Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Really Nice Prom Mess

Title: A Really Nice Prom Mess
Author: Brian Sloan
Reading Level: YA
Location: YA Sloan

Cameron Hayes is excited to go to his senior prom, especially when his date is the most attractive girl at school. The problem is, he would much rather be at the prom with...his boyfriend. They are both deeply in the closet and forced to go on double dates with girls to avoid anyone knowing about their sexuality. Things get worse when Cameron picks up his date. Virginia, the crass, foul-mouthed (and homophobic) bombshell beauty. The entire novel is a hilarious tale of one night involving parties, fights, a high-speed police chase, a go-go dancer and plenty of drama! Brian Sloan uses very realistic teenage dialogue and you can't help by continue to turn the page with this edgy novel. The characters are refreshingly honest and easy to relate to.
Bottom Line: This is a very underrated page-turner that is a must read for older high schoolers. Brian Sloan is a very talented writer in the YA genre and I really wish he would write more. One warning: Don't read it on a school night because you will be up all night waiting to see how the night of madcap adventures all end.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Title: Hunted: A House of Night Novel
Author: P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Location: YA Cast
Reading Level: Young Adult

This review may discuss some plot points from the previous House of Night books. If you have not yet read the first 4 books, you may want to skip ahead to the bottom line.

Zoey and her friends are back in this fifth novel in the House of Night series. They have escaped the House of Night after evil Neferet raised the demon god, Kalona, as part of her plan to wage a war on humans and rule the race of vampires. Zoey must stay true to her goddess and, with the help of her friends and family, defeat the combined power of Neferet and Kalona.

As a whole, Hunted was a very disappointing book. It is 323 pages and encompasses three days of Zoey’s life after she and her friends flee the house of night at the end of Untamed. The writing is atrocious as always, but normally an engaging plot makes up for this fact. However, very little occurs in this book and by the end, it really feels like the storyline and the characters just ran in circles. It was while reading this book that I realized that between the first book in this series and the fifth, only a few months have passed in Zoey’s life. This drawing out of the series, particularly obvious in this installment, seems a lame attempt on the part of the author to squeeze as much money out of the series as possible. This is extremely frustrating since I know a good amount of teenagers who truly wasted their money for the sloppy mess that is Hunted. For the next book, the authors might want to attempt to use their limited writing abilities to extend the storyline past a few days of Zoey's life while actually adding depth to the plot and characters.

The Bottom Line: This was a terrible book. Untamed really gave me high hopes for this series which came crashing down in this fifth installment. If you are a fervent reader of the series then you have probably already read Hunted. If not, I suggest you skip this one. Trust me, you won’t miss a thing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Composer Is Dead

Title: The Composer Is Dead
Author: Lemony Snicket
Reading Level: J
Location: J Snicket

Someone has killed the composer! The question is who did it...

Instruments such as the Harps, the Violins and the Trumpet are all personified in this cleverly funny mystery. As the detective tries to solve the murder, all the instruments are suspects with questionable motives...but plausible alibis. I knew this would be a witty, fun read coming from Snicket who crafted the dark humor A Series Of Unfortunate Events books and established himself as the Tim Burton of modern children's literature. One great line is when the narrator describes the composer as no longer composing, but "decomposing". Many classical music references are made that the adults can enjoy too. You may even learn a thing about orchestras and symphonies. Accompanied is a CD with Lemony Snicket narrating and followed by a performance by the San Fransisco Orchestra. Despite the grim subject, the story is in a picture book format suitable for young elementary school children who can appreciate a well-crafted darker comedy.

Bottom Line: Snicket once again proves that he doesn't need a 300+ page chapter book to develop a captivating storyline. I recommend this book to any fan of classic music or a silly but creative plot with a surprise ending.

Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit

Title: Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit
Author: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Level: Juvenile
Location: J Kimmel

School Spirit is the first book in the Suddenly Supernatural series. In this book we meet Kat whose Mom is super cool, but a bit of an embarrassment to Kat. I know you're thinking my life would be sooo much better if my Mom was cool. But is your Mom a medium who has seances with weird noises coming out of the room and drops in temperature that make you shiver when you have the most popular girl from school over. And did you suddenly start seeing people who say haven't eaten a meal in awhile and wear clothes that are so far out of style because - oh yeah- they're dead.

Talking to people no one else can see doesn't exactly help you make friends in middle school or survive without taunting, but Kat makes friends with a new student, Jac, who has her own secret and Mom problems. Together they try to figure out what happened to the faded girl in the library and how they can help her.

Bottom Line: A fairly quick, likable, somewhat humorous, middle school read. This book should appeal to any girl who is trying to fit in and avoid embarrassing teasing. So that would be all girls tween or older and those who survived middle school. Look for more titles in the Suddenly Supernatural series this summer.