December 31, 2012

Best Books 2012

It's hard to believe the year is coming to an end, and I'm again posting my favorite reads for 2012. I didn't read nearly as much this past year and it is my resolution to read more in 2013. I have to admit, I read a lot of sci-fi and dystopian, but I do try to read across genres. While reflecting on last year, I look forward to what is in store for the next. My biggest problem is not in finding something but in choosing something. I wish I were a faster reader!!! The order of the books is the order in which they were read. You can read the full reviews by clicking on the title. While not all rated a 5, each one has some sort of emotional attachment for me...

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer
Posted January 21, 2012
Read this for the writing as well as the creativity. While many MS readers will find it difficult to get through, it is well worth it.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Posted March 29, 2012
This book made me a fan of John Green. An emotional tale of a young girl, living and dealing with cancer. Keep a box of tissue handy. Read it before the movie is released.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Posted May 6, 2012
A futuristic retelling of Cinderella?  So I thought. While some of the elements are there, this is a creative, original sci-fi. Get to this one soon as the sequel Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood?) just came out.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Posted June 30, 2012
I didn't give this a strong score, 3.5, because the first half is so slow, that I almost put it down. The second half pulled me in like a pit of quicksand. The characters, setting and plot created an atmosphere that resonated with me long after I finished the book.

Paper Towns by John Green
Posted August 12, 2012
John Green has created a smart and humorous novel with sharp and witty dialogue. His writing is well crafted, and one that, quite frankly, I'm very envious of. He leaves lots to ponder, but the end is especially thought provoking and will leave you with lots of questions.

Looking for Me by Betsy Rosenthal
Posted August 12, 2012
A collection of poems, that create a short, poignant account of eleven-year-old Edith, growing up in a Jewish family of twelve children in Baltimore during the 1930's.  A quick read, to be read with an open heart.

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi
Posted September 1, 2012
This book will hold you from first page to last. It is well written, moves quickly, has unexpected plot twists, and well developed characters and setting. While it is violent in terms of a middle school read, it is an excellent read for older, more mature readers. 

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman
Posted December 29, 2012
A sequel to Unwind, new characters make the story more complex and raise more ethical issues It all comes together in a hair raising, fiery climax that leaves you yearning for more. A fantastic read but recommended for more mature readers for violent content.

December 29, 2012

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Georges' (the s is silent) family had to move to an apartment in Brooklyn after his dad lost his job. When emptying trash in the basement, they discover an old notice, announcing a spy club meeting. When Georges goes to the meeting, he meets Safer, a boy of similar age, who pulls Georges in to learn how to be a fellow spy, and investigate Mr. X, a mysterious apartment tenant that only wears black. Safer's sister Candy, sometimes helps, and is sometimes in the way. Georges also has to deal with Dallas, a bully at school that has it in for Georges. Georges must leave his comfort zone when Safer asks him to intrude on Mr. X's privacy, as well as deal with Dallas at school. It is clear that both boys, Georges and Safer, have a growing friendship, but both have their demons and are hiding something.
Having read Stead's When You Reach Me, I was expecting a little more from this. Liar & Spy is a sweet, simple read; nothing too complex. One of the things I appreciate about this book, is that all of the adult characters are real, caring people.
Reed Reads Score: 3

December 23, 2012

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

Shusterman's Unwind (click to see original review) was a haunting vision of America's future. It remains one of the most popular science fiction novels in the library. Five years later, Shusterman comes up with a sequel, UnWholly: Book 2 of the Unwind Trilogy. I felt that this book was unnecessary, as Unwind was incredible and complete.
Then I read the book.
Shusterman is a master storyteller. I don't know if he originally intended to write a trilogy, but he has constructed a more complex, more intense followup that makes this a compelling read. Often the middle book of a trilogy is the weakest, but UnWholly managed to take the story in directions I never expected, and left me hanging, screaming for book three.
Unwinding is the process of dismembering teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen using their body parts for transplantation. Originally it was a solution to a civil war over the abortion issue, but is now accepted by society, and a big business. Unwind is the story of three rebellious teenagers, Connor, Risa, and Lev who escape their unwinding and are on the run, creating a rebellion that questions the morality of unwinding. UnWholly continues their story, and introduces some new characters. Connor is now running the Graveyard, a sanctuary for unwind runaways. Risa joins Connor, but is wheel chair bound from a spinal injury. Lev has become somewhat of a folk hero as the tithe that rebelled, became a clapper (unwinds that have their blood injected with an explosive that detonates when they clap), that was captured, and is now the inspiration of tithes that were saved from their unwinding. The story introduces three new characters;  Starkey, a rebellious teenager, taken for unwinding, Miracolina a tithe, like Lev, looking forward to her unwinding, and Cam, a new person created from unwound body parts, yearning to figure out what he is and how he fits in to society. These new characters make the story more complex and raise more ethical issues, as their stories are told in separate, alternating chapters, but come together in a hair raising, fiery climax that leaves you yearning for more. A fantastic read but recommended for more mature readers for violent content.
Reed Reads Score: 5