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"No, they're mine! They live in My room!"
This was the conversation that ensued when it came time to pick a shelf space for the two Astronaut Academy books by Dave Roman, the second of which, Astronaut Academy Re-Entry (First Second, May 15, 2013) was read about five times each in five days by my two boys (nine and twelve).
I would have solved the problem by putting them on my own shelves, if I kept graphic novels in my bedroom. They are that lovable. They are also very funny--both the words and the pictures. And they are also very good value for your money. Not only are they eminently re-readable, but even a fast-reading adult (ie me) will take at least an hour to savor every page the first time through (I didn't let my eyes glide over any of the pictures. I didn't want to miss anything).
On one level, these books deliver sci-fi fun of a very wacky sort. The setting is, after all, Astronaut Academy, where students arrive in robot-cat like school bus in space. There are robots and other high-tech accouterments. There is also a character who is a ninja bunny, and the mysterious Senor Panda. There's the very sci-fi game of Fireball, that plays a major role in the events of Astronaut Academy, and lots lots more.
But what there also is, even more so, is characters to love. From Hakata Soy, the central protagonist, to the kids on Team Feety Pajamas (who spend most of their time in the library, ostensibly Evil, but actually not so much), to the shy, the geek, the sporty kids who make up the gloriously fascinating and diverse student body, there is someone for just about anyone to relate too and sympathize with.
And so the central story line of Astronuat Academy Re-Entry
isn't the Fireball excitement, the way Hakata makes peace with his Past, or even the defeat of the heart stealing fiendish monster from space. Nope, the central story line follows the emotional arcs of lots of kids as they navigate the world of school and friendship and parental expectations (at a wacky school in space, but still universal). And my heart goes out to them all.
(Here at Tor
, you can see nice several pages of the book, staring one of my favorite characters, Thalia Thistle, playing fireball. And some of the heart eating monster stuff).
It's not a straight-forward, linear progression of story--it's told from multiple points of view. And things don't necessarily make Sense, especially if you haven't read the first book. This might make it not a book for everyone. But who cares about sense, says I, when you are given a combination of words that read themselves out loud in your head and pictures that make you smile like crazy?
Plus dinosaur cars. I loved them in the first book, and I was getting worried that they weren't going to be in this book. But they are.
Here's my review of book 1
--Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity.
disclaimer: review copy received very happily indeed from the publisher.
Blog: The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
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By: C. C. Gevry,
Trail of Bones
Ready for a new adventure? Are you a fan of fantasy, young adult, science fiction and action stories?
“No mercy, No rules – Welcome to the Trail of Bones!”
Run with Purpose – battle cry of the Shade Wolves
Magnus, the runt of a litter of Shade Wolves, wants nothing more than to be a loyal, strong member of the pack. But when an ancient enemy threatens his friends and family, he faces a choice that could tear him from all he’s known and loved.
Born in captivity, the giant panther Kelor knows nothing but suffering and loss. He struggles to find his place in this world of terror, and he battles to protect his family without succumbing to the darkness lurking inside him.
Falling captive to the evil Warden, the two are forced to fight in the battle of the beasts known as ‘The Trail of Bones’. How will Kelor and Magnus learn to work together? How will they escape a fate of despair and death? How will their choices affect their comrades? Their enemies? And the forgotten magic that could doom all life of their world?
Let the adventures begin!
A fun, exciting, clean read for teens, young adults, adults and readers of all ages. Pick up your copy of this fantasy adventure today!
Are you a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card, Jim Butcher and other fantasy and science fiction authors? You’ll feel right at home with Trail of Bones. This fantasy story offers a strong moral message, suspense, action, and mystery, in a world full of magic, unlikely heroes, and devious villains.
Salisbury is a rising star in genre fiction. This book makes a unique and exciting contribution in the fantasy realm. The first of great things to come. –Jake Black, “The Authorized Ender Companion” “Smallville” “Ender’s Game: Recruiting Valentine”
A fantasy adventure that features lots of action and intrigue that is geared to a YA audience.
There are moments in this tale that are especially well done… story telling at a level that I’d be interested to see what this author would do with an adult orientated fantasy work.
As a dedicated YA work… 5 Stars.
~ Ray Nicholson
The beginning of a great adventure!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first book of the Trail of Bones series. It is an unpredictable adventure, with heartwrenching acts of love and friendship. The story ended before I was prepared to put my Kindle down, and now I will wait anxiously for the second book to be published. In the meantime, I think I’ll read it again with my eleven-year-old son; I’m sure he’ll love it as much as I do. Give it a read!
Enthralling story line that really pulls you in
…The characters were some that I will not easily forget because he explains their background in a way that makes the reader really connect and believe they are real. He creates a world that I long to see. I really grew to both love and hate different characters. I think that is a sign of a really great author when they can make us feel so much emotion towards a character.
About Chris Salisbury
Chris Salisbury has been writing fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and action thrillers for years in independent films. Now he’s expanded his love of good movies, such as Gladiator, Counte of Monte Cristo, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Star Trek, to the world of books. Trail of Bones is the first book in a planned four part fantasy, young adult series targeted at readers of all ages.
The father of four enjoys a wide range of interests from scuba diving to softball, coaching basketball to playing Battlefield 3 on his Xbox 360 or NCAA Football with his sons. He is also a big advocate for literacy and reading for young boys. There seem to be few titles that appeal to young boys and young men to hold their attention, trigger their imaginations and create a love of reading. Chris is out to change that.
In addition to the Trail of Bones series, he also has a number of other titles in development including historical fiction, action, suspense thrillers, and several science fiction properties. There’s a lot more on the horizon, so enjoy Trail of Bones but be sure to look for more captivating titles from Chris Salisbury in the near future.
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By: C. C. Gevry,
Paperback: 232 pages
CreateSpace (January 17, 2013)
Reviewed by Fiona Ingram
In the first book of the Skymasters series, (Galaxy Girl), preteen Allie Henderson discovers an intergalactic visitor named Eilla, who looks just like her. She is Allie’s galactic cousin from a parallel universe. In the second book, Under the Universe, things get even more interesting. It has been a year since Eilla returned to her parallel universe and Allie is eager for an adventure of her own. She gets just such an opportunity when the MIT science team tells her they are ready to transport her to Eilla’s planet. Allie must then chose between the safety of the known and the potential adventure another universe. Allie and Eilla visit Stonehenge and discover a subterranean world in which nothing appears as it does on the surface. There, they meet a pair of hermit crabs who clue them into some of the secrets of the universe.
There is much to charm the young reader in this book, including enchanting illustrations. Although this is the second book in a series, the story can stand alone. This is an adventure of inner and outer exploration as the author highlights the thirst for knowledge in this age group, and the cousins absorb facts like sponges. There is just enough space ‘stuff’ and quantum physics for kids to make it fun and adventurous rather than boring. But the adventure is not just about time travel. In both worlds, the girls have a disabled sibling, and author Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot handles this with tact and sensitivity. I enjoyed the empathy between the cousins. Allie goes on a learning curve as she discovers the differences between her world and her cousin’s with snippets of geography, history, science, economics and social change, and astronomy filtering through. The author has popped some famous modern and historical names into the mix, with amusing characters that give their own opinion of life. There’s a nice blend of facts, fantasy, and legend (Atlantis and Mu). The story ends with clearly more investigation planned and a hint of danger. My only criticism is there is perhaps too much information for this age group to absorb.
First reviewed for Readers Favorite
Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.
