This summer I hope to keep up with posting about my reading, but I am taking my last two grad classes, so I will do my best.
The first book, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, is the debut novel of Stephanie Oakes. I am excited for any further books she writes – this was a complex and tense novel that hooked me in from the start. After talking to him about it, my husband also read it in about a day. The writer’s MFA in poetry is highly evident in this novel, in that the writing style and metaphors are fantastic and useful. That being said, this is a novel for high school students, as it deals with some exceptional levels of violence and cruelty, which Minnow recounts, both to her FBI psychologist, and to her roommate in juvenile detention. While we know from the very beginning that Minnow no longer has her hands, how that happened is revealed over time. While the main character that belonged to a cult could become a truly sensational story, the author here carefully crafts a protagonist that the reader responds to – and roots for, through all of the flashback reveals.
I admittedly do not read a lot of series to completion. I will often read the first book in a series, but often I don’t finish the rest of the books. The Shadowhunter books are a definite exception to this tendency. I tend to consume these as quickly as I can, and I enjoyed this first book in her new, connected series. Fans of the previous two Shadowhunter series will see some of their favorite characters in this, but there is a new cast, and a new take on a love story here as well. I feel that Clare does a great job of integrating action, adventure, supernatural forces, and love stories that are a bit different from the expectation. The love interests always face a major obstacle – but often in an unexpected way. I look forward to the rest of this series as well.
Through the Woods is a collection of graphic novel short stories. Some are takes on fairy tale – like stories, all of them are unsettling, and leave some interprative choices up to the reader. This is not a great collection to read right before bed, but I think it is a great addition to my high school library collection, and a great one to give students that enjoy a good creepy read.
A Time to Dance is a novel in verse. It tells the story of Veda, a rising star in Bharatanatyam dance. She lives with her parents and her grandmother, and her mother does not really support her dancing. She would prefer for Veda to become a doctor someday. However, when Veda is badly injured in an accident, and has to have one of her legs amputated, she has to find new ways to reach her dreams. This reminded me a great deal of The Running Dream, by Van Draanen, Veda’s quest to dance again is inspiring, and the plot does not fall into melodrama, but does a great job of exploring Veda’s quest back to dance in a realistic manner. The fact that it is a novel in verse also makes this one a quick read.
The final book for the first week was Caged Warrior, by Alan Lawrence Sitomer. This novel tells the story of Mccutcheon Daniel, or Bam Bam, as he is known in the underground illegal world of cage fighting. His dad has been training him since he was three, so that he could eventually become an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter, when he turns eighteen. The family lives in Detroit’s 7 mile neighborhood, and has a lot of fight action, which will appeal to fans of mixed martial arts. It also has a young man who wants to get out of the fighting lifestyle, but is trapped by his love for his sister, and his abusive, addict father. This is an interesting work, with a memorable protagonist, and some unexpected twists along the way.