad enough, Puck is pretty sure that one of the other passengers is a murderer. With cunning and courage, Puck has to make friends and unmask enemies, all without ending up lost in hyperspace forever. Anyway, with that sketch out of the way, I have to say one of the things that stuck with me about this novel was the grown-up atmosphere of it all. That is, nothing objectionable, but this book does not talk down to the reader. If you're a kid reading this, you're in Puck's shoes, trying to understand what's going on with the all-adult crew and passengers. There's real danger, and Puck's not treated with kid gloves just because she's, well, a kid. The mystery is pretty well set up, and the climax of the novel is definitely exciting. Overall, this is a very solid read, and a good YA novel for those who are looking for something outside the norm.