Friday, April 15, 2011

Speed Book Reviews

I’ve reached the point once again where the books I’ve read vastly outnumber the ones I have reviewed. Since I’m still blitzing through them (6 weeks until the end of the semester!), it’s time for speed reviewing. Here we go:

Hex Hall
Cutey, cute. It’s what happens when you take Bella Swan and give her magical powers and send her to Hogwarts Reform School for no good reason. Except Bella has a spine and picks good friends, and while yes, she falls in love with someone who wants to kill her, he’s not a morose stalker so... Go Sophie! It’s good clean fun and worth the afternoon. The sequel, Demonglass, is sitting on my "To Be Read" shelf.

Almost Christian
It’s not YA, but it is about young adults and their spiritual development. While it is using the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion to suggest ways to more effectively pass on a meaningful faith to youth, I found it a personally challenging book. Since by far the most significant indicator of a youth’s religious commitment was that of their parents, even before I become a parent I am working to build up my own faith so my children will realize that the salvation I have through Jesus Christ is something important that I want them to also have and grow in. I don’t want them to only think Christianity is a way to be nice to people and God isn’t significant enough to make a priority in their lives. While faith only comes through the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life, I don’t want to provide any roadblocks to that process. I recommend it to anyone who may have any impact on children.

Feed was required reading for my YA Lit class. It’s science fiction set in the future where everyone has direct access to the internet via a neurological implant called the feed. When Titus meets Violet, he learns not everyone has had the feed running since birth, and that while the feed seems incredibly necessary for any attempt at engaging in the world, it has a dark side as well. More than any dystopian novel I’ve read Feed made me want to flee from technology. I’m glad I read it. It’s very thought provoking. But it hits a little too close to home for me to remember it comfortably. Read it, but prepare to be disturbed.

The House of the Scorpion
Matteo Alacran is the 9th of his kind, but he doesn’t know it. El Patron, dictator of the land between Mexico (now Atzlan) and the United States, has been raising clones of himself so he could live to his present age of 140. We follow Matt as he encounters a world that doesn’t accept him and struggles to find his place in it. It’s another really thought-provoking book. However, the second half of the book when Matt escapes the Farm kind of fell apart for me. The tight interesting story just spiraled out of control and the author had to do some pretty extreme literary gymnastics to bring the story back together again. I still think it’s a story worth reading, just be prepared for the ending to go wacky.

Organized Simplicity
I’m on a Spring Cleaning, organize my life kick. Probably because life is kicking up a notch coming out of Winter and just going to keep going and Uncle Uno’s house (which I helped clean out) made me want to disavow all worldly possessions. Organized Simplicity just provides a nice little outline to get your home in order. I’m not sure it could be done in 10 days like she suggests, but the steps are pretty easy to break into several days. I want to buy this book for her resources in the back, including homemade cleaning supplies.

Persepolis and Persepolis 2
I was going to use these books are my memoir/graphic novel for my YA class, but I think they hit a little older. Marjane Satrapi came of age during the time of the Iranian Revolution in the 70s. She remembers not wearing the veil, and then wearing it, and all the changes in climate that the veil symbolized. Her parents decided to send her off to Austria to escape some of the harsher changes, but her status as an outsider merely drives her to dangerous behaviors and people. Styled in the slightly humorous, but mostly dark interpretation as other historical graphic novels like Maus, Persepolis is an inside look into Iran and into the heart of a person desperately looking for a place to belong.

The 100 Thing Challenge

In the “organize my life kick”, I read this book hoping for motivation (while realizing I would never own just 100 things). Bruno is an all-right narrator, an interesting Christian voice on a generally secular subject, and he works at Point Loma so I’m uber-jealous. It didn’t change my life, but with Organized Simplicity, I have cleaned out my closet and dresser. :-)

Deus Ex Machina

In the place between The Hunger Games and Survivor, you find this book. It’s the brutality of the dystopian fantasy, but it has the reality of... well... the reality tv show. The Deserted is a reality tv show that has pushed the limits. In HG fashion, the producer has created an island that responds to his every whim in an attempt to get an authentic reaction from his characters/contenders. However, as the show has progress the producer feels authenticity gives way to sensationalism. Despite some really crude scenes (almost thrown in to make it "more adult" though I'm sure the author would tell you it's just a physical manifestation of the vulgarity the show produces), it was an interesting read.


Kristen said...

After all our organizing talk on Saturday (lovely, by the way), I find it delightful that I am also in the middle of Organized Simplicity. Like you, I'm certainly enjoying it! It's quite inspiring and helpful. I'm working on my household notebook as a result.

Julianna said...

I really enjoyed Feed and have had Persepolis on my list of books to read. I thought Feed was just close enough to reality to really make me consider how I use technology. Thanks for some other new suggestions.