December 26, 2013

Reviews in Brief: Dark Futures

Happy Boxing Day! As my gift to you, please accept these quick mini-reviews—and, of course, many good wishes for happy family times and much relaxation (perhaps at the same time, perhaps not).

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Technically, this one isn't published for a YA market, but with a tween/teen protagonist and a strong coming-of-age theme, it crosses over very well. It's what I'd describe as a gentle, literary post-apocalyptic novel, if such a thing is possible. The earth's rotation has begun to slow, throwing the entire world into subtle—and not-so-subtle—disarray, including the life of the narrator, Julie, trying to grow up in a world that won't stop changing. A quite profound statement, really, since that's the case for all of us, whether the entire world is changing or just our own smaller worlds. It's really quite lovely, but it's also got just enough detail (I think) to satisfy fans of more traditional sci-fi (if you ignore a few nagging questions from time to time); that is, while many of the science aspects are left mysterious, it's nevertheless a step beyond magic realism—in fact, it's all too believable. It's about the happy and the sad; the things we can't control and the things we can; how life changes and how it doesn't change even when everything around you is constantly shifting.
Review copy source: Library ebook | Buy from Indiebound

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth. I don't know why I insist on writing about books that I can hardly describe without spoilers, but oh well. I'll try to say a few things without sounding like fluffy jacket copy; how's that? I suppose what's noteworthy is that I've heard some divergent (heh heh) opinions about this final volume of the series and how things are wrapped up and explained. Like any popular series—like Mockingjay, for instance—people are going to have very strong opinions and expectations about how the various strands should be wrapped up. I guess it's all part of how we as readers give the story life in our own minds, and therefore it's a reflection of the reader's relationship with the story just as much as it is a reflection of the writer's success in concluding it. I enjoyed the unfolding discoveries about the truth of Tris's society, which she finds out after leaving it behind—honestly, I was waiting for that "what's outside the fence" moment for a LONG time, and the truth had the excitement, suspense, and shock value I expected. It was after the big reveal, though, that I had some mixed feelings and questions. Still, as a completist who has to know how it all ends, I was excited to read it.
Review copy source: Purchased ebook | Buy from Indiebound

More Than This by Patrick Ness. Here's another one where I'll have to be careful not to give away too many spoilers. Sci-fi suspense can be like that sometimes. I was really eager to read this one, since I thought the Chaos Walking trilogy was brilliant and unputdownable (even though it was also very emotionally difficult to take, wrenching and devastating). This one, too, was a page-turner, but for different reasons—specifically, I couldn't stop reading because I had to know what happened, what was happening, and what was going to happen to narrator Seth. His very existence at the beginning of the book is a mystery, because as far as Seth knew, he was dead. He knew that much because he'd felt himself drown and get dashed on the rocks of the ocean. But he wakes up…somewhere. Or IS it somewhere? Is it all in his mind? Is it like The Matrix and he's in some virtual place? Or did his previous life ever exist at all? The fact that this book raises more questions than it answers for much of the early part of the story kept me from putting it down, but ultimately, I wanted more out of the ending. It may seem like reader greed (it may BE reader greed) but I found it very mysterious and I wanted answers. (Sequel? Please? Maybe?) A good read, though, if you can tolerate some ambiguity.
Review copy source: Library ebook | Buy from Indiebound

1 comment:

Sharon Himsl said...

It's interesting these kinds of books are still so popular. We all seem to love the escapism they offer, myself included. Thanks for the reviews.