23 February 2016

Review: Just My Luck

Just My Luck Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of the many trends in middle grade and YA fiction right now, autism and stories about family struggles are leading the way. Just My Luck is one of the better ones that covers these trends, and deserves a lot of attention.

This is mostly about Benny, who finds a new best friend but also has to deal with his autistic brother and his father's sickness. It's a balancing act, and one that might not always be working in Benny's favor.

It's a simple book that excels because of the simplicity and humor in play. As someone who has a parent who slowly became nonverbal, a lot of the coping I saw in this book felt real, and that includes the humor that goes along with it. On a whole, a great read and one that should really be on a lot of middle grade bookshelves, and perfect for those kids who are dealing with these issues. Just one of the more pleasurable reads I've had of late.

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21 February 2016

Review: Flicker

Flicker Flicker by Theodore Roszak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes a book hits all your interests all at once, and there's really nothing else quite like it out there. Flicker, as a book, is closing in on 25 years old, and yet this book felt far too much like something that was relevant and on-trend today as it may have been when it was written, and that says a lot.

The story, on the surface, is about a man, Jonathan Gates, who falls in with the art film crowd and becomes enamored with a specific filmmaker who specialized just as much in important artsy filmmaking as he did the sort of schlock Roger Corman and the like are known for. As Gates begins to do more research on this filmmaker, he begins to slowly unravel something a lot more strange, including a multi-generational conspiracy, religious cults and propaganda, Old Hollywood (and some of the Code-era figures as well) and a whole lot more.

I do wonder if Marisha Pessl has read this book, because the mood in this is reminiscent of Night Film (another book I absolutely adore), but this goes a lot deeper. For sure, a lot of my love of this book in particular is that it's so willing and able to dive into existing, little-known conspiracy theories and effortlessly incorporate them into a story that traverses decades without feeling too long or overambitious. In an era like today where the "new weird" is taking hold, reading a book that would, in a lot of ways, fit right into the existing trendy oeuvre is just icing on the cake for me, as there's just enough here to keep you on the fence as to what's actually going on here, and the way Roszak opts to end the story is just as weird and fascinating as it is completely out of left field, and is a tactic I really appreciated.

This book won't be for everyone. If long-winded diversions of sorts featuring a fictional Orson Welles or deep-rooted European Christian conspiracy cults aren't your bag, you might be bored or frustrated with parts of this story, but if you're looking for something kind of meaty without being overly literary or over-the-top, you might want to take a flier on this one. Absolutely one of the most immersive literary experiences I've had in recent memory.

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16 February 2016

Review: Rebel Bully Geek Pariah

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

File this under "what were they thinking?"

Four teens at a party, and the party is broken up by the cops. The kids run, and decide to steal an SUV to escape. And the SUV has a ton of heroin in it. Ad they may have killed a cop with the car as they sped away.

I mean, this is sort of like Very Bad Things, a brutally dark and funny movie from almost 20 years ago, except this isn't funny at all. It's sad and dark and you keep waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel or someone to get what they deserve or any sort of quality resolution, and nothing is coming at all. It's a dire, unfortunate read that just left me wondering what the impetus for this entire exercise was at all. A cool concept, just tough and terrible and weird execution. The writing is good but the entire tone and point were just way off.

Definitely skip this one. There's better out there like it.

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02 February 2016

Review: Burning Midnight

Burning Midnight Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

loser to a 4.5. There's no dearth of YA dystopias, and plenty of science fiction novels as well for the same group. Burning Midnight was definitely more unique than some of the more recent reads I've had. It's got a nice, edgier Brandon Sanderson vibe to it, which really just sets us up for a fun time.

The story takes place in a nearish future. At some point, a bunch of spheres arrived on Earth. No one knows where they came from, but it was quickly figured out that you can take a pair, "burn" them, and you get different abilities or improvements to yourself. The story follows a teen boy who sells spheres and a girl that he meets who is very good at finding them, and the way their world turns upside-down when they discover a never-before-seen golden sphere.

It's hard to fully discuss this without giving away the ending, and I'll do my best, but the way that the concept behind the spheres is revealed is absolutely wonderfully insane, and turned an already-riveting read into something a lot cooler. The story has so many little elements that it juggles well, and perhaps only falters a bit in the sense that the book doesn't feel all that modern from a setting standpoint, especially in the almost throwback treatment of the sphere market. Still, my complaints about the book are more nitpicky than anything else, as this is a rock-solid read that deserves some attention. Just a lot of fun and unlike a lot of what I've read

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