Thursday, June 14, 2007

Weather Balloons Make Rotten Sex Toys by Annabelle du Foust

Clearly, this book is supposed to be funny in a ridiculous way. But the intent probably only makes it worse. This book had so many possibilities, and yet we're presented with a narrator who is probably at least twice as clueless as the most clueless person you know, and who claims to be a researcher, but she's incompetent. (Again, this is supposed to be funny, but really it's just annoying.)

Though the jacket blurb indicates that the book is of a less than serious nature, I would have far preferred a competent narrator who poked fun at the world of "kink" with real facts and observations.

All in all, a silly waste of time and money.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Flight by Sherman Alexie

I love Sherman Alexie’s work, so I was eager to get my hands on his new teen fiction book Flight.

The protagonist, a hurting, “half-breed” foster kid who only wants to identify himself as Zits is headed for trouble—the tragic, mass murder kind. And then, he becomes the receiving end of a miracle. He becomes a body-jumping time traveler (yes, kind of like the TV show Quantum Leap) who jumps into the body of a murderous FBI agent in Red River, Idaho in the ‘70’s, a young teenager at Little Bighorn, an Irish Indian tracker in the 1800’s, a middle age pilot, and a middle age drunk, homeless Indian. In each of these instances, he is faced with choices and motivations that are not his own, all involving death, but he is offered them as experiences to learn from.

I know that some adults would be uncomfortable letting their teens read this because Zits is defiant or because of the coarse language—it will definitely be immediately challenged in plenty of libraries across the country—but this is a kid of the streets, and kids of the street talk tough and tend to have more issues than usual with adults. I think this book should be on the list of encouraged readings in every high school library.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff has created a story that you won't want to put down. I love the cover--that alone would have been difficult for me to resist. The characters are, for the most part, well developed, and Emma's/Anna's involvement with the Jewish resistance makes for a driving plot.

At times, I confess, I found the internal dialogue feels tedious--she keeps having the same argument with herself. But this conflict is actually part of what makes it readable. How often do you have an argument with yourself about a major decision just once?

One problem I did have was Anna's insistence that she "had no choice" throughout the last half of the book, when her aunt-in-law Krysia made it very clear in the beginning that there's always a choice. I don't know if it's that I think she needs to be called out for the choices she's made, or if I just didn't like her refusal to acknowledge that these were her decisions, for which there would be consequences.

The only character who was underdeveloped was the Kommandant himself, but I'm not sure that we would find his so irresistible otherwise.

An intense and enjoyable book. If I rated on a five star scale, I'd give it four stars.