Middle Grade Magical Realism
2009 Newberry Honor
3 stars: Mibs goes on a journey and learns about herself.
The Beaumont family is unique. You see, they have special abilities--known as "savvy," that tends to manifest itself on or around each child's thirteenth birthday. In fact, they live out in Kansas in the middle of nowhere just to give plenty of room for everyone's savvy to get worked out and under control, far away from the prying eyes of curious neighbors.
It is the day before Mibs' 13th birthday, and she can hardly wait to find out what her savvy is going to be. One of her older brothers has an electrical savvy--when he gets angry or worried all kinds of things start shorting out! Another brings on severe weather that matches his moods. You see why they need a lot of empty prairie between them and everyone else?
However, Mibs will not get the party she was hoping for, nor does her savvy manifest itself right away. Her Poppa has been in an accident and is fighting for his life in a hospital. She'll do anything to get to his side, including hijacking a traveling Bible salesman and his school bus. She's not alone in her desperate deeds--2 of her brothers come along too, as well as the preacher's kids.
Along the way, she'll discover that there's more to most people--perhaps even herself--than it seems on the surface.
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I liked this one, but didn't love it. I liked the children and thought they matured in satisfying ways. I wanted more of the Beaumont family and less of the other adults in the story, most of whom I didn't care for at all. The magical realism was well done and added to the story.
I will probably read the sequels if I run across them at the library, but I don't plan to seek them out at this point.
(Finished reading July 15.)
Upper Middle Grade/Young Teen Science Fiction
3 stars--I was really getting into it. Then it ended.
Very cool cover, by the way.
A plane goes down over the North Pole, but instead of frigid winter, the survivors--all kids--find themselves inside a jungle. It's like no other jungle they've ever heard of, either. There are vicious animals and carnivorous plants. There's also a strange gadget found in the wreckage that seems to alter gravity...among other things. This tool--or whatever it is--may be the key behind everything that's happening.
As fascinating as it is for them to try to figure out what the heck is going on, they also have to actually survive. Food and water would be a good start. It's going to be tough. All the rules have changed in an instant and there seems to be no chance of rescue.
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I really like Westerfield's work, and I was excited to see a new one by him. Then after I read it and was left dangling from the cliff, I found out that it was going to be one of those series where each book is written by a different author. I felt duped.
There were all kinds of great creative plot ideas here that I want to see developed further. Whether or not that will happen in the next book is anyone's guess. Oh yeah, and I also want to find out what happens to the characters.
Could the next book possibly be as good? After reading the author's note about it on Goodreads, I am cautiously optimistic. On the other hand, if I do read it and it is just as good or better, I'll have the same choice to make all over again for Book #3. Ack!
Content: Well, there's a plane crash and the kids see people getting sucked out of the airplane and such. Not to worry, though, no bodies among the wreckage. (One of the many mysteries....)
(Finished reading Aug. 14)
Ticker, by Lisa Mantchev
3 stars: Non-stop action and cool gadgets--what more could you want?
Penny Farthing is on her way to her parent's factory when she receives word that bomb has gone off. Amongst the chaos and destruction she finds when she gets there, she is relieved and thankful to find her brother, Nic, alive. It's the day of Dr. Warwick's trial--the doctor who implanted her clockwork heart, saving her life--and there are many who are very angry about what he did. It turns out the doctor killed quite a few people along the way to perfecting his design for Penny's heart. Thus the trial and the anger.
Penny and Nic rush home, only to find their parents missing and their home in shambles as well. There's a ransom note, of sorts, demanding their parents' Augmentation research or more dire consequences will come. It's not just the two of them battling it all alone, at least. Nic's girlfriend Violet is intent on helping, and the captain of the guard--a guy about their age named Marcus--is helping because it's basically his job. Oh yeah, and another friend named Sebastian comes along for the ride, as well.
They have to get to the bottom of all this, and soon! Time is running out.
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For those who like a lot of action, this book will be right up your alley! From the explosion onward, there's almost always something big happening or about to happen, with our characters right in the middle of it. Speaking of characters, I liked them. They were distinct and 3-dimensional. We got some backstory in bits and pieces that helped round them out as things went along without slowing down the story. The steampunk setting primarily relied on gadgets--most of which seemed pretty awesome.
I might have given it four stars, except for the romantic entanglements. We had some serious instant mutual infatuation (wait--love at first sight? My bad--) going on between Penny and Marcus that had me shaking my head. Nic and Violet's relationship was slightly better but still not my favorite.
Might make for a good teen book club discussion, though, with the medical ethics angle thrown in.
Content: Romances stayed clean; somewhat bloody descriptions of surgery.
p.s. Loved the cover!
(Finished reading August 30.)
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Phew! It feels good to get these checked off my "To Review" list.
What has been keeping you busy this fall?