Monday, October 22, 2012

Book #66: Zoo

Book #66: Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
5/5 stars

It's no secret that post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels are all the rage right now. Between The Hunger Games series and the novels it has inspired, and the old but ever popular novels such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which despite being published in 1950 is ever popular (in fact I'll be reading and reviewing it very soon!), futuristic novels are taking over our libraries, bookstores, and e-readers. For this reason, I anticipate that James Patterson's newest novel will catch like fire!

Normally, Patterson tackles mystery and thrillers, and he does it well. However, his brand new novel with Michael Ledwidge, Zoo, is more of a sci-fi thriller, a different territory for him, but he handled it well! However, instead of being post-apocalyptic, like the novels I mentioned above, Zoo describes just how the world reaches the apocalypse, and it may surprise you.

As you may have guessed from the title, animals play a large part in the end of the world scenario present in this novel. Animals, over the past few years, have increased their aggression toward humans, and are acting strangely: coming together (despite normal behaviors of their species) and attacking humans, seemingly unprovoked. Jackson Oz, known as Oz, was doing well at an Ivy League college, until his theories about animals taking over the world got him laughed out of the prestigious science circles he was once a part of.

However, as the novel progresses, it becomes alarmingly clear that Oz's theories are all too real. As every kind of animal, from wild lions to household dogs, becomes more and more aggressive and dangerous, the world begins to panic and fall to pieces, at the mercy of mammals everywhere. Will people finally start listening to Oz...before its too late?

This novel asked some tough questions and made me think a lot about if this were to really happen. Were the animals just crazy, or were they angered by the human treatment they had received all their lives? What would I be willing to give up to stop these attacks? Would I, and my fellow humans, be willing to give up "essentials" like cell phones, and cars?

This novel was a fantastic, quick read, and interesting to me, someone who doesn't enjoy science, and doesn't read much sci-fi. Go out and get a copy of this novel asap, and if you read it, tell me what you thought!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book #65: The Chocolate War

Book #65: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5/5 stars

I know, it's been a little while since I last posted, but I have been reading lots! I'm back to YA with this novel, originally published in 1974, but its popularity (and controversy) has spanned the decades.

The Chocolate War's protagonist is a freshman named Jerry Renault. In his locker, he has a poster that poses the question: "Do I dare disturb the universe?" This question is a central point of the novel. Jerry doesn't have many friends besides "The Goober" - Roland Goubert - and he doesn't quite love life at Trinity Catholic high school. No one really notices who he is...until he refuses to participate in the school-wide annual chocolate sale.

It turns out that the reason for this was because Archie Costello, an upperclassman who enjoys manipulating and making people squirm, and the Vigils, a mysterious society of boys within the school, have given Jerry the "assignment" to refuse the chocolates for two weeks, just enough time to make Brother Leon, the chocolate sale's biggest pusher, nervous.

However, what happens when the two weeks are up, and Jerry still refuses to participate in the sale? Why is he so adamant about not selling? Is it simply a lack of school spirit? Laziness? Or something more? And how will the Vigils and the other students react when Jerry becomes legend, the first student to not sell chocolate for the school? You have to read to find out whether Jerry becomes a hero, or a target.

This book has been banned and challenged many times since it's publication in the 1970s...which of course means that you need to read it ASAP! The reasons given for challenging the novel include: "offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group", according to ALA's "Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century" list. Of course this only entices readers to get their hands on this novel faster. I felt that it was absolutely worth reading, and despite how long ago it was published, it is easy to read and entertaining and intriguing until the end. Happy reading!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book #62: Dare Me

Book #62: Dare Me by Megan Abbott
5/5 stars

I had never read anything by Megan Abbott (Not to be confused with The Princess Diaries author, Meg Cabot), before this, but I think I found out about this novel through some site related to Gillian Flynn. It was a few months ago, so I'm not really sure, but the reason it took me so long to read this book is because it took a few months to get a hold of through the library. It's Abbott's newest novel, and after reading it, I can understand where her popularity is coming from!

Dare Me is a suspenseful, dark novel about cheerleaders and their new coach. Yes, I know, cheerleaders. I'm not sure about you, but cheerleaders aren't usually the protagonists in the novels I read. As a former high school drama nerd, I was never a fan of cheerleaders. However, if I can like this novel despite the cheerleaders, I'm sure most people can.

In Dare Me, Addy is the narrator, and she starts with a startling, ambiguous prologue in which it is clear that something has gone horribly wrong, probably in a violent way, but it's hard to tell. The novel then jumps back in time to the start of the school year, when Addy and her best friend, and cheer captain Beth, are gearing up for another competitive year of cheering and being super popular and amazing at everything they do. Yes, you'd think you couldn't stand reading about these girls, but I promise, the novel goes deeper than that.

There is a new coach for the cheerleaders this year, Colette French, a young, hardcore, yet somewhat mysterious woman. The girls on the team quickly flock around Coach...all except Beth, who isn't used to being out of the spotlight. Addy especially forms a strong bond with Coach, and the girls form almost a cult around their new idol, who works them to the bone in practice, but offers mature, coveted advice and just seems like everything they want to be.

However, when a suicide (no, I won't say who it was!) investigation effects Coach and the team,things start to get dark. Is Coach really who she seems? Is Beth? Are any of the girls? Do they all have dark sides? Who can be trusted?

In this novel of betrayal, secrets, and deception, the reader will see cheerleading practices and parties, but more often, you will encounter suspenseful dialogue, misleading circumstances, and cult-like obsessions. I loved this novel, and can't wait to read more of Abbott's work.