Monday, July 21, 2008

GONE by Michael Grant

As a fan of apocalyptic science fiction, I was very excited to read GONE by Michael Grant.

In the blink of an eye, everyone over the age of fourteen disappears. POOF! Teachers in the middle of a lesson, mothers preparing their babies’ bottles, people driving down the road - all just GONE! Panic begins to spread and no one knows what to do. Sam, who proved himself a hero in the past, is automatically given the role of leader in Perdido Beach or the FAYZ as it becomes known.

Sam, together with Astrid, her autistic brother Little Petey, Quinn, and Edilio begin to attempt to piece together what happened. They eventually discover a transparent barrier surrounding the area and the power plant at its center. The barrier forms a ten mile radius around the plant. It is painful to the touch and there don’t appear to be any openings.

On top of being forced to care for themselves, Sam and the others must make sure that the young children are cared for. Several people take up the task of caring for the babies and toddlers at the day care. One young man even inventories stock and continues to run the local McDonalds so people can come in for something to eat. Everyone is nervous, but things seem to be under control - until the kids from Coates Academy show up.

Coates Academy is the prestigious boarding school up the hill from Perdido Beach. The Coates Academy leader is Caine and he makes it very clear that he intends to take charge of the town. Things start to take a turn for the worse shortly after Caine takes charge. Bullies are the ones running the town and many don’t feel safe.

Three other things are causing everyone to feel scared:

1) Some of the kids are gaining powers. Some can heal wounds, others can move things around with their mind, and some develop super speed.
2) Animals are mutating. There are seagulls with talons, coyotes that can talk, and cats that can teleport from place to place.
3) Once you hit your fifteenth birthday (exactly to the minute you were born) you POOF!

It’s a frightening world. Bullies against the weak; Rich kids against the townies. Lines are drawn and sides are chosen and everyone prepares for battle. If you enjoy science fiction or liked LORD OF THE FLIES , this is a book for you. Don’t let the length scare you off because it is definately worth the read. My only complaint is the ending. It leaves you with many unanswered questions. Nothing was really solved. Michael Grant has said that he plans this to be a six book series and is finishing up book #2 now. He intends for a book to be released every summer until the series is complete.

Monday, July 7, 2008

CORALINE (Graphic Novel) by Neil Gaiman

I was extremely excited when I saw the Coraline in graphic novel form. When the book first came out I totally fell in love with it. For a children’s book, it was completely frightening. The graphic novel does a great job of hitting the high points of the story and the illustrations are great, but I don’t think it should be used as a replacement for the original book. The illustrations that are in the book publication are even creepier than the color illustrations in the graphic novel. For example, look at this illustration of the Other Mother from the book.


If you aren’t familiar with the story at all, here is a quick summary. Coraline has just moved to a new flat with her parents. School is still a couple of weeks away so she is left to explore her surroundings including the grounds of the building and the flat itself. Her parents are extremely involved in their work and have little time for Coraline so she is left on her own a lot.

There is one door in the flat that is locked and when she asks her mother what is behind the door she is told that it leads to another flat, but the passage way has been bricked over - her mother opens the door to prove it.

Later that night, while Coraline is in bed, she hears a clicking across the floor, curious about what made the noise, she gets out of bed and creeps into the hallway. She notices the door that leads to the other flat is open. Her curiousity forces her to walk into the dark opening and what she finds is a mirror image of her own flat - including her Other Mother and Other Father.

After entering the flat next door, Coraline’s life takes a horrifying turn. She must enter a battle with the Other Mother in order to save not only her life, but the lives of several others.

This is an awesome book. You should definately read the book in addition to reading the graphic novel.

Friday, July 4, 2008

PAPER TOWNS by John Green

Quentin and Margo have been next door neighbors for years. As young children they were very close, but grew apart as they got older. Margo became distant and both her and Quentin became interested in different things. So, when Margo appeared at Quentin’s bedroom window in the dead of night, dressed entirely in black, he was confused and curious.

What Margo had planned was an elaborate scheme of revenge and after the most exciting night of his life, Quentin feels his connection to Margo grow a little stronger. That is, until she disappears. But, Margo’s disappearance leads Quentin on the second most exciting adventure of his life.

John Green has done it again. He has written another novel about a young man who can’t understand the girl he loves. He has developed characters that you’ll want to know more about as you get deeper and deeper into the story. It will leave you wondering even after you finish.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Hannah has just moved with her father to a new town AGAIN. She can’t understand how her father doesn’t understand that he can’t run from his problems. Once she gets settled someplace they seem to get into a financial situation that her father would run away from rather than solve. It never seems to work. Her father promises that Maplecrest is going to be different. Boy was her ever right – just not in the way he meant.

Hannah is used to being the new girl in school. She has made picking out the rulers of the school an art form. At Maplecrest, they are the Cheerleaders and the Cheerleaders are led by Maggie Turner – with her pale skin, glowing blonde hair, and brilliant blue eyes, Hannah can see why she attracts so much attention.

Lukas approaches Hannah at lunch on her first day. He comes to warn her. He doesn’t want her to get pulled into the popular crowd. The popular crowd, he warns her, are flesh eating zombies that are slowly killing off the people in town. Hannah’s mind immediately flashes to all the For Sale signs she saw in the yards of the homes her and her father passed on their way into town but zombies? There was no way she was going to believe that. She could clearly see by the comic books Lukas carried with him that he was letting his imagination get carried away. While glad to have a friend at school, she didn’t like him talking about zombies and quickly put it out of her mind as crazy talk.

When the Cheerleaders approach Hannah she is both excited and nervous. Can she make the cut and win a spot on the squad? What will she have to do to be accepted by the girls?

Brian James has written an exciting horror novel set in an everyday teen setting – high school. What could be more horrifying?
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