I lost my blogging mojo this week, but I thought I’d try to knock out some mini reviews to get me back on track.
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2011
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia
Where I Got It: Amazon Vine
My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Description: A sequel to The Adoration of Jenna Fox, this book chronicles the awakening of Jenna’s friends Kara and Locke after 260 years of “cyber-hiberation.” Only their minds were kept alive in digital form, but new technology developed by a Dr. Gatsbro makes it possible for Kara and Locke to have new bodies (based on their old bodies but better) and a new life. However, 260 years of being trapped and isolated have affected Kara and Locke—with Kara being changed most profoundly. When they realize that Dr. Gatsboro is not quite the benevolent savior they thought, Kara and Locke decide they need to escape and find the only person from their past who is still alive—Jenna Fox.
My Thoughts: I was really disappointed in The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I thought the premise was fantastic but poorly executed. (However, I was in the minority as many bloggers fell in love with the book.) I almost passed on reading this sequel but curiosity got the better of me—mostly because I was surprised to see a sequel. (As I recall, the first book said Jenna had destroyed the computers containing Kara and Locke’s minds.) I’m pleased to report that I liked this book better—probably because my expectations weren’t as high. Narrated by Locke, the book has more action (an escape and cross-country chase), and the future world that Pearson created interested me (particularly the relations between bots and humans). Although I thought this book was better than the first one, I still didn’t fall in love. The writing was simplistic, the plot was predictable and some discrepancies just bugged me. Perhaps, most importantly, I just couldn’t buy into the idea that people’s minds could be kept alive digitally. However, if you can suspend your critical thinking and read the first book, you’ll probably enjoy this one too.
Note: I received an Advance Reader’s Edition of this book. The book will be on sale August 30, 2011.
Faking Smart! by Karl Wofbrooks Ager, PhD (hon.) & Martin Fossum. Illustrated by Matt Cory
Publisher: CreateSpace, 2011
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor
Where I Got It: From the author
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Brief Description: The subtitle of the book is “Get Hired, Get Promoted and Become A V.P. In Six Short Weeks.” Theoretically, it is a satire of business self-help books.
My Thoughts: Oh dear. This is my worst book blogging nightmare: a very nice author asks me to review their self-published book and I don’t like it at all. Such is the case with Faking Smart! When I read Mr. Fossum’s witty e-mail requesting that I consider reviewing the book, I accepted because the book sounded like it could be fun. And it is… in parts. However, the humor that is present is just drowned by overkill and repetitiveness that ended up making reading the book feel like a chore. Although it is a slim book (under 150 pages with illustrations), it still took me more than a week to read it because I kept avoiding it. Giving Mr. Fossum the benefit of the doubt, perhaps my dislike of the book was because I’ve been out of corporate world for almost a decade. Still, I really can’t recommend this. I think this could have made a good short-form essay but, stretched to book form, it just doesn’t work for me.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Publisher: Yearling Newbery, 2009
Genre: Fiction (Children’s Books, Ages 9-12)
Where I Got It: From Paperback Swap
My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Description: It is the late 1970s in New York City, and sixth grader Miranda has some big things to deal with: the sudden distance of her former best friend Sal, her mom’s preparation for an upcoming appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid, and arrival of mysterious notes that predict events in Miranda’s life before they actually happen. As Miranda struggles to cope with Sal’s coldness, the mysterious notes begin to take on an element of danger. Miranda comes to believe that she must prevent a tragic death … if only she could figure out what was going on and what she is supposed to do!
My Thoughts: I just fell in love with this book! When reading, it took me right back to my tween years, and I knew this was a book that I would have read and reread at age 10 or 11. In fact, with the 1970s setting, it felt like a book that had been written when I was a tween. At times, I almost felt like I had read this book in my childhood as it had a really specific feel to it that reminded me of two of my all-time favorite books from childhood, From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Harriet The Spy.
I think the feeling of familiarity is that Miranda is living in the real world but is experiencing a “secret” life that has fantastical elements to it. In other words, it is a fantasy book that takes place in the real world. These type of books always appeal to me because they make me think something similar might actually happen to me. (To this day, I cannot be in a museum without thinking of hiding in the bathrooms and living there like Claudia and Jamie in The Mixed-Up Files.) It also felt familiar because Miranda’s favorite book is Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time (which is referenced countless times and is part of the plot). A Wrinkle In Time was one of my favorite books too, and this shared loved of Meg and Charles Wallace and tesseracts helped me relate even more to Miranda.
Suggestion For Reading The Book: Find a smart 10- or 11-year-old kid who likes to read. Get both of you a copy of A Wrinkle In Time and When You Reach Me. Read the books together and discuss. Or, if this isn’t possible, read the book yourself and enjoy being carried away by great children’s literature. Whatever you do, just read this book!
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