Blogger’s note: The reviewer mentioned problems with the formatting when downloading from Amazon onto a Kindle on her PC. This may be a technical issue that may or may not already have been addressed.
The Sterkarm Handshake
, by Susan Price (Scholastic, 1998).
Imagine that, round-about our present time here in the 21st century, capitalist entrepreneurs have discovered how to travel in time. The thought of all the natural resources back there in the past, waiting to be exploited, makes them happy.
One of the time tunnels they have constructed leads to the sixteenth century in the wild boarder lands between England and Scotland. The Sterkarm clan who rule the patch of this land are fierce, treacherous, loyal to each other and not giving a damn about anyone else, and they are cognizant that the time travelers have much to offer (the aspirin tablets are a hit).
Andrea is a young anthropologist, embedded back in time among the Sterkarms. Literally--she and Per, the son of the chief are passionately involved. For Andrea, deemed unattractively large by her own society, it is nice to be lusted after, and Per does genuinely care for her....it might even be love (although I couldn't help but wonder about how much her emotions were colored by her new desirability, and this made me uncomfortable).
But all is not well. The problem with greedy exploitation is that often the people being exploited fight back, and things go sour. The trouble in this case begin when Per, gravely wounded fighting off raiders (all in a days work for the Sterkarms), is taken by Andrea to the 21st century. The director of the company, a nasty piece of work, wants him as a hostage. Per escapes, makes his way through the tunnel home, and then he and his people declare war on the 21st century, burning what they can of the tunnel.
It is rebuilt, and the 21st century comes to make war in the past. It seems as though its an uneven match--heavy artillery against bows and arrows. But arrows can kill, and the Sterkarms have years of experience with treachery and guerrilla warfare...
So it basically stopped being fantasy neo-colonialism (interesting), and became a military sci fi story (not my cup of tea), and by the last hundred pages I was skimming because everyone was running around bashing each other etc., and I ws really tired of hearing about Andrea's predicament (torn between two conflicting loyalties, and not wanting any one to be killed, and not wanting the boy she's been sleeping with to be a ruthless killer even though he clearly is etc).
And did Andrea, intelligent anthropologist, save the day with intelligent anthropologizing? No. She went to pieces, and was all "Oh Per if you love me you will be kind and do something and not kill the people from the 21st century." Disappointing.
What it needed was more characterization and less fighting, in my opinion. The bad guy was one dimensional, and so uninterestingly bad that there was little point to him. Per and Andrea are two dimensional at best. In as much as they are already sharing a bed by the time we meet them, there is no subtlety to their relationship, and I never believed that they were actually in love with each other as people, as opposed to fond bedmates (I have nothing against affectionate lust enjoyed by both parties, but it's not as interesting as the tension of love being realized), and like I said, I didn't need Andrea's dilemma drummed into my head quite so much. A few minor characters come to interesting life, most notably Joe, a homeless Sterkarm descendant of modern times, who travels back to find a better life for himself--his is a fascinating little side-story. But this wasn't enough to actually make me care all that much.
Final thought--loved the premise, and thought the story was fascinating. If the book had been about 150 pages shorter, I might well have enjoyed it lots. As it was, it kind of oozed over the edges of its central story, and I lost interest.
However, don't necessarily take my word for it---The Sterkarm Handshake won the Guardian's Children's Prize
, and got lots of critical acclaim, and is pretty much a classic of military/capitalist time-travel.
I usually do an environmental post on Thursdays, but today is Earth Day, and, hey, I can adapt. So I'm getting all environmentalish with a climate fiction post on Monday this week.
Climate fiction? you say. Yeah, I just heard about it a couple of days ago, too. Climate fiction, according to NPR is a genre, well, an "emerging" one, anyway, in which writers "set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth's systems are noticeably off-kilter." That's how it differs from dystopian or apocalyptic novels in which a futuristic world is suffering because of (usually) human-made environmental disaster or just a human-made "oops." Climate fiction is set in a contemporary world.
This article at Grist looks like a review of a couple of cli-fi novels, though one seems a little futuristic/apocalyptic.
I suspect that NPR's definition of cli-fi as being something separate from the dystopian/apocalyptic stuff isn't generally known. Here someone uses the term "cli-fi thriller" to describe the same book set 75 years in the future with climate disaster that Grist included in its review column.
Climate Change and Contemporary Fiction appears to be a blog that deals with this very subject.
I'm going to admit that though I have an interest in environmentalism, as a reader I find environmental/climate change disaster stories cliched. The first few were interesting, sure, but now they leave me with a feeling of, "Oh. I've read this. Several times." Or, "Of course. The tech people/scientists are the bad guys. Again." It's not that the problems aren't real or serious, but they've become formulaic as far as literature is concerned. I also wonder if there isn't a message quality to some of these books, a lesson that readers are supposed to be learning. There's sometimes a propaganda quality to some of these stories. This preaching issue is discussed in Few A-List Novelists Tackling Climate Change in Their Plots at Climate Central.
Novelists Try Climate Change Story Telling: A Critical Review of Two Recent Entries published at The Yale forum on Climate Change & The Media ends with "Are there other ways that climate change can make for good reading? It’s a question more than a few hope to see answered in the affirmative. As Bill McKibben wrote in 2005, climate change still lacks resonance in American culture. “Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas?” he asked. “Compare it to, say, the horror of AIDS in the last two decades, which has produced a staggering outpouring of art that, in turn, has had real political effect.”"
I am not knowledgeable about AIDS literature, but I think the question being raised here is is climate change being used in literature other than in novels? Certainly a different form--poetry or opera, for instance--might help to break the formula of human-made disaster leading to woe.
Happy Earth Day.
Could science fiction in schools foster an appreciation for math and science among kids?
West Virginia House of Delegates legislator Ray Canterbury has proposed HB 2983, a bill urging the Board of Education to include more “science fiction reading material” in the state curriculum “to stimulate interest in math and science” in young readers. Here’s the complete text of the bill:
The Legislature finds that promoting interest in and appreciation for the study of math and science among students is critical to preparing students to compete in the workforce and to assure the economic well being of the state and the nation. To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.
(Via Giant Freakin Robot)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
, by Kiersten White, is a book so gripping that it held my attention while I read almost all of it cover to cover while waiting for my car to be fixed--and given that I was in a hideously uncomfy plastic chair, in anxious circumstances viz the fate of the car, this says a lot, I think.
If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be "a psychological mystery/thriller, with a smart, fierce heroine, similar in vibe to The Hunger Games
but with a narrower focus viz world-building, cast of characters, and premise."
But since I generally allow myself three paragraphs, or so, here they are:
Two orphaned sisters, each with a psychic ability, are imprisoned in an institution masking as a magnificent school. For Annie, the older sister, who is blind, the "school" offered all the educational opportunities she craved. And so, though every preternaturally honed instinct in Fia's mind screamed that it was wrong, the sisters were enrolled.
Those who ran the school were at first only interested in Annie's ability to see the future. But when they realized just what Fia's gifts entailed, and how easily she could be controlled by threats to her sister, they knew they could never let her go. And so Fia is made into a tool of violence, sent out on criminal missions for her mysterious masters...and Annie is a hostage.
If it goes on much longer, Fia will break. But Fia is about to find out who she can trust...and to finally chose her own path for the first time since her nightmare began.
