Saturday, September 22, 2012

New (to Us) YA Fiction

We've actually had these since March or April, but I haven't had time to read them - just gaze longingly at the covers as I catalog them! They were coming off the 'new' shelf this month, so I snagged a few to read in bits and snatches:
Small Acts of Amazing Courage
J F History WHEL
"It is India, 1918, six months after the end of World War I, and Rosalind awaits the return of her father from the war. Rosalind is kept from boarding school in England at her mother’s insistence. While her father has been at war, Rosalind sees the country slowly change. A man named Ghandi is coming to power, talking about nonviolence and independence from Britain. Rosalind longs to live the life that her heart tells her, not what her parents prescribe for her, but no one seems to listen.
This penetrating story, told with lush and vivid detail, contrasts Rosalind’s privilege and daily experiences in India with the hardship of the people around her. As she comes of age during this volatile period of history, will she find the courage to claim her own identity and become her own person?"
Here's another reason they should let us read at work - I originally catalogued this as YA because of the age of the protagonist, but it reads much more like a juvenile fiction (upper elementary, middle school). The harsh realities of life in India in the early 1800's are touched upon, but not in any great detail. Just enough is given for an unfamiliar reader to understand how the central characters' choices may be molded by what they experience. Things tie up a bit tidily at times. I think this would annoy an older reader, but just helps make it perfect for a younger reader starting to explore world issues and their own growing pangs.
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.
Erm...I'm glad Vi knows the rules, because I'm still kind of lost after finishing this. The whole book was a series of what-the-heck-is-going-on, and not in a fun and challenging way. There was also an overabundance of Vi-is-locked-in-a-room-and-has-to-escape scenes. Much of the plot I found highly implausible, and at times contradictory, but it's hard to give examples without spoilers (let's just say that I couldn't help thinking of Bella from the Twilight series).
HOWEVER, if you are willing to provide some 'suspension of disbelief', it's a fast and enjoyable read. Even when I found myself frowining at certain things, I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. There is a sequel, Surrender, which may tie things in a bit better.

Ruby Red


Gwen's family is a bit odd - she lives with a conglomeration of mostly female relatives, who are all devoted to her perfect cousin Charlotte. They aren't horrid people, it's just that Charlotte is expected to inherit the family gene that allows one to travel in time, so of course the past sixteen years have been devoted to her training - after all, you wouldn't want to show up in 18th Century France and not know the gavotte, would you? Gwen has been free to enjoy a normal life (well, okay, she can talk to ghosts - and gargoyles - but, other than that, the usual stuff.) Until the day she slips back in time herself.

Oops! Mad scramble by the family, and by the Guardians who manage the whole thing, and Gwen is suddenly thrust into a world of secrecy and plots and mysteries and machinations. With, of course, a cute but obnoxious boy.

Normally, this type of book is not my 'thing' - while I like historical fiction, I'm not that into time travel, and I've had my fill of sinister men with devious plans that we can't quite figure out just yet. Ruby Red pleasantly surprised me, though. I was sucked into the plot and the characters very quickly, and finished the book before I was ready to. Throughout the rest of the day, I kept thinking I would go back and read some more, only to realize there wasn't any more (until the next book, Sapphire Blue, comes out next month). Yes, there are things you know that Gwen doesn't (poor Lucy!), but the mystery is just enough to make you anxious for the next installment - I am, anyways!

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