Why Are There All These Blank Spaces?

You may notice that in some of my posts there are blank spaces in the reviews. These are spoilers that I've written so I can remember important details of the books when I want to read the sequel. I've made the text a beige color to blend in with the background so you won't accidentally see something you don't want to. If you want to read it, just highlight the section to make the text appear - although you should really just read the book yourself! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Museum of Thieves

by Lian Tanner

The city of Jewel is a strange little place. Until the age of 16 all children are protected from every danger by being tethered by a small silver guardchain to their parents, their Guardian, or to their beds at night. Years ago, Jewel was overrun with plague and slavers and dangers of all sorts. The children were lost or dying at a rapid rate, and a group of adults set out to protect them. These adults would become the first Blessed Guardians. Despite the passing of time, and the safety of the city now, children are still chained until Separation Day. At the beginning of the book, the age of separation has been changed from 16 to 12, much to the disagreement of the Guardians. Goldie Roth couldn't be more excited. She is 12, and more eager than ever to be free from her chain. However, when the Separation ceremony is interrupted, and then cancelled, Goldie can't bear the thought of being chained again. So she runs away. As the Guardians search for her, and imprison her parents, Goldie finds refuge in the mysterious Museum of Dunt. There she meets the museum's keepers, who take her in and hide her from the Guardians. However, the Guardians do not relent in their search for Goldie, or the quest to unravel the mysterious of the Museum - a quest that could end up destroying the town.

This book is delightfully different and yet reminiscent of so many things I love. The museum's got just a touch of Hogwarts to it, and the town of Jewel offers up a perfect contrast. While the book does state that one must be a thief to be able to navigate the museum, it also goes a long way to avoid glamorizing theft. There's a lot to think about here too, such as to what length we should go to protect children and when they should be allowed to make their own mistakes. In Jewel the children were so protected that they had no ability to think for themselves or make a decision when faced with trouble.

I'm happy to find another kids' book that's not just for kids. Also eagerly awaiting the next book in this trilogy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Limit

by Kristen Landon

Matt lives in a society where all families are given a "limit" to their debt. Once a family goes over the limit they must complete some program to bring them back under the limit. One of those options is to send one of their children to a work camp where they work they do will help to pay off the debt. Matt never worries about this until one day his family unexpectedly goes over the limit. Before he knows it a big black vehicle arrives at his house and a small syrupy lady and some large men cart Matt off to the nearest work center.

The work center isn't what Matt imagined. He lives in a plush apartment on the top floor, doing exciting work during the day and playing in the pool and gym in the evenings. However, some things don't seem quite right. Matt phone doesn't work in the building, none of his emails seem to be going through, and kids keep getting headaches and then disappearing. Matt soon decides he needs to get to the bottom of this. The question is, once he figures it out, what will he do about it?

This book is a little hard for me to review. I enjoyed it. As a kids' book it's great. It's got an interesting plot, surprising twists and turns, fun characters, etc. I'd recommend it to many kids.
However, it's pretty much strictly a kids book. Some books in the kid section seem to transcend it and find a way to be relevant or thought-provoking to an older reader. While this book was great fun, it doesn't really have any of that. It's just a cool story.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Replacement

by Brenna Yovanoff

I barely finished this book, and now that I have I wish I hadn't wasted my time.

The Replacement is the story of Mackie Doyle - a 16-year old changeling boy. Mackie's parents and mostly his sister have done their best to love and care for Mackie, but his allergies to iron, steel, blood and consecrated ground are making it harder and harder for him to live in the human world. However, the world that Mackie came from is not a place he's dying to go back too. The Houses and Mayhem and Misery lie beneath the ground, under the slag heap and the dump hill. They are filled with creeping, mysterious dead and undead creatures. Mackie is content to avoid the world beneath the ground until he finds he needs their potions to keep him living. Then Tate's sister dies, and Tate isn't so sure the girl they buried was really her sister. Mackie finds himself attracted to Tate, which makes it harder and harder for him to deny to her that she's right, and he knows where her real sister is - he just doesn't think they can get her back.

It sounds so promising! Even when I describe the plot here I can't help but thinking, "Oh, that sounds cool!" Alas, the fabulous plot idea suffers from a few flaws:

One. The first half of the book drags. The author is intentionally vague about characters, history, origins, even what exactly Mackie is. Sure he's a changeling, but there are many types of changeling in folklore. Is he a faerie? A troll? An elf? A demon? Some new type of thing you just made up? It is NEVER explained. That bugs me. I read through the first half of the book feeling like I'd missed a chapter. I didn't know what was going on, who exactly people were, what they thought of each other, why they were doing things, etc. It felt like it does when you watch a TV show for the first time in the middle of the 3rd season. Lost and confused. You need a friend with you who knows the show to fill in the gaps for you. In the case of the book I needed the author to do that for me, but she didn't.

Two. Are these kids really supposed to be high schoolers? There is so much drinking going on with no apparent concern for being caught. Never mind the fact that the characters stay out all night and nothing comes of it. Where the heck are the parents? Wouldn't they be concerned? I've encountered this in other books, but it's often is explained away with and over-busy parent, or a poor (as in bad, not penniless) parent or something. But in this book Mackie's dad is supposed to be a pastor - shouldn't he be showing more concern?

Three: I just didn't understand the characters. Is Mackie popular or a freak? At one point he's freak, but then all these girls like him, so...? The twins were very flat and just seemed to be there to fill space. Alice was there one minute kissing Mackie and then she never comes into play again. Roswell was a nice guy, but if he's so close to Mackie, wouldn't you think he'd be more curious about what Mackie is? He seems to be aware of his oddities, but never questions. Maybe that's just supposed to make him a good friend who doesn't question, but I think it makes him seem too timid. Tate - one minute she's super mean girl, the next she's flirting with Mackie. I don't think I really understood any of them, and therefore I didn't really care that much about them.

Even though the ending was hastily and almost too-tidily wrapped up, I really didn't care anymore. I was just glad it was over.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Missing You

by Meg Cabot

It really bugs me that this book came out with new cover art that does not match the cover art on my other books.

However, I love the book itself. Jess annoys the heck out of me a couple times for being so dense about Rob, but I was very satisfied with the ending of the book and the series - this is a well-concluded series.

Missing You takes place a few years after the previous books. Jess has used her powers to find missing people in the war. She has found countless terrorists in her time overseas, before the trauma of it all caused Jess to lose her powers. Now Jess is back in the US, living in New York City with Ruth and going to Juilliard. She and Rob have falling apart and Jess is struggling with what she wants to do. So when Rob shows up at her door in NYC asking for her help to find his sister Hannah, she is upset with him. She can't find people anymore, she insists. But Rob begs her to try. So she does, and discovers that at some point her powers have returned. Jess goes back to Indiana with Rob, and while there she discovers more secrets than just where Hannah is hiding.