Book Review: Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

April 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

I haven’t reviewed a book on here for a long time, in part because there are approximately 291,329 bloggers out there who review books on a regular basis and do a bang-up job of it. In addition, I didn’t think many folks were stumbling across my blog because they were looking for book reviews (humorously, the only review that gets traffic is the only negative review I’ve given, which, for reasons I can’t comprehend, regularly gets traffic from Google searches). So I’ve abandoned giving regular reviews of what I’m reading, but when I come across something I particularly liked, I’ll still send it your way, which is what I’m doing right now.

In my endless quest for books for young adult boys, I was referred to Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel. It had airships and adventure, which made it easy for me to pick up, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. « Read the rest of this entry »

Should Adults Read Young Adult Books?

March 30, 2012 § 10 Comments

Or: A Reaction to Joel Stein’s “Adults Should Read Adult Books”

Or: The Narrow-Mindedness of the Literary Elite

Yesterday the New York Times published an essay entitled “Adults Should Read Adult Books” by Joel Stein. The gist is obvious from the title, but I posted most of it below (and if you’re like me, your irritation will carry you through it quickly):

The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter. The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads. « Read the rest of this entry »

“Borrowing” from other books: how much is too much?

November 11, 2011 § 15 Comments

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while, and with the publishing of the last Eragon book and the recall of Assassins of Secrets this week after accusations of plagiarism, I didn’t see any reason to wait any longer.

If you haven’t heard the news, Assassins of Secrets, a spy thriller “by” (I use that term loosely here) Q.R. Markham, was due to be released Thursday and had received very positive reviews, but after it came to light that dozens of passages in the book were pulled word for word from a wide variety of spy novels, old and new, it was pulled from the shelves. Now the bestselling Inheritance Cycle, of which the first is Eragon, doesn’t do anything remotely as egregious as dear Mr. Markham, but still, the most common complaint I hear leveled against the series is its unoriginality. « Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

October 21, 2011 § 3 Comments

The world is teetering on the brink of World War 1, but in this alternate history it’s a showdown between the German and Austro-Hungarian “Clankers” with their steam-powered metal war machines and the British “Darwinists” with their fabricated animals.  Aleksander Ferdinand is a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but when his parents are killed he finds himself on the run and he’s not sure from who. Deryn Sharp is a British girl who has disguised herself as a boy in order to sign up for the British Air Service.  As the world plunges into war, their paths lead the two unlikely allies together.

When I read the teaser for Leviathan, I was all about the Clankers and their mechanical steam-powered monstrosities and I was more than a little skeptical about the fabricated animals of the Darwinists, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself loving Westerfeld’s descriptions of the various animals that the Darwinists have created, from Krakens that support their navy to the whale-like airship Leviathan.  Westerfeld’s creations are brought to life by brilliant illustrations throughout the book that really add to the story. I enjoyed both Alek and Deryn, not to mention the supporting cast and the world that Westerfeld creates.  My one complaint (and it’s more personal preference than anything) is that it really felt like this was the first act in a larger story and didn’t leave me really satisfied at the end.  That said, I have the sequel sitting on my desk right now and can’t wait to read it.

Leviathan is hands down the best young adult steampunk novel I’ve come across and it serves as a great introduction to the genre for anyone.  I think there’s a lot to love here for girls (there are two strong and engaging female characters), but I would especially recommend this to boys, even if they’re not big readers already.  A good read for sure.

Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

October 17, 2011 § 8 Comments

Stardust tells the story of Tristran Thorn, from the small village of Wall who ventures over border into the land of Faerie in search of a fallen star with which he hopes to win the love of the most beautiful girl for miles around.  Things don’t go quite according to plan as Tristran learns that in the land of Faerie, fallen stars aren’t lumps of metal, but people–in this case a young woman–and she’s not too keen on being rushed off as the some boy’s trophy.  To complicate things further, Tristran isn’t the only person seeking the fallen star and his competition is rather deadly.

Before getting too far into this I have to say that while Stardust is marketed as a Young Adult fantasy novel, there’s a pretty explicit sex scene in the first chapter and a choice four letter world a little further on.  It makes my otherwise enthusiastic recommendation a bit reserved, especially for kids who are more “young” than “adult.”

Gaiman weaves another spectacular tale with Stardust, mixing a sense of wonder with the excitement of adventure and a great sense of humor reminiscent of The Princess Bride.  It’s got magic and love and unicorns and talking trees and airships.  There is a lot to love here, though the action seemed to peak a little beyond the halfway point, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book it was more of a pleasant stroll than a rollercoaster ride.

Stardust is a good read and fairly easy.  I’d especially recommend it to adults who enjoy reading Young Adult, though as I mentioned before, I hesitate to recommend it to kids.

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