Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature at Breaking the Spine.

My pick this week is the upcoming book Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge

Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy's clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it's like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine's cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer - he wants to whisper in your ear.

Why I picked it: I love, LOVE updates on fairy tales. I also like the cover. I hope this is a good one!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review: Struck

Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Pages: 373
Source: ARC from a local librarian
Why I read it: Interesting concept and it was a gifted ARC
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

What I thought: Mia Price is a lightning strike survivor/addict who has been struck multiple times, and even has a dubious lightning based past. She is living in Los Angeles after the "big one" and trying to hold her family together and avoid the coming storm. Two opposing groups, the Seekers and the Followers, try to win Mia over to their side, as they both are anticipating the end of the world happening in Los Angeles.  

While I really liked the premise of the book and I like apocalyptic novels, I felt this one fell flat, especially at the end. There was a lot of buildup in the beginning and then at the climax, nothing, or barely anything and the ending felt a little rushed and wrapped up a little too nicely. This was a little disappointing. I also felt like there was a lot of explaining and not enough action. Of course, the reader comes in after the earthquake hits, so some explaining is necessary, but all the explanations to catch the reader up slowed the story down.

I'm really sick of romance in novels that don't really need it and while I liked Jeremy having dual motives, I didn't like the romance. It didn't add anything to the story for me, and I liked the dynamics between Mia and her family more than between her and Jeremy. Jeremy also started out as a mysterious bad boy, even to the point where he sneaks into her room to try to kill her. I did like when more of his background came out and whether he was someone Mia could trust. As for Mia, I felt like she was older than a teenager. While this isn't a bad thing, she just didn't seem very teen-like to me, except maybe for her unwillingness to sacrifice herself.

I did like some of the current themes running through the novel. A lot of it seemed very realistic, and if some huge catastrophe happened, well, of course there would be a prophet/preacher taking advantage (or helping, depending on your perspective) people and converting people to their cause. The prophet was very well done, and the scenes with him were very chilling. I thought he was one of the more interesting characters. I could see someone very similar happening after a catastrophic event, and well, people like him already exist. The Seekers were a little too much stereotypical occult group for me and as someone who is into tarot, the tarot themes were a little tired. Yes, the Tower card is perfect for a story like this, but a little obvious and the Lovers is way too obvious. I wish authors would expand out into the tarot and refrain from using the most stereotypical cards, espcially if they don't really understand the meaning and archetypes behind the card.

I would give this one 3ish stars. The book had some interesting ideas, but the ending was kind of blah. I didn't feel any sense of urgency as I got towards the end, and I wanted a little more ommph at the end.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: The Girl Who Owned a City: The Graphic Novel

Author: Joƫlle Jones & Dan Jolley
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Expected Release Date: April 2012
Pages: 120
Why I read it: I recieved an eGalley from Netgalley and I'm into graphic novels right now

Some horrible disease has spread over the United States, only afflicted those over 12 years old. The only survivors are children, obviously. They must become resourceful or starve to death. Lisa and her brother are surviving on their own, but must face gangs that want to steal their food and resources. Lisa bands together with her neighborhood and they create a "city" in an former school.

Apparently this graphic novel is taken from the original book by O.T. Nelson. I've never read this book, so I can't comment on the original. This book was originally published in the 1970s and I thought the illustrations had a retro feel without being dated. It was a nice nod to the original. Lisa is a strong character almost to the point of it being a fault. She creates a city and claims it as her own, to the point where she doesn't want to admit that others helped her create the city. I felt like this could be a realistic mindset of an eleven year old.

Lisa, and many other of the characters are strong and resourceful and are able to survive despite their being no adults. I did a little research on the original book, and it looks like O.T. Nelson wanted to write a book with children in charge, to show children that they have their own power and agency. I think he accomplished this, because the children are able to survive on their own.

The ending seemed open ended and I don't know if the original book is like that, but I do want to know if anything else happens to these characters. It does seem to be left open to have a sequel, and I would be interested to know more about the disease (which baffles me that it could only kill adults), what is happening in Chicago (briefly referenced in the book) and whether Lisa's city is able to survive the onslaught from the other gangs.

Overall, I give this graphic novel 3 stars, I liked it.