Blood, Ink & Fire
“Because readers and books hold a dangerous power. Her eyes light up as she says it. The power to imagine.”
There was so much hype surrounding this book. I thought it had the potential to be the next Hunger Games, or Divergent series with a movie soon to follow. I must admit that it took me a tremendous amount of time to finish reading, and I kept asking myself “I know I enjoy this concept, but is it ever going to end?” Noelle is born into Fell society, but never quite fits in. (Sound familiar?) Before she is stuck in Fell forever, she decides to meet her friend John in another sovereign. Her decision ends up leading to her parent’s death, but sets her on a journey to her future. Noelle is the last reader on Earth. All books have been destroyed, except for the volumes that have been spread across the sovereigns. She must find them all to find the hidden books. She falls in love with Ledger, who has taken over John’s body, and eventually ends up getting into several scares and adventures along the way. After you stick with the story, the ending is a major letdown.
I love the concept of the loss of books. We take knowledge and the ease of access to books for granted. What would happen if they all were burned and we were forbidden, even trained not to read? There are several good quotes throughout the story about the importance of reading and the imagination. I think even the quotes were overdone though, and if I read the line blood, ink or fire one more time I thought I might scream. Overall, I can appreciate an author’s first book and wish her the best on future endeavors but I wanted so much more from this book.
“The impression is made. I don’t want to wait at the doorstep any longer. I want to go dashing off after giants and pixies and dragons.”
It is a coincidence that I began the Sherlock series from BBC at the same time I started this book, but it was in the author’s favor. This reads as a classic detective novel, with a Sherlock Holmes style investigator. Abigail Rook arrives in New Fiddleham in need of work and lodging. She escaped her school duties in order to live a more exciting life, leaving her parents in the dark about her plans. She stumbles across an ad for an investigative assistant and finds the adventure she has been longing for. There is a supernatural twist to the crimes, as her new employer Mr. Jackaby, is a seer (of all things supernatural). It is a quick, fun read full of lively characters and ancient creatures that go bump in the night. I knew the murderer fairly quickly, but the story did not disappoint. I could see this becoming a hot new series, or possibly its own TV show. It was easy to tear myself away from Sherlock on the screen, and dive into Jackaby’s adventure. I believe a visit through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work will be added to my growing list of books to read.
“The way I see it, the impossible happens all the time; but we’re so good at taking it for granted, we forget it was once possible.”
I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but it was clearly not anything close to how I feel after reading. Bruiser is a fascinating tale of a boy who takes on the pain and suffering of those he loves. From a young age he is taught to stay away from people, and not interact with the world around him. Everything changes when Bronte (his girlfriend) and Tennyson come into the picture. Bruiser learns to love, but simultaneously begins taking on more suffering than imaginable. We watch this scene play out from several perspectives, and watch as those he loves begin to take back their pain to help Bruiser. I think this is an excellent read for the younger generation, but I can’t say I LOVED it. It is a quick and easy read, and does keep you entertained. It’s an interesting perspective to have someone take on other’s emotions and pain, and I think the author did an amazing job of showing how judgement of others has negative consequences.
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective.”
This book is sad, in so many ways. So why do I like it? I can’t put my finger on it. I think this book should be on the high school requirement list. Every single person should read this book and realize the effect their actions have on one another. That rumor you start, it has repercussions. That snide remark, the locker room gossip, even the looks you send are perceived by another person. I think Jay Asher is a story telling genius, and I love that the idea for this book came from a self-guided audio tour at a museum. His execution is flawless. Hannah is the main focus of this story, as she leads each person that has affected her decision to commit suicide through a voice recording. There are thirteen sides to the tapes, and each one tells a story of a person that has affected Hannah. Sometimes the stories are sad, some are heartbreaking, some are just plain HIGH SCHOOL. I think we have all experienced some of these things, but everyone copes differently. I was flipping through this book, praying that magically at the end she would still be alive and able to discuss what had happened. I wanted the suicide to be a joke (albeit a horrific one) because I couldn’t cope with her actually being gone and all of these people knowing too late how it affected her. I am going to be thinking about this book for a long time to come, and isn’t that what we all want as a reader?
Pick this one up. Read it. Learn from it
“Challenge isn’t going to come from any curriculum, no matter how hard they make it. It’s going to come from life.”
What middle school student doesn’t love some rebellion? Ungifted is a wonderful story about friendship, school rules, and changes as you mature and grow. Donovan Curtis is your typical rebellious teen, who only thinks of himself and how to have fun. If it will make people laugh, Donovan is all over it. Unfortunately, he takes his fun a step too far and ends up wrecking the school gym. As he is being scolded by the superintendent, there is a slight mix up with the report and Donovan ends up accepted to the gifted and talented program. As he hides out, Donovan learns about friendships, and begins to think outside of himself and how his actions affect others. He finds his niche in assisting with the robotics team’s “Tin Man.” This is a true watch him grow as the pages turn story. I think the story makes for a great read for the younger crowd, and the author does a wonderful job of setting the tone from an actual student’s perspective. I will definitely be looking into other books by Gordon Korman
“Without the hatchet he had nothing – no fire, no tools, no weapons – he was nothing. The hatchet was, had been him.”
I have passed “Hatchet” on the shelves since I was young without ever picking it up. There are so many junior fiction books that you were supposed to read, or wanted to read, but then you reach adulthood and wonder what happened? My boyfriend gave me the final push to pick this one up by mentioning repeatedly that it was his favorite when he was younger. I knew I needed to check it out if it could capture his attention and I was not disappointed. Although this is geared to a much younger audience I wasn’t bored, even when I could predict the trials Brian would face. Brian is the lone survivor of a plane crash and is left to survive for what he believes will be three or four days with only the hatchet his mother gifted him before the flight. In the fifty-four day adventure he is challenged to find food, build a fire, face a tornado and build a raft. He comes face to face with a bear, a moose and essentially becomes one with nature. I think this is a classic for everyone. Paulsen’s writing really captured the essence of the wild. So instead of relying on reality TV shows for your wild fix, read this book or better yet, go take a hike.
Ps. I did some serious research on moose after this. Who knew?
“Sometimes rescue comes to you. It just shows up, and you do nothing. Maybe you deserve it, maybe you don’t.”
I rarely read a book that begins with a 13 year old having sex with a seventeen year old in the back of a Buick. But guess what? This happens. And no one talks about it. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Sara at a Teen Book festival where she was rightfully placed in a panel for dealing with real-life difficult situations. I would not have picked this book up otherwise but I’m glad I did. The main character, Deanna lives in a gossipy small town and must learn to cope with her past and future after the repercussions of her thirteen year old decisions. Zarr approaches another difficult situation in the role of Deanna’s brother who must remain living with his parents after his girlfriend becomes pregnant. This book is not your typical teenage drama. It delves into some gossip but more so into Deanna’s feelings and how she overcomes the label everyone has given her. It was hard to put down and I finished so quickly that I almost wanted to start it over again. We all make mistakes. This is a book that tells us we can learn from them and move on.