Sunday, September 27, 2009

Caught in the Act
By Peter Moore

Ethan Lederer is an actor; not just in the school plays (though he is always cast as the best friend or the sidekick, never in the leading role) but in life – everyone he knows has their own image of who Ethan is and Ethan acts according to that image. To his friends he is brainy though he is probably as smart as they are; to his family, particularly his parents, he is a straight A honors student but in reality he is an average sophomore student. Then new student Lydia Krane comes to school where she is mostly ignored by students because she seems “different,” wearing Goth-like clothes with shirts with Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears underneath and always writing in a green velvet journal. If students do talk to her, it is not always in a friendly way. Ethan is the only one who really notices her and begins to get to know her when they are both cast in the school play, a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth set in Hollywood written by the drama teacher. Likewise, Lydia is the only one to see Ethan for who he truly is inside and encourages him to let that part of him out to others. Not a bad thing, right…? Even readers who are not interested in theater or drama classes can find at least one thing to relate to – struggling with math and science classes, living up to parents’ expectations, relationships with friends, and break-ups just to name a few. However, it is through the play rehearsal scenes that really emphasizes and brings up the themes that are developed throughout the novel – from how theater is connected to real life to how everyone is the lead of their own story with everyone else being supporting actors, even if they enter for a brief time, playing their part before exiting, and leaving behind only the impression, good or bad, they had made in the person’s life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

By Michael Grant
Series: Second in the Gone series

Warning: Review may contain minor spoilers for Gone.

It has been three months since the coming of the FAYZ. Three months since everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared. Three months without telephones, television, or Internet. After the events of the Thanksgiving Battle, Sam has been elected “mayor” of Perdido Beach and is beginning to collapse under the pressure and things just continue to get worse. Not only are kids asking Sam to make every little decision for them, some as small as which DVD to watch, but food has become extremely scarce forcing the kids to eat random canned goods, garbage, even a neighborhood pet or two. Only a handful of kids are willing to help out and go on harvesting trips to cabbage and melon fields only to find them swarming with a common non-threatening creature that has undergone a deadly mutation. If the food shortage was not enough, some kids continue to develop new supernatural powers causing chaos to rise between the “normals” (kids without powers) and the “freaks” (kids with powers) that escalates to just short of civil war breaking out. Meanwhile, Caine focuses his sights on taking over the nuclear power plant at the center of the FAYZ and turning off the power to Perdido Beach, and that is only the beginning of his plans. The action begins immediately in chapter one and does not let up until the end with a few moments of drama before the next action sequence begins. Several storylines begin to fuse together, combining and building up the suspense until the climatic ending where it is life or death for a number of characters. If Grant set the bar high with Gone he sets the bar even higher with Hunger for the next installment of the series.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

By Michael Grant
Series: First in the Gone series

Daily life in Perdido Beach, California changes completely when everyone fifteen and older suddenly disappear, leaving those fourteen years old and younger. Just as suddenly landline and cellular phones no longer work, there is no Internet access or television signals, no way to get help or find out what has happened. Fear and panic spread. Bullies rule. Students from a local private school come into town and help create order and develop rules, though somewhat giving the bullies an advantage. In addition, some teens develop new talents – supernatural powers, causing tension between those with powers and the powerless. Sides begin to be chosen and a battle between good and evil looms ever closer. And time is running out – when the teens turn fifteen they will also disappear like the adults. Elements of action, suspense, mystery, and a hint of romance come together to create a great supernatural thriller page turner that leaves the reader constantly on the verge of a new discovery, none of which disappoints and always surpasses the one previous, which continue to build and build until the exciting climax of the installment. There are brief descriptions of mild violence but not too terribly gruesome to be outside of a PG-13 range. As the first book of a projected six book series, do not expect all questions to be answered or revealed by the end; however, the storyline does reach a satisfying ending with a decent small cliff hanger that leaves the reader ready for the next installment.