Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jack: Secret Histories and The Reminder

I wanted to like F. Paul Wilson's prequel to his adult novels, Jack: Secret Histories, but was concerned when my public library didn't have it.Premise: Jack and his two friends discover a corpse in the woods that may be tied to a ritual murder, and cult members start dying as well. The prose was oddly dense and ponderous, and it took quite a while to get the story started. For a mystery, my students would put up with that for a while, but the amount of 1980s pop cultural references were so numerous as to be distracting. Drat. Will pass.

Rune Michaels' Genesis Alpha is a big hit in my library, so I had hopes for The Reminder. Synopsis: "Daisy continues to hear her dead mother's voice, and the overwhelming power she experiences leads her to believe that she might be able to go back and save her mother's life." HUGE SPOILER: Daisy hears her mother's voice because her father has made a realistic animatronic head of her, with whom Daisy talks until her father gets a girlfriend and discards the head. Meanwhile, Daisy has told her friends that her mother died of cancer, but she really committed suicide, and Daisy found her in the bathtub. I have horrific visions of this being unwittingly given to a student whose mother has passed away for bibliotherapy. I want to field test this, but it's too creepy, and not in a good way.

Every last one of my vampire books is checked out, so I was glad to come across Vivian Vande Velde's Companions of the Night (1995). Kerry makes an ill-fated trip to the laundromat to retrieve her brother's stuffed animal, and is pulled into a hunt for vampires. She helps a young man escape from the vampire hunters only to discover that he is really a vampire, and not an entirely good one, either. This is quite different in tone from the newer books, and vampires are not as romanticized. More attention is paid to the mystery and the various kidnappings and man hunts that occur. Still, brush this one off and hand to students far down on the reserve list for Twilight. This does have a very brief chat about how vampires enjoy both killing people... and sex. Nothing graphic, just in passing.

Jean Van Leeuwen's Dear Mom, You're Ruining My Life(1989) has some very dated moments. There are some vivid descriptions of Flashdance fashions, and several chapters dedicated to dance lessons (as in fox trot and waltz) in preparation for a dance at the country club. There are enough fun moments, and nice family interaction that I am not going to weed it. Speaking of dated books, I was very sad that someone lost Doris Gate's Blue Willow, about migrant farm workers during the Depression. Can't justify replacing this one, but I did love it.

Warner's The Woodshed Mystery made me realize that this would have been the perfect series for me when I was in first and second grade. They are very simple, but longer than most books for children that age. Would have been hot stuff.


wlomano said...

The Reminder sounds creepy. Having to cope with, for the first time ever for any of us, a suicide in our immediate family in the past month, just too creepy for me to contemplate the plot right now. No. Not right now. Sounds... twisted.

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