Archive for the ‘You Review’ Category

You Review: The Young World – Chris Weitz

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Reviewed by Tess van Brummelen

Chris Weitz is known as the director of films such as The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) and The Golden Compass (2007). The Young World is his first novel. The back states that it’s part of a new Young Adult trilogy, plus it mentions the story coming to the big screen. The novel is marketed as similar to the Gone series by Michael Grant (2008), which is one of the main critiques from the first readers. The story is not entirely original (as seen before in Lord of the Flies by William Golding in 1954 and TV series The Tribe in 1999). But who cares, as long as it’s well written and brings something new to the table, right?

The Young World sketches a future in which an unknown Sickness has wiped out everyone except teenagers. In New York, survivors have divided themselves into gangs. Five members of the Washington Square tribe set out to find a cure. Along the way they encounter cannibals, wild animals, militias, cults, guns and.. yes, love and friendship.

“A rifle-mounted lamp from the Uptowners’ guns catches us, and we dance between bullets that ring the steel support beams like giant chimes.” – p. 206

Although interesting, the action is so fast-paced you barely have time to appreciate it. What bothered me from the get-go, though, was the forced immature narrative, with phrases like: ‘teh internetz’, ‘big-ass’, ‘nom-nomming those apples’, ‘ovary-shriveling cold’. Not to mention, like, the approximately 1000 times the female protagonist, like, uses the word ‘like’. I think the theme and age of the characters should make a novel a YA genre, not its language. Trust me, teens do not want to be talked to childishly.

I did like the filmscript lay-out Weitz chose for dialogues (Jefferson: “…” / Brainbox: “…”).

The characters were hard to connect with. Furthermore, most characters were stereotyped (one blond sex-symbol, one Asian, one African-American homosexual who says things like “Jesus is my homeboy” and gives romantic advice like “Bitch, you need to think this through”). Weitz attempted to deal with social issues (rape and race for example), but emphasised them instead.

Altogether, The Young World has potential, fun ideas and plot-twists galore. The ending was neat, so I’m curious about the sequel, but I won’t read it. I’m positive lots of people will love this novel. Too bad I don’t recommend it.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available for The Young World, as well as for the other books mentioned: Gone and Lord of the Flies.

You Review: Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Reviewed by Jennifer Tunguz

We all have our secrets, things about ourselves we don’t want anyone else to know because what if they found out the truth – I’m really just a freak. Finding that one relationship where you both can let all the freakishness hang out and still be okay, can be a challenge.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern is a story about two young people, Amy and Matthew, who become friends as they discover each other’s freakishness, while at the same time trying to blend in with their peers. It is a realistic view of teenagers today who face personal challenges – some obvious to the outside world and some kept hidden. The story is understandable in the sense that we all have things we keep hidden from others, no matter what our age or current life situation, in fear of being discovered and being thought a freak. This is one of the main reasons I like this book.

Another reason I like Say What You Will is it is well written and easy to read, while keeping the reader engaged. It does this while opening up the world of disability through Amy’s view on life as a person with cerebral palsy. Her physical, emotional, and social struggles, some of which are a result of her disability and others a result of just being human, are shared. It also gives a true glimpse into another kind of personal struggle, one not so obvious or discussed.

This book is not full of suspense, plot twists, action, or cliff hangers, but it is intriguing, relatable, and interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants something nice to read, that isn’t full of fluff, but also isn’t too thought provoking or challenging.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available for Say What You Will, as well as for one of her earlier novels: Eye Contact.

You Review: Queen of the Dark Things – C. Robert Cargill

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Reviewed by Renée Korver-Michan

C. Robert Cargill’s Queen of the Dark Things begins in the 17th century with a chapter describing the aftermath of a mutiny on the Batavia, a ship belonging to the Dutch East India Trading Company. This made for an interesting albeit confusing start of the second instalment of the series.

Not having read the first book, Dreams and Shadows, I was pleased that – the occasional reference aside – Queen of the Dark Things is a self-containing story.

The book is well written and easily readable. After the initial jump back in time, we return to the present day, where main character Colby Stevens is grieving for the loss of his best friend Ewan. Colby would like nothing better than to keep a low profile and hide for the rest of his days, but the world just won’t leave him alone. An unwilling hero, Colby finds himself drawn into a game where he has to bargain with devils to survive, knowing he might not get the better deal.