So the story is told in the present, as Fia is beginning to follow a path that might lead to escape, but there are plentiful flashbacks that tell of violence and tension and really gripping psychological manipulation verging on horror, and some scenes from Annie's perspective as well. By the time events come to a head, the reader knows both sisters pretty well, and I felt nicely invested in Fia and her situation, curious about the mystery behind the "school," and anxious to know how it all played out.
My one reservation is Annie. She's the older sister, but her parents set up (with the best of intentions) a kind of nasty dynamic of Fia being the one to look after her, because of Annie being blind. And Annie has lived her life accepting this, not fighting much against it. She does have spurt of being an Active Participant in events toward the end, but mostly she is "passive blind sister," and her journey to active participation isn't desperately well-developed. (In plain English, Annie annoyed me).
Once sentence summary: Gripping, disturbing, and a good one for the YA reader who wants wants a thrilling read, starring a kick-ass heroine, that is neither a Dystopian with a capital D (although the particulars are far from Utopian) or a paranormal romance (although there is a whiff of love story).
Will I read it again? Perhaps, though it isn't a book I'll keep assuming I will want to. I can easily imagine, though, being happy to read it again if, in two or three years, I went back to the car repair shop and someone has left a copy of it there....
disclaimer: ARC received from the publisher, left by accident in car repair shop (I think), finished with the help of a library copy.
Note on cover: I do not think the young woman on the cover is a good representation of Fia. Her eyes look a tad to limpid, and it is not clear that you are about to read a book about a teenage girl who is forced to kill. However, the UK publishers of Mind Games decided to make sure there was no ambiguity:
We're going to take a break from finding our story
to talk about learning from other writers. Yes, I am doing this because I want to talk some more about the book expo
I attended last week. But anyone beginning a new line of work or a new craft can learn from those who have more experience in their field. And new writers can find more experienced writers at book expos, festivals, store appearances...you name it. No, you don't go to get ideas for the public appearances you're going to make after you publish the book you haven't written yet. You go to hear what writers have to say during panel discussions and other kinds of presentations. You go to ask questions, if you have a chance.
At Wednesday night's expo you could have heard writers talking about outlines, writing groups, organic writing, and much more. Associating with writers can help a person new to the field feel more like a writer, too.
And now that I've finished that improving lecture, get a load of this:
On Wednesday evening, I met Esther Friesner
, a Nebula award winner who has written the Princesses of Myth
series. She's been writing science fiction and fantasy for a couple of decades. Among her works, she told us during our panel discussion, are two Star Trek novels.
Now this was of great interest to me because here at Chez Gauthier we have, as a rough estimate, between two and three hundred Star Trek novels. So when I had a chance, I went up to Esther and said, "Hey, Esther, were either of your Star Trek books for Classic Star Trek or Next Generation?" Well, it turns out she wrote for Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Come on. Somebody has to know what I'm talking about.
Well, the next day, someone who has actually read those two to three hundred books, went through the stash and found that we do have in our house Esther's book, To Storm Heaven
I have appeared with a Nebula winner and have her book in my house.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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Publishers seem increasingly willing to roll the dice on anthology formats recently. Maybe it’s the success of things like Dark Horse Presents, and the model they’ve followed of introducing new works and then successfully spinning them off into new story titles like BLACK BEETLE. There’s an inherently approachable aspect to anthologies—new readers can pick them up and take a tour of many ideas and art styles without feeling out of the loop, and creators themselves aren’t subjected to the high-wire act of telling fresh tales while balancing the necessities of continuity. It’s also a chance to bring on new talent and give readers a chance to play a role in selecting what appeals to them. Vertigo, however, has a long history of valuing the anthology format to engage with new readers, from its FIRST CUT to FIRST OFFENSES, which readers still pick up when trying to get a handle on what the line has to offer in terms of genre and content.
TIME WARP, a revival of a late 1970’s anthology format, presents nine stories by a variety of well known and new creators following a loose theme that may not be as loose as it appears at first glance. The key word “time” stands out as a recurring (literally) factor in these stories. On the whole, because the anthology contains so many varied story-telling techniques and art styles, its appealing and gives the reader a sense of time and money well spent based on its “something for everyone” approach. As a one-shot, it also reads like a graphic novel in disparate parts that comments on the potential of science fiction in the comics medium with capacity to challenge our concepts of humanity, technology, and their often troubled relationship.
[Caution: Mild spoilers on content, but no plot-twist revelations ahead]
“R.I.P” , written by Damon Lindelof, with evocative art by Jeff Lemire and fluid colors by Jose Villarubia, is a strong start to the collection. What could be more basic, pulpy, and attractive than a time-travel tale with dinosaurs and multiple attempts to escape death? The story’s variations on a theme, however, get complex quickly, with satisfying results. All the kinds of questions about the implications of time travel that kids grew up with watching Star Trek: The Next Generation take a bite out of the story and lead the reader in logical loops. Lemire’s energetic, chaos-controlling line-work, combined with Travis Lanham’s quirky lettering, suggest an undercurrent of the haphazard about all human endeavors. The message seems to be, despite all our planning, when we deal with factors essentially bigger than us, we might get by, but only by the skin of our teeth. The suspension of belief necessary for the story isn’t overbearing since it points out all the problems and difficulties of handling big themes in its plot structure.
“It’s Full of Demons” is a particularly challenging story, one might almost call a mystery despite its early introduction of a possibly alien time traveller in turn of the century Austria. After reading the complete story, you might have a Memento-like experience of reconstructing the details of the story backward along the lines provided by a full revelation of their significance. This is engaging for the reader. Tom King’s writing is clever in providing just enough detail to make this backward reading possible while not revealing too much about why the increasing madness of a little girl growing up after her brother’s death might be important to readers. The themes of the story are, in fact, heavier the more you examine them, commenting on how fear and the “demonizing” of figures and groups may be an even greater threat than the shocking intrusion of the vastly unknown into daily life. Tom Fowler’s artwork suggests history well without rendering it ponderous, and in particular conveys emotional states in its main character with great empathy.
Gail Simone writes “I Have What You Need”, with upbeat and somewhat eerie art by Gael Bertrand, and vibrant colors by Jordie Bellaire. Simone isn’t afraid to get complicated, either, about the implications of time travel, even within one’s own mind, and delves pretty deeply into human nature by exploring the idea that a drug could enable you to revisit the best ten minutes of your life. Her kindly shopkeeper holds this god-like key to a “product” that everyone wants, and also provides commentary on what humans deserve, and what they get out of life. Twist endings are a common feature of many of the stories in TIME WARP, and though the stories might have been intriguing without them, it’s a pattern that gives the reader a sense of the value of each particular story as a unit of entertainment and harks back to the genre features of early pulp sci-fi.
“The Grudge” is an intelligent and very human tale of rivalry between two scientists, the kind of rivalry we’ve seen in techno pop culture between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Written by Simon Spurrier, with art and color by Michael Dowling, its compressed storytelling gives you a sense of having read a whole comic or perhaps a graphic novel, again presenting an entirely different, detailed world within the anthology. It spans the life of these scientists, their tragedies, and the tension between public demand for spectacle in scientific discoveries and the real needs of scientific advancement to look toward greater future building. Dowling’s near photo-realistic art style easily conveys the sense that this could be our twenty-first century future, still governed by the baser, and higher impulses of the human beings involved in advancement. But the story infuses even tragedy with humor, and most importantly, believing in the reality of the characters helps convey the messages of the narrative.
