August 06, 2010

July Books: Magic and Maps

I had to go back and re-read Kathleen Duey's Skin Hunger because it had been so long since I'd read it, and I have to say, it was just an absorbing a ride the second time through, and led me gleefully and greedily right into the second volume of her Resurrection of Magic trilogy: Sacred Scars. Of course, NOW I'm fiending for the third book so I can follow Sadima's and Hahp's stories to their conclusion--and convergence. Kathleen Duey does an incredibly deft job of layering the two stories despite the challenge of their taking place in disparate times, and as characters and plot elements slowly come together, it really increases the reader's sense of mounting horror and suspense as suspicions are confirmed and surprises are revealed. I can't wait for the final volume to show me not only WHAT happens but how it all came to pass and what it all means. The twisting and conflicting motivations, the sense of seemingly-inevitable doom, the constant wondering WHY keeps me hooked and makes it impossible to put down. I think I would have loved these as a young adult, as big a fantasy fan as I was.

Buy Sacred Scars from an independent bookstore near you!

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet is one of those books that falls between genres, between age groups, but the best I can do to describe it in my own words is to call it perhaps magical realism, or—even better—a tall tale of the West brought forward into modern times. I mean, it's a story of riding the rails, of a kid on a crazy and nearly unbelievable adventure, of near-escapes, of intrepid ancestors, of explorers and mapmakers defining their times using the best means they have at their disposal, however imperfect. But it's also a tale of child prodigies, of personal tragedy, of scientific examination, of human imperfection—and perhaps most of all, a story of trying to find yourself when you feel like a fish out of water. The storyline starts off with a major miscommunication, after which hilarity (and some disaster) ensues, but it goes much deeper than that. There are the minor miscommunications that seem unimportant but really are at the root of the problem; the difficulties of a family who seem to lack the ability to communicate with one another. Who is Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet (and how did he get that cumbersome moniker)? And how did he end up hopping a train from Montana, hobo-style, on a wild ride to the Smithsonian Institution? You'll have to read it to find out. An incredible genre-buster.

Buy The Selected Works of TS Spivet from an independent bookstore near you!

Other reads this past month, in capsule form: Zenith by Julie Bertagna, the sequel to Exodus – continues the story of Mara and Fox, and adds a third main character to the mix who's an intriguing sort of sea gypsy. I'm still a little taken aback by some of the names in the story (which is odd, since I'm used to reading all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy with all manner of bizarre naming conventions) but there you go. Certain parts of the story whizzed past a little quickly for my taste, but it was still a fun ride in a very immersive world. … Fat Cat by Robin Brande, which I've been meaning to read for ages and I am SO GLAD I finally did. I feel like our blog bud is really a kindred spirit now, and I felt like I should have read this a long time ago because intrepid and brainy Cat reminds me quite a lot of Asha, my narrator in The Latte Rebellion. Plus it's also a story of a crazy scheme in which hilarity (and personal growth) ensues. Yay! … Operation Yes by another blog bud, Sara Lewis Holmes, was also part of my July reading—I'll let Tanita do the talking on that one, so as to minimize repeat reviews. :)

I checked out all of these books at the library.

5 comments:

Charlotte said...

TS Spivet sounds fascinating....

I still haven't read Sacred Scars, even though I bought it when it first came out--knowing I would still end up on tenterhooks made it easy to put off... sigh.

aquafortis said...

I definitely debated with myself whether to check it out of the library now, or later, when the third book was out...but I just couldn't resist!

tanita davis said...

I did not love the Bertengas -- because the names are pieces of names of Glaswegian neighborhoods and districts. Not loving that at all. Plus, the story is decidedly muddled, to my mind, when adding sea gypsies. There are already too many people in that plot! (just my cranky opinion.)

But MAN, Sacred Scars!!! That series just blows my mind. Kathleen Duey is brilliant - scary smart.

I'd like to read the Spivet book, too - heard good things from Colleen about it...

So many books, so little time. As usual.

aquafortis said...

I heard about TS Spivet from Colleen, too--and then I kept forgetting to look for it.

Colleen said...

Oh yea- TS Spivet love! I really like your description of it Sarah and this is one tough book to narrow down to a few paragraphs! What really got me on this one was how unique it and how much fun (even with the serious moments). Plus I'm a map geek, so it was pure candy for that alone.