Friday, January 17, 2014

TOKEN by Ryan Gresset - the debut book in a YA Dystopian series - very good!

Let me begin right off by saying that I REALLY liked this book and enjoyed the author’s writing style.

The plot was GOOD. I wanted to keep reading (disregard what the clock is showing) and will be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. I originally felt the prologue was too vague – I was unsettled by the lack of knowing what was going on – but I pushed on into the story and was rewarded with a nice, gradual unfolding of the world's history.

The characters were interesting although I kept forgetting that the leads were in the 15 – 16 year old range and not a good 10 years older. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the 4 shack mates while they were on the island and kept envisioning them as the Zoolander roommates in the movie of the same name. The relationships between the shack mates later in the story are the source of much tension, anxiety, and ultimately, sorrow. I am still concerned over the outcome for one, Nayze, who was left in a real cliffhanger situation at the close of this book. I hope to see him later in the series.

There are twists and turns in the storyline that I never saw coming. Reading through again later, I found a couple of clues dangling out there that should have given me a hint though. I love that.

I did have some issues with the book though. This book is in great need of a good editor. A couple of typos here and there are okay, but the reading experience for me suffered from instances of misused words. For example, in The Prologue, “Kloe begins to hastily make her way back to the shanty hole she has been hulled up in over the last seven months.” In this case, “hulled up” probably should be “holed up.”

Things like this stop me while reading totally interrupting the flow of the story. Token has quite a few of these BUT I still REALLY liked the book. If these had been cleared up, I’ll bet I would have been blown away.

If this kind of thing doesn’t bother you, and you’re a YA dystopian fiction fan, you’re looking at solid story and a possible 5 star read. Bottom line, I recommend Token by Ryan Gressett, warts included.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jump on this one for a good young adult read

Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe is a well done after-life story about 14-year-old Henry who accidentally drowns while wading in a river during a teen party. He finds himself in the company other “dead kids” and an older woman, Martha, in another place – a nice, “normal” place that changes according to the desires of the kids and Martha. The kids have their own home together, each with their own private room that suits their personalities and interests from the lives they just left. A food court provides any type of meal.

As part of the process of settling in to his new “life,” the other kids take Henry to his own funeral. Although undetectable by the living, Henry discovers that by really trying he can make his family hear him talking to them in their heads – if only they would believe it was really him! What begins as Henry desperately trying to get through to his family and make them understand that his death was accidental rather than suicide becomes a critical ability when his older sister, Bethany, is kidnapped and held for ransom by a sinister online acquaintance.

Henry and his new friends attempt to save Bethany and bring her captors to justice as they come to understand their afterlife, begin to develop their newly discovered ghostly skills, and avoid becoming ghostly shades trapped in their former lives.

The author’s vision of the kids’ afterlife was great and well described. Explanations of “how things worked” were gradually worked into the storyline so there was a nicely drawn out feeling of discovery. Henry is initially confused and the gradual unveiling of the story was nicely done and progressed at what I felt was a natural pace.

I really liked the main characters. The author provided a nice variety of young teenage characters to populate the new surroundings, and their voices, attitudes, and actions sounded true and appropriate to their ages and situations.

The gradual “reveal” of what heaven is, what hell is, and the soul was gentle, positive, and hopeful, and left me interested in knowing where things might go next for all the main characters.