One of the most surprising additions to TIME WARP is a Dead Boy Detectives story. Originally created by Neil Gaiman as a spin-off from SANDMAN, the Dead Boy Detectives seem to veer pretty far from science fiction in their investigation of the occult. However, Gaiman was never one to draw a firm line between the occult and the scientific, and neither has pulp tradition, a borderland other comics in TIME WARP also explore. This episode, “Run Ragged”, written by Toby Litt, with layouts by Mark Buckingham, finishing work by Victor Santos, and letters by the great Todd Klein, reads like a sudden glimpse of a return to a favorite world, and indeed it’s described as a lead-up to a continuing storyline in THE WITCHING HOUR ANTHOLOGY. The artwork, and also the colors by Lee Loughridge are accomplished and appealing, particularly successful at conveying motion and action while creating a sense of the haunted atmosphere of the material.
“She’s Not There” may remind readers of the more psychological aspects of good science fiction, with more than a dash of the noir emphasis on intense relationships. The premise, that a company in the future can charge vast amounts of money to resurrect ghosts as “information” gleaned from loved ones, hits one of the many common themes in TIME WARP, the general neediness of human beings and the lengths they’ll go to in order to seek comfort from their pasts. Another “mystery” aspect of the story, written by Peter Milligan, with art and colors by M.K. Perker, is the reason for the resurrected wife Angel’s death, and the lingering problems that might have comprised her relationship with her husband in the first place. The story poses a unique question, “Can you own a ghost?”. In a technological world where everything’s a commodity, it seems like a singularly dark possibility. The artwork suggests a blend of the familiar and the unknown in equal proportions, keeping readers guessing, just like the plot.
The unusually titled story “00:00:03” places human beings under another kind of microscope under the pressure of extreme situations. During vast interstellar wars, we follow the decisions of Helene as she attempts to perform her military duties under the influence of a unique “molasses” protocol that extends perception of time. Written by Ray Fawkes and drawn by Andy MacDonald, this is the kind of story that sci-fi readers will be particularly attracted to. It offers sweeping conflicts on a large stage, space battles, and remarkably deep characterization of a central figure in action. The age old question posed by sci-fi, “Are we still human inside our technology?”, is both addressed and answered in a poignant way.
If you’re all about the art of sci-fi comics, then you’ll have quite a few surprises to look forward to in TIME WARP, but it’s likely that Matt Kindt’s “Warning: Danger” will be top of the list. With Kindt’s sketchy outlines, and splashy use of watercolor tones, the story breaks from many of the common assumptions of what traditional sci-fi art should look like. How do you convey the crisp lines of spectacular technology in such an idiosyncratic style? Kindt’s answer is to render technology, and its premises in the story, organic, and therefore a little more alarming. By breaking with what readers may recognize, Kindt presents an unrecognizable, and very compelling vision of the future. His diagrams of the armor and accoutrements of two civilization-representing soldiers locked in single combat schematize the ingenuity and determination of one-upmanship in technological advancement. There’s a downbeat sense of recurring time that’s featured in a number of TIME WARP stories, providing the opportunity for humans to relive their obsessions and failures, or get it right when given another chance.
The final piece in TIME WARP gathers together the thematic threads of recurring time, human decision-making, and the bizarre responsibilities that power over technology entails. When technology becomes somewhat monstrous, who’s really in control? Is the humanity inside the machine enough to guide progress away from disaster? “The Principle” is written with a key focus on two main characters by Dan Abnett, and presented rather beautifully with colors and art by I.N.J. Culbard. The trope of presenting a guy new to his job as an identifying character for the readers is here completely necessary to add tension to the gradual revelation of plot. The attempt to prevent an assassination of the “principle” figure through staging the same moment in time over and over again gives characters repeated chances to get things right, and also humorously comments on some historical mysteries as time-travel screw ups. Culbard’s inks, particularly, have a certain noir sensibility, too, though infused with a sci-fi eye toward motion, and seem appropriate when grounding the future in the past. Abnett doesn’t hold off on the sci-fi theme of responsibility, either, and closes the collection with a final message about the tendencies of humanity to abuse power in banal ways, and the responsibilities, often dire, we face in trying to keep that kind of potential chaos under control.
In fact, looking back through TIME WARP, the overarching implication of these stories seems to be Time=Responsibility. The further we push technological advancement, and the more we tinker with our humanity, the more work we generate for ourselves monitoring our trajectory. But with concepts and artwork like the kind contained in TIME WARP, the spectacle of those sci-fi heights never ceases to be attractive, even when it’s pointing out the potential pitfalls that almost certainly lie ahead. TIME WARP contains a miscellany of energetic science fiction, and its hard not to find the sheer breadth of material and the talent behind it a selling point. Nine worlds, and compact story-telling that often spans lifetimes in one volume? It’s both entertaining and consistently thought-provoking, marking a worthy return of the TIME WARP title.
Title: TIME WARP #1/Publisher: Vertigo, DC Comics/Creative Teams:
“R.I.P”: Damon Lindelof, writer, Jeff Lemire, artist/“It’s Full of Demons”: Tom King, writer, Tom Fowler, artist/“I Have What You Need”: Gail Simone, writer, Gael Bertrand, artist/“The Grudge”: Simon Spurrier, writer, Michael Dowling, artists/“Dead Boy Detectives”: Toby Litt, writer, Mark Buckingham, layouts, Victor Santos, finishing/“She’s Not There”: Peter Milligan, writer, M.K. Perker, artist/“00:00:03”: Ray Fawkes, writer, Andy MacDonald, artist/“Warning: Danger”: Matt Kindt, story and art/“The Principle”: Dan Abnett, writer, I.N.J. Culbard, colors and art
Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.
In MIND MELD: Rebranding Fiction as Young Adult (SF Signal back in January) a number of writers give their suggestions for adult titles that could be rebranded as YA.
I think some of these people may not have a very good understanding of what YA is. There's lots of talk about things like "suitability," suggesting the people making the suggestions don't read much fiction for teenagers. "Suitability" of material and language is far less a concern in YA than that the book's themes, situations, and characters relate to YA experience. If raw language and ugly events relate to said themes, situations, and characters, than they are suitable for YA.
Additionally, I wonder if it is necessary to actually rebrand a book for a YA audience with a new cover and marketing campaign. Once you do that, the book shifts to YA, and while you pick up YA readers, you're going to lose adults. How many people believe that Ender's Game is a YA or even children's book, for instance? How many people believe that To Kill a Mockingbird is a YA book, in large part because it's taught in secondary schools? In spite of all the talk about adults reading YA, many older people won't pick up a book they think is for kids.
And does labeling something as YA really make it YA? Julius Caesar is often taught in high schools. Has that become YA? Should some put a YA cover on it? Years ago I saw both Grendel by John Gardiner and The Awakening by Kate Chopin in the YA section of bookstores. Is there any kind of rebranding that could possibly make either of those books (particularly The Awakening) YA?
Maybe the adult world should simply be directing these adult books, just as they are, toward YA readers, which will then be helping them make the move to adult books, rather than telling them they should read them because "Look! We changed our minds! It's YA! See? It has a YA cover!" One of my fondest early teen memories involves my Uncle Mickey's trunk. He was the only person in my immediate family to have been to college (He married into the family, obviously; he wasn't actually a Gauthier.), and his trunk was filled with paperback books. He handed me a couple of volumes of Ray Bradbury short stories one day. I did, indeed, read them.
