Anyways, on to Super Review Sunday!
First up is a great new read from a fantastic UK YA novelist, Keren David:
In this, David's third novel, we follow our marvellous anti-heroine Lia, whose obnoxious, self-centred teenisms make her a delight to read. She wins 8 million on the lottery, and her life changes forever. Alongside this she pursues a relationship with the mysterious Raf, tortured-soul/possible-vampire. Lia's musings on whether or not Raf is a supernatural being are absolutely hilarious, and the evolution of the true story behind his old-school demeanour and pale skin is really touching.
David packs a lot into this little novel, and the pace is perfectly timed. She also manages to tackle deep themes with a light touch, in fact sometimes I wonder if she's delved a little too deep. There's a great sub-plot surrounding Lia's friend Shazia's exploration of Islam, but I found Lia's own seeking out of the Imam in Shazia's mosque a little hard to believe. Using modern Islam to juxtapose Lia's lottery win, however, is a very intelligent way of tackling a real issue for the gamut of young people currently looking for deeper meaning in the world.
So now for my only Big Problem with the book, and it was a moment that really caught me by surprise. I actually found myself gasping "Lia! No!" at the pages. Those who don't want a spoiler, look away now. The issue is unprotected sex. Now I'm the first person to object against preachiness in YA, but I was really surprised that David chose to go to this particular place. Technically, we find out later, the sex isn't unprotected, but it was still enough to shock. Could get a whole debate started here... but I think it's time to move on.
Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery will make a perfect Summer read, and I love the way it made me ponder what I would do if I won the lottery. Give half to charity and invest the rest... of course...!
Review No. 2 of this fine Sunny Sunday....
What a totally awesome read!!! Think that's all I need to say really.
Ok... will give you a bit more...
I just love how MJ gives us intelli-geeks some paranormal fantasy fun without feeling like we're sinking into sinister depths of silliness. But what really scares me is how our American author manages to capture London so brilliantly. She gets EVERYTHING right. Well... nearly everything... our heroine sits down to watch the BBC News at 7.30 one evening, and there I am, yelling at the book, going NO THAT'S WHEN EASTENDERS IS ON!!! So, Radio Times issue aside, we have this brilliant depiction of modern London from the point of view of a girl from the American South. And then Jack the Ripper crops up!!! Ingenious, totally thrilling, and MJ's trademark wit shines through.
I mean, where else are you going to get Zombie Spice Girls? With Posh featuring as a 'bone' accessory?!
Only issue with this book, is that it managed to end at precisely the point where I'm so into it that I just want More More More. So hungry for Book 2 of the Shades of London series that it hurts.
And now for something completely different... but not so different if you're a mega Margaret Atwood / Angela Carter fan like me!
Gentle, poetic prose leads you into the ghastly world of Rhine, trapped in an idilic mansion with two other sister-wives in a world where women die at 20 and men at 25. I was reminded so much of the Bluebeard stories as I read this, although here it's not Rhine's husband Linden who is the problem, but his father Vaughn, who we're led to believe has a torture chamber in the basement, designed to help him find the cure to whatever is killing all the young people. This is a dangerous and sinister world, one that seems ultimately tragic whatever way you look at at: either Rhine accepts her fate and has the children Linden wants, or she escapes and dies anyway in a few short years.
There are odd plot-holes here and there: I never could figure out why Rhine doesn't tell Linden the truth about his father, or why the orphan attendants aren't also pulled up to have children in this dying world. There is also the issue of where all the wealth and technology comes from in this decaying planet. But none of these problems detracted from the heart of the story, and the testimony of Rhine herself, clever and beautiful and trapped in a futile world.
Another first awaiting a sequel, but one I am really looking forward to. What a stunning debut talent Lauren DeStefano is, and I can't wait to see how this story progresses and develops.
Well folks, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and please let me know your comments!