Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Project 50 Restart: January

I really left off this project of writing reviews for every book I read. I've been reading a lot of young adult series, so a lot of them have been kind of the same. I'm not sure if I got to 50 books last year, but I have read a lot of books in the first month of this year, so I'm off to a good start.

"The Valley of Fear" by Arthur Conan Doyle
The first part of this Sherlock Holmes novel was perfect to read on a train ride to London through the snowy English countryside (and I finished the book in Edinburgh, Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthplace). As per usual for Holmes and Watson, the murder of a well liked man in the country is not quite what it seems. But when the mystery is solved, the book continues with a lengthy back story that appears a little redundant. I haven’t read many Holmes mysteries, but I assume the back story is a set up for the next book, which is the last of Holmes adventures. Nevertheless, it was half a book without Holmes and Watson, and after spending the first half of the book with them, I missed the characters and never took to the strangers. B-

"The Hickory Staff" by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon

I didn't have any real reason for picking this book at the library, other than that it had regular humans in a fantasy world, which was what I was writing my NaNo novel about. I started it, then had to put it down for November. Then as soon as I picked it up again, I found that the method the authors used to get their Earlings into Eldarn was almost exactly the same as the method that I had used. I was really excited to read it after that. It was an all right story, which kept fragmenting and following different characters in different places for almost the entire book. Mark and Steven are two friends from Colorado who find a portal to another world that is torn apart by magical and political strife. A Gandalf figure leads them around trying to find a way home for Steven and Mark as well as a way to defeat the evil magician threatening Eldarn. The fragments that follow different people are a bit disorienting, and you never get to stay with any one group for long enough to really figure out what's going on. There are random forced flirtations and sexual scenes that seem like they're just thrown in because a fantasy needs love and sex right? And it's lengthy, a 700 page monster with two more books in the series. I might read the others if they happen to come in at the library, but I'm not in a rush. C

"Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan
I used to be really into ancient Greek gods as a teenager, so I thought I would be really into this book about the half-blood son of a god. Actually, I felt like I was reading something that I had read before. Percy thinks it’s just impossible that gods could exist even after he’s been shown that they do. It’s one NO WAY! moment after another for a while, yet he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Greek gods. When Percy tells the reader that he has ADHD and dyslexia, then finds out that they are actually symptoms of his hero blood, battle ready and hardwired for ancient Greek (???), yet he keeps referring to “my ADHD acting up,” which was a little odd. I liked the idea of a learning disability making him more able as a hero, but the author didn’t really follow through. C

"The Hunger games: Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins
Like the first in the series, Catching Fire is written in present tense, which reads like fan fiction to me. It’s extremely difficult for me to put down a book like that then come back to it. The story was really intense though, and since I didn’t like having to restart and adjust my brain to present tense, I finished it in three days. After winning the violent Hunger Games, where young people are forced to fight to the death in submission to a totalitarian government, Katniss Everdeen should be living a comfortable victors life. But because she and her District 12 ally, Peeta, both won the games by threatening a “both or none” suicide, the Capital senses rebellion and keeps them under tight control. Katniss knre that their display of solidarity against the unfair Games would mean she would have to toe the line, but she never expected that she and Peeta…(no spoilers!)
There are times when the author throws in misfit lines, especially Katniss’ suspicions of…everyone seem like something I might have written as a teenager, and it’s not really something I like reading. But I want to find out what happens to Katniss, so I’ll give it points for capturing my attention. B-

"The Sorceress: Secrets of the Immortal Nicolas Flamel" by Michael Scott

I think I've finally figured out what bothers me about these books (I've read two other books in this series). Every chapter, EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER ends with a cheesy cliffhanging one-liner. It's like reading David Caruso from CSI: Miami. It was the same old thing, famous figures popping up as immortal humans and Sophie and Josh wrestling with the pressure of being the supposed "twins of legend." Are we to trust Nicolas Flamel or not? Meh, I'm kind of getting bored with this series. C

"Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan

In the second of the Percy Jackson series, Percy learns that he has a brother. Through magical dreams, he also learns how he can save the sickening Camp Half-Blood, poisoned by a traitor. He starts off on a rebellious streak that I think will carry through the series, a hero that can't take orders when he gets it in his system to go save people. He still kind of leans on dyslexia and ADHD, and I'd really like to see Percy own himself as a half-blood. It's a good quest too, and ends with a great cliffhanger. B

"Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse" by Rick Riordan
This book went pretty quickly, with a couple of new pretty flat characters coming in who instantly find their places in the story, carry out their tasks, and are finished. Percy is now 14, and starts getting interested in girls, just as his best prospect gets carted off. A quest to get her back? Oh yes. I think that this book relies a little heavily on the Oracle's prophecy, but then the characters seem to forget it when it's most important. More like an Oedipus Rex "aw, I knew that was coming" moment. It's the first time that I've seen the author appear to plan anything, setting the stage at the beginning of the book and waiting until the very end to resolve it. The underlying plot to defeat Luke and Kronos carries on though, so I'll be reading "Battle of the Labyrinth" soon. B-

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