The story takes place in Austin, USA, but takes the reader to Australia through occasional flashbacks by protagonist Colby. Though taking place in our world and time, the story presumes a supernatural world populated by demons, devils, spirits and witches. Among the few humans who know this world exists there are those who are magically gifted and can influence it. Colby is one of those. The idea in itself is not new, but Cargill manages to keep things interesting. Drawing on Aboriginal legends about the beginning of time and how the (supernatural) world works was something I had not read before, and which I quite liked. Explanations and background information concerning magic and magical beings like ‘dreamstuff’ or ‘djang’ are provided through excerpts from a book by an in-world author,  Dr. Thaddeus Ray. These short chapters provide welcome background information, helping the story make sense without having to place characters in a situation where they need to explain what is happening.

I would recommend this book for someone looking for a relatively short story, a light read with interesting plot twists and characters. Something to take with you during a holiday perhaps?

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available for Queen of the Dark Things, as well as of the first part in the series, Dreams and Shadows.

You Review: Who Invented the Bicycle Kick? – Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Reviewed by Richard Metcalf

There’s something in Who Invented the Bicycle Kick? by Paul Simpson and Uli Hesse to delight any reader: whether you’re a long-term footie fan, a North American who has just woken up to the wonders of football played with the feet, or you just enjoy learning a weird factoid or two to astound your mates. To give a small taste of the treats in store for readers of this highly entertaining volume, here’s a short quiz:

  • Which Danish footballer once faked his own death by shooting during a match, and why?
  • Whose pre-match ritual involved taking a slug of whisky, strapping his ankles with a full tin of tape, and having the team’s striker store his false teeth in the empty tin for the duration of the game?
  • Which Scottish goalkeeper was sent off for destroying the frame of the goal not once but twice in the same match?
  • How many professional matches have descended into such mayhem that the referee sent off both entire teams: all the players, including the substitutes, as well as the managers and technical staff?
  • Whose transfer to Manchester United was sealed with a freezer full of ice cream?

If that’s not enough to whet your appetite, this book will also tell you:

  • Which team won a European Cup match after failing to score in a penalty shoot-out
  • Where to draw inspiration if your team is 5-0 down with just 7 minutes left on the clock
  • The source of the legend that the Uruguayan team trained for the 1924 Olympics by chasing chickens
  • The sad truth behind the binge-drinking which inspired Paul Gascoigne’s “Dentist’s Chair” goal celebration at Euro 96
  • And why a team once made a 20,000 mile round trip to play a domestic cup match (and, no, it wasn’t a Scottish team competing for the “Proclaimers’ Trophy”).

Still not convinced? Just imagine you’re racing towards the goal and you take a shot, giving the ball such an almighty wallop that it explodes and then crosses the line with its bladder hanging out: is it still a goal?

With over 100 similar gems packed into around 275 pages, these pocket-sized snippets of soccer trivia are the perfect reading matter for a grown man in the little boys’ room with time on his hands.

“Are you alright in there, dear?”

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available of Who Invented the Bicycle Kick?.

You Review: Upstairs at the Party – Linda Grant

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Reviewed by Roel Scheijde

I have always had a love/hate relation with the 1960s. I understand their importance in the breaking down and reinvention of social conventions but, on the other hand, the naivety and self importance of hippies freaks me out.

Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant does an excellent job of reflecting on the 60s and their influence on the rest of the life of the protagonist.

Adele is a young woman who bluffs her way into college and the idealistic micro-universe of a group of people who believe that they can and should change the world purely because they are young and different from their square parents. In this world where everybody fights to defend their ideas (even though they don’t always understand them), two people really stand out: Evie and Stevie, an androgynous couple that might be lovers or twins.

At first Adele is intimidated by them but as she gets to know them better she becomes very intrigued by Evie. But not all is as it seems, people are different from what they appear and the ideas they believe in might not really relate to the real world. The world Adele and her friends have created breaks down at her birthday party.

The strength of the book lays in two things.  Firstly, the self-reflection of Adele on the 60s. Were they really as important as people believed at the time and was everybody honest in their beliefs? Especially her portrait of the beginning of modern feminism is a joy to read. And secondly the characters have a complexity that keeps surprising you.  Nobody is who they seem at first glance and quite a few characters go through several transformations. It shows their strengths and weaknesses in a way that is both tragically brutal and tender.

I guess the only real problem I had was the way that the 70s and 80s are rushed but that is a small problem compared to the rest of the novel and how it looks back on somebody’s youth in a non-nostalgic and unapologetically honest way.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available of Upstairs at the Party, as well as for her most of her earlier novels: We Had It So Good, The Clothes on Their Backs, Still Here, When I Lived in Modern Times.