Young Adult Reviews

Castle of Wizardry

[openbook booknumber=”9780345335708″][rating:5/5]

It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.

Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.

But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion–and for the little princess Ce’Nedra.

This continues the magnificent epic of The Belgariad, begun in Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit–a fantasy set against a background of the war of men, Kings, and Gods that had spanned seven thousand years–a novel of fate, strange lands, and a prophecy that must be fulfilled!

In the fourth book of the Belgariad, The Castle of Wizardry, all the set up from the series so far finally come to fruition and the stage is set for the final book. Picking up where the story left off Garion finds himself leading the small group as Belgarath is out of it after the last show down and Polgara is maintaining a shield to protect Errand. What follows is Garion not just making the journey into adult hood but also stepping up into a position of responsibility and authority. Garion finally grows up and it is wonderful to see.

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Across the Universe

[openbook booknumber=”9781595143976″][rating:3/5]

A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

When young adults leave their hometown and go off to college it can feel like they have left the planet. All of a sudden they are in a whole new town with all new people, there are new rules of engagement and you are suddenly expected to act and think very differently. Worst of all many if not all their friends and family, most importantly the ever-present parents, are now gone and they are on their own. In Beth Revis’ science fiction debut Across the Universe she manages to capture all of this perfectly as we follow Amy and her journey aboard the spaceship Godspeed. Unfortunately it is captured too well and that along with a few other hiccups resulted in this book not turning out as well as I hoped it would.

Let me start this off on a positive note, Revis can write really, really detailed and realistic scenes. The book opens with Amy watching her parents be cryogenically frozen and then experience it herself. I have extreme needle phobia, it took forever to get through those pages. Even people who don’t have needle phobia squirm through that first chapter, it is intense and present and real and that kind of talent in a writer is extremely promising. She captures the small ship, the feeling of being trapped, the abandonment all very well and you experience it along with Amy and that is very powerful.

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Pink Smog

[openbook booknumber=”9780061565984″][rating:4/5]

The girl in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be, and her life wasn’t the one I wanted to have.

Despite how much Louise insists, no one will call her Weetzie. It’s her dad’s nickname for her, but it won’t stay put. Neither will her dad. Charlie left Louise and her mom and he took everything with him: her family, her home–and her understanding of who she’s meant to be.

But Los Angeles is a city full of strange angels, and Louise embarks on a journey to sift through the smog of her heartbreak, to grow her own wings, to become Weetzie.

Making the transformation from a shy girl to a confident woman is no easy task, especially when you are growing up amidst the fading hopes of a once great Hollywood. It becomes even harder when your father leaves you for New York City, your ex-starlette mother becomes a suicidal alcoholic, and your name is Louise “Weetzie” Bat. We know Weetzie’s young adult life from the books in her Dangerous Angels series, starting with the self titled Weetzie Bat. I have given her a lot of flak in the past for the way she deals with things and her, occasionally thoughtless, outlook on life and finding happiness. I have a new appreciation for just how hard it was to make the transformation from child to woman, and manage to lead a life of hope and happiness and love in spite of her past, after reading about that difficult transition in Pink Smog.

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After The Snow

[openbook booknumber=”9780312641696″][rating:4/5]

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?

In a post-apocalyptic world, plunged into an ice age after a period of dramatically shifting climate, society is coming unglued. On the outskirts of this society, independent and surviving on their own, lives Willo and his family. They eke out an existence in a world turned cold by hunting, trapping and working what little farm land there is in the very brief spring and summer. Willo has gone half-savage in many ways. He wears the skull of a dog on his head, doesn’t read very much or very well, and spends most of his days out setting traps in the freezing, driving snow with an instinct for hunting honed from growing up in the midst of an ice age. It’s the only world he has ever known.

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Blood Red Road

[openbook booknumber=”9780385671835″][rating:3/5]

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

I was torn on a lot of this book and I feel very much on the outside because so many people I really respect love this book to absolute pieces. I guess I feel like I am missing something because this book didn’t click with me as it does with many others and so I recommend right off the bat to weigh my words with all the positive reviews given and give this book an honest shot. After all I did finish the book and it’s nearly 500 pages long! Also keep in mind I am reviewing the advance copy of the book which is about 50 pages longer than the final copy that went to press so perhaps much of what I didn’t like ended up on the cutting room floor.

So, Blood Red Road is a unique take on the dystopians that have swept the YA genre for the past several years. The book is written in a “poetically minimal” style which is to say the writing is largely spelled out phonetically in an American southern drawl and there are no quote marks to denote speaking versus action anywhere in the text. The phonetic spelling actually reminded me a lot of reading Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. It had a way of bringing you into the world and seeing it more from the characters point of view just because you have a great understanding of the way they communicated and got their thoughts across. That part I loved. I’m being a total kill joy here but the lack of quote marks on the other hand was just frustrating and made reading it a bit of a slog, especially because I was trying to read parts of it aloud to my husband and it just proved frustrating for both of us without that marker showing where speech ends and action begins. I understand where the need for it stylistically came from, but I think the end result, for a 500 page book, was just overkill.

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