Tuesday, August 4, 2015

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

"Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams."

Okay, first of all, yay for Jolie being amazing and helping out with reviews!! Especially as my time here is pretty much reaching its end, so best of luck to her and anyone else potentially recruited. And I know, it's been forever from me, but in all honesty, this book was a long project of a read--the better part of a month or two, at varying levels of dedication. But dear lord was it worth it. This book is unlike any other I've ever come across, and the sheer amount put into it is staggering. It's very psychological, and there are stories within stories that reach a level of scrutiny that makes you forget it's not true. The experience of the man, Johnny Truant, who found this crate of papers and writings is chronicled through sporadic footnotes, and all levels of the story are mind-twisting. The text crawls up the page, sometimes upside down, fragmented, mirrored, tilted... you get the idea.  A simple Google image search for 'house of leaves' gives you a pretty fair impression. 

The experience of reading the book is very... organic, if that's the right word. There's nothing slick or processed about this--it's gritty and believable, in the best and worst way. Even the way it fell into my hands mirrored that--it was a title mentioned to me by the strangest assortment of people (including an astrophysicist, a friend, and a dancer) over a gradual period of time until I couldn't help but buy a copy. That's some of the beauty of this book. It feels secret somehow, passed around from person to person, and the story itself extends that feeling.

I loved it. It was so brilliant and twisting and terrifying and analytical, and the ways the text would start to shrink on the page did a brilliant job of evoking the claustrophobia of the house, and just wow. There are symbols and codes embedded, and nothing presents itself completely without effort. It's the type of book that you could read so many times and each time peel back another staggering layer of it. It's a huge undertaking, and if the possibility of a dark, fractured, spine-chilling, human ensemble of a story appeals to you, I so urge you to go check it out. I'm so glad I did.

There's a copy at Kettleson in the new adult fiction section, and I super highly recommend it. Five stars, no doubt about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

"Tim Macbeth, a seventeen-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is “Enter here to be and find a friend.” A friend is the last thing Tim expects or wants—he just hopes to get through his senior year unnoticed. Yet, despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “It” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim's surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, but she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone ever finds out. Tim and Vanessa begin a clandestine romance, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

Jumping between viewpoints of the love-struck Tim and Duncan, a current senior about to uncover the truth of Tim and Vanessa, The Tragedy Paper is a compelling tale of forbidden love and the lengths people will go to keep their love."

Overall, I would have to give this book 4.5 stars! It's about a boy, Duncan Meade, that was involved in this problem and he's being told the story from Tim Macbeth's point of view through a video recording. That's not it though, it does describe in detail what happens to Tim while at Irving, it also describe's Tim's last year there also, in an uncomplicated way of course.

The plot of the book was an interesting one. It did not exactly say what was going to happen, but throughout the book it was describing how everything goes from order to chaos, and back to order again; slightly giving away that something was going to happen but not knowing just gave you the inspiration to continue reading it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

An Ember In The Ashes By Sabaa Tahir

"Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

This book was entertaining.  It kept me reading for hours on end, personally I'd give it 4 stars. At first, this book confused me. I could not tell where it was placed. i eventually found out. Aside from the confusing part, this book is based in the past.

It's about a girl named Laia and she did not start out as a slave. All she really wants is her brother back. She is also willing to do almost anything to get him back; however crazy it may be. The plot could have been better but all the same, it was amazing.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

"Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world."

Okay, I know it's been forever. Senior year will do that to you, I guess. I have been reading, though, and I hope to start getting some more reviews up here soon. The first order of business is my latest obsession. I'd been meaning to read it for the longest time, and when I finally found the time I completely fell in love. Seriously. This is the best book I've read in quite a while. I can't even comprehend its amazingness. One of the most incredible things about it was the style of writing--oh my god. It's brimming with vivid imagery and unconventional but piercing language. Noah sees things through an artist's eye--a view huge and without restraints and pushing itself into every crack and right off the page. I swear at one point it probably took my breath away. Jude's perspective is raw and uncompromising and so much more.

