Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review Catch Up

Still really busy, but wanted to get together some reviews that I did for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. I'm only one book away from meeting the 12 book goal!

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen:

Orphaned fourteen-year-old Sage is taken from his orphanage to aid a noble's plan to impersonate an assumed-dead prince after the rest of the royal family has died. He has to compete against two other boys, and those who doesn't get chosen will die, when the one who does must commit treason.

Sage's voice is excellent in this. I loved the characters in this and the inner conflict that Sage has with his own family and his past. This book is tightly plotted with nice twists that I wasn't expecting. A great book for boys who might be difficult to be persuaded to read.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This book takes place in the Russian-inspired land of Ravka, where the "Fold," an inhospitable, dangerous, and dark place, separates the country from the "True Sea."  When  being attacked in the Fold, Alina lets out light to protect herself and her best friend Mal from the dark creatures, she is discovered to be the Sun Summoner, the first in hundreds of years. Her magical power is more than rare, it has the potential to get rid of the Fold and bring light to Ravka again. With the Darkling, the most powerful "Grisha" in the land, she learns to unleash her power.

While this has many similar elements to fantasy novels with the protagonist discovering her power, the unique situation and setting brings an added layer to this novel. The magical system is of a standard kind, with just enough explanation of how it works to keep the reader free from confusion. The plot goes along not slowly, but not quickly, either, at the beginning. Halfway through, the speed is at a gallop. The two opposing relationships Alina has with Mal and Darkling make excellent foils to each other, illustrating a deep, understanding relationship opposed to one based solely on the lure of power.

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Chloe Camden, a junior who winds up doing a project on helping a radio show with promotion. This all happens just after Chloe's two best friends decide they can no longer stand her, and end up ditching her and spreading nasty rumors. But Chloe's upbeat personality won't be dampened, even if her grandma's Parkinson's is getting worse, and the boy she likes won't communicate with her.

Chloe's a fun, upbeat girl who always looks at how to better a situation through laughter. Her experiences with friends, family, and crush reflect what many teenage girls go through themselves. Sometimes I felt like her positive attitude diminished the pain she was actually feeling, but at the same time her character was refreshing among snarky teenage voices out in the YA market. Her life doesn't come to perfection, but it does come to happiness and plays out in a rather realistic manner.