"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Short YA Book Reviews

Once again I find myself falling behind on my book reviews. I am miraculously keeping up on reading goals but can't seem to say the same about blogging goals. In an effort to catch up I offer shorter reviews of several recently read YA books.

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner is an adventure story set in the fantasy land of Attolia and Mede, The book is heralded as the fifth book in the Queen's Thief series but also works as a stand-alone book with characters introduced in earlier books but whose stories are flushed out much more in this book. Kamet, a slave of a master in Mede, is whisked out of his country and his safe life by an Attolian soldier who is sent by his king to capture Kamet and bring him to Attolia. The two embark on a very long and dangerous journey, one filled with all kinds of adventures, near misses, and narrow escapes. It is a fun and exciting read from start to finish.

I haven't read the other four books in the series and I did fine with Thick as Thieves without knowing much about the world and the characters from the other books. But I confess I now want to go back and read them. Turner's writing is strong and the imagery is strong. I liked everything about this book and the reading experience and wouldn't mind repeating it again with the earlier books. In fact, this is the first book I've read all summer which had that wonderful can't-put-down quality.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Target Audience: Middle School and up

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld is a new graphic novel series by a well-known author of several popular YA series (Uglies; Leviathan). Addison and her young sister live in New York near a Spill Zone which destroyed her old town and killed her parents. To support her sister and herself, Addison illegally enters the Spill Zone to take photographs which she sells for money. When her benefactor approached Addison with an offer of even more money she has to decide if she will risk another trip into the zone, this time on a much more difficult assignment.

I found myself to be quite captivated by the story in the Spill Zone and got totally caught up in the tension in this book, the first in a series. I am not the hugest fan of graphic novels but was really charmed by this book and will wait with expectation for the second installment in the series. I think that teens will become fans of this book (series) and hope it will win wide distribution with them.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Target audience: Grade 8 and up

In Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia we meet Eliza who is a shy and friendless girl in real life. She is also an amazing artist and the creator of a wildly popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea published anonymously online. Eliza has several very close friends online, none in real life. She is powerful and determined online, characteristics she does not convey in her day-to-day life. When she meets a new boy in her school, Wallace, she is shocked that he actually wants to spend time with her and she is shocked to learn that he is a huge fan of Monstrous Sea, even an excellent writer of some of the M.S. best fan fiction. Eliza knows she should tell him who she is, that she is the creator of his favorite webcomic but she just can't figure out how to do it. Each day she delays drives a wedge in their potential relationship and soon things snowball out of control.

In my estimation this book is a partial graphic novel with occasional drawings of characters from the Monstrous Sea webcomic included. I like illustrated books if the illustrations advance the story or help explain some concept more succinctly than words. I didn't find this to be the case in Eliza and Her Monsters. The illustrations seemed to be randomly placed and did little to enhance the story except to give us an idea about Eliza's drawing skills. I also found the relationship between Eliza and Wallace to be on a fairly predictable trajectory right down to the inevitable breakup. For these two reasons I don't think this book will be seriously considered by award committees. I predict, however, that the book will be quite popular with teen readers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Target Audience: Grades 9-12


  1. Great reviews! I want to try all of these to be honest! :)

  2. Eliza and her Monsters sounds like it could have been so good but just missed - what a shame.

  3. I really liked Westerfeld's Uglies series when I read it so many years ago. I'll try to track down a copy of his graphic novel.


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