Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Report: The Hunt

The Hunt (The Hunt, #1)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pre-Review Note: Andrew Fukuda is one of 33 awesome authors appearing at the Rochester Teen Book Festival on May 18!!! Pick up this book and its sequel from the Wood Library Teen Scene.

I was mucho excited for this book. Dang, the premise of this book still thrills me! How cool is this (?): Our narrator is truly a one-of-a-kind guy. He's the only human he knows in a world populated by blood drinking, flesh eating, upside-down sleeping "normal people". Gene once had a family, but now he's on his own, using all the tricks his father taught him to blend in and survive. But his charade, already life consuming, becomes increasingly difficult when he is randomly selected to participate in a government sponsored hunt for his own kind.

I devoured the first part of this book, fascinated by the methods Gene uses to hide his true nature, as well as by the traits of the "people" (how they laugh, eat, or even make-out is particularly unsettling). And there's a really interesting question at the center of the novel: what makes a civilized person, and what makes a savage animal? Is it just majority rule that decides? If "people" somehow evolved to hunt and eat flesh, and humans are now near extinct, are the flesh eaters the more evolved/sophisticated species? Was it evolution at all?

And so, I really wanted to love this all the way through. But there were just too many instances of implausible plot twists and character developments. I get it that you have the wonderful right to create a completely fictional world, but that world has to behave in a logical way for me to go along with it. Especially irksome to me is when a character acts out of character, does something that even under the most difficult circumstances is not in the nature the author has thus far created for them. 

I always want to give a full disclaimer that I listened to the audiobook version of The Hunt, and format can make a huge difference. My biggest complaint? Gene is supposed to be a smoking hot teen loner, but the narrator came off as a whiny and strained. I get that Gene's life is beyond stressful, but his voice shouldn't sound like he's passing kidney stones AND chewing on marshmallows for 300 pages straight. So, maybe I need to give the print version a quick re-visit.

Still, this was a thrilling and at times horrifying read (in a good way). The set-up and world building are truly fascinating and unique. The sequel, Prey, is out - will I pick it up? 50/50. If you enjoy survival tales and vampires that are scary, not sexy, then you should give this a shot.

Book Report: Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pre-Review Note: Lisa McMann is one of 33 awesome authors appearing at the Rochester Teen Book Festival on May 18!!! Pick up her books from the Wood Library Teen Scene.

Review Note: This review contains one big spoiler that is going to happen... NOW: haunted talking desk! 

If you were to tell me a week ago that I would make it through an entire book that centers around the idea of a talking desk possessed by ghosts, I wouldn't have believed you. "Oh, come on! That's too much," may have been my jaded response. But somehow, Lisa McMann pulls it off. At least, I think she pulls it off until we actually get to the talking desk in the last 1/4 of the book. Then I really had to strain to suspend my disbelief of haunted talking desks. (Shall we call them "HTD" from now on?)

The first 3/4 of the book are equal parts realistic, high school fiction and truly creepy thriller. McMann really does attain a nice balance between the two. Kendall, our teen protagonist, suffers from above average OCD. I haven't met too many fictional characters who admit to their OCD, so it was interesting for me to look in on Kendall's habits and coping mechanisms. I kind of enjoyed how most of the book was about her mental struggle, and I for sure enjoyed the unexpected, budding romance between Kendall and the new kid in a town of, like, 2 people. But wait: her best friend has mysteriously disappeared, her soccer team has dissolved, she probably won't get into Juilliard, and, oh by the way, A DESK IS TALKING TO HER! Is she going crazy? What are the voices trying to tell her? And is her BF Nico ever coming back?

I would recommend this to a reluctant reader in a heartbeat. The creepy is ever present and weirdly mysterious, and the narrative moves along at a clip. Nothing earth shattering for me, but I liked. -Kelley, (Your) Teen Services Librarian