Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow

I have several other reviews half-finished, but I made the mistake of going to the library, and The Scorpion Rules was on the New Books shelf. "Oh!" I said, "Everyone says this is so good! Maybe I should take it home so I can read it in a little while. You know, after I do all the other things I'm supposed to do."

So I took it home. Nothing else got done. I read it in two sittings (and would have stayed up all night if hubby hadn't intervened), and then I had to vacuum and wash the floors when I was done just so I could process. (So that's something productive, anyway!)

The Scorpion Rules is everything they* say it is. Compelling—I can vouch for that! Beautifully written. Intelligent. Heart-wrenching. Provoking.

Kudos to whoever wrote the blurb, because it's brilliant at saying everything important about the story without giving away anything. The premise is eye-catching: AIs have taken over the world and enforced peace by making world leaders give up their children as hostages. If countries go to war, their children are killed. I think how you feel about this book will depend on what you think is the most interesting thing about that premise.

For me, and apparently for Erin Bow, it's the psychology of the children who are raised together, knowing that at any time one child's parent may declare war on another's, and then both children must die. How do you wrap your head around that? How does it affect your relationships with each other, with your parents, with the AIs who are as parents to you and yet will kill you if so instructed?

It's seriously messed up, that's what it is, and so this is a book about seriously messed up kids who manage to retain their dignity, their sense of humour, their capacity to love—their humanity—despite the psychological (and often physical) torture they live through.

It's an intense book. It's also very funny at times. Best use of goats for comic relief in a YA dystopian novel. Wonderful, wonderful snarky amoral AI mastermind who loves 20thC movies.

Oh, the characters! So vivid, so realistic. Greta, the narrator, is barely holding it together, clinging to her ideals of duty and sacrifice. This is what a princess is; this is what a princess does. The others follow her lead because she's smart, she understands the implications of things, and yet she's blind to so much that matters. Elian—bleak, defiant, funny, unable to resign himself to his situation, Greta's opposite in so many ways. Graceful, compassionate Da-Xia. Prickly, protective Thandi. Silent Atta. So many different ways to respond to the horror they are living through. I'm not sure it's a book I'll reread, because it goes to some unpleasant places, but I would gladly spend more time with all these people.

The ending . . . I wasn't entirely happy with it, but it was satisfying. It did fit. And it could have been left as a standalone, but I'm very, very glad there's going to be a sequel.

I'm going to cross-post this on Goodreads because there are a few spoilery things I want to say, and I haven't figured out how to hide spoilers properly on blogger! So if you've read it, come over to Goodreads and tell me what you think.

I just discovered that Erin Bow is Canadian!! And she studied particle physics!! (And she writes great book reviews on Goodreads, but I am now getting far too distracted.) She's now my new favourite person I haven't met.

This makes my sixth Canadian book of the year (which started in July, so I'm not as behind as you think I am!). I'm well on my way to my goal of 13 for the 9th Annual Canadian Book Challenge. Check out John Mutford's blog The Book Mine Set for reviews of Canadian books of all persuasions.

*"They" being bloggers I follow and whose opinions I trust. Goodreads reviews are wildly divergent, and I think it's because not everyone gets this book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Soooooo Maaaannnnnyyyyy YA Speculative Fiction Booooooookkkkkkkkkksssss!

This is my third post highlighting books from the lists of Cybils nominees. I dealt with Middle-Grade Spec Fic here and Middle-Grade Fiction here.  Now I'll get into YA! This post looks somewhat different because I just discovered that it's way easier to copy and paste from the Cybil's list instead of trying to force Blogger to put imported pictures in a nice arrangement! (And it even keeps the links intact! (I think))

Nominated books I know nothing about but the title/cover look intriguing:

By Sarah Bromley

By Nicole Kornher-Stace

By Suzanne Van Rooyen

By Shanna Swendson

By Sharon Cameron

By Tim Wynne-Jones

By Shallee McArthur

By Anna-Marie McLemore

By Lisa Amowitz

Books I've heard great things about and really want to read:

By Hannah Moskowitz

By William Ritter

I haven't read Jackaby yet but these sound really fun!

By Laura Ruby

People just won't shut up about this one!

By Kate Elliott

By Cindy Pon

By Patrick Ness

Really excited for this one. Great premise, and Patrick Ness!

By Erin Bow

Getting lots of hype, and I love the premise.

By Maureen Johnson

Enjoyed the first two of this series.

By Neil Gaiman

Of course I want this one.

By Rae Carson

Books I've read (and loved!):

By E. K. Johnston
This is book two of a duology;
I reviewed the first book of the duo here

By Rachel Neumeier

My brief reviews of Pure Magic and Darkest Part of Forest here

By Holly Black

By Maggie Stiefvater

My review here

Monday, October 19, 2015

Soooo Maaaaaannny Middle Grade Fiction Boooooookkkkkkksss!

This is my second post highlighting some of the many books nominated for the Cybils this year. On Friday I went through the Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction list and pulled out a bunch that caught my eye.

Today I'll list a few from the Middle-Grade Fiction nominees (follow the link for the full list):

Title or cover appeals to me:

Books I've heard good things about:

It's Rebecca Stead. Say no more.
They decide to become detectives
after reading Dorothy Sayers
This one sounds hilarious!
Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelly
set up a detective agency!
I've got to read these;
everyone loves the
Such a cool premise:
training wolves to return
to the wild. In Russia.

And the only book on the list I've read:

'It' girl and science nerd become stepsiblings. Very funny. My review here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Soooo maaaaannnnnnny Elementary/Middle Grade Spec Fic booooooooookkkkkkkkks . . .

TBR pile getting a little short? Looking for something new to read? Have you visited the Cybils site yet??

Public nominations closed yesterday (authors and publishers can nominate their own books now), and there are some seriously awesome lists of great books published in the last year. I thought I'd just highlight a few for you over the next few days, in case looking at the whole list is too overwhelming!

Elementary/Middle-Grade Speculative Fiction (the link takes you to the Cybils' list)

Books I'm interested in because of their authors:

A new Princess Academy
book! Yay!
A sequel to one of the funniest
books in the world. So excited!
This one looks so cute!

Gaiman is so good at creepy!
I really like his adult series,
but haven't read these ones.
Great cover.
I still have to read
The Iron Trial. With these
two authors I'm sure
this series is great

Books I'm interested in because of their titles:

Books I'm interested in because of people's reviews:

Books I've actually read:

Cuckoo Song: brilliant, creepy, wonderful book
Jinx's Fire: great ending to a great series. Love Jinx. (And I never reviewed this one. Will have to get on that.)
The Nest: Just read this today; review coming soon. Reminds me of A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness.
I can't believe I've only read three books out of the entire list of nominees! (I am so behind on my TBR . . .)