April 30, 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green

Nathan is the son of a white (good) witch, and a black (evil) witch making him a half-blood. Nathan is caged, hand-cuffed, and beaten. He is watched over and contained because he is feared.

Nathan is 16, he needs to receive 3 gifts from a blood relative so he can realize his powers as a witch. If the gifts are not received by his 17th birthday, he will die. His mother, a white witch has died. His father, Marcus, is the most feared, evil black witch. Raised by his grandmother with his siblings, each from a different father, Nathan has been scorned and despised. His close relationship with Gran, his younger brother, Arran, and the girl he fancies, Annalise, has kept him going. White witches fear Nathan because of his father, and the possibility that he is a black witch. He is taken from his home, caged, and closely monitored so that he cannot receive his 3 gifts, especially from his father. Nathan escapes and begins the search for his father, from whom he wishes to get his 3 gifts.

Sally Green creates a world where witches live alongside "fains" or mortals, places it in modern Great Britain, and gives us a fantasy world that makes it easy to suspend your disbelief to immerse yourself in a tale that is both a coming of age story and a look at racism in today's society. A pretty good read, but is the typical YA first book of a trilogy. Yawn. I have to wait two more years to finish this one.

Reed Reads Score: 3.5

April 24, 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The first wave...the world is being infiltrated by an alien life form in a most heinous way...by entering the fetus of an unborn child. The opening chapter provides the background for the eventual removal of the human race. The story begins in Dayton Ohio, where the fourth wave of the alien take over is a massive viral epidemic that has killed most people. The Sullivan's have lost their mother to the virus, but some how Cassie, her 5 year old brother Sammy, and their father have survived. With most of their town decimated, the Sullivan's decide it is time to move on. Distrust is rampant, and the family must learn to protect itself. They find some protection in a small group of remaining survivors, but the group is visited by what they think is the US military, and are coerced to release all the young children, including Sammy. The remaining group is then decimated but Cassie escapes and is now alone. She can now trust no one, must protect herself, and rescue her little brother. The story unfolds as told from several perspectives; primarily from Cassie, Ben Parish, Cassie's high school crush, and Evan Walker, an alien, who's relationship with Cassie is questionable and filled with mistrust.

If you have read my other reviews, you know that I'm a fan of dystopian novels - but not this one. The writing is just okay, but I couldn't help but constantly feel that I was being manipulated by something extremely commercial, attempting to be the next Hunger Games. Rather than writing a story that the author needed to tell, this seems more a case of creating a story that will pull together elements that will sell books, become a movie, and make the author tons of money. Many of you will enjoy this, but I have to give this one a score of two for being so commercial and manipulative.
Reed Reads Score: 2

April 13, 2014

Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan

An affinity for plants, the ability to diagnose any disease or illness, and an obsessive compulsive love of the number 7, constitutes most of Willow's day. Willow is not your average 12 year old. She has no friends, no social life. About to start middle school, Willow's parents decide to send her to a new school for a fresh start. When she gets a perfect score on a standardized test, she is accused of cheating and is sent to Dell, a district therapist. While Dell recognizes Willow's genius, he is unprofessional and inept, which Willow sees right through. At her therapy sessions she meets Young Quo, a troubled teen who must be accompanied by his younger sister, Hallie, to be sure he makes it to his sessions with Dell. Willow strikes a friendship with Hallie which makes her feel special as Hallie is a high school student. When Dell decides to take them for ice cream, and a ride home, the police are at Willow's house. Willow's parents have been killed in a tragic automobile accident. Young and Hallie immidately contact their mother to convince her to temporarily take in Willow so she can avoid foster care. The heartwarming story that follows tells of Willow's coping with loss and grief, dealing with her difficulty of letting people in, and of how the people around her find hope and direction from the intuition, and honesty that is all Willow.

This is one of those reads that stays with you long after the last word. If you are a teacher, or work with children, you know Willow. Gifted, autistic savant, whatever label the institution puts upon them, these kids are often ignored, and brushed aside by their peers as being "weird." In reality, they are complex people, who if you take the time to make a connection with them, can make a difference for both of you.

Reed Reads Score: 4.5