Happy 2014! I hope everyone had a great break with plenty of fun time, family time and reading time. Hopefully, some of those times overlapped. I really enjoyed being able to plow through some books over break and read several YA books as well as a few others. Other reading included two "Airplane Novels" and I'm in the middle of two books right now as well. I've read about 1/3 of a very interesting biography about Teddy Roosevelt, and am halfway through A Thing Called Luck, a book my wife and I are reading aloud.
Everybody Sees The Ants by A.S. King is a great book about a fifteen year-old boy, Lucky, who is dealing with a bully, two parents he refers to as "The Squid" (his mom because she swims so much), and "The Turtle" (his dad because he hides from all conflict and spends most of his time cooking at his restaurant). He has very odd dreams about his grandfather, who never came back from the Vietnam War, that mostly involve him trying to help him escape from a prisoner of war camp in the jungle. They have conversations, and while there are plenty of "normal" dream qualities like the ability to have control or choose to do things, they are also abnormal in that they feel too real and there are some surprising after effects. While the book is mostly realistic, there are a couple of magic qualities related to the dreams and then of course there are the ants; Lucky's little cheerleaders, that only he can see (so he thinks), who say and do the things he wishes he could in the moment. Overall, this book is a wonderful read about a boy trying to deal with family secrets, disengaged parents, and a bully that's been bugging him since early in elementary school. There are a couple of other great characters as well that the author does a great job of making us love or despise, usually for each character as we get to know them. This is probably one of the top five books I've read this year and I highly recommend it!
Legend by Marie Lu is the first in a dystopian trilogy set in futuristic LA. The USA is no more and the western part of the continent is controlled by The Republic. There is war with the Colonies, The Patriots and massive plagues that move through the city's poor neighborhoods that strike fear into the citizens and also help perpetuate a police state. All children take the Trial on their tenth birthday. The resulting score sets the person's place in society and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is striking. The book is told in alternating chapters by two teens around sixteen years old. Day is a boy who can move like a ninja through the streets and works to take care of his mother and two brothers, who think he is dead. He also takes care of Tess, a thirteen year old orphan who lives in the streets with him and is treated like a little sister. Day is the most wanted criminal in the area although he does his crimes and sabotage against the Republic without actually killing anyone and his ability to climb buildings is legendary. The other side of the story is told by June, the only person to get a perfect score in the Trial. She is a fast rising military star whose mission it to capture Day. She goes undercover in the streets after her brother is killed when Day tries to steal some plague antidote from a hospital. As the book goes on, the propaganda of the Republic is found to have many holes in it and I was reminded of 1984 and how propaganda was used in that book. Both main characters are likable, have faults, and the readers end up rooting for both and hoping they can somehow end up working together. I'm looking forward to reading Prodigy which is the second book in the series.
Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card, was better than I hoped for in a "sequel" to Ender's Game. It actually is about the same time period as Ender's Game, but from the perspective of Bean, another character. It starts with Bean surviving on the streets of Rotterdam as a very small but intelligent four-year-old. He gets bigger kids to gang up together in productive ways but they tend to think the plans are their own ideas. Eventually his gifts are noticed and he gets tagged for Battle School. Being a small and young, there are many parallels to Ender's journey through Battle School, but since they are such different characters with different motivations, they approach things in unique ways. If you enjoyed Ender's Game I highly recommend Ender's Shadow, although it could be read on it's own.
Up Next on my TBR List:
Finish - The Thing About Luck
Finish - The Rise of Teddy Roosevelt (This will take a few weeks I'm sure since it's thick and dense)
The Prodigy by Marie Lu
A Clockwork Three
Two Boys Kissing
Whatever else catches my eye!