Archive for the ‘Suspense’ category

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

January 16th, 2008

“It’s nothing to worry about.”
It has been a while since I have read a book that has creeped me out SO much. Actual, physical chills. Unwind. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s the near future (although they sell iPods at the antique store) and parents are now given the option to “unwind” their kids from ages 13-18. (“Unwinding” is donating body parts to people who would better use them.)

Bright Outlook

  1. Shusterman provides yet another great sci-fi/thriller/horror story. I personally think this is his best because of the challenging perspective on modern politics. Do we truly value life in the United States? How can we best demonstrate the issues with teen pregnancy so people will listen?
  2. Amidst all of the ethics, the action jumps out at you like a movie. Characters in the beginning are walking along and then BOOM you have cars crashing and people being kidnapped on the highway.
  3. There are some dry comments that will slide past you if you don’t know what to look for. (But they are well worth it.) Here is one of my favorites (the Heartland War was a giant civil war in modern history):
  4. “How much do you know about the Heartland War?”Connor shrugs. “It was the last chapter in our history textbook, but we had state testing, so we never got to it.”

Bleak Future

  1. Because it deals with life ethics in a pretty in-your-face way, it’s not for younger libraries. But there is little language issue (cleaner than TV) and no hot/steamy scenes.
  2. It switches narrators quite a bit, so on chapters like “63. Guard” you have to realize that it’s from the guard’s perspective. This might trick some struggling readers.

I booktalked this book today. We already have 15 holds for this book and I think it’s gonna get bigger. This is a perfect introduction to books like Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Slaughterhouse-Five, and 1984.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom.”

Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

January 14th, 2008

This is the next big book, a la Lightning Thief and Ranger’s Apprentice. Vladimir is an 8th grade vampire searching for more information about his vampire dad and human mom.Very much alive

  1.  This book has a crazy mix of humor and suspense. One minute an ancient evil is stalking a jogger, the next Vladimir is delivering one-liners. His guardian greets him one morning with, “Morning, sunshine.” and he replies, “Morning, sulfuric acid.” (Because of the whole ‘dissolve in light’ thing vampires do.) 
  2. Vlad still deals with 8th grade struggles of fitting in, but now has more complications added – “…which just goes to prove that parents and guardians don’t care if they’re sending you to face bloodthirsty monsters, so long as you get a B in English” (Brewer 134).
  3. Vlad’s substitute teacher is a vampire hunter and presents some funny situations, including the fact that the sub shows up dressed in a top hat and spectacles and no one makes a comment.
  4. Vlad refuses to hunt humans. The author then has to get creative.

 The Undead 

  1.  Squeamish readers may be turned off by the blood-filled Twinkies.
  2. Some of the “Well, vampires are cool and have invented stuff!” may put the book too far towards a comic mood – like vampires inventing PlayStation.
  3. If you are tired of “Son, you are the chosen one and who you think is your ally is really your enemy and enemy a friend” plotlines, you may need to give this one some time.

Not only are vampire books becoming more popular, this book would stand on its own, even if it wasn’t trendy to fear sunlight. 

Genesis Alpha by Rune Michaels

November 25th, 2007

Before I review this awesome book, I wanted to share this other library gem:

Don't mess with Tubman

I will avoid the obvious “Harriet the Spy” references. But doesn’t she look like she should play opposite Keanu Reeves?

Keanu: Tubman, look out!


Harriet: He just bought a one-way ticket.

Thought you might appreciate what comes across our scanners daily.

Genesis Alpha (almost as exciting as the Underground Railroad) is about a young boy who was created for his stem cells. His birth was sped up at month 8 to be able to save his older brother who had cancer.

Flash forward to his teen years and now his brother is on trial for murder. Should the older brother have been saved at the expense of the victim? Crazy questions arise throughout the entire book. This is suspense in the M. Night Shyamalan sense, less Clive Barker or Darren Shan. The reader constantly has to guess who’s crazy, who’s hurting, and who’s a mix.

One of the coolest parts for me is that the killer, whoever it is, left clues inside a World of Warcraft-esque MMORPG. The main character has to investigate in game (but it’s not one of those lame, “If you die in the game, you die FOR REAL” books). What’s really cool is that violence in video games is brought up but discussed quite eloquently. Yay! (for a change)

Questions of if we are more than just our DNA show up as people freak out about the genetic similarities between the two brothers.

Unlike my in-person library reviews, I can’t give too much more detail. It would be like saying, “Bruce Willis is already dead.”