Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guardian Book Prize

By the way, Mal Peet won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for Exposure, a re-imagining of Othello where Othello's a South American soccer player and Desdemona's a pop star. I forgot to mention that.

Recent Reading

Here's a boring list of stuff I've read lately, several of which I've posted on separately:

Sacred Scars, Kathleen Duey
Andromeda Klein, Frank Portman
Liar, Justine Larbalestier
Blankets, Craig Thompson

And now that the National Book Award finalists are out, I'm reading those.  More on them when I've finished the other two.
Stitches, David Small
Jumped, Rita Williams-Garcia
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, Phillip Hoose

Recently:  7
YTD: 69

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey!

Sacred Scars is one of my most eagerly-anticipated books this year.  I loved Skin Hunger so much, as I've said more than once here, and I was so eager to read the next part of the story.  And now I actually finished it awhile ago, but haven't written anything because I'm not quite sure what to say.  It's a terrific book, but not quite a free-standing novel.  It's more like the middle section of what's going to be a single long story once the third volume comes out.

I admit that I had a sinking feeling when the book arrived and I saw how thick it is—more than 500 pages(What's up with all these trilogies/series that start with a regular-size book and then ratchet up the subsequent volumes to ginormous proportions?  I'm getting back trouble from all the lugging about of giant hardbacks).  

But that's neither here nor there.  It takes a lot of pages to slowly and methodically unfold this rich, dark world Duey's creating.  Hahp and the rest have been at the Academy for years and keep surviving their increasingly-advanced lessons; they continue to quietly plot to destroy the Academy. Gerrard's more of a mystery, and is it just me or does time seem to be doing funny things?  Meanwhile, in the past, Sadima realizes Franklin is never going to leave Somiss and the caged boys.  So she leaves, and eventually loses her memory and spends decade after decade magically not aging and quietly selling cheese (this is where the book drags a bit).  Eventually she meets the Eridians, political tensions are at a peak, and you know that things are about to happen and worlds are going to collide, but the pages are running out!  And then it ends abruptly.  Augh!

So.  It seems like the pieces are in place now for everything to come together, for all the accumulated little details to come into play.  I've got a good feeling about the final book.

As an aside, here's something that's really bothering me: I can't find this book in stores!  It came out in August, and I started eagerly looking for it, to no avail.  Months later it's still not there. I haven't checked every store in NYC obviously, but I keep looking at quite a few, both big stores and indies, and they're not stocking it and it's driving me insane!  If being the much-anticipated (I know it's not just me) follow-up to a National Book Award finalist isn't enough to get a book on store shelves, what in the world does it take??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Book Awards Finalists!

It's like my one-year blogiversary!
No time to check the exact date, but this all started last year with me writing about National Book Award finalists, and now it's happening all over again.  Here are the finalists for Young People's Literature:

Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, Deborah Heiligman
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
, Phillip Hoose
Stitches
, David Small
Lips Touch: Three Times
, Laini Taylor
Jumped
, Rita Williams-Garcia

The winners will be announced on November 18th.  I haven't read any of them yet, so off I go!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I've been dying to read Liar for ages, was begging everyone for an advance copy, but it didn't pan out.  In the end I was happy to spend actual money for it the day it came out. I've read tons of reviews, and many of them use the word 'brilliant.'  It's gotten three starred reviews. It'll probably be all over the award winnings this season.  My expectations were high.

I was not expecting to finish it and just feel sort of meh.  It was fun, I read it fast and couldn't put it down, but I kept waiting for something to tie together that never did.

Everyone seems so enthusiastic about the fact that you can't tell if what Micah says is the truth or a lie, cause she's such a compulsive liar that she lies constantly. Did I mention that she tells lies? Because she's a liar? And also that's the title of the book?  This girl is so obsessed with telling you what a liar she is over and over and over that I can only assume she is protesting too much and every word is the absolute truth—even the ones that contradict the other ones.

And that is just one of the many ways you can read the book! Each of which is apparently true. And that's why I didn't love it. Yes, it can be read a number of different ways. Basically you just have to make up rules about what to believe, about what you decide is true and what's a lie. And you can start again and make up a separate set of assumptions and come to a different conclusion, but there's no real basis in the text for any of it. It was definitely a good read and all, but if it's just me making stuff up, what's the point?

But definitely don't take my word for it, because obviously many who've read it would disagree. There's a great thread starting on Justine's blog, where she allows readers who have finished it to discuss the plot, including the top-secret twists we are forbidden to share in public (don't click on that link if you haven't read it and plan to, because I promise you don't want to know.) The readers over there are so enthusiastic and thoughtful, and several of them took what they read and created the book they wanted or needed to read. It's kind of inspiring. They're making me want to read it again, and maybe really get it this time.