Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Time to catch up a little bit more.

Pants On Fire by Meg Cabot was cute, if predictable. And it's no joke that "Kissing--Fiction" is a subject heading for this book.

Hex Education by Emily Gould and Zareen Jaffery was fairly insubstantial - like a cute and fluffy version of The Craft.

The Four Dorothys by Paul Ruditis was fun. It takes place at an exclusive private school in Malibu during the spring musical production of The Wizard Of Oz. There are four Dorothys splitting the role and one by one they're being eliminated from the show. it's up to Scarecrow #2 to find out why and who's behind it.

Totally Joe by James Howe was a pretty enjoyable book about an out and relatively proud-ish junior high school student dealing with a boyfriend who's not quite as comfortable with himself.

I really enjoyed Bloom by Elizabeth Scott. It was like the Sarah Dessen version of Pants On Fire. Lauren has a perfect, if slightly boring, boyfriend, friends she's not sure she can really trust, and a distant father and absent mother. So far she's been content to just coast along until a boy from her past comes back into her life and shakes things up. Seriously, it was just a fully-developed subplot or two short of full Sarah Dessen awesomeness. This was her first book I believe, and I'll definitely be on the lookout for her next.

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean was an absorbing retelling of the old ballad "Tam Lin" but set in the 1970s at a small liberal arts college. It meanders through Janet's four years there, but paints an interesting portrait of campus life and of the time period. I suppose it's a little like what I imagined college would be at, like, Reed or something, but my university experience was far, far removed from anything depicted in this book. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy it, although I did get impatient with it more than once when I felt it wasn't moving along quickly enough for my tastes.


Friday, October 12, 2007

No, I haven't disappeared. But I was sick for a while and then there were work issues and in the meantime my notes on books just kept piling up waiting for me to post. Here's the first round of catch-up.

I finished the last three Body of Evidence books, Brain Trust, Last Breath, and Throat Culture by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala and enjoyed the return to less fantastic ways to die and more prosaic killers. I usually find those to be scarier anyway. So overall what did I think of the series? Well, when the plots got going I found myself pretty caught up, especially during the action scenes. It was actually the college life scenes that usually knocked me out of my suspension of disbelief. The authors tended to over-describe things like Jenna's daily routine (I swear I could tell you what she had for breakfast every morning and describe the exact contents of her closet), and dropped in pop culture references that immediately seemed dated ("They found a decent radio station, hip enough to play Matchbox 20 but eccentric enough to throw old disco tunes into the mix."). Speaking of clothes: "She was wearing a light green tank with spaghetti straps, and tan shorts that barely covered her hip bones. Even that felt a little exposed to her; she could never wear some of the things a lot of the girls on campus wore. Not that she was shy about her body; she just didn't like the idea of giving every guy who passed by a free show." See what I mean? And even worse than that detailed clothing description is the thinly veiled moralizing that accompanies it. There was a little bit of this in every book and as a result Jenna never felt like an authentic teen girl to me. Her thoughts and opinions on certain things, especially when it came to her fellow students, felt more like a middle aged man schooling his teenage daughters. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the series for the most part, but there were too many things that didn't ring true for me to enthusiastically recommend it.


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