I'd like to thank my readers for bearing with my blog hiatus as I went a-conferencing and would like to thank everyone who came out to MLA and came to my presentation on What's New in Young Adult Literature! (I talked about 175 books in the course of an hour. It was awesome.)
I had a great time and am now back home.
Tomorrow, I am hoping to finally get my challenge updates posted, as well as the winners of the England Prize draw for the Guardian Book Challenge. In the meantime, here are some book reviews! Huzzah! These are coming from my massive file of pre-written reviews.
The Explosionist Jenny Davidson
This really is just as good as everyone says it is.
Set in Scotland in an alternate 1930s, where Napoleon won Waterloo, the Hanseatic League still exists, and spiritualism is real and you can talk to ghosts through radio waves, Davidson weaves an excellent story of terrorism, murder, and political intrigue.
Sophie and her friend Mikael are investigating the mysterious murder of a famous medium when they realize the plot goes much, much deeper than they ever imagined and has ties to the highest levels of government. There's obviously a lot more to it, but the less I give away, the better.
The story is gripping and fraught with tension. The IRLYNS subplot is creepy, but in a way that's almost believable. (And when I say "almost" I don't mean that I didn't fully buy it, I mean, that I could pretty much believe that the IRLYNS subplot could be actually happening right now in our own world.)
Sophie's world is some much almost like ours, but not quite... there has to be a sequel coming, right? While the book ended in exactly the right place, there is so much left unanswered that I need more!
Guardian Julius Lester
Lester has a way of punching you in the gut with his books. Think Day of Tears and The Old African, not so much Cupid.
It's the Deep South, 1946. Zeph Davis is a psychopath that no one questions because his family owns the town. The preacher's daughter has become suddenly beautiful. Ansel (white) and Willie (black) have a friendship despite their racial differences, though always marred by the status differences between them because of their skin. This summer, they're learning to dream.
You know it will end in a lynching of an innocent man.
It's really Ansel's story. This lynching will be seen through the eyes of a young white boy.
The prose is spare, the chapters short, and the story only takes up 119 pages, a novella almost, really. The minimalist approach provides the greatest impact. He could have given us more, but by holding back, he gives his story more power and resonance.
After finishing, I had to curl up in a ball and not talk to anyone for awhile. After writing this review, I want to do the same.