Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dust City

How to explain Dust City? Think of the children's books and movies you read and watched as a child, where the animals wore clothes and walked on two legs and were human in every way but looks. Now take those images and put them into, say, Gotham City, and that's the setting for Dust City. It takes some getting used to. Robert Paul Weston has written a dark fairytale for young adults, one in which the magic has been tainted and familiar characters from our Disney-fied Grimm's Tales walk the streets as hardened businessmen, cops, and criminals.

Henry Whelp is the son of the notorious wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood. His dad's in jail, and he's in juvie for minor crimes of his own. Henry likes to stay out of the way of the other wolves, ravens, foxes, and hominids (yeah, it took me awhile to figure that one out too; think humans, elves, goblins, anything that's not an animal) who inhabit St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth. But a mysterious death and a packet of letters from his father convince Henry to escape from the Home and set out to discover the truth about his father's claims and the city's addiction to leftover fairydust. The fairies might still be alive, and Henry's dad might not be a cold killer. The only way for Henry to find out is to go underground in the steps of his dad and hope he doesn't end up going too far.

The premise of this story intrigued me, but the beginning didn't grip me. The author throws you right into his world, and it takes awhile to find your bearings and get up to speed. At first, I just couldn't reconcile images of wolves on two legs with the style of story I was reading. It seemed too jarring of a juxtaposition. I've read other books that take fairytales and completely turn them around and upside down. Gail Carson Levine does this well in Ella Enchanted (book, not movie), for instance. Also, the animated spoof of Little Red Riding Hood, Hoodwinked, comes to mind. Dust City is a completely different kind of story, still based on fairytales but oh, so unique. Once the mysteries and dangers began to accumulate and I figured out what a hominid was, I finally was able to appreciate the story for what it was, and then I was hooked.

If you give Dust City a chance, you might be pleasantly surprised by its creativity and depth. It's more than a gritty mixed up fairytale mystery. It's a story about a world where animals live like humans but a wolf is still considered a wolf, and the divisions between species and race are as confusing as they sometimes are in the real world today.

Four stars for creative plot and intriguing storytelling. ✭✭✭✭✩

Friday, September 24, 2010


Michael Grant's Hunger is the second book in the Gone series for young adults. I loved the first novel about a group of kids trapped in a 20-mile-long bubble along the coast of adults, weird mutations, talking coyotes, anarchy, and a mysterious monster. Hunger begins a few months after Gone ends. Food is running out. An uneasy peace has existed between the two factions of kids, one of which was defeated in the big Thanksgiving battle and is biding its time, waiting for a better opportunity to seize control. Sam is the unwilling leader of the majority of the kids, and he tries the best he can. But a 15-year-old can't be a father to 300 hungry children. As more kids begin to develop special powers, fighting breaks out between the "normals" and the "mutants." And as the kids get hungrier, so does the mysterious monster living beneath their feet.

This is a great series. This is the second book, but there's one more after it, so far. The creativity, numerous and varied characters, unique setting, and real danger make this an exciting read. Despite gore and violence, it's age appropriate in all other ways but not dumbed down for its audience. Adults will be intrigued too.

Michael Grant goes all out in creating a realistic (as far as mutants and monsters can be realistic) world where it's kids against kids and nature. People get hurt and die although Grant pulls some punches when it comes to major characters (Those baddies just won't give up!). But good characters is what makes these books so gripping, and old and new bad guys keep the stakes high.

Hunger is sort of William Golding meets Frank Peretti, a little bit Lord of the Flies set in a world of evil incarnate. You have an island-like setting with two groups fighting each other and a bigger evil...hmm, you could almost call it TV's Lost for kids. One thing's for sure, Michael Grant tells a good story all his own. The next book in the series is called Lies and was out in May of this year.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Immanuel's Veins

Ted Dekker's latest creation, Immanuel's Veins, is like no other vampiric tale you will ever read. It's not even really about vampires, at least not as we know them and certainly not as Stephanie Meyer has revamped them, pardon the pun. It's more a tale of true love.

Dekker always writes a story to make us think. That he plays with the current trend of stories about vampires and fallen angels (Yes, those are in the book too!) shouldn't be held against him. He does his story his way, no apologies.

In Immanuel's Veins, told mostly through the eyes of its main hero, Toma, Toma is a guard sent to protect the lives of the Cantemirs, a woman and her two twin daughters. His orders: don't fall in love with the twin Lucine because she is being saved for another. But almost as soon as Toma arrives, so do some very strange and beautiful men and women, neighbors and royalty from the Castle Castile. They seem to bewitch the Cantemirs, blood begins to flow, and Toma struggles between duty and love, not recognizing the mounting danger until it is too late.

This is a story about the power of blood, and it will have you rethinking all you know about those who drink it. It's a raw tale of the purest good against the blackest evil, and in this one, Dekker has surely written from the heart.

Immanuel's Veins is full of mystery, suspense, danger, seduction, lust, and power...and love, most of all, love. If you enjoy thrilling romantic sagas, beautiful women and strong men, epic fights, and even wooden stakes through the heart, this one was written for you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Will have book and movie reviews soon

If you happened upon this blog, I am in the process of getting started. I will be reviewing new (and some old) releases of books and movies. Stop by again!