Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Replacement

And the winner for the creepiest, most spine-chilling cover ever goes to....

Mackie Doyle looks like a human, talks like a human, even functions like a human...almost.  But how many humans do you know have a fatal allergy to iron, blood, and consecrated ground?  When your dad is the local pastor and you can't step foot in church with out your skin burning, how do you convince others that you're normal?

The creatures that live under the slag heap just outside of the prosperous town of Gentry require something of its residents: a small child every few years and silence about it when it happens.  The human child that is taken is replaced with a replica from the slag heap.  However, the replicas aren't perfect and because of their allergies to blood, iron, and consecrated ground they do not survive long in the human world.  Except Mackie, who is now seventeen.  Yet Mackie starts to quickly deteriorate just after another child is taken - the little sister of the girl of a friend.  Determined to make things right, Mackie must face where he came from and those who live there.

New author Brenna Yovanoff shoots and scores with this book that you cannot put down.  Long after you've read the last page your adrenaline will be pumping.  I'm not much for scary stories, but this book has the dark side of Tim Burton written all over it so I had to read it.  And while many of the creatures from the slag heap will make your toes curl, Mackie just might be the sweetest, biggest softy in YA history.

Note: This is a YALSA 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick

Plain Kate

Something old, something new
Something borrowed, and something blue

At least all that's true with the cover art...

Kate is neither beautiful or rich.  In fact, she is very plain and very poor.  The only remarkable things about her are her skills at wood carving - learned from her father - and eyes that are two different colors.  Both of these things are not in her favor though.  Her village is very superstitious and hard times have fallen.  A young, fatherless girl with no one to defend her is an easy target for blame.  Fearing that she will be burned at the stake as a witch, she makes a deal with a strange albino man, Linay who comes through her village.  Linay will grant her the greatest wish of her heart in exchange for her shadow.  At first, this seems a trifling thing - giving up your shadow when all you want is one true friend.  But a shadow, or lack thereof, are a very noticeable thing. 

So about the little poem at the beginning...the magic portrayed in the story is similar to the folklore that would have been around in Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages and the early colony days of America.  However, the details of Kate's deal with Linay gave it a new twist.  Author, Erin Bow definitely borrowed some of the folklore of the Romany people as well.  The blue...well look at the picture above.

I expected to love this book...I liked it, but I'm not sad that there's not a sequel. 

Note: This is a YALSA 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick

Going Bovine

I started the review of this book over a month ago (I actually finished the book in March), but I am still at a loss for words as to what to say about this book.  Maybe I should just start with the facts:
  • It's big
  • It won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature in for 2010
  • Its weird - case in point, the upright cow carrying a yard gnome that's wearing sunglasses on the cover
Cameron is 16 and he's gonna die.  No spoilers here, you know that from the inside flap.  Cam's got mad cow disease and the book is one ginormous hallucination of an adventure with a semi-friend and dwarf named Gonzo; a yard gnome that may or may not be the incarnate Viking god Balder; and featuring spotty appearances by an punk-angel with a sweet tooth, appropriately named Dulcie.

This book took me a long time to read, and that kind of bothers me.  Sure I wanted to know what happened in the end and how the characters got there, but only sort of.  What's even more weird to me is that a chunk of this book takes place in New Orleans and I still wasn't that excited about it.  Now that I think about it, I liked the "thank you's" Libba Bray gives at the beginning of the book more than the book itself.