Friday, July 24, 2009

A 2004 Book Roundup

One of the frustrations of pulling together old, mostly-forgotten reviews is that I'm missing the gut feeling of love, hate, or indifference, and I've since forgotten the details of why. Hence, I've culled a few reviews that aren't much more than a title and an impression, but otherwise, I thought I had enough to go on for the handful of long-ago reads listed below.

The Wish ListThe Wish List by Eoin Colfer (Scholastic)
Eoin Colfer is an incredibly funny guy. I could listen to him talk all day long. I am a fan of Artemis Fowl--though I admit that I have gotten so lost in the order of that series and so pained by accidentally buying multiple copies in that series, I haven't kept up with it in a while. The Wish List has a Pratchettian feel in its humor, but it deals with issues of life and death--or life and afterlife. A girl dies with her soul perfectly balanced in terms of good and evil deeds; St. Peter and Beelzebub agree that she can have a few more days (in spirit form) to tip the scale one way or the other. In the meantime, she's stuck with (and sometimes in) a crotchety old man. While this isn't a re-read for me, I think it's worth a look for Colfer fans.

The Supernaturalist (Golden Duck Awards. Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grades (Awards))The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer (was Miramax; now Disney-Hyperion)
I think that The Supernaturalist surprised me so much because it was a departure from the other widely available books by Colfer in 2004. It's grittier, less fantasy, more speculative futurey, more wryly cynical. Think Ender's Game crossed with Angel (the tv series). In a future dystopia, an orphaned boy, a tough ex-gangster chica, a person of short stature, and a sulky teen are facing life-sucking parasites that only they can see. Lawyers parachute onto the scene before paramedics and police. The paralegals are scarier than the gangsters. And cellophane is a weapon!

THE City of Ember [Paperback]The City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau (Random House - Yearling)
To be upfront, before you read the rest of this review, this book and I weren't such a good fit. For me, there was too much beginning and not enough middle or end--though, of course, it became a series, and perhaps I'd have liked the later installments. This volume is open-ended in a sort of The Giver way, and the kids reading that book might also like this one. Ember has an interesting premise: when the lights are on, it's day; when they're out, night. But supplies are running low, and blackouts are starting to happen. Over time, one realizes that the city is underground, though the protagonists don't figure it out for a while. I didn't quite buy the premise, even as explained (finally) at the very, very end, and some of the point of view switching didn't work for me, but this series has been very popular with kids, even prompting a film version, and my aunt reports that kids in Alaska take to the concept of night and day being regulated by lights on and off, given their long, dark winters. So, while this wasn't for me, it might be a good read for you!
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