Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Dec 17-20, 2010

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the button for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!
Book Blogger Hop


This week's question is: 
"What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

My answer:
I am character-driven, all the way. I prefer a book with amazing, deep, complex, intricate characters and little plot than the other way around. Unfortunately it is hard to find books with those amazing deep characters since synopses only focus on the plot. That's why I always feel like I've found a treasure when I discover a book with great characters. Characters are the heart of any story, and if you don't have heart, then you don't have very much at all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever

Maximum Ride: School's Out - Forever by James Patterson

Published: May 23rd 2006 by Little, Brown and Company Word Count: 73,044
Series: Maximum Ride, book 2
Source: library audiobook (abridged)

My Grade: B+


Synopsis from GoodReads.com: In this stand-alone sequel to The Angel Experiment, bird-kid Max and her flock fly south to reunite with their parents. But their perilous mission runs into stiff winds when they are apprehended by an FBI agent who dispatches them to the worst nightmare destination: school! Max's homework assignment include decoding documents that might have help save the world and protect her from Max II, a clone who knows her every move. Action; suspense; plot surprises: all James Patterson specialties.

I decided to listen to an abridged version of this book just to see what it was like. Several elements led me to this curiosity. First, my grandfather's name is James Patterson and alot of people mistake him for the author. Second, the middle-schoolers I nanny absolutely love the Maximum Ride series and have gobbled up every Maximum-Ride-related book available. I started to read The Angel Experiment (first book in the series), and found it was just too juvenile to hold my interest. But - and I've mentioned this before - while I couldn't seem to be bothered to sit and read The Angle Experiment, I found listening to a recording of School's Out - Forever, quite enjoyable. A fun, clever story to listen to but again, I doubt it would have held my attention if I had had to commit to sitting down and reading it.

The characters are all well developed, each with a qualifying trait that makes them easy to distinguish. The plot keeps moving forward and never drags (this might have been a product of listening to the abridged version, but even so, I found that I missed the omitted parts and could tell there was more that would have added to the story without bogging it down). However, the dialogue is filled with cliches an pithy aphorisms that make the whole thing feel too sleek and commercial. Even the title is corny and over-the-top. While I've never read any of Patterson's novels for adults, I know it is pop-culture candy in the vein of Romantic Comedy movies and easy reading Chick-Lit. With the Maximum Ride series Patterson has produced something not often seen in children's fiction: mass-produced candy-coated adventure for the budding youth. There is a reason why the kids I nanny, who read everything from Moby Dick to Twilight, love this series so much. It's fun. It's light. It's fluffy, and it's feel-good - if insubstantial - entertainment on a level youthful enough to be at their level, but with a plot exciting enough to hold my interest while commuting to their house.

Find it on Amazon: School's Out - Forever (Maximum Ride, Book 2)

Visit the author's website: http://www.jamespatterson.com/books_max.php

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Linger

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Published:July 13th 2010 by Scholastic Press
Word Count:91,396
Series: Wolves of Mercy Falls, book 2
Source: library hardcover book

My Grade: A

Synopsis from GoodReads.com: In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

Disclaimer: This review is a bit raw and unfinished because I started writing it a few weeks ago and never finished, and now the book is not as fresh in my mind. Ah well, that's what comes of a super-busy over-stressed crazy Thanksgiving holiday while trying to write grad school applications at the same time. Anyway, here it is....

I love love love the fight Grace and her parents have over her relationship with Sam. It hits it's mark so well and does what it is supposed to. I could really feel the injustice Grace felt at her parent's disapproval of spending time with Sam and the urge to rebel from their unfair treatment. Also, I had read some criticism about the unrealistic nature of the absentee parents in Shiver and I wonder if Maggie took that into consideration by deciding to get the parents more involved in Linger. But I just read on the Mundie Mom's LiveChat with Maggie yesterday that she based the parents on some real families she knew who were like that, and she did that because she wanted there to be a reason why Grace was so independent. I think it's awesome when authors can incorporate real-life situations into their stories. Sometimes, as in this case, real situations seem even stranger or more 'unrealistic' than something completely made-up.

I like how Stiefvater avoids the love triangle temptation (although she hints at it ever so slightly, but maybe that is only a product of Cole's unlikely jealously) and instead widens the scope of her second Mercy Falls book by focusing on the lives of two separate couples. While Isabel and Cole's story is bright, shiny and new and the one most bloggers and fans of the books are talking about, I still saw Sam and Grace's relationship as the main focus of Linger. Then main story arc, the climax, and the open resolution leading to the third book all have to do with what is happening to Grace and Sam. Cole and Isabel only supplement this main storyline. And that's fine. In fact, while Cole is a complex and intriguing new character, I expected his relationship with Isabel to develop more throughout the book, based on the excitement with which others have talked about it. So I guess I was a little underwhelmed at what actually happened with them in the story, but perhaps my expectations were too high. By the end of the book Isabel and Cole are not really a couple. They might not even become one in the next book. I do enjoy the uncertainty of that, and also how their relationship is built on shared pain under a facade of phlegmatic confidence they are both pulling off only by the skin of their teeth.

Find it on Amazon: Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2)

Visit the author's website:http://www.maggiestiefvater.com/

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Books on this blog

  • City of Bones, Book One of The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
  • Eighth Grade Bites, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
  • Evermore by Alyson Noel
  • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • Magyk, Book One of the Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage
  • The Alchemyst: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud