Quickies: Book Reviews for Aurora Prize Awards – Best YA Novel

August 9, 2013

I’ve been franticly trying to finish all the books before voting time. Darn you Skyrim for distracting me…

There are 2 books in this grouping that I’ve only read half but I plan on returning to them in September.

Above by Leah Bobet

Characters: 3/5

Writing Style: 3/5

Story: 3/5

Fun: 3/5

Overall: I found this book really hard to get into but I really enjoyed the world it was set in. I’m hoping to enjoy it more when I finish the second half.

60%

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Characters: 3/5

Writing Style: 4/5

Story: 5/5

Fun: 4/5

Overall: Addictive story. If I didn’t have the adult category I’d jump right into the third in this series. The characters felt a little underdeveloped but overall it was a great story.

80%

Dissolve by Neil Godbout

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 3/5

Story: 3/5

Fun: 2/5

Overall: This was an impressive idea and I look forward to re-reading both this one and the first in the series. I also reserve the right to change this when I’ve read more than half.

60%

Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero by Michell Plested

I already reviewed this book here.

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 4/5

Story: 4/5

Fun: 5/5

Overall: I highly recommend this to anyone who likes superheroes, coming of age stories, or reading.

85%

Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

I already reviewed this book here.

Characters: 3/5

Writing Style: 3/5

Story: 4/5

Fun: 3/5

Overall: Like A Princess of Mars this is an enjoyable read but I probably won’t re-read it anytime soon.

Good solid writing and ok story.

65%

Under My Skin: Wildlings Series (Book 1) by Charles de Lint

Characters: 4/5

Writing Style: 4/5

Story: 3/5

Fun: 4/5

Overall: I loved both the pace and the style of this novel and I’m looking forward to reading it’s sequel.

75%

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Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero – Book Review

June 24, 2013

Michell Plested wrote a book about a boy who wants to be a superhero. It’s easy to read and beautifully written.

This is one of the novels nominated for this year’s Aurora Awards.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.

Characters

I liked

Writing from a child’s perspective is difficult. It’s tempting to try and write the way a child would speak, or what we think a child speaks. Plested didn’t fall into this trap he used a vocabulary and writing style that was elevated but accessible. The greatest strength of this novel is how authentic it feels. Mik is believable as a character because of his thought process, logic, and reference points.

I didn’t like

If I have one complaint about the book, it is its lack of fleshing out all the characters. I feel I understood his parents, and a few of his teachers but it was hard for me to fully understand the other secondary characters. I would have liked to know more about them. Especially the librarian.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The book was structured around a series of events that form  Mik’s personality and show his quest to be a hero. With that structure, it felt like a series of short stories about the same character. Despite its modular feel I never lost interest. I was impressed how well the author wove the stories together.

I didn’t like

There was a certain frustration I had while reading. I kept trying to decide if this was speculative fiction or just a coming of age story. It was never clear until one particular point and when that point arrived I had already decided the opposite and I found this a little jarring.

I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

I liked

The biggest pet peeve I have with YA writing is the stereotype that parents are not only the enemy but stupid. It happens more often in Horror, or urban-fantasy but it happens a lot in superhero stories too. Plested took this stereotype and stripped it down to its simplest form. That being that parents aren’t stupid but they are biased, and fallible. It also helps that Mik tries to protect his parents and often has to worry about them figuring him out. Never does he treat them as a villain but as an obstacle.

The story flows well and the general suspense of whether he really is going to get powers is written perfectly. There was a point of the book that I just stopped worrying about it and let things happen.

Several Story points weren’t finished, which is fine considering he’s writing a sequel.

I didn’t like

The problems with a modular style is separating the stories in the readers head. Everyone is looking for Chekhov’s gun and we’ve been trained by the stories we grew up with that things come back. So when characters that seem important don’t come back it’s disconcerting.

I give the story 4 out of 5

Fun

I liked

This book was a fast and fun read. I felt drawn into the story and the character. I enjoyed it all the way through.

I didn’t like

The worst thing about this book was that it ended.

I greatly anticipate the sequel.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun

Overall

I highly recommend this to anyone who likes superheroes, coming of age stories, or reading.

Final score is 85%