Tag Archives: young adult

Review of Monster of the Week (The Rules #2), by F.T. Lukens

Cover of Monster of the Week.

I received an advanced copy of F. T. LukensMonster of the Week through Netgalley. As it happens, I’ve also pre-ordered a paperback copy. But I won’t have that in hand until October.

Description from Goodreads:

Spring semester of Bridger Whitt’s senior year of high school is looking great. He has the perfect boyfriend, a stellar best friend, and an acceptance letter to college. He also has this incredible job as an assistant to Pavel Chudinov, an intermediary tasked with helping cryptids navigate the modern world. His days are filled with kisses, laughs, pixies, and the occasional unicorn. Life is awesome. But as graduation draws near, Bridger’s perfect life begins to unravel. Uncertainties about his future surface, his estranged dad shows up out of nowhere, and, perhaps worst of all, a monster-hunting television show arrives in town to investigate the series of strange events from last fall. The show’s intrepid host will not be deterred, and Bridger finds himself trapped in a game of cat and mouse that could very well put the myth world at risk. Again.

Review (with spoiler):

I generally adore this series. I absolutely loved the first book. I can’t say I loved this second one quite as much, but I did really enjoy it. I’ll start with what I like. There is a lot of love here. Bridger has a wonderfully supportive crew and the theme of Found Family is a wonderful one. The cast of regular characters are quirky and fun and effortlessly diverse. And I really appreciated that Lukens allowed Bridger to cut the toxic family member from his life, rather than force an artificial reconciliation. 

Things I didn’t like as much was the plot dependance on the ambitious, ‘evil professional woman.’ It’s more nuanced than that here, but it’s still a pretty shitty trope that I hate. I thought things got a little didactic at times. And the focus of the book was less on the action and antics of the cryptic, here in Monster of the Week, and more on Bridger’s school life. I preferred the former. 

All in all, I can’t wait for more of Lukens’ work. 

Review of Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland

I borrowed an audio copy of Justina Ireland‘s Dread Nation through the library.

Description from Goodreads:

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.

In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.

But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.

But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. 

And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Review:

It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I really enjoyed it. It can be uncomfortable at times, but it’s also a worthy reminder of the overt evils of our recent past and the myriad ways it’s still evident in society today. While the Survivalist in the story speak openly about their supremacist beliefs, I whole heartedly believe it realistic of the sorts of arguments slave owners used in their time and modern day racists mimic today. It would be hard to read this book and not relate to Jane’s rage and indignation. 

I also simply really liked Jane. I liked that she’s self-reflective and honest with herself (even about the fact that she sometimes lies to herself). I liked that she’s smart, resilient and loyal. She made a superb heroine. 

On a side note, I have reached an age where I actively avoid books likely to contain rape scenes. I’ve just gotten truly intolerant of it in my entertainment. There are times it’s instrumental to plot, but FAR too often authors toss it out lightly and I just can’t with it anymore. So, when it became apparent that Jane and Kate were going to be placed at the mercy of a group of men, I prepared myself to grit my teeth through the obligatory ‘woman is victimized’ scene. I am happy to report it never happened. So, if you’re like me and try to avoid such things, know Ireland go there. A plus in my mind. 

All in all, I happily recommend this book. I know the fact that it has zombies in it will put a lot of people off, but I hope people do give it a chance. And if you’re interested in audio books, Bahni Turpin did a great job.

Review of A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

If you’ve not noticed from my recent reviews, I’m trying to read a number of my YA physical books. It’s a tricky way to clear some shelf space. You see, my oldest has now reached the age that she can read some of the younger YA books (those not overtly sexual or overly violent), which means if I get them read I can move them from MY shelf to HER shelf. Ta-da!!

A Long Walk to Water (by Linda Sue Park) is one such book. I’m not sure where it came from though. I like to say in my review posts where I got the book. But this one is a mystery. Probably I bought it, but maybe someone left it in the Little Free Library. I’m fairly sure I didn’t win it.

Description from Goodreads:

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Review:

Written for a young audience, this story of one of the Lost Boys of the Second Sudanese Civil War is quite accessible. Though, lets be honest, covering 20 years in 115 pages, what you get is an overview more than an engaging story. But it’s enough to introduce a student to the travesties of war, as well as the hopefulness and generosity of humanity. I consider it worth the read.