Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

A Plethora of Summer Reading

This past week, my wife and I spent time relaxing on the beach, and I read about a book a day while we were there.  Instead of my usual entry for each review, I thought I would give a thumbnail review of each of the books.

—–

Shadow ThievesPeter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

For all that I gripe and moan about there being nothing original in fiction any more, I sure did enjoy Peter and the Starcatchers, the prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.  The sequel was very much in the same vein as the first novel, and managed to maintain the same charm and character of Barrie’s story and Disney’s adaptation of the story, but it wasn’t quite as magical as Starcatchers.  It was still an entertaining read, and I would recommend it for kids and adults alike.

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Fourth BearThe Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

I much prefer the Thursday Next series by Fforde, but until he gets back to that one (and there’s one in the works, according to a blurb in the book!), I’ll settle for the Nursery Crimes series.  In this one, Jack Spratt investigates the murder of Goldilocks, who was reported missing after being found in the house of the three bears.  The story is as clever as most anything by Fforde, so if you enjoy his stuff, you’ll find plenty to like here.  The author continues to break the fourth wall in his fiction, and it’s excellent.

And if you haven’t read anything by Fforde, start with The Eyre Affair and go from there.  You won’t regret it.

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PeepsPeeps by Scott Westerfeld

I’m sold on Westerfeld, thanks to the Uglies trilogy, and this one came recommended to me from fellow librarians.  It has a slow start, but once it gets going, it’s a great take on the vampire theme.  It has the same depth as the Uglies series, and takes on some adult themes (horniness is a pervasive theme, and the language is a bit stronger than I would have expected from a YA novel, even though it didn’t bother me), so I would recommend it to anyone who like the author’s work.  The story looks at vampirism as a parasite that lives inside humans, and between chapters, the author tells us of other, real parasites and how they interact with nature.  It’s a fascinating education on parasites, but if you’re a germaphobe, you might want to skip those chapters.

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Half-MoonHalf-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

I think Colfer is growing tired of Artemis Fowl and his adventures.  I like them, myself, even if they’re not quite as original and characteristic as the first novel in the series, but the author is trying his hand at some other books and characters, Fletcher Moon being one of them.  Fletcher is another precocious pre-teen, but instead of being a rich, semi-evil genius, he’s the first 12 year-old to complete a private investigator training course online, making him a full-fledged PI.  Still, working for chocolate isn’t quite what he had in mind, so when a schoolmate offers him 30 Euro to find out who’s stealing things from her, he takes the case.  It gets more complicated (and, unfortunately, convoluted) than that, but there are red herrings and multiple suspects, like any good PI novel.  This is a decent start to a new series, but it’s not a must-read, by any means.

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Digital FortressDigital Fortress by Dan Brown

No trip to the beach is complete without a typical “beach read,” and I figured a techno-thriller by the author of The Da Vinci Code would work.  It’s an exciting intrigue novel, even if it does have a few flaws, but it’ll keep you turning the pages while you bake in the sun.  In this book, the NSA is trying to solve the mystery of an unbreakable encryption program.  Of course, there’s more going on than the principle characters first realize, but that’s what makes the story fun.  I was a bit frustrated that the full-time decoders couldn’t figure out the biggest clue, that I discovered about 1/10th of the way into the book, or the time-sensitive clue that was plainly obvious at the end, but other than that, I enjoyed the journey.  It’s just fun, mindless reading, and so long as you go into it not expecting anything more, you should enjoy it.

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DollhouseThe Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

I read a lot of juvenile and YA books, but I always justify reading them because they have a bit more depth and story than the labels would indicate.  The Dollhouse Murders, though, is plainly a juvenile novel.  It has a young girl on the cover, and it’s published by Apple Yearling (which brought back enough nostalgia on its own), so don’t expect anything huge out of the book.  It’s a decent story, though, and what drew me to the book in the first place was the premise.  The main character discovers a dollhouse in the attic of her aunt’s house that’s an exact replica of the house where her aunt’s grandparents were murdered.  When the dolls start to act out the murder on their own, though, things get interesting.  Along with all this, the main character is dealing with the responsibility and burden of having a mentally challenged sister, and it all comes together in a touching story about family.

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FrozenFrozen by Jay Bonansinga

This author is one that always gets my attention, because he got his start with a horror novel about a man cursed to drive his rig across country without stopping, because the faster he goes, the less likely he is to burn alive.  It’s a weird, supernatural version of Speed, but in the author’s defense, I think the novel came first.  It was entertaining, and since I’m always on the lookout for a good horror novel, I thought this would be another good beach read.  Boy, was I wrong.

This book starts out as a typical forensics novel, but it starts to take a weird turn when the main character visits the 6000 year-old corpse of a shaman who was dug out of a glacier in Alsaka.  He finds similarities between that corpse and the corpses of the victims of a serial killer he’s investigating, and there are some supernatural elements touched on here and there during the investigation.  The author manages to push those aside for a more realistic explanation through most of the novel, but by the end … well, it turns out that it is something mystical and strange.  It was a bit of a letdown.

If you can find The Black Mariah, by the same author, read it, but I’d avoid this one.

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August 21, 2006 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Reviews, YA Fiction

1 Comment »

  1. ‘I read a lot of juvenile and YA books…’

    Me too. Although I tend to justify it as I like fantasy novels and the best writing in that genre, for some reason, is for the young readers market. I blame JK Rowling.

    Anyway, I enjoy your reviews. Unfortunately, they have rather added to my already long ‘to be read’ list…

    Comment by Solnushka | August 23, 2006 | Reply


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