Sunday, April 22, 2007

What I’m Reading -- Dead Connection by Charlie Price

Fiction, Teen -- This first novel from Charlie Price is a god one. I’m not certain why I grabbed this in the first place since I’m not really into creepy otherworldly type things, but this is more of a mystery than you would expect from reading the synopsis. Murray is a weird, lonely high school kid who hangs out in his town’s cemetery where he begins to hear the thoughts of the dead and has conversations with them. At about the same time that a fellow high school student is murdered, he starts to hear a new voice. Pearl, whose father runs the cemetery, becomes intrigued as she sees this odd kid hanging around the graveyard all of the time and becomes involved as well. Meanwhile, Deputy Sheriff Gates, the most interesting character in the book, begins to feel pressure from the community to solve the murder. It turns out that his only connections are a disturbed young man who may have seen something and Murray, who is hard to believe. The whodunit part of the story and Gates’ investigation are very well written and interesting. Readers of supernatural stories and mysteries should both appreciate this story.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What I'm Reading -- Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Fiction, Adult -- In this novel, Brockmeier slowly reveals that a virus is sweeping the earth and killing its inhabitants. Part of the story follows Laura, who is on an expedition in Antarctica and begins to realize that there may be a problem back in civilization. The rest of the story is told by those who are dead, but have not moved on yet. The dead live fairly normal lives, but realize they have passed on from Earth and the theory is that as long as they are remembered by someone on earth they remain in this existence. When no one living has memories of those in this in between state, the dead move to whatever is next. This is an absolutely fascinating novel that keeps a tense yet thoughtful vibe throughout. He is a master at revealing things slowly, but giving a reader just enough to keep interest, which reminded me of M.T. Anderson’s The Pox Party. The struggles of Laura to survive and the investigations of the dead as they try to figure out what is going on as their “city” begins to change is as interesting as a novel gets.

What I’m Reading -- Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Helper

Fiction, Teen -- Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is one of my favorite books in a while. This is basically a romance with two interesting main characters in Calliope (Cal) and Eliot. Both teens are caught in lives they did not ask for and they have created coping mechanisms to deal with their situations. Cal has become used to moving every few months as her Mom works at Renaissance Faires and Cal never talks to her father who has moved on with a new life. Eliot’s family lives in and runs a Christian camp for overweight children forcing him to adopt to his parents strict lifestyles. Basically, this book is Nic and Norah’s Infinite Playlist except that it takes place in a small town (instead of New York) and is not condescending and pretentious. Barkley and Helper do an awesome job making Cal and Eliot realistic as the characters seek to improve their family life and personal lives while cultivating their own relationship together. The story of them meeting while Eliot’s lips are green is hilarious. While some of the plot devices come a bit too easy, this is a great read.

What I'm Reading -- Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Fiction, Teen -- Pfeffer has created a novel that blends sci-fi and a coming of age story. 16-year old Miranda and the rest of the world watch as a meteor is expected to collide with the moon. What the experts did not prognosticate is that the moon gets pushed closer to the earth after the collision which throws off the balance of things and makes life horrible for everyone. As the world is seemingly coming to an end, Miranda writes about her experiences in her diary. Her musings are candid and seem very real. They range from her silly crush on an Olympic skater to deciding how to divvy up her family’s ever dwindling supply of food. I kind of had mixed feelings about this one. It is written clearly and with much emotion, but something about world ending novels just doesn’t click with me. I’m not sure what it is, but I seem to always doubt the author’s conclusions about how people would react, but this is probably just some of my own silly notions. Anyway, I think this is better than Meg Rosoff’s very similar How I Live Now. Fans of Rosoff will definitely like Pfeffer’s account of world changing events as well.

What I’m Reading -- Mathematicians in Love by Rudy Rucker

Fiction, Adult -- The latest novel by Rudy Rucker is quite the wild ride. It begins in a parallel universe where Bela and Paul are doctoral math students who are both competing over creating a groundbreaking theory and for the affections of Alma, another student who is graduating and has an uncertain future. From there the plot gets a bit too crazy for me to explain, but it includes hopping to different worlds, discovering crazy mathematical theories and dealing with a litany of thugs and presidential candidates. This is a sarcastic sci-fi that twists reality. Rucker is great at writing these types of characters and weaves them into a fun story. Rucker’s style is reminiscent of Max Barry and Douglas Coupland, but in Sci-fi style.