Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Reading

One of the best things about Thanksgiving break week was the chance to settle in on the couch for a nice, long reading session each day. Here's what I read and thought:

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
   I really took my time with this one, not because I didn't like it but because the story was complex, with rich word choice and alternating points of view. It's sort of like The Maze Runner in that the main characters don't know what's going on in their world. Their confusion is your confusion and that's....confusing!

   Incarceron is this seemingly vast prison controlled by some sort of computer? superhuman? consciousness. More than a century ago, all of the society's misbehavers were sealed inside in what was supposed to be a Utopian environment, designed to rehabilitate them. Something went badly wrong though, because Incarceron is a hell. Teen protagonist Finn is trapped inside, his mind wiped of any early memories, but he just knows he comes from the mythical "outside". Only one man has ever escaped Incarceron, the legendary and perhaps fictional Sapphique. The prison warden's daughter Claudia is outside, equally trapped by a pending arranged marriage to a slimy weasel of a guy she doesn't love. In her world, everybody lives according to the "protocol", which means pretending like it' electronic technology at all. It's a Disneyesque steampunk version of society where the privileged class uses technology in secret while everyone else rides around on horses and does laundry in a tub.

   Finn finds a key, Claudia finds a key and they realize they can communicate with each other. There are enough plot twists for three novels but it's really the well-drawn characters that kept me turning pages, wanting more. The sequel, Sapphique, comes out December 28th and I'm counting on getting it as a post-Christmas gift.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
   I can't begin to tell you how much better I like this book than The Red Pyramid. It restored my faith in Rick Riordan as a great storyteller, not just a sellout looking to cash in on previous success. Yeah, I was thinking that. The new kids at Camp Half Blood are terrific characters. Leo was my favorite. He's a wisecracking guy from Houston who will make you laugh yet break your heart with his back story about losing his mother. Many Percy Jackson characters return, including Thalia and Annabeth. Percy himself is missing and you won't believe where he's suspected to be!
   The action is fast and not at all predictable (unlike Red Pyramid which made me think, "been there, done that"). The new baddies are either terrifying, hilarious, or both (King Midas, I'm talkin' to you!). The ending is a complete surprise, setting up next fall's sequel.

   Come in to the library and we can argue about Piper. I can't decide if she embodies female empowerment or female stereotypes. Thalia invites her to join the Hunters of Artemis so that counts for a lot!

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