Saturday, April 26, 2014

Night by Elie Wiesel

"A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family...the death of his innocence...and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal as The Diary Of Anne FrankNight awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again."

Yeah. This book was incredibly powerful. The prose was incredible at times, but I think mostly the power came from the intensely personal standpoint it was written from. It affected you a lot because of the absolute truthfulness Eli used; he detailed every bit of his experiences. He showed the cruel soldiers along with the prisoners that slowly lost their humanity, and the terrified Jewish heads of the bunkers trying to give the prisoners under their care the best chance of survival possible. There were things in there that were absolutely horrifying, and showing the actions of the plain German civilians as well as the Nazis was kind of sickening. I can't even... this book was as phenomenal as it was awful. I really recommend reading it; it's short, but has a huge effect. There's copies at Blatchley, Mt. Edgecumbe, Kettleson, and Sitka High.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

"Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved."

If you haven't been living under a rock, you probably know about this book/series. This was a re-read for me, and since it's been a few years I was interested to see how I'd like it now. The answer? Very much. It actually was pretty similar to my memories: engaging, well-told, with a bit of steampunk/fantasy in for color. It also confirmed that it's really not the lightest of books; the story is very good, but it's generally serious and never too optimistic. Quite a bit of adult corruption-type stuff going on too. It's very well-written, though, which makes up for it. I don't think I would enjoy this nearly as much without that, seeing as how I gravitate toward usually lighter moods. But at any rate, very fantastic series. I highly recommend reading. There's a copy at Kettleson, Keet, Sitka High, and Mt. Edgecumbe.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bizenghast by M. Alice Legrow

"When a young girl moves to the forgotten town of Bizenghast, she uncovers a terrifying collection of lost souls that leads her to the brink of insanity. One thing becomes painfully clear: The residents of Bizenghast are just dying to come home.

A finalist in TOKYOPOP's Rising Stars of Manga competition, M. Alice Legrow has crafted an unforgettable Gothic drama that will leave readers haunted long after the last page is turned."

So this is a short book, but seeing as how I got my wisdom teeth taken out this weekend I think it's justified. I'm also working my way through a 500-page book, which hopefully will be done soonish. Anyway, I'm not really usually a manga person, but I have a weird soft spot for gothic stuff so I was cool with the book. And it was blatantly gothic: realism was enthusiastically thrown aside to favor the traditional gothic storyline. Along with that came the pretty cool illustrations: elaborate costumes, creepy and/or spooky characters, traditionally derelict mausoleums, et cetera. Eyelashes, weird keys, and ethereal fairy-like people were heavily favored too. The story wasn't exactly inspired (though I'm only into the first one, so who knows), but the interesting style was enough to keep me reading through the short novel. I might just get the next couple, who knows. I think I'd recommend it to a manga reader; have a look at Kettleson, in that section. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

"Thirteen-year-old Daine has always had a knack with animals, but it's not until she's forced to leave home that she realizes it's more than a knack -- it's magic. With this wild magic, not only can Daine speak to animals, but also she can make them obey her. Daine takes a job handling horses for the Queen's Riders, where she meets the master mage Numair and becomes his student.

Under Numair's guidance, Daine explores the scope of her magic. But she begins to sense other beings too: immortals. These bloodthirsty monsters have been imprisoned in the Divine Realms for the past four hundred years, but now someone has broken the barrier. It's up to Daine and her friends to defend their world from an immortal attack."

Ahem. Tamora Pierce alert. That means, unquestionably, that this is going to be a good review. Tamora Pierce is my spirit animal.
I remember reading this in middle school, and the enjoyment stays exactly the same at any age. There's good characters, an original idea, some trademark magic-doing, and all-around good writing. I think the Alanna and the Circle of Magic series hold special places in my heart, and this isn't quite at that level, but it isn't dislikable by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoyed it, definitely. I love the emphasis on female characters that she has in all her books. In any case, try this one out. Even if it's doesn't get the top spot in my opinion, it's still quality. Read it if you're into fantasy, incredibly well established universes, animals, magic, or all of the above. There's a copy at Kettleson, Sitka High, Blatchley, and MEHS.