Archive for August 30, 2007

Traitors Gate and Other Books by Avi

I just finished Traitors’ Gate by Avi. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. If you try to think of an author whose books are dramatically different from each other, then Avi is the author. Below is a sampling of his books, anyone of which is worth reading.
Traitors’ Gate
This is an action-packed tale of secret identities, double-dealing and betrayal, set in Charles Dicken’s, mid-19th-century London. John Huffam (the middle names of Charles J.H. Dickens) is 14, reluctantly attending Muldspoon’s Militantly Motivated Academy, when his father (like Dickens’) is sent to debtor’s prison. His mother is a layabout who does nothing but complain of her husband’s fecklessness, and his sister’s sole concern is how this family crisis impacts her marital prospects. It’s left to John to unravel a mystery involving a military invention that his father, a naval clerk, has information about and a web of foreign spies willing to pay for specifics. When John meets Sary the Sneak, a girl who sells information she gleans on the street, he thinks he’s found a friend at last. But is there anyone he can trust?
A Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic
At the dawning of the Middle Ages, Thorston, an old alchemist, works feverishly to create gold and to dose himself with a concoction that will enable him to live forever. The key to his success lies in a mysterious book with blank pages that can only be read by desperate, green-eyed people. As he is about to complete his task, he suddenly suffers a heart attack. With a few last words to his talking raven and thirteen-year-old servant girl, Thorston attempts to complete his mission by having these two find, “the green eyed one.” An evil lawmaker; a curious monk; a nosy apothecary; two green-eyed boys; Sybil, the servant and Odo, the raven, make a dynamic, disturbing group of characters. They will leave readers wondering who to trust, what is evil and what is good.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead (and the sequel, Crispin: At the Edge of the World)
In 1377 England, mysteries surround thirteen-year-old Crispin, a serf from a rural village who never knows his own name until his mother dies. Nor does he know just who his mother really was—why she was an outcast or how she learned to read and write. Shortly after her burial, Crispin finds himself pursued by men who mean to kill him for reasons he does not understand. He escapes, only to be captured by a huge juggler named Bear, who teaches Crispin to sing and play the recorder, and slowly they begin to get to know one another. When they perform in villages and towns, however, they discover that the hunt for Crispin is still in full swing. For Crispin, this situation makes the question of Bear’s trustworthiness vital, for Bear has secrets of his own. The suspense stays taut until the very end of the book, when Crispin uncovers his identity and then must decide how to act on that information.
Never Mind: A Twin Novel (written with Rachel Vail)
On the surface, 12-year-old dueling fraternal twins, Edward and Meg couldn’t be more different. Separately, they are struggling to figure out who they are as individuals. The story unfolds in Manhattan in just five days, shortly after they’ve started seventh grade-Meg at a school for highly gifted students and Edward at Charlton Street Alternative. What starts out as a way for Meg to appear cool-she reinvents her “immature, runty, underachiever” brother as a “brilliant, rock/classical bass player” in a hip band-and for Edward to embarrass his sister, escalates into screwball comedy. Surprised by what happens, they realize they have more in common than they thought, and also emerge with a stronger sense of themselves as individuals.
Nothing But the Truth: A Documentary Novel
Ninth grader Philip Malloy finds himself unable to participate on the track team because of his failing grade in English. Convinced the teacher, Margaret Narwin, dislikes him, he concocts a scheme to get transferred from her homeroom: instead of standing “at respectful, silent attention” during the national anthem, Philip hums. Throughout the ensuing disciplinary problems at school, his parents take his side, ignore the fact that he is breaking a school rule, and concentrate on issues of patriotism. The conflict between Philip and his school escalates, and he quickly finds the situation out of his control; local community leaders, as well as the national news media, become involved. Philip gains fame as a martyr for freedom; his homeroom teacher, Miss Narwin, however, faces dismissal from her job.
Ed Goldberg
Teen Services Librarian

Eclipse–What Did You Think?

EclipseNow that you’ve read the much anticipated Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer, what did you think? Which book in the trilogy did you like the best? Send me a review and let me and other readers know your opinion

The Uglies Trilogy (?) by Scott Westerfeld

I just got an advance copy of the book Extras which is the fourth “unexpected” book in what is now the Uglies series. The book will be published in October. I can’t wait to read it. The first three books in the series were terrific. So, let me introduce you to the Uglies series.
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In her futuristic world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent Ugly into a stunningly attractive Pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. Anticipating this happy transformation, Tally meets Shay, another female ugly, who shares her enjoyment of hoverboarding and risky pranks. But Shay disdains the false values and programmed conformity of the society and urges Tally forego the operation and defect with her to the Smoke, a distant settlement of simple-living conscientious objectors. Tally declines. But when Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the Pretty world –and it isn’t very pretty. The cruel Dr. Cable offers Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find Shay and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.
Tally is enjoying her new life as a Pretty. She’s with her best friends, Shay and Peris, she has a gorgeous new boyfriend, Zane, and she’s about to join the most sought-after clique in New Pretty Town. But when she receives a message from her old friends in the Smoke, she’s reminded of her mission: to test a cure for the brain surgery that dulls the minds of Pretties. She and Zane share the cure, which clears their minds but makes Zane dangerously ill. The couple teaches the rest of their clique how to keep their minds clear without the cure. But with her newly clear mind, Shay remembers Tally’s betrayal of the Smoke and breaks off to form a violent new clique of her own. Now hiding from Shay as well as Dr. Cable and her Specials, Tally and her friends must plan a daring escape from New Pretty Town–before it’s too late for Zane.
Tally has been surgically altered from a Pretty to a carefully engineered military Special. Now her body is weaponized, her teeth, fingernails and reflexes razor-sharp. Edges look extra sharp, the world is maniacally beautiful and Dr. Cable’s pursuit of the New Smoke rebels is inherently justified, especially because the New Smoke’s irresponsible medical experimentation damaged Tally’s boyfriend Zane and made him repulsive. Tally and Shay are Cutters, elite Specials who slice their skin to stay hyper-focused. As they track runaways to find the hidden New Smoke, the previously two-sided fight expands into a war with multiple stances and complications, on a far broader scale than Tally could have guessed.