I remember towing my kid brother around the library in a doomed attempt to inspire a love of reading.
“This one sounds cool,” I said, handing a book to my brother. It was an adventure story with a shiny gold spine. “It’s about a kid genius who tries to kidnap a fairy and ends up with high tech fairy operatives chasing him.”
My brother wasn’t impressed. He inspected the cover with a kind of resigned patience usually reserved for trips to the shoe store. With a furtive glance at me, he slid the book back into its slot on the shelf.
“What’s wrong with that one?”
“Dunno,” he mumbled. “It sounded boring.”
“Okay then, how about this one? It has a quest and dragons.” I said, pulling another book down. He was shaking his head before it cleared the shelf.
“No,” he said, looking relieved to finally have a good reason to veto my pick. “It has a girl on the cover.” Continue reading
Last month, I dove into The Handmaid’s Tale and talked genre drift and the flavors of oppression across the books different international covers. (Check out Tash’s great insights here.)
This month, we decided to go in the Teen Alien Invasion Romance direction and tackle Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. After all, the movie version just came out, it’s streaming on Amazon, AND the trailer promises an alien invasion with aliens taking over human brains. Who’s infested? Who’s still human? NO ONE KNOWS.
And also because, clearly, I learned nothing from watching The Host. Continue reading
I’m about halfway through reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale with Tash from The Bookie Monster, and it has dawned with me that over the last few years, I’ve slowly lost sight of what the dystopian genre is all about.
The Handmaid’s Tale takes North Korean oppression, mixes in the gender-driven segregation of fundamental Islam, and frames it all in the language of Christianity. In no place in the text can you take a step back and scoff, this can never happen. It might. The story makes you believe it might.
This is the chilling power of the genre – it says, This could be the world. Our world. Tomorrow. The dystopian genre is a cautionary tale. It’s a warning. It’s the uneasiness of premonition. It is the Greek seer Cassandra, blessed by the gods to see the future and cursed to never be believed.
Reading The Handmaid’s Tale, it occurred to me that the mushrooming teen dystopian genre has been selling oppression lite. To win itself a shiny “dystopian” label, the ubiquitous YA book checks the box marked “oppressive society” and perform a token wave to its character’s rejection of the status quo. These worlds don’t need to be realistic or thoughtful or threatening (and perhaps that’s why Divergent’s world pissed me off. Several times.) They just need to involve oppression. The weirder the better. Continue reading
I suspect everyone has a few of these books. They’re the guilty secret – the great books you want to read, but over the course of weeks, months, and years, just can’t seem to get around to opening. Ugh.
The mental block.
Here is my short-list of books I want to read, but just can’t seem to.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
There really is no excuse for me not to have read this book – or this entire series, really. For about three years now, I’ve put it off.
Thing is, I have it on good authority that the Hunger Games series is awesome. That Collins is awesome. That I will read this book and feel that happy zen zing of a great book devoured. I know I can munch my way through all three books over a weekend, then finish off with the movies.
And that brings me to the other reason I really ought to read The Hunger Games. I can’t watch the movies until I read the books. It’s a rule. But it just doesn’t seem enough yet.
2. Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay
This book sits on my shelf. It’s been sitting on my shelf since my birthday two years ago. And it judges me. Oh man, it judges me.
I even read the first page (and liked it!) but then the book went back to my shelf.
Where it sits to this day.
Judging me. Continue reading
A few mid-novel thoughts on Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
“You are a Leopard Person only by the will of the Supreme Creator, and as we all know, She isn’t very concerned with Her own creations.” (Akata Witch, 96)
This post will contain only a few, mild (and out-of-context) spoilers for the book.
I am halfway through Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, a YA novel I am co-reading with the lovely lady McLicious over at comp lit and mediaphilia. When I started reading it, I wasn’t sure what to expect – I know precious little about Nigerian folklore, and only a little bit more about the culture and political situation in the country. So far, the things that have really caught my eye (and imagination) are the small details woven into the narrative that are different from what I’ve come to expect from the YA adventure. Continue reading
Over the next couple weeks, I will be reading Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor with the McLicious lady over at comp lit and mediaphilia. Earlier this month, Hannah challenged me to take a step out of my sci-fi and fantasy comfort zone and nibble on something different. Some discussion and haggling later, we settled on Okorafor’s 2011 J/YA fantasy-meets-magic-realism novel about American-born Sunny, a twelve-year-old whose family has moved back to Nigeria. Already facing the triple outsider jeopardy for being the new kid, an American, and albino, Sunny discovers that she might also be part of a secret society of people with latent magic powers. Oh, and there’s a killer on the loose, and Sunny has just seen the end of the world in a candle flame.
Word map from the Prologue of Akata Witch.
An arch-criminal, fairy cop, and butler bodyguard walk into a plot.
With the eighth Artemis Fowl book coming out in July, I have a perfect excuse to revisit one of my favorite YA series. If you missed the first part of this Series Review (books 1-4), you can catch up here. In this article, I swan dive into the next two books in my countdown to Artemis Fowl #8.
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony
Just as you were settling down into plot complacency, this Artemis Fowl book takes a hard right into inter-dimensional travel. A long time ago, when the fairies realized they were losing the war with the humans, they decided to retreat into the earth–all except for the fifth fairy family, the demons. The demons took their island of Hybras and sent it into another dimension with a spell.
But after a long series of calculations, Artemis is beginning to suspect that the magic holding Hybras in limbo is beginning to unravel. Soon, the island will come crashing back through time and space, bringing the demons along.
The demons who’ve spent the entire time since the war training for their final battle with humanity. Continue reading
With the Percy Jackson series, Rick Riordan speaks directly to the part of my soul that is still unabashedly in love with Hercules and Xena. The expert handling of the myriad stories of Greek gods is done in such a phenomenal way that it is no wonder that they are a run-away hit of YA delightfulness.
But, Canaries, did you know that Riordan writes another series? And that this one speaks directly to the tatoo on my foot that has the funny angstrom-A from Stargate?
In the Kane Chronicles, Riordan tells the story of Carter and Sadie Kane, blood of the Pharaohs, magicians in the House of Life, and erst-while hosts to Horus and Isis. The books are darker than their Greek counterparts, both in content and consequences, but they still have Riordan’s trademark humor which is infinitely amplified by the excellent portrayal of a brother-sister relationship. They are fast-paced, utterly engaging and the audiobooks are pretty much my favorite pieces of recording this side of James Marsters’ Harry Dresden. Continue reading
Monday Mine Inspection is a new weekly series talking about some of the new and upcoming releases dropping into bookstores this week. Into the mine, canaries! Let’s start the week with a book audit.
I’m a sucker for a good YA series–especially if it has the words “ancient gods” or “dystopian future” anywhere in the blurb. This week, we’ve got a couple of sequels that show plenty of promise. Here are some new releases that just might be a perfect fit for your reading appetite…. Continue reading
I was in line at a coffee shop when I got a book-reading tip from my dino-headed canary friend. There was an eighth Artemis Fowl book coming out, the text message informed me.
“Whaaaat?” I said.
“Your coffee, ma’am,” the guy at the register explained, but that did nothing to clear up my confusion. An eighth book? I thought the Artemis story arc was over with the seventh book?
Then excitement set in. The Artemis Fowl series had it all–wit, adventure, brilliant and vivid characters, and a fun dose of plot action. And now, the series just might be making a comeback with Artemis Fowl and the Last Guardian (July 2012). Continue reading