Another huge impact of this book was the plot. It was, frankly, amazingly done. The two perspectives switching off between past and present put the picture together slowly. The magic of it is that it starts seeming deceptively simple, but then gaps fill in that you didn't even realize were there, and they change the game completely. Everything connects, and this book is practically made to be read a second time. It's a study in things falling apart, things falling together, and the times when things don't naturally fall together. It was heartbreaking and hopeful and real and dealt with topics so unapologetically human that you can't help but be drawn in.

I'm currently recommending this book to everyone. Seriously. It's worth it a million times over. There's a copy in the new teen section at Kettleson. Go.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

"Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity."

Okay, sorry, I know I've been MIA. Trying to do six million things at once will do that to you, I guess. But hopefully I'll be posting a bunch more soon. So, I've heard people say different things about this book--some like it, some don't. I found that I liked it. Some people have complained that it moves slow, but I didn't get that at all. It moves much quicker and easier than many classics I've read, and it stayed interesting for me. Granted, this comes with a bit of a flipside: the themes pretty much hit you over the head, so if you're the type who likes to painstakingly dig the meaning out of your books, this may not interest you as much. Bradbury didn't dance around things, which made for a nice, interesting, straightforward read. The universe was extremely well-crafted and conceived, and equal parts troubling and thought-provoking as it was meant to be. I loved the questions posed by it, and I'd definitely recommend it. There are copies as Kettleson, SHS, Blatchley, and Mt. Edgecumbe. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

"Oct. 11th, 1943--A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called "a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel" in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other."

Huh. So I'm a little surprised. Well, this review doesn't come with a clear-cut opinion. The first thing I'll say is that it goes slow. It's only about 300 pages, but I ended up taking quite a while to get through it. That changed a bit, though, somewhere around two-thirds of the way into it when the perspective shifts to the other girl. I'd just spent 200 pages getting through the Verity's story and getting a grasp on what happened, when Maddie's narrative comes in (starting from the beginning again) and slowly tugs at threads of the story, unraveling things here and there to present a completely whole view. I was a little blindsided, and impressed, as everything started to subtly shift. This is definitely one that wants to be read again. It's true, though, that although Maddie's story was more interesting, it wasn't any less dense. You have to want to get through this, or you'll just end up setting it down and not working up the willpower to pick it up again. It was a pretty well-done story, in my opinion: their friendship is realistic and powerful and the book is personal and surprisingly intricate. Just, if you don't have patience, beware. Still, I think it's worth reading. There's copies at Kettleson, SHS, and Mt. Edgecumbe.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What If? by Randall Munroe

"Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD 'a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language' which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It's had over a billion page hits to date. A year ago Munroe set up a new section - What If - where he tackles a series of impossible questions: If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive? How dangerous is it, really, in a pool in a thunderstorm? If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce? What if everyone only had one soulmate? From what height would you need to drop a steak to ensure it was cooked by the time it reached the ground? What would happen if the moon went away? This book gathers together the best entries along with lots of new gems. From The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and the songs of Tim Minchin, through chemistry, geography and physics, Munroe leaves no stone unturned in his quest for knowledge. And his answers are witty and memorable and studded with hilarious cartoons and infographics. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel the smarter for having read."

I love this book. So much. I can't express the nerdy heaven that is this book. The whole thing is quite as good as the premise suggests, and my level of respect for Munroe is at an all-time high: he's capable of these hugely complicated equations concerning ridiculous topics, and at the same time he'll give occasional hilariously practical remarks to finish up his answer. That, added in with the half dozen random interludes for the weird and worrying questions he doesn't really think would be a good idea to answer (but often forms a reaction comic to), assures that you'll never get bored reading this. I learned a lot of useless but thoroughly entertaining info, and a large trove of really useful stuff too. Anyone who's interested in science at all--or even science fiction--should most definitely read this. In fact, everyone should. In my humble opinion, of course. There's a copy at Kettleson, in the new section.