Monday, April 06, 2015
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015
Today's blog entry is from Noah, a high school senior. I wish I could say I wrote this book review, but I must give credit where credit is due. I did read the book and enjoy it more than I thought I would, and this captures why smart high school guys love Steelheart.
Rarely do stories engender in me as many conflicting emotions as Brandon Sanderson’s sci-fi/fantasy novel Steelheart, the first of the Reckoners series. Tapped by Drew E. as the Galloway Book Club’s choice for the month of February, I approached the 400 page novel expecting a campy, melodramatic plotline with the approximate literary value of Go Dog Go, bound tenuously together by intermittently hard-to-follow action sequences and a poorly constructed romantic subplot. I found exactly what I expected.
And I couldn’t put it down.
Steelheart is a fantastical dystopian novel, set ten years after the appearance of a glowing red star in the heavens, known as Calamity. Roughly a year after Calamity’s appearance, certain humans began manifesting various powers—such as flight, the ability to create forcefields, super agility, impervious skin, and other equally ridiculous capabilities—and, for one reason or another, those individuals became implacably evil with no regard for human life. Such people are known as Epics.
I’m sure that description prompted many of you to role your eyes back into your head; the plot does, I wholeheartedly agree, sound patently ridiculous. But it is a siren, my friends, luring any readers within its range to dash their brain upon the rocks of literary mind candy. Seriously, after the first chapter I began counting down the time until I could read again. My sleep suffered. Had the novel been longer, a significant decline in my academic performance wouldn’t have been surprising. Throughout the course of reading the book, I suppressed the part of my brain that steadfastly reminded me how, objectively, I should find the novel silly rather than engrossing.
Sanderson’s protagonist, David, whose biblical name is possibly the only allusion in the entire book, was an eight year old when the High Epic Steelheart, now emperor of Newcago (used to be Chicago), killed his father. Now, David is an 18 year old with a deep-seated hatred for Epics and an even more intense desire for revenge. He has dedicated his adolescence to studying epics and a mysterious group, the Reckoners, who wage war on them. With incredible predictability, when a Reckoners cell appears in Newcago, David manages to join them and lobby for an attack on Steelheart.
I just read the above paragraph, and once again, I’m amazed at how much I enjoyed the book. I don’t know how it happened. What came over me? Surely IQ points dripped out of my ears whenever I cracked the novel—but, after some soul-searching, I regret nothing. Sanderson knows how to weave a tacky plotline into a web of suspense, wind up his readers, and force them, against their better judgement, to revel in a narrative brimming with superpowers, vendettas, and dramatic confrontations. To read Steelheart is stare down the darker demons of our literary tastes, which we all need to do once in a while.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. In this book we meet Isla, who has had a crush on Josh for years. They meet by chance in Manhattan before returning to school in Paris, and the stage is set for their romance. In spite of the predictable nature of the story, I enjoyed the characters and the settings (New York...Paris...Barcelona) and was happy with the ending. Recommended for high school romantics.
El Deafo and March Book One. Persepolis, written in 2003, is the story of a girl exactly my age growing up in Iran. Up until age 10 she enjoyed much freedom. But after the "Islamic Revolution" her co-ed secular school is closed and she must wear a veil and attend an all-girls school. Marjane is a rebel, though, and this book chronicles the next few years in which she refuses to be silenced. Readers may need to refresh themselves on some Iranian history as she lives through political turmoil and the war with Iraq. In some ways it is a difficult, disturbing story complete that includes torture and war, but at its heart it is a coming of age story of a girl trying to be herself in the midst of a repressive regime. Recommended for readers interested in history, human rights, and knowing more about the world. (High school and up.)