Itty Bitty Book Reviews, Mid-Summer Edition
Hey everyone! I’m back with another set of itty bitty book reviews (where I keep them short and sweet, 250 words and under!) I’ve been bouncing a lot between teen and adult fiction, so it’s no shock that I’ve got a little of both in this set of reviews! And I’m now scoring books on a 0-5 scale (0 being I didn’t finish it, 5 being a top read of all time.)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Published June 2013 by William Morrow Books
My score: 4/5
To say that I am a fan of Neil Gaiman would be a massive understatement. I never caught onto Sandman when it was first popular; instead, I became a fully ensconced Gaimanite after reading American Gods several years ago. That’s all it took, one spectacularly written novel to toss my world upside down and I became a fan. His collection of short stories, Fragile Things, is also one of my favorites. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a short piece, less than 200 pages, but it packs a Hulk-sized punch. Gaiman has created a modern fable/dark fairy tale about a young boy who discovers his neighbors have unique powers and can drive back the darkness after a man commits suicide near his home. It’s a frightening, enlightening story about the power of humanity tossed with a fair bit of the supernatural. A short read that sticks with you long after you’re done. And speaking of Neil Gaiman…..
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman; narrated by Lenny Henry
Published 2005 by Harper Torch
My score: 4/5
I adore world folklore. Anansi, for those not familiar, is a trickster god often found in West African folktales who often takes the shape of a spider. I was familiar with many Anansi stories from my stint as a children’s librarian. If you aren’t familiar with the history of this character, I would recommend a five-minute crash course by Googling the name before reading the book. Like with many books I listen to on audio, I’ve read this novel previously and am amazed at how a good book (a very good book, in this case) is made better by an fantastic narrator. Lenny Henry, a well-known British actor, does a knockout job on this audiobook – Gaiman’s dry, dark humor shines in Henry’s reading and his voice for Fat Charlie’s father is truly one of the best I’ve ever heard.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor; audiobook read by Khristine Hvam.
Published September 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
My score: 4.5/5
Another book I love – but honestly, I think I love the audio of it more. The reader, Khristine Hvam, is utterly amazing. She can pitch her voice backward and forwards, up and down, and makes you feel like the characters are talking in your ear. This is the kind of audiobook reading that takes the novel, which is fantastic on its own (and is still one of my favorites to this day) and transcends it into a land of pure amazing-ness. Hvam takes Taylor’s prose, which is elbow-deep in metaphor and imagery, and makes it real for the listener; the moments of pain are purer, the love more exquisite, and the moments of hilarity even better. I can’t recommend this enough.
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Published January 2013 by Tor Teen
My score: 2.5/5
This book leaves me very conflicted. The first few chapters are gruesome and grim and makes you want to fix every wrong committed. Ember lives in a world where major cities like Los Angeles and D.C. are now ghost towns, the country is ruled by soldiers and the Moral Statues (no more Bill of Rights), and it’s perfectly normal for children to be ripped from their homes in the middle of the night to be sent to rehabilitation camps. This is what happens to Ember, as she was born out of wedlock and that is a direct violation of Article 5 of the Moral Statues. Simmons paints a frightening picture of a land where people are ruled by fear and the iron fist of someone else’s morality. The kicker is this – when she is arrested, one of her captors is Chase, the boy she loves. It’s a great premise (though the love angle reminds me a little of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi) but it’s only moderately executed. In a world this upside down, I want to know why and how…and why all this happened and I felt like the author skipped over those VERY important world-building details to focus on Ember’s love for this boy (who is a bit of a broody pants, and not in a good way…girl, you can do better!). I would recommend only if you are really hankering for a dystopian read and the library is all out of the better options.
And those are my mid-summer reviews! Life has kept me from reading at my usual pace, so my hope is that once cooler weather sets in, I’ll be back to devouring books! Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!