Review: Burning For Revenge

Burning For Revenge Burning For Revenge by John Marsden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being disappointed in the previous book, I'm glad to see Marsden to return to previous form. This episode picks up with the band of teens back in Hell, licking their wounds from their previous failures. The pace quickly picks up with solid action and tension throughout. The relationship between Lee and Ellie takes center stage here while the remaining characters continue to play supporting and mostly unchanging roles.

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Review: Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm enormously conflicted on how to review this book. On the one hand, Perdido street station is incredibly imaginative. There are some really interesting ideas and themes, and a veritable Henson show of humanoid characters. I imagine that playing paper-and-pencil RPGs with a young Mieville would have been fantastically entertaining. The city of New Crobuzon is imagined in grotesque and vivid detail. We learn of a city that is as much a alive as any of the flesh and blood characters.

What Perdido Street offers in fanciful imagination, however, it lacks in compelling storytelling. I checked this book out from my local library, and after two weeks of stubbornly persisting I was barely a hundred pages in. Even so, I was struggling to find the thread of the story. Sure, I'd been introduced to some characters of mild interest and I was learning of their motivations, but I wasn't interested. A second checkout and I pushed to get myself past the 300 page mark where it finally, FINALLY, started to produce something of a plot. I finished the book on a third checkout mostly because I felt invested at that point.

I'm at once excited to talk to other readers about some of the truly novel concepts found here, but also wary of sounding as though I'm recommending this as a good read. I think there are some readers out there who will enjoy the endless detail and creativity of the characters and setting of New Crobuzon. I think there are far more readers who will find this story bizarre and unapproachable.

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Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me all summer, but I finished reading The Graveyard Book to my children. This was not for lack of interest though, just lots of competition for my children's time.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody Owens, a boy whose family was killed when he was a baby and he was taken in by the souls resting at the nearby graveyard. Nobody, or Bod for short, grows up among the dead. Along the way he meets some interesting characters and has an opportunity to mete out justice to his family's killer.

I love the way Gaiman writes the dialogue for each character. I'm not much of a read-aloud person, so it was especially welcome to find that characters had easy and unique speech patterns to pick up, from Irish to Scottish, from whiny to haunting. Each character had a unique voice that my children could pick out even without the story prompting as to who the speaker is.

My kids loved the story too! This made it so rewarding to read it to them. Even with long spans between sessions they could easily recall what Bod was last doing, who he was encountering, and they were eager to find out what would happen next.

Thank you, Neil Gaiman, for crafting a story that is now woven into the fabric of my relationship with my children.

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Jade Mason