Uglies, Pretties, and Specials by Scott Westerfeld
It was exhausting and took me waaaaaaay longer than it should have for me to get through these three books, but I finally triumphed!
It’s an intriguing premise and Westerfeld’s a good writer, but the reason it took me so long to finish these books is that I didn’t care about the characters. Not a single one. The main character, Tally, is not very bright and just gets lucky most of the time. She makes terrible decisions and doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes. Her friend, Shay, is wasted – she starts out a protagonist, but then turns into a selfish, whiny, reckless (and not in an interesting way), flat character who doesn’t seem to have any motivation behind her actions. I’m still not sure if she ended up a good guy or a redeemed bad guy somehow.
By the third book, when Westerfeld opens up the focus of his world to include other cities and governments, I found that more interesting – probably because he was expanding upon the aforementioned intriguing premise – but still could not have cared less for the fate of any of his characters. What a waste.
My rating: D+
Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison
I’m ashamed that it took me so long to realize that this book was out! It’s the last Georgia Nicholason book and I didn’t read it until it was well into paperback! SHOCKING!
And I’m sad that it’s over now… Georgia’s voice is still as funny as ever – I wish I were friends with her and the Ace Gang. They’re hilarious! There are appearances by everyone in the (large) cast of characters here, including, of course, Angus – it’s nice to get a glimpse of all her eccentric friends, neighbors, and relatives in the final book.
The main drama in the final book is who Georgia will end up with – will it be Masimo, the charming Italian dreamboat or Dave the Laugh, all around good guy and obviously (to everyone but Georgia) completely smitten with her? I bet you can guess, but I’ll refrain from saying anything further. 😉
My rating: A (Though I’m still grumpy that they changed the jacket design halfway through the series…)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil by Derek Landy
And Skulduggery is back in fine form! The last book was a bit of a placeholder, but that’s to be expected with such a long story to tell. I don’t have a lot to say because I don’t want to give things away and if you haven’t started reading the Skulduggery Pleasant books by this time, my review of this one will probably not convince to do so now, but it was a good one – relationships are progressing, the big picture is becoming more clear, and the stakes are getting higher. And we have a bit of tragedy at the end of this one – I’m keeping my fingers crossed because Skulduggery seems to be able to pull of miracles with the best of them, but it’s not looking good. Also, a bit of a cliffhanger with a new Big Bad introduced – someone Skulduggery has (or, rather, hasn’t) met before, but seems fairly intimidating to say the least.
Can’t wait for the next one!
My rating: A-
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
It’s here – it’s finally, finally here! The third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. And I’m going to be good and talk about it under a cut tag so as not to inadvertently spoil anyone!
The short answer to whether or not I liked it is ‘Yes, but…’ The long, spoilery version is…
Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer
ONLY ONE MORE?! Only one more. Granted, I thought the last one was the last one, so when someone mentioned they were reading the new Artemis Fowl, my response was ‘WHAT THE NEW WHAT?!’ and off I hastened to good old .co.uk and got myself a copy (I liked the UK cover better than the US, but only super-slightly – whatever happened to my design solution covers?!).
And, as always, my only complaint is that there wasn’t enough Artemis (and Holly)! This time we had quite a few other points of view – Butler and Juliet (who I’m not a huge fan of – and I miss Butler being Artemis’ Butler) and the bad guy as well as a Not!Artemis (who was hilarious for a little while, but I soon found myself missing the real Artemis).
It’s clear from this one that it’s meant to be a cliffhanger (I think, anyway) to the next, and final, Artemis book – all is not well in the mind of Artemis Fowl at the moment. And even though I’ll miss him after the next/last book, I thought the previous book was the final one, so it’s nice to have a bit of a reprieve. And in the meantime, I’ll have Skulduggery to keep me company!
My rating: B+
Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry
Liz lent this to me ages ago and I kept forgetting I had it! Finally this weekend, I sat down, determined to read it so I could finally, finally give it back to her. I was a little wary of it because of that cover – it does not look like a happy book, does it?!
But holy cow! They do NOT write books like this anymore. That’s meant to be a compliment if it’s not clear. It was amazing. I think it was written in 1988 or 1989 and it definitely has that quality of late-90s middle grade fiction. And again, that’s meant to be a compliment. Something about it – and I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to put it into words – made me think of classic books like Caddie Woodlawn, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Last Silk Dress, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, On Fortune’s Wheel, and, another one of my all-time favorites, A Murder for Her Majesty. And now I’m a little bit grumpy with my childhood librarian for never recommending this to me – I was 8 years old when it came out, exactly the right age to be reading this!
It took me a couple of chapters to really get into it – Hendry writes her characters’ dialect which is fairly thick Scots and it took me a while to be able to stop reading aloud in my head sometimes – but then I was hooked! The main character, Meg, is feisty and noble, as she should be and the secondaries are all very well fleshed out – evil when they should be and loyal when they should be. And, man, can she write a sailing scene! After the chase scene in Hugo Cabret, I think the last four or so chapters were the fastest I’ve turned pages in a long time.
My rating: A
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I literally spent the entire last weekend reading. As you’ll gradually see over the course of the week. First up was this one which I’ve been meaning to read for absolute ages! What finally spurred me into action? A friend of mine mentioned that Hotson Jude Law was going to be appearing in Martin Scorsese’s adaption of this book. Well, if you know me at all, you know that I like to read the book before the movie comes out – for no reason other than to be that annoying friend you all have who says ‘Have you read the book?’ when you start discussing the merits of the movie.
I don’t think the movie’s even started filming, but I was also procrastinating reading a book that I have to read before Claire leaves, so I thought I’d dive right in.
And Oh. My. God. It’s brilliant. You’ll notice that I classified this as both fiction and a graphic novel (not that graphic novels aren’t fiction, but you get the distinction, I’m sure). There is text, but there are also large sections that are only illustrations – at one point, there’s a chase scene and I swear I’ve never turned pages so fast! Selznick’s style is very pencilly and cross-hatchy – I would liken him to Shaun Tan’s Arrival and Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris K. Burdick (two of my absolute favorites, by the way – if you haven’t read them, I don’t think I can be your friend [also, forget The Polar Express, Harris is Van Allsburg’s masterpiece]).
Oh, yeah, and the plot is quite good, too, but mostly I think this book is about the visuals and it’s a stunning example of a blending of illustrations and text. It totally made me cry at the end.
But in a good way. You should definitely read it.
My rating: A