Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Across the Universe--Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publisher: Razor Bill, 2011
Pages: 632 p
Source: Library ebook
Compensation: None

Amy is faced with a horrible decision--stay on Earth with her boyfriend and friends and recognizable life or be frozen with her parents and sent on a spaceship to a new earth-like planet in the hopes of being awoken 300 years later. Amy chooses to go with her parents and endures the painful freezing process, only to have something go wrong and be conscious in her paralyzed body for centuries. As if that isn't enough, Amy is accidentally awoken 50 years ahead of her parents and must contend with a vastly different life aboard the ship. The only bright spot is a boy named Elder who seems to actually care about her.

Elder is in training to one day rule the people on the spaceship. When he meets Amy he begins to question everything he's learned about Sol-Earth and everything he believes about his life on the spaceship. The two of them together investigate who is behind attacks on other frozen people, as well as why the current leader Eldest is lying about the history of Sol-Earth.

The story is told in chapters alternating from Amy's point of view and Elder's point of view. It's exciting and gripping and satisfies readers eager for dystopian stories as well as science fiction fans. I read the book not knowing it was the first in a trilogy. I was satisfied with the ending of the story although I can see the "need" for more closure provided by the next books. Across the Universe is a thrilling adventure with science fiction, mystery, and romance mixed in and well worth the read--632 pages flip by in no time at all.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Lessons from a Dead Girl--Jo Knowles

Title: Lessons from a Dead Girl
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick, 2007 (ebook 2012)
Pages: 254 p
Source: Library Ebook
Compensation: None

Laine is the kind of girl who longs for a best friend but is socially shy and awkward, which is why she's so shocked and delighted when Leah, the younger sister of Laine's older sister's best friend, picks *her* to be her best friend forever. The girls are inseparable and do all sorts of normal best friend things... And some not normal things too. Unfortunately for Laine, Leah is a controlling abusive type of friend, one who makes Laine do things she doesn't want to do and then makes fun of her and makes her feel guilty for having done them at all.

The story opens with a teenaged Laine remembering her tortured history with Leah after having just heard that Leah has been in a terrible fatal car accident. Knowles does a good job of hinting at the reasons behind Leah's bullying sexual abusive ways without excusing her for them. We sympathize with Laine, even if she is too naive at times. Knowles has not taken the easy way out and demonized her bully, but has instead written complex realistic characters. Lessons from a Dead Girl is a solid YA book and well worth the read.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Life Happens Next--Terry Trueman

Title: Life Happens Next
Author: Terry Trueman
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 132 p
Source: Library
Compensation: None

Life Happens Next picks up immediately where the events of Stuck In Neutral leave off. I wish I could link to my review of Stuck In Neutral but I must have read it pre-blog. I did review the companion novel Cruise Control, which tells the events of Stuck In Neutral from brother Paul's point of view instead of Shawn's.

Stuck in Neutral was a powerful heartbreaking story of a boy thought to be a vegetable who in reality just has no control over any of his muscles. Having no control means he cannot send messages with his eyes by blinking or speak through a computer or have any meaningful contact with anyone. No one knows that inside his head he is thoughtful and intelligent and for the most part, happy. His father hates the idea of him suffering--not knowing that's he not--and plans to end it. At the end of Stuck In Neutral, we're not sure if his father has gone through with his plan or if he has a change of heart.


Life Happens Next is definitely a sequel and provides the closure that Cruise Control did not. Shawn has made it to his 15th birthday. While there is no miraculous recovery, he is able to make a connection with an older cousin with Down Syndrome who moves in with Shawn's family after her own parents die. He also connects with her dog who is somehow able to sense his feelings. He still dreams of being able to communicate and run and be free of his restrictive body and being able to connect with Debbie on a deeper level gives him hope for the future. 

This novel was not quite as powerful as Stuck in Neutral. At times there was a bit too much telling and not showing, but it is hard to write a novel when the main character cannot interact with other characters in any meaningful way. While it's not as ground-breaking, fans of Stuck in Neutral will be happy to finally have a conclusion to Shawn's story. 

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