Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Mini Reviews: Words in the Dust, The Search for WondLa, Comin 2 gt u and Dangerous to Know

So I like to try and stay up to date with the books I’m sent for review so I’ve decided to write a collection of mini reviews to be posted each week to help me keep up to date. This week I’m featuring mini reviews of Words in the Dust (Trent Reedy), The Search for WondLa (Tony DiTerlizzi), Comin 2 gt u (Simon Packham) and Dangerous to Know (Katy Moran).

Words in the Dust - Trent Reedy

Published: September 1st 2011, Frances Lincoln
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): In the tradition of SHABANU, DAUGHTER OF THE WIND and THE BREADWINNER, a beautiful debut about a daughter of Afghanistan discovering new friends and opportunities after the defeat of the Taliban.

Zulaikha hopes. She hopes for peace, now that the Taliban have been driven from Afghanistan; a good relationship with her hard stepmother; and one day even to go to school, or to have her cleft palate fixed. Zulaikha knows all will be provided for her--"Inshallah," God willing.

Then she meets Meena, who offers to teach her the Afghan poetry she taught her late mother. And the Americans come to the village, promising not just new opportunities and dangers, but surgery to fix her face. These changes could mean a whole new life for Zulaikha--but can she dare to hope they'll come true?

My review: Words in the Dust is a tenderly written, uplifting story that will leave you feeling hopeful when you turn the final page. You'll find yourself going on an emotional journey along with the characters and you won't forget this one in a hurry. It's not a book you can pick up every so often and delve into off and on, you'll be gripped from the first page and you won't be able to turn away until you find out what happens to Zulaikha.

This is a story with infinite crossover appeal and I'm sure it will gain fans across a whole host of age ranges. I was really impressed with the writing in this one and I'm sure we'll be seeing a cinematic adaptation before long!

Rating: 3/5

*

The Search for WondLa - Tony DiTerlizzi

Published: September 2011, Simon and Schuster
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): When a marauder destroys the underground sanctuary that Eva Nine was raised in by the robot Muthr, the twelve-year-year-old girl is forced to flee aboveground.

Eva Nine is searching for anyone else like her, for she knows that other humans exist, because of an item she treasures—a scrap of cardboard on which is depicted a young girl, an adult, and a robot, with the strange word, “WondLa.”

Tony DiTerlizzi honors traditional children’s literature in this totally original space age adventure: one that is as complex as an alien planet, but as simple as a child’s wish for a place to belong.

My review: Tony DiTerlizzi has written a real gem here. I was instantly reminded of stories I'd read and loved as a child as soon as I started reading The Search for Wondla. This is one that will definitely make you feel nostalgic and will have you digging through old boxes for your childhood favourites.

DiTerlizzi creates such a vivid world and the illustrations in this edition are fantastic, they fit in perfectly with the story and really help to bring the world of WondLa to life - DiTerlizzi is a seriously talented guy! This is a really gorgeous book that would be a credit to any bookshelf.

Rating: 3/5

*

Comin 2 gt u by Simon Packham

Published: July 1st 2010, Picadilly
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from the back cover of the book): Sam Tennant has been brutally murdered in an online computer game. What's worse, it looks like his killers are out to get him in real life too.

'The Emperor' and 'Ollyg78' say they know him from school, and soon turn his classmates against him with their vindictive website.

With his father away, his mother preoccupied with a particularly difficult work case, and his dying granddad absorbed in some dark, wartime secrets of his own, Sam's only support comes from terminally shy Abby and Stephen the class nerd.

As the threats become more sinister, Sam faces a desperate struggle to identify his persecutors before things get really deadly.

My review: I did enjoy Comin 2 gt u and I think it's an interesting novel that explores the dangers of both online and offline bullying well, I do think it left me a bit disappointed at the end. The main problem with this one is that it tries to do too much in too little space. So many ideas are put forward in the novel - Sam's bullying, his friendships, his absent father, busy mother and dying granddad but this is a pretty short novel and there just isn't time to explore every subplot to the extent it needed.

The overall problem with this is that each subplot is partially explored but we don't really get enough detail about anything. I think Packham would have been better off to cut out the family problems Sam was going through and focus on the bullying aspect instead, as this is certainly the most interesting, especially considering that Packham has chosen to look into bullying both online and offline.

Another issue is that amount of text slang used - this is something that dates a book so quickly and I did feel the book was already starting to seem a little dated, even though it was only released in 2010. Slang changes to quickly these days I think it's a very risky road to go down, unless the author chooses to use timeless slang that won't go out of fashion very quickly.

I did enjoy Comin 2 gt u but it felt like I was reading an early draft, rather than a finished piece. If Packham had given each storyline more room to breathe I think this could have been a great story, as it stands it is enjoyable but not one I'd class as a favourite.

Rating: 2/5

*

Dangerous to Know by Katy Moran

Published: May 1st 2011, Walker
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Jack and Bethany are just two teenagers in love. There’s only one problem: Jack's family has a dark past, and whilst he and Bethany are desperate to be together, Bethany's family is desperate to keep them apart.

My review: Hooray! I've been a little disappointed with the last few books I read but then along came Dangerous to Know. It cheered me right up and really helped me get out of my reading slump. This is a very interesting little story, wrapped up in a concise 222 pages - you'll fly through it in a matter of hours and be thoroughly entertained the entire time.

Dangerous to Know is a classic coming of age love story with darker undertones being provided by Jack's family, who are a lot more than meets the eye. At first it seems as though everything is ticking along nicely for our hero and heroine but when Jack is told in no uncertain terms he can never see Bethany again the drama starts and we learn more and more about the problems Jack's family has.

This book explores numerous relationships within a troubled family with ease and sensitivity and I really liked it for that. We got to learn more and more about each member of Jack's family as the novel progressed and saw how their individual problems impacted the family as a whole. I really did like this one and wouldn't hesitate to get recommend it. Plus, it's such a quick read and the storyline is so compelling that you'll get through it in a single sitting, no problem.

Rating: 4/5

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