This young person, at least, experienced a thrill moving on to adult books. I had a sense that I was doing something very different by reading these things. Okay, maybe that was in part due to the fact that Uncle Mickey had been to college, as I said, while my own father hadn't finished eighth grade. In my early adolescence, I may have been attracted to anything that my own parent was not. But, still, imagine being handed Ray Bradbury short stories with a YA cover. Wouldn't the magic go up in smoke?
, by Bethany Wiggins
When Fiona went to sleep, she was thirteen years old and had a family who loved her. Now she's woken up--to a nightmare. Her home is dilapidated and abandoned, and though she's still young, her body isn't child's anymore. She has no memory of the years that must have passed....and no knowledge of how the world she once knew has descended into ruin. And she doesn't know, yet, that the tattoo that's appeared on her arm marks her as one of the infected--a person on the verge of becoming a mindlessly predatory beast.
In Fiona's new world, there are those who live safely behind walls....and those out on the streets, infected and starving, hunted by the ravaging hoards of humans turned monstrous. Fiona, marked as she is, must live as one of the later. Slowly she learns how to survive, with the help of a boy she knew back when they were kids, and slowly flashes of memory return to her. But it's what Fiona can't yet remember that will change everything...if she stays alive long enough.
I enjoyed it, once I got in the swing of the short, action-packed, first person sentences in which it was told (just about ever sentence seems to have an active verb). This is one to offer right away to your handy young Hunger Games fan--it has a similar intensity, mixing ruthless violence with the desperate need to hold on to human feelings when everything seems lost. That being said, I don't think the scenario of Stung is nearly as original, nor as interesting, and it's heavier on the teen romance side of things (so I won't be giving it to my mother for Christmas, like I did The Hunger Games).
However, Stung is a perfectly fine book. Fiona is believable and appealing, the supporting characters nicely nuanced, and the romance is very satisfying. And though I mostly skim through action-packed sequences because, you now, they are so busy
, the great climactic Scene of Action at the end of this one was utterly riveting. Another thing I appreciated--the humans turned monstrous by sickness were actually still humans...not zombies. It's definitely sci-fi, not zombie fantasy.
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher
, by J.V. Kade (Dial, March 21, 2013, middle grade), looked to me from its cover and its title to be a story of a boy fighting in a war against robots. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than that, in a good way, and is, in fact, an excellent example of a somewhat rare type of book--a sci-fi dystopian adventure for the middle grader reader.
In a future America, robots were once everywhere, both in the factories, and in the home. Twelve-year-old Trout St. Kroix had been one of many American kids raised by a robot nanny. But then came the Bot War--the robots had become too human, and xenophobia had reared its ugly head, with much bloodshed resulting. Now Trout's America is a land without any robots at all, his father is missing in action, and his older brother is home from the war, minus a leg. But some of the southern states didn't join in the uprising against the robots, and there, behind a wall, is a territory where the robots still thrive.
And there, it turns out, Trout's father is still alive--and an enemy of the northern totalitarian government. With the result that Trout and his brother are suspect, and as well as being potentially valuable hostages.
Just as the government moves to arrest Trout and his brother, Trout escapes--thanks to a robot sent from behind the wall to help him reach his father. But his brother remains behind...captured, tortured, and in danger of death.
Trout has barely time to take in a world in which robots are not beings to be feared, but sentient members of society, before he decides to risk his own life to save his brother. So with the help of (the somewhat stereotypical stock figure) the plucky girl sidekick, he sets off on an impossible rescue mission....
I enjoyed it quite a lot. I thought the whole set-up of dystopian, anti-robot North pitted against enlightened South was a most interesting one, I sympathized with Trout, and found the question of robotic sentience nicely addressed. And, on top of that, I found the pacing brisk without being frenetic. A bit slow to get going, perhaps, but a page-turner once it does.
(Yay! I also just found my bus pass, tucked inside the book).
I just went and read the Kirkus review
; whoever wrote it did not share my positive opinion. I can't help but think that I approached it with a mind-set more akin to that of an eleven-year old, in that I didn't question the science (I generally try to avoid questioning the science, unless it really forces me too), and I did not find it in the least "naïve and condescending." In my case, it was the Kirkus review I found condescending. For the young reader who hasn't read much dystopian sci-fi, I think it will be a very satisfying read, and the robots in particular, scientifically improbable though they might be, may well be utterly enchanting to such readers.
Note on age: There are serious issues of a grim sort addressed, but it is not a dark and gritty book, and so perfectly suitable for fifth grade readers on up. It is undeniable that older readers may well find the made-up slang and the future youth culture in general a bit tough to swallow...and Trout's rather easy conversion from a boy who is terrified by robots to their friend is not exactly nuanced. And, like the Kirkus review points out, the science might not satisfy a sci-fi veteran. But I enjoyed it, and it made my bus ride pass very quickly indeed.
Short answer: there really isn't much sci-fi action/adventure for middle grade kids, and I think this is an entertaining addition to the field that will be welcomed by its target audience.
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher
Cut off from the rest of the world by an enormous mountain, secured by a massive gated wall exists the city of Deliverance. The residents of Deliverance are special. They look like everyone on the other side of the mountain, but they all possess a form of telekinesis called psi. The people of Deliverance use their psi for everything including cooking, cleaning, getting dressed, driving, etc. Ocassionally, however, children’s psi powers do not develop and are labeled Freaklings. Of course, it is impossible for Freaklings to exist among the psi wielders; therefore, those children are sent to the nonpsi village outside the walls of Deliverance where they are taught to survive in a world where they must do everything for themselves.
Taemon was not born a Freakling, but he is different from other psi wielders. He has the ability to “mind wander” or see inside objects using his mind – a very dangerous power in the hands of the wrong person. Taemon’s brother, Yens, is extremely gifted at using psi and hungers for fame and power. As Yens starts to realize just how powerful Taemon really is, he begins to feel threatened and attacks Taemon in hopes of scaring him into explaining the root of his power. As a result, Taemon actually loses his ability to control objects with psi and must hide his handicap or be exiled from the city. Ultimately, Taemon must make a decision that will impact everyone in Deliverance and even beyond, but can he trust himself to make the right decision?
Posted by: Staci
Today really is Alien Abduction Day. It isn't a figment of Kelly at Stacked's imagination. To observe the day, Stacked offers a round-up of alien YA fiction.
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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The Water Castle
By Megan Frazer Blakemore
Illustrated by Jim Kay
Walker Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Bloomsbury)
On shelves now
Where does fantasy stop and science fiction begin? Is it possible to ever draw a distinct line in the sand between the two? A book with a name like The Water Castle (mistakenly read by my library’s security guard as “White Castle”) could fall on either side of the equation, though castles generally are the stuff of fantastical fare. In this particular case, however, what we have here is a smart little bit of middle grade chapter book science fiction, complete with arson, obsession, genetic mutation, and a house any kid would kill to live in. Smarter than your average bear, this is one book that rewards its curious readers. It’s a pleasure through and through.
Welcome to Crystal Springs, Maine where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. That last part seems to be true, anyway. When Ephraim Appledore, his two siblings, his mom, and his father (suffering from the after effects of a stroke) move to town he’s shocked to find that not only does everyone seem to know more about his family history than he does, they’re all geniuses to boot. The Appledores have taken over the old Water Castle built by their ancestors and harboring untold secrets. When he’s not exploring it with his siblings Ephraim finds two unlikely friends in fellow outcast Mallory Green and would-be family feuder Will Wylie. Together they discover that the regional obsession with the fountain of youth may have some basis in reality. A reality that the three of them are having trouble facing, for individual reasons.
