For my final “summer” book review, I checked eBooks out through the San Jose Public Library using Digital Overdrive. These are all titles we have in the LHS Library, but I was going on vacation and wanted to carry one Kindle instead of 5 books.
If you don’t have a SJPL card (AND a Santa Clara County/Cupertino Library card), you should get one. They are free for all Lynbrook students (no matter where you live) and come with a vast array of online resources, including current fiction and databases, for you to use. Since I have an “old school” Kindle, I have to download the book files to my laptop and transfer them to my device, but if your eReader or tablet has wifi, you can download them directly to your device and just start reading!
First up was The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp. This book is set in my home state, Oklahoma, so it was fun to read little details that were familiar to me, such as the weird “river walk” area “The City” constructed in a historic downtown area in an attempt to lure more tourists there. (Does anyone go to Oklahoma on vacation if they aren’t visiting family??) Sutter Keely, the main character, is a high school student with a fairly serious drinking problem who lives his life without thinking of anything but the present. When he meets Aimee, a girl from his high school, he thinks he’s going to help her learn to enjoy life. Of course, that’s not really what happens, and eventually Sutter has to decide if he’s helping Aimee or hurting her. I enjoyed this book–it was a quick, easy, read and the characters were all lovably flawed. Ok, so sometimes you wanted to scream at them through the book, but that’s also true in real life sometimes. If you like realistic fiction and laughing through the pain of life, this book will appeal to you. There is a movie version of this book, but I haven’t seen it yet.
Next I read Panic, by Lauren Oliver. I enjoyed Oliver’s Delirium series and was interested to see what I thought of her other books. This one is realistic, not dystopian, so if you’re tired of dystopian fiction this could be the book you’re looking for. Panic is a game played by graduating seniors in Carp, New York, a small blue-collar town where Heather lives with her mother, younger sister, and her mother’s parade of boyfriends. Players engage in a series of increasingly difficult and dangerous stunts, with the person who lasts the longest (and survives) winning the pot–which this year stands at $67,000. To the graduating seniors from Carp, winning Panic means a chance to escape–to make a life you want rather than inherit the life of your parents. While Heather hadn’t been planning to play, her situation at home soon pushes her to play to win, both for herself and for her younger sister. This book is exciting and contains all sorts of plot twists. You also follow a couple other characters playing the game, and by the end you really aren’t sure who to root for. If you like shows like Survivor, you’ll probably enjoy Panic.
Reality Boy, by A.S. King, was a fun look at what happens to reality show participants after the cameras go home. When Gerald was five, his family participated in a “Nanny 911” type program, which focused on his out-of-control behavior. Now he’s 17 and still living in the shadow of his on-screen antics (which were pretty bad). The book looks both at how Gerald’s fame impacts his current life and how the show manipulated the truth to get a good show, even if it wasn’t all that real and didn’t actually help its participants. I liked this book much more than I expected to, probably because of how the story unfolded and the mystery behind the scenes. This is realistic fiction with a reality show twist.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor, is a fascinating read that is unlike anything I’ve read before. The story begins with Karou, an art student in Prague. Other than a few odd things, like her blue hair, she seems fairly normal, but as you read, you learn that she isn’t your average student. Karou was raised by chimaera, creatures that humans might call monsters or demons, in an “elsewhere” shop that exists between earth and another world. She doesn’t know how she came to be there, or why, only that she always lived there with Issa, Twiga, Yasri, and Brimstone–a huge man/beast with the head of a ram. What’s amazing about this book is that the world, which is clearly fictional, seems so plausible. Karou goes between “real life” and Brimstone’s shop easily, and even tells people the truth about the sketches of her chimaera family and her magically blue hair. They, of course, think she is kidding, but it makes Karou’s life easier not to lie. While on an errand for Brimstone, though, Karou encounters a Seraph, or what we might call an angel, and soon discovers that there is far more she doesn’t understand about Brimstone and the universe than she knew. This is the first of a series of books, and while I wasn’t sure about it at first, I finished it today and can’t wait to read the next one. If you like mythology, this is a series you might enjoy.
Finally, I tried Hollow City: the Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. I enjoyed the first book, but soon learned that some books are better in paper than in an e-Book format. Part of the charm of this series is the strange photographs that inspired the story. While I can see them (sort of) on my Kindle, I think I’d rather see them in print, so I set this one aside for later this year. I did enjoy the first book in this series, and if you did, too, you should check this one out!