Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: The Living

The Living The Living by Matt de la Pena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reader's Annotation:
A teen joins the crew of a cruise ship hoping to make some money over the summer, but experiences more than he bargained for when a tsunami sinks his ship and he has to survive shark-infested waters. He makes it to an island, but instead of safety, he is confronted with secrets and dangers that could potentially wipe out the world's population.

My Thoughts:
This is a fun, fast read. It started a little slow, and I had a hard time connecting with the main characters. But the action picks up a few chapters in and then I was hooked. The themes in the book are survival, friendship, and overcoming adversity.

My Recommendation:
4.5/5 stars
Grades 9+ (this is a tricky one, because my middle school students would love this story. There is some language and some romantic situations (not too graphic), but I was more concerned with the intensity of the violence with the shark attacks and the violent deaths of many people. I would put this on a HS shelf.

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review: Station Eleven

Station Eleven Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reader's Annotation:
A virus ends the world as we know it, killing 99% of the population within 48 hours. A small group of seemingly unconnected characters forges through the following 20 years, trying to make their way and find meaning in the new world.

My Thoughts:
A colleague referred to this as a "quiet dystopian novel", and I completely agree. I am a huge fan of dystopia, but the zombie apocalypse has been done and redone so many times. I found this novel to be a refreshing change. The focus really wasn't on the end itself, but rather the rising of the survivors. It emphasized relationships that connected those survivors and how we lean on each other in times of hardship. I can't say that I understood all of Mandel's devices or plot lines, though. I was confused by the interjections of the comic book plot. I know that somehow the comic book tied everything together, but that was a bit over my head. Still, I found this novel to be a refreshing change from the usual dystopian characters and plot lines.

My Recommendation:
4.5/5 stars
Grades 9+ (there isn't much content here that I find objectionable, it's more the depth of the plot line and characters that I think would be too meaty for my middle school students).

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