When one encounters an old dusty castle hiding trapdoors and secret passageways around every corner, that usually means your feet are planted firm in fantasy soil. All the elements are in place with Ephraim akin to Edwin in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and a dusty old wardrobe even making a cheeky cameo at one point. What surprised me particularly was the book’s grounding instead in science fiction. That said, how far away from fantasy is science fiction in children’s literature? In both cases the fantastical is toyed with. In this particular case, eternal life finds its basis in discussions of mutant genes, electricity, radiation, and any number of other science-based theories. Interestingly, it’s actually hard to come up with many children’s books that even dwell on the fountain of youth. There’s Tuck Everlasting of course, but that’s about as far as it goes. One gets the impression that Babbitt did such a good job with the idea that no one’s had the guts to take it any farther since. Kudos to Blakemore then for rising to the challenge.
I’m very partial to children’s books that are magical if you want them to be and realistic if that’s what you’d prefer. This year’s Doll Bones by Holly Black, for example, could be an uber-creepy horror story or it could just be a tale of letting your imagination run away with you. Similarly The Water Castle could be about the true ramifications of eternal life, or it could be explained with logic and reason every step of the way. I was also rather interested in how Ms. Blakemore tackled that age-old question of how to allow your child heroes the freedom to come and go as they please without a droplet of parental supervision. In this case her solution (father with a stroke and a mother as his sole caretaker) not only worked effectively but also tied in swimmingly into our hero’s personal motivations.
In the midst of a review like this I sometimes have a bad habit of failing to praise the writing of a book. That would be a particular pity in this case since Ms. Blakemore sucked me in fairly early on. When Ephraim and his family drive into town for the first time we get some beautiful descriptions of the small town itself. “They rolled past the Wylie Five and Dime, which was advertising a sale on gourds, Ouija boards, and pumpkin-pie filling.” She also has a fine ear for antiquated formal speech, though the physical appearances of various characters are not of particular importance to her (example: we don’t learn that Ephraim’s little sister Brynn is blond until page 183).
An interesting aspect of the writing is its tackling of race, racism, and historical figures done wrong by their times. I was happy from the get-go that Ms. Blakemore chose to make her cast a multi-cultural one. Mallory is African-American, one of the few in town, and is constantly being offered subjects like Matthew Henson for class reports because . . . y’know. Henson himself plays nicely into a little subplot in the book. Deftly Ms. Blakemore draws some similarities between his work with Robert Peary and Tesla’s attitude towards Edison. Nothing too direct. Just enough information where kids can connect the dots themselves. For all this, I was a bit disappointed that when we read some flashbacks into the past there doesn’t seem to be ANY racism in sight. We follow the day-to-day activities of an African-American girl and the various rich white people she encounters and yet only ONE mention is made of their different races in a vague reference to the fact that our heroine’s family has never been slaves. This seemed well-intentioned but hugely misleading. Strange to discuss Henson and Peary in one breath and then ignore everyday realities on the other.
If the book has any other problems there is the fact that the author leaves the essential question about the mysterious water everyone searches for in this story just that. Mysterious. There are also some pretty heady clues dropped about Mallory’s own parents that remain unanswered by the tale’s end. Personally, I am of the opinion that Ms. Blakemore did this on purpose for the more intelligent of her child readers. I can already envision children’s bookgroups discussing this title at length, getting into arguments about what exactly it means that Mallory’s mom had that key around her neck.
In the end, The Water Castle is less about the search for eternal life and youth than it is about letting go of childhood and stories. Age can come when you put those things away. As Ephraim ponders late in the game, “No one back in Cambridge would believe that he’d been crawling around in dark tunnels, or climbing up steps with no destination. Maybe, he decided, growing up meant letting go of the stories, letting go in general, letting yourself fall just to see if you could catch yourself. And he had.” Whether or not Ms. Blakemore chooses to continue this book with the further adventures of Ephraim, Mallory and Will, she’s come up with a heckuva smart little creation. Equally pleasing to science fiction and fantasy fans alike, there’s enough meat in this puppy for any smart child reader or bored kid bookgroup. I hope whole droves of them find it on their own. And I hope they enjoy it thoroughly. A book that deserves love.
On shelves now.
Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.
Like This? Then Try:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Notes on the Cover: Is that or is that not a fantasy cover? The ivy strangled stone gargoyles and castle in the background all hint at it. I wasn’t overly in love with this jacket at first, but in time I’ve discovered that kids are actually quite drawn to it. Whether or not they find it misleading, time will tell. Not having read the bookflap description of this title, I spent an embarrassingly long amount of time trying to turn the kids on the cover into Ephraim and his siblings. It was quite a while before I realized my mistake.
Other Blog Reviews: Cracking the Cover
Interviews: Portland Press Herald
Misc: Check out the Teacher’s Guide for this book.
The field of YA dystopia may be crowded these days, but Orleans
, by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam, March 2013), goes to show that new and powerful stories of young people surviving in the face of disaster can still be told. It is a heart-twisting story of riveting intensity.
Rita and Katrina were only the beginning. Storm after storm followed, and the number of survivors in the flood-wrecked delta shrank each time. Then came the Fever--deadly, and incurable, and a threat to the whole country. So then came the quarantine--a wall was built around the Gulf Coast area, just until the Fever ran its course, or a cure was found. Surely, the government reasoned, that wouldn't take long. Then the survivors could be part of the United States again.
But the Fever has held its own, and everyone still living behind the wall is a carrier. Because the Fever affects different blood types differently, some are healthier than others (the O types are less affect). Tribes, based on blood, have formed, and blood is a commodity.
And a fifteen year old girl, Fen de la Guerre, has just promised a dying woman who was the leader of Fen's tribe of O positives, and who was the only person left to her in the world she truly loves, to save the new born infant her friend died giving birth too. For a short while, the baby will be free of the taint of the fever, so if Fen can keep herself and the baby alive long enough to get to the wall, the baby has a chance of being smuggled out to safety.
But Fen knows to her cost how hard it is to survive in the Delta. Her parents are dead, and she herself endured horrors (including rape) before finding a place in the O positive tribe. War between the tribes is flaring up to an even more deadly level than before, blood slavery, sickness, and human predation are rampant, and Fen has little more than hard won survival skills to keep herself and Baby Girl safe. But she has hope....
Then a new wrinkle enters the picture. Daniel, a young scientist from up north illegally enters the delta, obsessed with finding a cure to the fever. He has no clue what he will find behind the wall...but amidst all the horror and violence, there he meets Fen. And Fen, because she can't just leave him to die, and because there's a chance he can help her, saves his life....and they journey together, until they reach the wall.
This all too believable future world might sound tremendously dark, and Fen's life on her own has been full of horror. The story as a whole is gut-wrenching, page-clenching, and not for the faint of heart. Yet it is not depressing
. Because Fen never lets herself sink at all into any self-pity, because she never gives up, because she never considers any choice other than survival, and keeping true to her promises, I couldn't pity her either, though my heart certainly ached something fierce. The brutality is not rendered less brutal by the fact that Fen has kept her integrity, but because she has, and because the reader right in there with her, there's no sense of emotional manipulation by the author. There are bad things. Terrible things. But there is always hope.
There are still decent people in this world--like the Ursuline sisters, still keeping faith and tending to the dead, hope that the ravaged world of the Delta will heal, and, even when I turned the last page, I still had hope for Fen.
