In a crazy attempt to get and keep caught up with new youth books coming out I've decided to try and read a book a day. January went well, with 31 books read, counting graphic novels, adult titles, and audio books. Here are some highlights:
Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi (book source: ARC from publisher)
Bacigalupi is fairly new author, and this is his first youth novel and only second published novel. A post-apocalyptic adventure in a world where tsunamis and hurricanes have destroyed large amounts of the coasts, oil is extremely scarce, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots has widened to the extreme. The hero of the story is a young teen who works under horrific conditions breaking apart old ships for salvageable metal and parts. He collides with a wealthy girl who becomes shipwrecked nearby (and hits many stereotypes of the character type), and gets caught up in even bigger problems when he decides that saving her might be his key out.
The beginning was a little slow, but the descriptions are good and pull you in. Definitely gets into the environmental warnings about pollution and climate change bringing the end to the world as we know it. Not the best book, or even great, but a fun read. I'd be interested in seeing more of the world, though with different characters. Recommended for teens and mature tweens who enjoy fast-paced adventures and Miyazaki movies about man vs nature.
Going Bovine - Libba Bray (book source: checked out from library)
Cameron is your typical apathetic teen, going through his day to day existence with no real goals or interest in anything other than the hot chick. That all changes when he starts to see fire giants and gets diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease. Things look pretty bleak until a punk rock angel (pink hair, combat boots, plaid skirt, and a habit of spray painting things on her wings) named Dulcie drops by and sends him off on a quest to save himself and the world. Tagging along is Gonzo, a hypochondriac video-game playing dwarf, and later a talking lawn gnome, who claims to be the Norse god Balder. The three guys set off on one of the craziest roadtrips, encountering jazz players, dimension hopping scientists, happiness cults, and reality tv.
I really enjoyed Going Bovine, so I was pleased when it won the Printz. Nothing like Bray's other books, it is a crazy ride, with lots of literary references, the whole thing being Don Quixotesque, and brings up some good discussion topics. I can see this being used in English classes, as it just has a lot, maybe a little too much, crammed into it. It is both funny and sad, and mainly unforgettable. Even if you can't get into it yourself, hand it to that 15 year old guy you know, it might just be written for him.
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater and Wings - Aprilynne Pike (book source: both checked out from library)
Not going to get a full review on these titles, but both are good supernatural romances, Shiver with werewolves and Wings with fairies. Teen girls will likely enjoy them, as might your adult Twilight fans. They are both new authors and these are the first books in their respective series. Also, they both have very interesting takes on some classic literary creatures. Not my favorite reads, but I'll probably pick up the next in both series.
Three Cups of Tea - David Relin & Greg Mortenson (book source: checked out from library)
After nearly dying in the mountains of Pakistan, Greg Mortenson was saved by the people of the remote village Korphe. He promised to build them a school as thanks, and though it took years he kept his promise and started a campaign to bring schools to the tiny villages of the area.
This is the most amazing book I've read in ages. If you haven't read it, you should. It will open your eyes to another point of view of some of the most remote areas of the world, that we as Americans usually only see on the news in a negative light. You will be amazed that Greg Mortenson survived and continues his work. Not a read for most teens, though some might be interested in it or required to read it. Good for advanced students or those getting ready for college.