Tuesday, May 31, 2005

New in Young Adult - May, 2005

Check here for new books in May 2005.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BOOK REVIEW - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York, NY : Riverhead Books/Berkley Publishing Group, c2004.
Reading Guide

This award-winning novel keeps the reader wanting more until the very end.... actually past the very end. The Kite Runner takes place in Afghanistan, before the Russians invaded through the end of the Taliban regime. The protagonist, Amir, is a selfish privileged individual who, by the end of the novel, still hasn't learned that he's not the center of the universe.

Even so, one can't help identifying with one or more of the characters, or at least the pain and suffering they live through -- losing family, losing friends, and dealing with bullies are all part of life. Hosseini, however, makes these everyday occurences seem extraordinary.

The plot is action-packed and full of emotion, and the characters are despicable, loving, honorable, and needy -- everything one could ask for in a novel, and more! Reading this novel is also a great way to learn more about the Afghan culture -- its food, language, politics, and never-ending turbulance. By the end, the reader is full of hope for the future -- in Afghanistan and in the United States.

I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in a growing up story chock full of lessons to learn, but also full of action. This is a fast-paced novel that has already turned millions of people into hardcore Hosseini fans. Look for this book in the fall (2005) as the Delray Beach Young Adult Discussion Group dealves headlong into an enlightening and educational discussion.

Monday, May 09, 2005

MOVIE REVIEW - Hitchhiker's Guide (Thanks For All the Fish)

Nerdy as I am, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out that I am a Douglas Adams fan, and of course, have been looking forward to the movie-fication of Hitchhiker's Guide (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, I have no idea who the publisher is, but I know we have a copy at our library). I wound up going to see it without my towel (a grave mistake, I know) - but only because I went with my family and didn't want to embarrass them.

Get to the point, man.

...er, yes, of course. Anyway, "What is the verdict, oh most knowledgable one?" you ask? Well, the movie was cute. And funny. Not as funny as the book, but there were definitely some laugh out loud moments. Arthur was great, Ford was perfect (or Prefect), and although Adams didn't describe him as black, I will now always imagine Mos Def when reading the book. He was that good. Now for the downsides - one thing that was lacking was good beat comedy, which would have greatly enhanced some of the funny lines. Not a big deal, but enough that it bothered me a little. The only other major negativity-ness was that they left out the scene where Marvin makes a planetary computer system commit suicide just by talking to it.
So. They added some new stuff - effective, and in the same vein as Adams' humor, so it's all good; they couldn't possibly pack in as much stuff as the book - not their fault, it's the medium; they made me laugh out loud at least once.
It's doesn't rank with my favorite movies, but it was good and I might even consider watching it again (which I typically don't do) so.....


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

BOOK REVIEW - His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman

Pullman, Philip The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. Dell Yearling, 2001. (I think)

Starting w/ The Golden Compass, originally called The Northern Lights when first published in England, The His Dark Materials series is a masterpiece. I have read each of the first two books multiple, multiple times, and the third one twice.
Although the books are billed as "YA" or "Children's literature," the series is actually a complex religious and social commentary.
There is so much on that level that I will leave it alone - you have to read it for yourself. Instead I'm going to talk about Will. Will is a young man (a boy in age, really, but prematurely matured - pun intended), and is, in my opinion at least, the most interesting/captivating/intense character in the series. I was trying to determine why, and a parallel popped into my head - Ender's Game. Ender and Will are very similar characters. They are both intense, young, precocious, and able. The most important characteristic they share, however, is less a character trait than a situation - and a similar method of dealing with it.
After all this build-up, I'm finally getting to it...
well, never mind.
See ya tommorow.

Ok, fine. The key is that they're both unwilling fighters. Neither one of them would fight at all if he could avoid it, but they are both forced to, and they are both good at it! Extremely good, in fact, so good that they are both able to accomplish monumental goals, although it is interesting to note that of the final accomplishments of the two, neither involves a direct fight, and Will's is about as far from fighting as you can get, in a sense.
So, have I piqued your curiosity? Good. Read the books (HDM, and Ender's Game, for that matter.)
Oh, and one last thing - If anyone knows any good books with the unwilling fighter archetype, let me know.