Today’s mini reviews are an eclectic mix! All three books are very different, but I enjoyed them all, and would definitely read all these authors again.
Title: The Rules for Disappearing
Author: Ashley Elston
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Group: YA
Source: gifted ARC
This is the type of book that usually never works for me in YA, but The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston totally did. “Meg” has been in the witness protection program for almost a year, and the worst part is, her father won’t tell her why her family’s been uprooted over and over.
I really liked Meg, and I thought the story was well plotted, well paced, had good character development, and contained just the right amount of suspense to keep things interesting. Plus there was good dialogue and a cute relationship to top it all off! Sure, I guessed the secrets ahead of time, and if you dissect it there will be some “hmm, really?” moments, but honestly I liked the voice/characters enough that that didn’t even matter. It wraps up nicely, while still leaving enough room for the story to continue in the sequel.
Title: One + One = Blue
Author: M.J. Auch
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt
Age Group: MG
Source: ARC from publisher
The blurb for One + One = Blue by M.J. Auch is a little misleading. The focus appears to be on 12-year-old Basil’s synesthesia, but that turns out to be just one part of the story–the first half of the book is about his awkwardness in school, as well as the defensive, reluctant friendship he forms with the pushy new girl named Tenzie. I loved how Basil’s world felt comfortable and lived in in the way that Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary’s books did, and where the trials and tribulations of friendship and school seemed enormous. Basil is such an awesome kid–filled with quirky humor and flashes of thoughtfulness and resentment all at the same time, and I really liked the sheer boy-ness of being in his head. And his home with his grandmother, especially with that crazy-wonderful art studio, sounds like a place I’d want to visit.
Synthesthesia, while not a cornerstone of the story, is also described in a way that seems almost magical. I still can’t really process how it works, but I enjoyed the author’s description of how words and numbers appeared to both Basil and Tenzie.
I was less enthused after Basil’s deadbeat mom showed up, because the plot shifts to a much less interesting and dynamic relationship. She’s a flighty whirlwind who upends Basil’s life, and she upends the plot as well, especially since the two kids get up to all kinds of machinations to keep up with her. I appreciate the fact that things aren’t wrapped up in a neat bow relationship-wise at the end, but still–I really wish the fun and grounded warm fuzzies I felt for the first half had been sustained.
Title: Black Helicopters
Author: Blythe Woolston
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Age Group: Mature YA
Source: finished copy from publisher
I would venture to guess that a lot of readers are going to find Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston a very difficult book. It feels bleak, it feels hopeless, the language and structure are tricky, and it doesn’t care at all if you like it. But man, is this short and devastating literary thriller packed with powerful emotion.
15-year-old Valkyrie knows only this: the Others can’t be trusted, and only Da knows how to keep her and her brother safe. Miles away from civilization, they’ve carved out a strange and violent life for themselves, one that seems threatened on a daily basis.
The plotting is taut in this slim volume, and you realize pretty quickly that you may have an unreliable narrator on your hands. Valykyrie’s words tumble out with rough fury, and there’s a sense of jittery paranoia that you just can’t shake, even as your brain races to make sense of the changing puzzle pieces laid out before you.
If The Reapers Are the Angels had been written by Nova Ren Suma, this is the sort of book that might have come to pass. You won’t get all the answers you’re looking for, and you may come out of it feeling battered and lost. But you won’t ever be able to forget the raw energy and darkness of this story. This is a book that feels like an apocalyptic one–but the scary thing is, it’s not.
These reviews also appear on GoodReads. Review copies were provided as indicated.