Friday, September 27, 2013

Untethered by Katie Hayoz

UntetheredUntethered by Katie Hayoz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Interesting story featuring astral projection and out-of-body experiences!

Sylvie has been struggling with a strange disorder where she suddenly "leaves" her body behind where it crumples to the ground alarming family and friends. She and next door neighbor, Cassie, best friends since they were 10 years old, find themselves at odds over a boy: both like the same one and he has settled on Cassis. After discovering that there are other people out there like herself, Sylvie researches astral projection and finds that she may be able to control her disorder to her advantage, and this is when things get even more interesting.

Good characters with typical teenage problems (dealing with divorcing parents, siblings, fitting in, and loyalty) intermixed with the paranormal to give us an exciting and hard-to-put down young adult novel. I highly recommend this book and fervently hope that the author gives us more!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Underlighters by Michelle Browne

The UnderlightersThe Underlighters by Michelle Browne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Make no mistake, this tale is for adults.

The Underlighters by Michelle Browne presents an interesting concept reminiscent of the children’s series - The Chronicles of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau – but make no mistake… this tale is for adults.

The author introduces a variety of characters that I really thought I would like. There is a diverse group of 18 year olds with a wide range of talents, skills and employment including electricians, child care workers and prostitutes. I would have liked to know more about the characters.

Quite a bit of time was spent introducing characters working in the sex industry but I was still confused by some of the distinctions – a sugarplum is a what? (As opposed to a “C” girl. Sorry, the actual term used throughout the story, is graphic and jarring.) And too, they all seemed just so young!

There were not enough backstory woven into the telling for me to comfortably immerse myself in the story. I remained pretty foggy over exactly what had occurred to bring them to where they were at the point of the story even though it was no mystery or secret apparently to the characters. I had the impression from the chapter headings or diary dates that less than 50 years had passed since they’d had to flee the surface.

Where were they exactly? They seem to be in a basement under an apartment building – a huge basement with access to the surface of the world via elevators that existed prior to whatever happened up there. However anytime the author described a location within the city or on the surface, the story really developed an atmosphere and a sense of place. I could “see” the bars they gathered in and the house where they ran into the spider-dogs. Superior.

I had a lot of questions left about “the Dust.” What was known about “the Dust” – was it just on the surface, did it leak through to the city, or was its appearance in the tunnels strange. Was the dust sentient? Did they know this or suspect it before the confrontation on the surface at the end of the book? And how did the dust affect people that came in contact with it? What was “Dust Fever?”

Having said all this, I would absolutely positively read more about these same characters and any further developments. I still want to know where they’ll go from here, whether relationships will develop, their future below the surface of the planet, how the “Lost Ones” or “Sandmen” will survive or be incorporated into the community. In addition, I look forward to reading more by Michelle Browne especially after the teaser at the end of this one about And the Stars Will Sing. I have been hooked.

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Monday, September 09, 2013

Tent City (Tent City, #1) by Kelly Van Hull

Tent City (Tent City #1)Tent City by Kelly Van Hull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A plague of biblical proportions hits the US – literally – when giant swarms of locusts descends on America’s Midwest destroying the food supply for the nation. Because of its similarity to one of the plagues in the Bible, religious leaders take charge of the country (as “The Council”) when traditional institutions fail and fall to the wayside. A mandate goes out that all surviving children between the ages of 5 and 18 are to be gathered into “safety camps” to be protected from rampant starvation. A rumor hints that older youths will be placed in to “reproduction” units to safeguard against population extinction.

Seventeen year old Dani and 5 year old Brody’s parents don’t agree with the strategy and determine to hide their children in the Black Hills at their former summer cabin. The parents remain behind on the farm with fake death certificates for the children to, hopefully, remove them from The Council’s radar.

Dani, Brody and best fried, Kit, make their way to the summer cabin only to find the area already being used as a hideaway for other teens trying to escape internment in the safety camps. The story revolves Dani, Brody, and Kit and the continued operation of the massive and secret “Tent City” under the leadership of Bentley, Callie, and Jack.

I liked so much about this book. The author has given us a variety of interesting and well-defined characters. Each has their own background that is gradually revealed (or kept as a mystery yet to be solved) as the story goes on. Characters display genuine and believable emotion and responses to events. The setting in the South Dakota is different and interesting, and I enjoyed the camp atmosphere. The author introduces real challenges, inherent to having large groups of young adults living together away from civilization, for the characters to overcome.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like. One, Dani’s parents seem weak. This was the best they could come up with? Pack some food and send your kids to the cabin on a 4-wheeler with absolutely no “intel” beforehand. I just think that more realistically strong parents would have taken a more hands-on approach to getting their children to safety. Two, Dani seems to leave Brody behind and in the care of others way too often and too easily. Granted, she wears herself out about her choices later in the story. (But then goes off and leaves him again later.) And finally, the relationship between Dani and Bentley seems to go from animosity to infatuation overnight. I felt that there should have been more of a build up there. Bentley is pretty moody and Dani does question what’s going on with him but then it seems the next thing we know – he’s totally into her. These are nitpicky, and having said this, none of these issues were enough to keep me from really enjoying the story and wanting to know what happened next.

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