Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Legend by Marie Lu

In the first installment of Marie Lu's dystopian series, we are introduced to a plague infected post-apocalyptic world.  While the rich are protected from the plague by vaccines, the poor are most effected and are dying quickly.  The United States no longer exists and the new governments, the Republic and the Colonies, are constantly at war.

June, who has been brought up in the wealthy sectors of the Republic, is known as a prodigy because she scored a perfect 1500 on her military trials.  Day, who was raised in the slums, is the Republic's most wanted criminal.  When June's brother is murdered during a hospital break in, Day becomes the most likely suspect.  June immediately goes on a Republic sponsored hunt to find Day and she will stop at nothing until she has captured her brother's killer. Undercover in the slums, June meets Day and discovers that he is not the person she thought he was and begins to question everything she has been taught by her beloved Republic.

My Thoughts:  
Anyone out there looking for another Hunger Games like adventure?  If so, Marie Lu's Legend will not disappoint.  Since reading The Hunger Games, I have stumbled across many dystopians, some worth my time and others not so much.  I was at first reluctant to pick up Legend because I am already in the middle of so many trilogies.  I actually met Marie Lu last summer at the American Library Association conference and received Legend and an advance copy of the second book in the series, Prodigy.  They have both been sitting on my shelf since then and I was finally convinced by a fellow literary friend to move them to the top of my book list.  I quickly finished them both and am now anxiously awaiting the third book.  The setting, characters, and plot are excellently crafted and make for another thrilling futuristic adventure. 

Note:  The second book, Prodigy, was released today (January 29th, 2013)!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

"There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere. At least that's what I thought. Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.  There was a curse. There was a girl. And in the end, there was a grave."

Ethan Wate plans to escape his small southern town as soon as possible. That is until the girl he has been dreaming of (literally) walks into his school. Lena Duchannes is dark and mysterious and Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her. To make matters worse, she lives in the creepy mansion at the edge of town with her recluse uncle that no one has seen for years.

Ethan soon learns that Lena comes from a family of "casters," more commonly known as witches, and Lena may be the most powerful of them all.  But danger looms just days away. On her 16th birthday  Lena will be claimed light or dark and the choice is not hers to make.

I really enjoyed the blend of a dark Gothic supernatural world with a simple southern town. As a lover of southern literature, I really appreciated the nod to the history and magic of the south. Beautiful Creatures is a young adult book that can be enjoyed by all ages. The themes of light and dark, old and new, and the power of both magic and love resonates with readers. I have to admit, in the current trend of turning every book into at least a trilogy, part of me wished this was a stand alone book but the characters are interesting enough to carry it through a few more stories.  Readers will see the book take to the big screen in 2013 in what is sure to be a vivid and beautifully crafted film version of the story. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Secret Rage by Charlaine Harris

I must begin by stating that Charlaine Harris is one of my favorite authors.  I first began reading her books after I read the Twilight series.  I was on a bit of a vampire kick, so I picked up the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series (the series True Blood is based on).  I quickly read through all of the Sookie books that had been released.  She now has 12 Sookie books and the 13th and final book in the series will be released in May.  As I tried to wait patiently for each Sookie book release, I decided to start reading the books in her other series:  Lily Bard, Harper Connelly, and Aurora Teagarden.  I also flew through these in no time.  While the Sookie series is by far my favorite of her 4 series, the Aurora Teagarden books come in at a close second.  I was working on my library science degree at the time and I loved that Aurora is a mystery solving librarian.  

I finally had the chance to meet Charlaine Harris when I went with some friends to the National Book Fest in Washington D.C.  After hearing her talk about all of her books, I decided that I wanted to also read her two standalone books:  A Secret Rage and Sweet and Deadly.  

Nicki Callahan is a former New York City model, who has just been informed by her agent that her  services are no longer needed.  Nicki is crushed  that her modeling career has ended at the young age of 27.  She decides to move back home to Knolls, Tennessee to live with her best childhood friend, Mimi, and to finish getting her college degree. As Nicki settles back into life in Knolls, she reconnects with many former acquaintances, including Mimi's brother Cully, her childhood crush. 

Nicki soon discovers that Knolls is not the quiet little town that it use to be when a serial rapist begins attacking the women around town, Nicki included.  The whole town attempts to discover who the rapist is, as the police on the case have determined it is most likely someone they know.  

My thoughts:  
This novel was definitely different from most of the other Charlaine Harris novels I have read.  There are no vampires, werewolves, or supernatural elements.  A Secret Rage is a mystery, but it also deals with the very difficult subject of rape. After reading this book, I discovered that Charlaine Harris is herself a victim of rape.  I imagine this must have been a very difficult subject for her to write about.  While this mystery was a little more difficult for me to read than her others because of the heavy subject, Charlaine handles it very well.  If you are a Charlaine Harris fan, you should definitely add this to your book list.