And there is one scene in particular, the All Souls' Day parade, that is a tremendous bit of heart-stopping, numinous-filled testimony to the power of the human spirit.
Don't go looking for Daniel to come in and romantically make things all better for Fen. He's a tourist, a babe in the woods, a complication in Fen's mission, and though he does end up with a huge part to play, it's not the part of Fen's lover and protector. Instead, read this one if you want to get to know a girl who is damaged, strong, brave, and sad, who keeps going because there is nothing else to do.
This is one for those looking for multi-cultural sci fi/fantasy--race, but not because it is a story where "race" is important. In this world, people are defined by blood type, so race isn't something we hear much about. It is mentioned, and indeed, there's a sociological twist involving race, blood-type, and tribal identity. Based on the few bits of description of Fen, I pictured her in my mind as black, but skin color is the least of people's worries in this world.
Personal note--Fen narrates her story in the English of the tribes, which doesn't include many verb forms; I was worried that it would bother me, but it didn't.
Read more about Orleans and its creator, Sherri L. Smith, at these other stops on its blog tour:
Monday, March 4 – The Compulsive Reader
Tuesday, March 5 – The Story Siren
Wednesday, March 6 – The OWL for YA
Thursday, March 7** – GreenBeanTeenQueen
Friday, March 8 – I Read Banned Books
Monday, March 11 – Poisoned Rationality
Tuesday, March 12 – The Book Smugglers
Thursday, March 14 – Literary Escapism
Friday, March 15 – Cari’s Book Blog
Friday, March 29 – A.L. Davroe
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.)
, by Kieran Larwood (Scholastic, middle grade, March 2012)
Kept in cage in a dingy sea-side town, and exhibited to the gawking, jeering, 19th-century English public, Sheba knows there's no place for her in the real world. She is a "wolf-girl"--more than just being covered with fur, strong emotion causes wolfish changes to her body.
When she is nine or so, her world expands. She is bought by a travelling freak-show proprietor, a bloated, unpleasant tyrant, as a nice addition to his collection of human oddities. Although her new life is still that of a freak, dependent on a harsh master, at least she is not so alone. Plumpscuttle's Peculiars--the rat tamer (Mama Rat), the exotic young Japanese woman fighter (Sister Moon), the giant, the monkey boy may all be strange (and, in the case of Monkey boy, rather revolting, viz personal hygiene and disgusting pastimes involving poo and snot), but they are her first friends.
And when the freak show arrives in London, Till, a poor urchin girl, sneaks in to see the show. She and Sheba form an instant bond. When Till never returns from a stint of trash picking in the tidal cess-swamps of the Thames, the Peculiars take on the case.
Turns out a steam-punk robotic octopus is rising from the mud to grab hapless children....and the master-mind behind its operations wants the children for Darkly Sinister Purposes (!). Gradually the Peculiars piece together the clues that lead them to Prince Albert's Crystal Palace at midnight to confront the villain head on--but can they foil the evil plot in time to save the children?
I found it a lot more engaging than I thought I might--I don't like 19th-century London, freak shows, or stereotypes of the Exotic (the broken of English of the lovely but deadly Sister Moon got on my nerves tremendously). And in this particular case, the plot seemed somewhat flimsy--the bad guys didn't seem competent or sensible enough to be worthy antagonists. However, I did like the story arc of the lonely girl finding an unexpected type of family, the steam-punk octopus grabbing children scenes were creepy, and the trained rats of Mama Rat were most excellent.
I also appreciated the way in which Sheba grows to realize that the other Peculiars are actual people too, with names, and histories, and possible futures, and that she herself had a mother who loved her. Though the story ends with the crew preparing to put on another show, I couldn't help but feel hopeful that life might have more in store for them.
Just as an aside--it's rather interesting to read a speculative fiction book in which the central child character is not actually the person who saves the day. Sheba, though appropriately plucky, actually does little that is useful--the adult Peculiars are the ones who come up with plans, take down bad guys, track people down, etc. This is another thing I appreciated!
But what will kids think? I really don't know. I have a vague sense that 19th-century is a hard sell to ten- and eleven-year olds, but the cool cover, promising action and adventure, and the appeal of the bizarre, might draw in kids both genders....and then, having met Sheba, they might well be happy to see how her adventures play out. The first chapter can be read at the author's website
, if you want to try it out....
Final thought: I really could have done without Monkey Boy being so constantly gross.
Final-er thought: trying to label this, I can't decide on sci fi (the mechanical octopus and the reliance of the nefarious plot on Faraday's electrical fun) or fantasy (Sheba is a wolf girl in more than fur, and rats are preternaturally talented). So I will put both.Freaks
won The Times
/Chicken House Publishing Children’s Fiction Competition 2010, and was published in the UK in 2011. Here's the UK cover, which, as Tanita points out in her discussion of this one at Finding Wonderland
, is more than a bit misleading:
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.
When you're not changing points of view, you're just changing bodies. That's what's happening in David Levithan'
s pretty fine book Every Day
. A, the mysterious protagonist who doesn't know who or even what he is, wakes up every morning in a new body and has to live that person's life for him or her for the next twenty-four hours. So though every chapter is the story of A being a new person and dealing with that new life, he is always A. We're not really getting a point of view switch at all.
I'm still reading Wired for Story
by Lisa Cron. One of the points that author makes is that humans are drawn to story because we evolved using it to help us survive, to help us determine and plan what we should do in various situations. Nowadays when reading fiction, the protagonists are stand ins for us, trying out different scenarios so we don't have to.
If that is the case, Every Day
is a treat for the brain, giving readers an opportunity to try out a large number of situations--being diabetic, beautiful, gay, depressed, obese, nasty, and kind, just for starters.The New York Time
's review of the book
made a big point about Every Day
being a love story. Now that that's been pointed out to me, I guess it is. But A's basic situation and humanity are so engrossing that I didn't give that aspect of the book much thought.
A appears to be aging along with the bodies he inhabits, meaning that at some point he always woke up in a five-year-old's body and then a six-year-old's and now he's in his teens. I believe he's supposed to be in tenth or eleventh grade. I do feel he is a little too mature sometimes, a little too much like the only adult in the room.
But over all, the basic story is marvelous and the book is beautifully written. I had heard some talk of it last year, but I'm surprised I didn't hear more. I know it's been nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.
** I wrote this review in 2009 and was thinking about this book again recently. Drift House is imaginative and thoughtful and poignant in ways that so many works of fantasy aren't these days so I wanted to introduce or remind you of it. Also, there is a FANTASTIC list of similar books (and links to me reviews) at the end of the review. The criteria being, each series (or stand-alone) features
This is one of the cooler things I've seen on the Internet lately. Make your own pulp magazine cover
GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER
A chance reading of a newspaper ad will send 16 year old Thomas Byrne into the world within our world.
Following the ad he will find Guardians Incorporated. A seven thousand year old organization charged with protecting the balance between Magic and technology.
Through their guidance, technology has kept Magic at bay since the Renaissance, but the balance is shifting and soon all those creatures we've driven into myth and legend will come back with a vengeance.
To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future and to unlock the future
they need a Cypher.
USA Book News 2012 Finalist -Young Adult Fiction
"Rosado-Machain brings a light, humorous touch to themes of teenage love, loss and betrayal wrapped up in a tasty package of magical coming-of-age."
"It's like Julian Rosado-Machain took everything that I love about middle grade children's fiction and slammed it into one awesome, well-paced fantasy"
~Emi London Oktopusink.blogspot.com
"The Cypher hooked me from the beginning. And kept my attention right through to the very end."
