Wednesday, April 22, 2009

busy me.

Undine, by Penni Russon. I have ambiguous feelings again. On the one hand, this book started out great! I loved the language: it felt like the author actually cared about the words, had perhaps studied something, instead of just throwing down words as a means to showcase the plot. The vocabulary was rich all the way through, and the author seemed a natural at varying sentence types and structures, sprinkling in passive sentences, using long sentences then punctuating the story with short, abrupt ones. On the other hand, the character (and thus the reader) were forced to make some pretty big leaps. Undine unquestionably accepts her ability to influence the weather; she doesn't struggle with the idea, but the vocabulary and belief sprouts in her fully formed. I think it would have been better had the author taken more time, made the story longer, allowed the characters to grow and experience things properly. I'm not sure why we had to throw in the problems with the boys. Trout is a wonderful character, and the story might have been stronger if the characters were allowed to be friends and not put in opposition. Not every story for teens has to feature romance problems. Don't they get enough of that from every other book, every other form of media, and every drama queen at school?  

Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things, by Laurence Gonzales; narrated by Kevin T. Collins. Ah, Playaways! These are so convenient, although it does seem to eat up the batteries. I'd encourage you to consider Playaways for your library. I really enjoyed the first part of this book, when the author talked about the brain, mental models, etc. That was very interesting. Later in the book, though, the author got pretty far off-topic, it seemed to me, talking about entropy and the origins of the universe and stuff like that. It was all still very interesting information, but it didn't seem to fit with the first part of the book at all. I find this author overly dramatic. His vocabulary and sentence structures make it sound like he's trying to hard; it's like in college, when you have a notion of what scholarly writing sounds like and you strive for it, when a plainer, more accessible (but not dumbed-down) language would do better. I once picked up Deep Survival, also by this author, but I couldn't even get started. Apparently he has improved a little since then. I rather liked the narrator; his voice was nice to listen to for extended periods, the volume was consistent throughout, and he was always very clear. He did mispronounce a few things: some would probably go unnoticed (he read a story about the Makah tribe on the Straight of Juan de Fuca and mispronounced both names), but others seemed more blatant, although I suppose they could be regional pronunciation differences I just haven't heard before. (I can't remember any now, but they were pretty common, though multisyllabic, words, and his pronunciation rather startled me at the time.) He did do that thing where he gives different voices to people who are being quoted; it still annoyed me, but it wasn't as blatant or poorly done as others I've heard. I feel like doing voices is like using different font types: it throws off my reading (or listening) mode, breaks my concentration. Other people must like it or I suppose readers wouldn't do it.  

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod: Eight Grade Bites, by Heather Brewer. This was pretty cool, pretty well-written. There were more fragments than I like, but they didn't really jump out like they do with some authors. The author also tended to use italics to add emphasis in dialogue, which I don't appreciate, but these things were alright, considering the audience. Since I never look at author names, I got guy vibes from this one; she does a good job of writing a book for boys. It did feel like there maybe should have been a prequel; the reader wasn't filled in on all the backstory, but it may have helped create empathy for the main character, who didn't have much info about the situation itself. Our circ stats are really good for a teen hard cover novel, so I've to the 2nd on order and the 3rd on my calendar to order when we get closer to the release date. For this genre, age group, and reading population, this is top of my list for quality and readability. Sorry my posts were so long today. I don't know what's up. Have you been keeping track? Only 9,403 to go.

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