October 12, 2010

Book Blurbs of September, Part II: Lisa McMann

It's gonna be book review central around here for a while. Tanita's on the job for the Cybils YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy category (having been a round I judge for that, I know what she's going through!). And I'm still trying to get caught up on reviews of books I read last month. Yep.

This time I'll be looking at the first two books in Lisa McMann's Wake/Dream Catcher trilogy—I got both of these at the Stanislaus County Library. I couldn't find Gone--it was checked out—but it's definitely on my to-read list. With no further ado, here are my three-sentence reviews of this suspenseful pair of books.

Wake kicks off the trilogy with a bang—we meet Janie, who has the ability (or curse) of being able to slip into the dreams of nearby sleepers. It's not something she can control, and it's always made her feel very alone, but she finds some unexpected help and friendship in the form of a surprisingly knowledgeable elderly woman in the nursing home where she works, as well as an intriguing classmate, Cabel. While it's a tiny bit light on characterization and backstory in favor of plotting and suspense, this is a quick, fascinating read that pairs a tightly-conceived supernatural ability with a quickly-moving plot and a hint of romance.

Buy Wake from an independent bookstore near you!

This review of Fade contains very minor spoilers, so be warned! In this second installment of the trilogy, Janie and Cabel are now a team—not just a romantic item, but also solving crimes at their school a la 21 Jump Street, with some critical assistance from Janie's dream-catching abilities. But while Janie's dream-catching can truly help individual dreamers as well as enable her to provide valuable insight into crime-solving, it's got a couple of major downsides, not least of which is the difficulties it's causing in her relationship with Cabel. I liked the fact that this volume further explored the complexity—the downside as well as the upside—of Janie's ability, and it added a lot of depth to her relationships with Cabe and the Captain...but in other ways it was a very light read, glossing over her mother almost entirely and leaving the crime-solving aspects a little formulaic.

Buy Fade from an independent bookstore near you!

I'll be very interested to see what the focus is in the third book, Gone.

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