- Heidi Roth reviewthebook.com
Get Your Copy for FREEAuthor Julian Rosado-Machain
Julian has enjoyed pizza in three continents, holds a degree in graphic design, built armored vehicles and computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears has seen at least one ghost.
He is the Co-owner of Hacienda de Vega Restaurant in San Diego, California and enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.
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The Lost Girl
, by Sangu Mandanna (Balzer + Bray; August, 2012, YA, 432 pages)
Eva has lived in cozy cottage in northern England all the sixteen years of her life, with her beloved foster mother, and caring guardians dropping in to visit lots. She looks on the outside like a normal, attractive, Anglo-Indian girl.
Eva has been in danger all her life. There are people who think she is an abomination, a monster who must be killed.
Because Eva doesn't just look like an Indian girl--she is a direct copy of one. She was made by a sinister organization of genetic tinkerers to be the exact echo of a girl named Amarra, a girl growing up in far-away Bangalore. If Amarra should die, Eva will be sent to take her place, and perhaps, even to serve as a vessel for Amarra's very essence. Every week the letters from Amarra, full of the details of her life, arrive. When Amarra gets a tattoo, Eva must get one also, so their bodies match.
Eva doesn't want to be an echo. She wants to be "Eva," a name she chose for herself. But those that created her will kill her if she tries to live a life of her own.
Then Amarra dies.
Eva does her best to be Amarra....but there are things that Amarra never told her. And even the best echo cannot truly take the place of a lost child, and Eva is much more than a good little shadow....
At which point, things surge from being a fascinating speculative fiction character study to a life or death drama with stakes just as high as they can get! (with bonus forbidden romance).
Yes, this is one for the lover of character (me). And the lover of Themes being Explored (identity, and the rights we have to our own lives, and whether the created life is inherently monstrous (with many references in the book to Frankenstein) and how grief and love plays out for different people). There was action, too, especially toward the end (our girl Eva and her love fighting the Powerful Bad Guys).
And it was a really darn good read. An all in one evening, great gulping glass of water on a hot day read. Three and a half hours of all absorbing prose. Oh yeah.
It wasn't all rainbows and happy reading, though. For instance, I would have liked more richness to the Indian part of the setting, when Eva is living Amarra's life--I never felt as though I was there.
More critically, the actual premise--that echoes can take the place of a real person--is rather ridiculous; I can't imagine an echo ever successfully filling the void of the dead person. Nor does the whole set-up of the echo creators seem reasonable (even for speculative fiction). Much salt is required to swallow the central point of the story. If that's the sort of thing that bothers you, this might not be the right book for you.
(thanks to Margo Berendsen, who's review
of the book inpired me to get a hold of it!)
I’m a far-ranging reader, happily reading a picture book one minute and a book for adults the next. Professionally, being a 4th grade teacher and reviewer, not a librarian, I tend to read only YA that really intrigues me for one reason or another and I have to shamefully admit that until now what I’d heard about Marcus Sedgwick’s books — that they were dark and creepy — did not make me want to read them. But recently, I saw something interesting about his latest, Midwinterblood, just as a copy showed up in the mail and so I took it home to read.
The book has an unconventional structure that someone told me is like Cloud Atlas, but while it does have a sort of similar time sense, I’d say it is otherwise completely different. Beginning in 2073 on the island of Blessed, it moves back in time, with an epilogue connecting back to the book’s start. There are seven stories in total, all set on the island, heading back and back and back through time. And by way of these distinctive narratives we are startled to encounter characters we have already met in the earlier stories, characters who care, hate, most of all, two who love throughout eternity. Separately these are ghost stories, love stories, and even something that might be termed dystopic. Playing on tropes of folklore, horror, myth, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, Sedgwick imaginatively weaves something highly original and completely compelling. While Midwinterblood is its own distinct thing, mulling it over now, I think of Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch Three Times and the stories of Margo Lanagan.
Most of all, it is gorgeous. Highly recommended.
I am delighted to announce that the manuscript sometimes known as CHRONAL ENGINE II: THE WRATH OF KHAAN
is scheduled for publication by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!
We don't actually have a final title yet (one of the working titles -- and the title in today's Publishers' Marketplace announcement -- is CHRONAL PATHFINDER, but that might change, as well). Obviously, this isn't the real cover either -- I just like the Pulp-O-Mizer
What's it about? Well, here's a teaser: Not long after the events of CHRONAL ENGINE, a mysterious letter found beneath the floorboards of the ranch house sends the teens back to the Cretaceous to rescue Mad Jack Pierson!
Thanks to my agent Ginger Knowlton
and new editor Jennifer Greene
Oh, and here's the Pulp-O-Mizer cover for CHRONAL ENGINE:
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Some time last year, Erica Wagner, Publisher at Allen and Unwin, is reported as having said that there was a lot to be gained by having a text already illustrated [not that Allen & Unwin published picture books]. This is seemingly a change in direction.
Some writers/illustrators I know have recently signed contracts for ‘print ready’ books. This is not self-publishing, but submission to a royalty paying publisher of a book that is ‘ready to go’ in publishing terms.
What constitutes a ‘print ready’ book? It is a book that has been -
- professionally edited,
- proofread, has been
- designed to industry standards,
- professionally designed cover and,
- if illustrated, has all images appropriately set.
This is a great way to go for authors who are able to pay illustrators and book designers up front. Most authors are not able to do this. This then means all creators involved in a book project agreeing to royalty share and working between paid projects to collaborate on their book.
What have I gleaned about such ‘print ready’ deals? One company, smaller and reasonably new, offered a small advance and a good contract, by industry standards, with higher than regular royalty share for creators. An offer of help with promotion was also part of the deal. Another company, medium sized and established, offered no advance but better than average royalty shares for creators and help with promotion and marketing of the book.
How does this stack up against what is generally on offer now?
- Small and middle range publishers, in general, do not offer advances.
- Larger publishers offer advances depending on the book, depending on the author, and depending on the agent involved.
- Smaller and middle range publishers often [there are exceptions] expect the author to do it all in relation to promotion, even requiring the submission of a marketing plan.
- Larger publishers vary greatly as to how much promotion they will give a book.
- Generally, publishers will submit copies of their publishing output for major awards, such as the CBCA, and to a selection of leading review outlets.
What’s the down side for author, illustrator, book designer, [often the illustrator], to go down the ‘print ready’ publishing path?
- It IS a lot of extra work for all creators involved to ensure the book is ‘professional’ standard even before it is submitted.
- There is no money upfront.
Are the rewards worth the effort?
- If you love collaborative work, it is a big plus.
- Creators have much more project control to create the book they have collaboratively envisaged.
- A quality product, ‘print ready’, is a major bargaining point for creators/agents. ‘Print ready’ saves the publisher heaps!
The first company mentioned does small print runs, sells out their print runs, reprints and even sells out reprints and so it seems to be gradually snowballing.
It is too early to know in the second instance. [I’ll keep you posted!]
My feeling is that, if Erica Wagner was sensing a ‘trend’ and if these companies make a success of it, we will see more such deals. It’s something to think about!
To be launched end of June – “Toofs!” a collaboration between J.R. and Estelle A.Poulter an illustrators Monica Rondino and Andrea Pucci. More to come on what was a ‘print ready’ deal.
TOOFS by J.R.Poulter & Estelle A. Poulter, illustrated by Monica Rondino & Andrea Pucci