Friday, August 14, 2015

Capsule Reviews: YA Edition

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, book two)
By Beth Revis

Published 2012 by Razorbill
Review of book one
Three months have passed since the events of the first book. Amy still struggles to find a place for herself aboard the ship. Elder struggles to become the leader he knows he must be. It isn't long before another crisis arises, catapulting both Amy and Elder into a frantic hunt for the truth among all the lies that make up Godspeed.

After listening to the first on audio, I picked up the print version of book two for both my fiance and I to read. I was interested to see what direction the series would go in, as book one didn't set up an explicit course. This continues in the time-honored tradition of "main character discovers ancestors have kept very important secrets" and I found it mostly enjoyable. I find the exploration of sexuality and sexual assault interesting and, at the same time, a bit misplaced in this series. I think it was used as a plot device here, which I didn't terribly enjoy. The plot moves quickly again, and I continue to enjoy the dual narration. I still favor Elder's character, though he got a bit whiny in this entry. The setup for book three is much more explicit here and I currently have it checked out. I hope to read it soon.

A Corner of White (The Colors of Madeleine, book one)
By Jaclyn Moriarty, read by Fiona Hardingham, Andrew Eiden, Kate Reinders, and Peter McGowan
Published 2013 by Scholastic Audio
Madeleine lives in Cambridge with her mom, adjusting to a quieter life than she's used to. Elliot lives in Bonfire, in the Kingdom of Cello, determined to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Inexplicably, their lives will cross, changing them both forever.

This was one of Audiofile's SYNC titles this summer. I remember discussion around this book when it was released and I thought it sounded interesting, so I took the opportunity to squeeze it into my schedule as a listen. I actually think this book signified the beginning of my reading slump. This was a long listen and I struggled with it. It takes a long time for this book to make sense. It's not until maybe 3/4 of the way through that you fully understand why you're reading both Madeleine and Elliot's stories - they don't really have a strong connection for the majority of the book. In addition, I had problems with both readers (as a side note, I don't know why there are 4 readers listed in everything I found - I only noticed two). The reader of Madeleine's story adopted an extremely strange accent for her voice - which, to be fair, is exactly what the text says. But to actually hear it spoken - I didn't enjoy it. The reader for Elliot's story was terrible at inflection - everything was read in a monotone and it was very distracting. So, as I said, I struggled with this. It picked up at the end a bit, enough that I'd like to see where the story goes next but it's fair to assume I won't be checking out the audio version.

The Living (The Living, book one)
By Matt de la Pena, read by Henry Leyva
Published 2013 by Brilliance Audio
Shy needs money, so he takes a summer job working on a cruise ship. It can't be all bad, right? But then, the biggest earthquake recorded hits and suddenly Shy finds himself in a massive fight for survival.

Another of the SYNC titles this summer, I happily downloaded it when it was available. I'd heard lots of great things about this book, so I was really looking forward to squeezing it into my reading schedule. That being said, I was pretty disappointed in this one. First, it's a trivial thing, really, but I couldn't get past the main character being called Shy. I sometimes have a hard time with names that just don't sound right to me and this was one of those times. It didn't really seem to suit the character or the story, but your mileage may vary. Second, this book was just not what I expected. I expected zombies - I don't know why really. Maybe the cover gave me that impression. But I expected zombies and was extremely disappointed. Third, it's billed as a survival story but it never really felt that way to me. Perhaps the audio just didn't convey the direness of the situation well, but I never truly felt like Shy was in significant danger. I really didn't enjoy the conspiracy part of the plot at all. I also don't love that this is the first book in a series - where is the series going to go from here? I don't know and I'm only mildly curious to find out.

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