Categories
book review YA fiction

Spliced

This story probably isn’t meant to be an allegory to the current state of attitudes towards minorities, but once you start reading it, you can’t help but notice the parallels to modern society. The topic at hand draws inspiration from various sources – from the discrimination against people of the LGBT community (in particular against transgender people), against people of color, immigrants and also from draconian legislation passed in regards to human rights. I moved this review up on my schedule so that I could help (in my smallish way) to build some buzz for this title. First a definition:

Chimera (ki-mir-a) n. A person who pays back-alley geneticists to splice animal genes into their own illegally. 

The MC Jimi was a bit aggravating at the start of the book, with her ‘disgust’ about the ‘terrible mistake’ the chimeras are making. She simply doesn’t understand her friend Del and worries about all the implications of becoming a Chimera especially after they witness a police officer becoming overly violent while he is apprehending some chimeras.

I’m not sure if I would call Spliced science fiction or dystopia? It is a world in which human gene editing has become possible and human-animal chimeras exists.  In this dystopia, climate change has taken its toll, and only cities have power- the suburbs (zurbs) are kind of no man’s land where people live off the grid. Spliced imagines a world where a local legislation robs the chimeras of their rights as humans, and how quickly the hate-groups can utilize the neutrality of people who stay silent on the issue to harm the disenfranchised. I think this is a great book for parents and teens to read and discuss.

Bonus the author has a website where you can upload a photo and get Spliced!

Spliced By Jon McGoran September 29, 2017

Categories
MG fiction

The Wonderling

I very luckily got a signed ARC of this book at ALA.  After reading a few real sad YA books, I was ready for some forest creature time. This story started out grim with the Wonderling not even having a name. He is called 13 at his yucky orphanage. 

In this world, there are humans, regular animals, and human/animal hybrids named “groundlings.” Groundlings can speak and act like people, but they have some physical characteristics of animals. They walk upright and wear clothing, but might have a tail, fur, feathers, wings, ears, beak, or snout of an animal. However, Groundlings speak like humans, and can’t talk to normal animals. It’s complicated.

You’ve kind of a Dickensonian Footloose theme going on where music is against the rules. Once he leaves the orphanage he hears music everywhere and that’s sweet and fun.

This is just beautifully written and its long- which I liked. 

Also, for all you homeschoolers that have read the classics, there is a ferryman named Norahc, which of course is just Charon spelled backward. ( I love that kind of thing)

Translated from German:  The Wunderling By Mira Bartok September 29, 2017

Categories
MG fiction

Greenglass House and Ghosts of Greenglass House

I’m giving you a twofer. I got myself a copy of Ghosts of Greenglass House, and when I saw that it was a sequel, I carved out some time to read them in order. It works out great. You can read Greenglass House now and in a couple of weeks get the sequel without that usual annoying one year or longer wait. How do I know you’ll want to read them both?

“Nobody said it had to be a story with an ending all neatly tied up like some ridiculous fairy tale. This story’s true, and true stories don’t have endings because things just keep going.” 
― Kate MilfordGreenglass House

So- Greenglass House is a hotel run by Milo and his adoptive parents. It’s the kind of big old house with alcoves, maps, and secrets. It’s Christmas break as the story begins and Milo is looking forward to some downtime. They have no guests booked at all. Until suddenly, people start showing up, and Milo’s parents call the staff back to help out for awhile.

The cook’s daughter Meddy proposes a Role Playing Game set in the house. Milo takes on the new identity of Negret, inventing a background that is unlike his own. Meddy becomes Sirin, and the two explore the wonderfully quirky house. Milo finds a map, and they end up searching for two missing guests all while learning more about the history of the house.

In Ghosts of Greenglass House,  Milo is back, it’s the next Christmas break, and there’s new people with new mysteries to unravel–plus some old friends. I loved being back in this world again. These are both long books full of atmosphere. This one tops out at 464 pages. That’s one of the things I love about both of them. When the setting is right you just want to sit there as the reader eavesdropping on their story.

 

 

 

Greenglass House and Ghosts of Greenglass House By Kate Milford

Categories
MG fiction

My Brigadista Year

I enjoyed going to ALA so much this year. For one thing, it was close to home. For another, a whole weekend full of like minded book folk is like waking up in a book dystopia. Everywhere people were talking about books; it was heavenly. Despite the hours of waiting in long lines, I came away from the weekend cheerful about the direction of publishing today. Meeting the authors if only for a few moments was so fun. Katherine was exceptionally kind as I gushed a bit about Bridge to Terabithia. I spent a good part of each night quieting my inner voice as I worried I was too excited, awkward, or both with the authors.

On with the review. I read this in one sitting and as historical fiction is one of my favorite genres I enjoyed it. Lora decides to join the Literacy Brigadistas when she is 13, which was an idea of Fidel Castro’s to raise the literacy rate and help the poorer, less educated people understand concepts in his new government. The brigadistas were mostly young girls who volunteered to go to the farms and teach the low-income families how to read. At first, just the women were willing to learn, then the kids and finally the men came around to the idea that learning to read might indeed help them. According to the notes in the back of the book, Cuba raised its literacy rate from 60% to 96% during this time. I hadn’t realized that Castro valued education so much. Things I liked: Hearing the spin that Castro put on the shortages within the country- it was America that was the villain. There are always two sides, and I think it’s good for kids to read books from different points of view through a historical lens of the time.

Things I didn’t like: I have zero context for Cuban history (beyond a cursory knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis), and so it’s hard to know how much of this is fiction. That’s entirely on me though.

My Brigadista Year By Katherine Paterson October 10, 2017

After doing some research, I’m now reading the book Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy to learn more about 1961 Cuba.