Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Mars Evacuees/Story Thieves
McDougall, Sophia. Mars Evacuees
17 February 2015, HarperCollins (first published March 27th 2014)
Alice Dare is doing her best to get by at Muckling Abbot boarding school while her mother is fighting the aliens and her father is working as an engineer to help combat the effects of global cooling that the aliens have set in place, but she is evacuated... to Mars! She and a number of other young people are sent to train to fight the Morror alien horde and colonize Mars, which has been improved so that it is barely habitable. On the trip there, she befriends Josephine Jerome, who is more interested in biology than in fighting the aliens. When dare devil Chris's brother Noel sees a "space locust", the group is interested in what they might be, but disaster soon strikes the space station and all of the adults go off to fight, leaving the children to descend into Lord of the Flies type anarchy. Deciding that they might as well take their chances and try to make it to another outpost, the four children set off and have an astounding adventure that proves it is always best to carry duct tape with you. (As well as a backpack full of protein bars!)
Strengths: Alice starts out with an absolutely hysterical voice that drew me right in. There is some cultural diversity. The space story is fresh, especially the interactions with the aliens and the Mars colonization. Both of Alice's parents are still alive despite the alien invasion, and the robots provide some "adult" support. Lots of twists that I don't want to reveal. A nice change from all of the dystopian books; at least this is trying for a fix.
Weaknesses: Alice becomes somewhat less amusing, and this takes a bit of a dark turn when the children at the station turn against each other. The interactions with the Morrors get a bit confusing, but then, the children are interacting with an alien about their age! I would rather have heard more about the conditions on earth at the boarding school instead of descriptions of the fighting.
What I really think: Awesome space adventure! Really, really enjoyed this one and can't wait to have a copy for the library. The series should be interesting.
Riley, James. Story Thieves
January 20th 2015 by Aladdin
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Owen loves the fantasy books series about Kiel Gnomenfoot and is looking forward to the last book in the series. When he starts to notice that a girl in his class, Bethany, is acting very suspiciously in class and at the public library, where his mother works, he watches her closely and discovers that she can leap in to stories! When he confronts her, she admits that her father was fictional, and that she jumped into a story given to her at a birthday party when she was very young, and manages to drag her father there and lose him. She's been forbidden from jumping into stories, but does anyway because they are far more interesting than real life. Owen agrees, and begs to go with her, especially since he wants to find out what happens to the Magister in the last Kiel book. Once they get in to the book, however, things go wrong and Owen gets trapped while Kiel gets trapped in the real world. Difficulties also arise with characters that seem to be good who are actually evil, and Owen endangers Kiel's world by pretending to be him but not having the knowledge. Bethany would like to be able to find her father, and Owen hopes he can help, but will they manage instead to endanger both the fictional and the real worlds?
Strengths: Nods to Harry Potter will make this a good book to hand to students who can't move beyond that series. Fairly solid world building, decent characters, and lots of action and adventure.
Weaknesses: Bethany's quest felt like the most important one in the book, yet it didn't get as much attention as I hoped. The ending lends itself to a sequel, so we'll see.
What I really think: Personally painful, but at least I got a lot of work done around the house. Scrub the bathroom, or finish this book? Scrub. Trim the dog's behind or finish the book? Trim. I'm uncertain whether I will buy this for my avid fantasy fans, so will try the ARC on a couple. For elementary readers who love fantasy, this would be a great choice.