The Internet. It is so big I have not yet found the end of it, and that is not for lack of trying. What really slows my Internet exploration is Facebook. I can be quite distracted by Facebook. Mostly because my sisters post 8 million photos and I have to go through and make sure that all the pictures of me are not too silly. They almost always are, but that is okay, I am exceedingly silly. The point is, if there was a point to this at all, that the Internet before Facebook was slightly less distracting. There was also less of a chance of people finding out things about you, like your favorite muffin or just how much you love cats. But what if you stumbled upon your Facebook page before Facebook even existed? What if you saw your future via status updates and decided that you did not like what you saw? Would Facebook make you change your future? That is what Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler explore in The Future of Us.
Emma and Josh are two normal high school students just trying to survive in 1996. This is before iPods, before smartphones, and in a time when less than half of American high school students had ever used the Internet. So when Emma’s dad sends her a computer and Josh’s mom receives and America Online CD-ROM, Josh’s mom naturally gives Emma the CD. Seems pretty basic, right? Wrong! Emma logs on to discover herself on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. She can see where she goes to college, who she is still friends with, and who she is married too. She convinces Josh to come over (no small feat, she did reject him stunningly six months earlier) and they peer into his future as well. Knowing your future could be pretty cool, right? Get to see if you made all the right choices and such. But Emma hates her future. She is set to go change her Facebook page entirely, and she really doesn’t care what she has to do to ensure her perfect future. But can Josh let her change her future when it could ruin his own?
My attention was grabbed and held by this book because of the attention to detail. It may seem silly, but all the little mentions of things like Discmans and Green Day and how cool and new cellphones are is what kept you rooted in 1996. If you do not remember that, it can make the Internet and the discovery of Facebook less amazing. In order for you to be wowed by how far in the future they are seeing you need to be solidly rooted in the past. The teens in this book were all wonderful teens in terms of characterization. Even the bit players who you only met briefly were nicely fleshed out in a way that made them more than two dimensional caricatures. Parts were a little bit predictable, but that did not make them any less satisfying when they happened. In fact, most of the time I spent wanting them to happen, so I was always very happy when the predictable finally occurred. That sentence might not make sense right now, but if you read the book, you will see exactly what I mean.
It does! I have ridden and been around horses since I was seven years old, and nothing is ever going to change the fact that horses are awesome. So when you give me a book about two girls from New Hampshire going on a road trip to save an old horse, well that pretty much guarantees that I am going to be weeping like a leaky faucet all over everything. If you too feel like crying over horses, or just reading the road tripping adventures of two New Hampshire girls, then you should check out the newest addition to our collection. And did I mention the cowboys? There are totally cowboys.
Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monniger is the story of two girls; Hattie and Delores who decide to give Hattie’s favorite horse a chance to be just that, a horse. Speed has been a patient farm pony all his life, giving children pony rides and generally being a well-behaved animal. Now on the eve of his death, Hattie has decided that she cannot just watch him be put down; he needs the chance to be free. With the help of her best friend Delores, the two girls abscond with the horse in the dark of night and drive off to find an open place out west where Speed can finally be a free horse. Along the way they’ll have to dodge phone calls from parents, a cop or two, and figure out exactly where they want to go after this adventure? Is New Hampshire the place for them, or is there a reason that they were so desperate to help this horse be free?
The two girls in this book are absolutely wonderful. I loved every moment of their adventure together. I had my doubts that Mr. Monniger would be able to really capture that feeling of having a best friend that you would do anything for, even break the law, just to ensure that she would be safe and happy. I can say for certain that he captured that kind of awe-inspiring friendship so well it made my heart ache. The more difficult relationship to accurately portray was probably the one between Hattie and Speed, I mean, it is pretty one-side, with Speed being a horse and all. But once again you really got the sense of just why Hattie was so desperate to do anything to save Speed, and how much him being happy meant to her. It does tread the fine line between helping and harming an animal from loving it too much, and I was glad to see this issue addressed and handled well through the interactions of all the characters. A wonderful book about a not so epic journey that ends with new beginnings for all. Read it.
So this weekend I found myself with a little down time in the evening. The other half was wrapped up in course work, so of course I had to be super studious by his side! And by super studious I mean reading a whole bunch of amazing and incredible books. Mine have fewer diagrams of human bodies, but they have way more magic and unexplained phenomena. All the hard work of reading led to a brief pizza break, a viewing of a truly epic horror film, and then more reading! All in all, a truly satisfying October weekend.
Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield had me at zombies. Though in all honesty it was not the zombies that kept me reading. Instead, it was the amazing characters and the awesome adventure they went through. Which more than made up for the fact that the zombies in this book are very much in the background. Hailey is a sixteen year old girl with the amazing ability to heal. This power is hers because she descends from the Banished, who came to America from Ireland centuries ago. Healing, however, is not her only power, that would be too simple. Hailey can also create zombies, but only if she tries to heal someone when it is too late. She is finally getting a chance at a normal life, after surviving some unimaginable hardships she finally has a home with her Aunt Prairie and little brother Chubs. That is all shattered after a secret call to her secret boyfriend Kaz. Someone tapped the line. Someone knows where she is living. And that someone just kidnaped her aunt and brother. Hailey and Kaz go on a cross-country journey to save their loved ones and protect the Banished from mysterious forces who would exploit them. They can only hope they’re not too late.
Fantastic plot, wonderful concept and some beautifully created characters. Littlefield gives herself a solid base on which to make crazy things happen in Unforsaken, and I loved every minute of it. The powers that Hailey and her family have are understated in the best way. They never discover an ability that can magically save the day, they have to rely on their wits and the power they already have and have mastered. The action was superb. All too often a girl can be overshadowed in a story like this by her oh so hunky boyfriend. While Kaz does sound oh so hunky, he never becomes the main action guy. He and Hailey are truly equals in all of the action scenes and plotting and that makes it wonderful to read. They work so well as a team that I had no trouble believing that two sixteen year olds could take down this mysterious and evil corporation. The back story is given to the reader in wonderful little hints and subtle remembering of the past. Never feels out of place, never feels forced and it always is relevant to what is going on at that point in the story. Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to get my hands on its companion title!
So I have always loved me some vampire slaying action. Since Buffy showed up when I was in middle school, I have loved the idea that there is someone out there destroying these devious creatures of the night. I like my blood exactly where it is thank you very much! So last night, when I was home alone and totally vulnerable to vampire attack, I decided to read a book about a vampire slayer, in the hopes of deterring any blood-sucking demons hoping to leap through my windows. Since I was not attack by a vampire, I am going to say that it was successful!
The wonderful Heather Brewer decided that she could not just leave the world of Vladimir Tod without giving us Joss’s side of the story. The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill takes us back to the beginnings of Joss McMillan’s journey toward becoming a full-fledged slayer. The road is not always easy, but Joss takes on the deadly task of becoming a vampire slayer to avenge the death of his beloved younger sister, Cecile. Joss saw Cecile being drained by a vampire at the tender age of ten, and since then has been training towards killing the monster that took her from him. Through his hard work and dedication, it looks like Joss may have a shot at becoming the most awesome slayer of them all. That is if he can keep the other slayers from turning on each other. And if he could just stop asking questions about exactly why the slayers are doing what they do…
Ms. Brewer weaves another fascinating tale, and this one all about slayers. It takes some getting used to, especially after reading all of the Vladimir Tod books and knowing how vampires interact with one another and the world at large. Beyond Joss, you are hard pressed to find a slayer who does not believe that they are fighting soulless evil monsters who are things rather than people. That being said, the interactions, albeit brief, between Joss and the vampires have amazing potential. The slayers are pretty two dimensional, but we are introduced to eight or so at one time, and they all just seem to be about the killing. It is a promising start for what will undoubtedly be another amazing series by Heather. Wing by the library to pick it up!
I always wanted to go to a boarding school. It sounded all cool and fancy to a younger, desperate for adventure me. I had daydreams of secret passage ways, daring night trips through the forest, and late night adventures to the library. Okay, so I never imagined sneaking off to be with a boy, but I was a geeky child, what else would you expect? I never did go to boarding school, but this next book I am reviewing makes me wish I did, at least for a little while.
In Cristina Garcia’s Dreams of Significant Girls is a wonderful look at three girls from extremely different walks of life, place together in a Swiss boarding camp out of their comfort zone, and having to learn how to survive together. Over the course of three summers, the girls grow and learn more about themselves and each other than one could possibly believe. Then again, in the free-wheeling seventies, learning about oneself was a pretty easy thing to do. The opportunities to break rules and run free are endless, and the girls take advantage of every single one. The girls individually surmount hardships that are relevant even now, timeless problems that women the world over experience on a daily basis. The often shocking material is handled in such a delicate and beautiful manner that makes it palatable, even when it may be unbelievable. Overall, the intertwining of these three very different girls makes for a beautiful window into the messed up world of the seventies, trying desperately to find a place in a world that is not sure it wants anyone to belong.