I just got done "reading" this book for the second time, and I loved it just as much the second time around. With a new take on the "zombie apocalypse" genre, Carey hits all the right notes (and I'll try not to reveal too many spoilers). Much of the story concentrates on Melanie, one of a group of special children being educated by the military at a secure camp in England. When her teacher, Miss Justineau, rescues her from being dissected by Dr. Caldwell, it throws the remaining characters into a fight to the death with the "hungries"--those who have been infected by a world-ending, zombie-creating virus.
I loved the emotions of this book and the really inventive resolution to this much-visited genre. The action and adventure will suck in the most resistant readers. This should definitely be included in any list of teen dystopian novels.
Book 2 in the 12x12 challenge, and it's not even the middle of January! I'm going to list Grasshopper Jungle as my "book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller." Technically, it was recommended by Penny Kittle (author of Book Love) at the CEL convention. Penny maintains that we need to get kids reading, so we need to recommend books they'll love. If you're an adolescent male, you'll love Grasshopper Jungle. If you don't mind listening to the musings of a sex-crazed and sexually-confused 16-year-old narrator, then you'll enjoy Grasshopper Jungle. If you're offended by a line like, "Having balls with the same name as your best friend's is a serious social blunder," then perhaps Grasshopper Jungle is not for you.
I found the book surprising in a number of ways. I spent 27 years in the classroom with 16-year-olds, so I'm not surprised by anything they think (or will talk about out loud sometimes), and Rolling Stone's review starts with "raunchy," so I wasn't put off by the many, MANY sexual references and some profanity. I WAS surprised that I really enjoyed this narrator and his best friend Bobby--they're irreverent but at times hilarious. And they're trying to save the world, so you've gotta cut them some slack. I was surprised at the plot twists--things didn't go the way I expected them to go, and I love that in a book. I love it when books portray the messy, confusing, and realistic way our lives really evolve, so I was really pleased that this book didn't end the way I thought it would. Having said that, it is a book about the end of the world by way of 6-foot praying mantis monsters with razor sharp teeth on their arms who will pull off your head and then swallow you whole, so do be prepared to suspend your "reality meter" with this one. I would put this high on a list of YA books for teen boys (with parents who realize fiction is not going to corrupt them).
First book of the "12 x12" challenge down and it's only January 2nd. This one ticked the "book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF" box. So, first a little background into my knowledge of Amanda Palmer. Son Ben was home for a brief (usually less than 24 hour) visit last year sometime (it's hard to say when--the older I get, the more elastic time seems to become) when he asked me if I knew who Amanda Palmer was. My knowledge of music is limited to my early 80's high school years and Adele, so of course I didn't know Amanda Palmer. Since he knows his English-teacher mother, Ben first referenced Amanda's husband Neil Gaiman, who of course I did know. Then he had me listen to "The Ukulele Anthem." During one of our infrequent phone check-ins, he told me Amanda and Neil were expecting. He Facebooked when they had the baby. It's fair to say Ben is a big fan. So I at least had a passing acquaintance with Amanda Palmer when The Art of Asking showed up under the Christmas tree for me this year.
How many times can I say "WOW"? I cannot begin to understand the courage it would take to be SO brutally honest about one's life, warts and all. I immediately watched (and linked to) her TED talk. I loved the intermingling of her song lyrics, and it was especially poignant for me that she ended with the one song that I knew--"The Ukulele Anthem." The thing that made the biggest impression is that Palmer doesn't try to apologize, lay blame, justify or excuse anything--this is her life and this is what she's learned and she's still learning and that's life. This is exactly the book that I needed to read, because I am absolutely NOT an asker. I will KILL myself trying to do something alone before I'll ask for help. Loved it. Ben, you OWNED Christmas this year!