Reads March 2024

Everlost (Book 1 of the Skinjacker Trilogy), Neal Shusterman
A teen book for 12 up that deals with death and, to some extent, what happens afterwards, although this isn’t a religious book. Everlost is a kind of purgatory for the souls of children who get knocked off course. The world the author creates with its various characters, creatures, and monsters is the best thing about it. However, there’s a lack of emotion from Nick and Allie over their death, to a point which struck me as unrealistic. There’s plenty to like about them, but there could have been more. Likewise, the suggestion of a budding romantic interest seems out of place so early in events. The book is more of an adventure plot than a teaching method, which is fine, though I feel it could have done more. Still, the book contains a great cast, and I’d still recommend this for children even though I feel some under 12s could read this. I was reading books like Oliver Twist when I was 8, so the nasty parts don’t seem to warrant such a high age rating for some. I’m sure well-read younger readers would enjoy this and it’s easily readable, containing some fabulous ideas, and a well thought out story world.

The Face, Dean Koontz
A re-read for me, and a well-plotted exceptional book for someone prepared to suspend disbelief and accept a storyline heavy on supernatural elements in a thriller involving a kidnap plot. Some of the descriptive passages could be called overwritten, and I can’t help feeling a little trimming would help the book. I liked the use of a child in this story, those chapters being some of the best. The parts which revolved around the antagonist(s) were a little heavy-going, but the various threads certainly keep the reader guessing with so many creating an intricate story overall. It’s hard to say more without giving the plot away.

The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millweed Hargrave
A young adult book that has enough of a story for adults to enjoy, with a story complex enough to stretch younger readers. The book’s beautifully presented with maps and patterned pages. The world building here stands out, though there’s something vaporous about the overall plot and some of the action sequences, which may confuse a younger audience. Even I found a couple of sequences difficult to picture; with all the drops off ledges, I expected broken bones. Although characters get hurt, they seem to have miraculous escapes. Still, there’s something charming and magical about this story. The young female lead shows more than her share of bravery, as do her young friends. I’m left wanting a grumpy old chicken.

A Stroke of the Pen, Terry Pratchett
A collection of lost stories written before Discworld. There are many hints of Terry’s developing style here and of his books to come. Light reading but charming, and every story left me smiling. Worthwhile for the dedicated Pratchett fan.

Green, Jay Lake
I’m unsure how I feel about this novel, which can easily be called an epic fantasy. The plot includes slavery, abduction, and mystical holy wars. Green is a girl whose path in life changes when her father sells her, but by the end of the book, the reader and the character have reason to question her destiny often. Mostly, I found the writing and story absorbing even though I don’t favour first person storytelling, but in parts I found the narrative lagged because of meticulous description, which includes all the training Green goes through. This made the book feel overly long despite much of the training being interesting. When we learn of the planned life path various people have for Green, there’s good reason to feel increasingly sorry for her. None of her choices appear to be wonderful, none of them simple. The sexual content never feels entirely natural or necessary, though perhaps realistic and handled well for those whose companionship is restricted. The details become somewhat vague when dealing with the various deities. I sometimes found Green’s character vs her age hard to believe despite her training, but it’s nice to see a young lead treated with the same respect an adult character would receive. For so long, the ‘rule’ has been a child lead marks a book for a young audience. That’s plainly not the case here, couldn’t be, and even though Green is in infancy when taken, we are privileged to her inner thoughts as she’s moulded into what others would make of her, while she battles to keep a sense of self. Strongly character driven, wonderful in parts, weaker in others, I’m pleased to have read this, but feel disinclined to read the rest of the trilogy, although Green makes for an interesting and capable female lead.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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