Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fracture by Megan Miranda (pre-publication review)

17-year-old Delaney fell while crossing the iced-over lake near her Minnesota home.  She heard the pings and snaps that meant the ice was cracking, but before she could move she was gone, falling down into the frigid water. She couldn't figure out which way was up, and when she did finally locate the surface she couldn't find her original entry point and the way out. And then it was over. Delaney drowned. Only she didn't. Despite spending eleven minutes under water, despite six days in a coma with severe brain damage, Delaney woke up. And she was fine....and not fine. Delaney can feel death and those who are dying. A strong pull when death is imminent and a light, almost faint, flutter when death is in the future. Delaney must find out why she now has this ability. Is she supposed to use it to save people...or to help them die?

One of the fun benefits of going to the American Library Association Annual Convention is getting free copies of yet-to-be-published books (aka: ARCs). I went this past week and picked up several titles, but this one grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I thought it was going to be a supernatural/paranormal book. Instead it was a tightly-paced thriller with interesting characters and an unusual premise. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. Unfortunately it doesn't come out until January 2012...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Misfit by Jon Skovron (pre-publication review)

Jael is tired of moving around so often. Every time she gets settled in one Catholic school her father whisks them away to yet another, in another out-of-the-way place. Jael understands, really. After all, the demon Baliel has been hunting her since before she was born. He hates halfbreeds, and he really hated Jael's demon mother, so if he finds Jael he'll kill her. But Jael's uncle, Dagon, believes that Jael may have the untapped potential to destroy Baliel and bring back the era of the gods. If, that is, Jael can learn to harness her power before Baliel destroys her and everything that she loves.

I found this novel difficult to read. The omniscient narrative created an emotional barrier, keeping me from truly caring about Jael and her worries. The dialog was also problematic, sometimes spot-on teen and other times rather stilted and dryly academic. The flashback scenes of the relationship between Jael's parents was much more touching and realistic. The story has potential, though. Many aspects of the plot are unique and original, which can be difficult to find in today's teen lit. And somewhere around the last third of the novel it began to really catch my interest, though it was primarily the secondary characters who sparked my interest. Hopefully any sequel will develop Jael to the same level. Finally, as with many series openers, the climax wrapped up very easily, belying the drama of the buildup and the worries of Jael and those around her. The book will move because of the plot description, but readers will need to be determined to keep reading.

This review refers to the NetGalley digital advanced readers version of the novel. Misfit has a publication date of August 1, 2011.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer works light crew. His job is to shimmy into the tight spaces of wrecked ships on Bright Sands Beach and strip out the usable copper wire. He's the reason his crew makes quota each day. Then one day the Fates take their eyes off of him and he almost drowns in a hidden oil reservoir. His survival earns him the name Lucky Boy.

But Nailer doesn't feel lucky.  Not with a father who's most always sliding, high on whatever he can find and unpredictably mean. Those times Nailer hides out in his friend Pima's home with her and her mom, Sadna. In fact, Nailer was with Pima after the city killer storm, when they found their Lucky Strike. It was a ship, one of the swank ones, and it had run aground during the storm. The crew was dead and there was valuable salvage all over. They even found a dead girl about their age, with a diamond nose ring and gold on her fingers. Pima was going to cut the girl's swollen fingers off to get the gold when the dead girl's eyes opened.

Nita's survival is unexpected, and it starts Nailer down a new path. For Nita he will stand up against his father. For Nita he will leave everything he's ever known. And for Nita, Nailer will kill. This thrilling futuristic story is set in a time when killing hurricanes have flooded the Gulf Coast and life is an unending cycle of death and hunger. I highly recommend this novel to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner.