Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review of The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson (Jenna Fox Chronicles)

Henry Holt & Co.
The Fox Inheritance (Book 2: Jenna Fox Chronicles)
by Mary E. Pearson

4 Scribbles

Kara and Locke are alive and living on a billionaire’s estate in the middle of nowhere, owned by a Dr. Gastbro, who is counseling and preparing them for life in the world 260 years after they died in a terrible car accident. But as more and more time passes, Locke begins to wonder when and if they will ever be ready to go out into the world on their own.  Kara, on the other hand, knows that something is horribly wrong, that some gifts aren’t really free.  The doctor has an agenda—an agenda that doesn’t include the two teenagers ever leaving the estate, and worse, an agenda that may include profiting on the mysterious technology that brought them both back. How will they get free, and if they do, who do they know that still survives and can lend them aid?
Book two in the Jenna Fox Chronicles picks up where the phenomenal first novel left off back in 2008. Instead of being alone in the world, Jenna Fox is soon to find out that her long-lost best friends are still alive—this despite the fact that she mercifully destroyed their cubes hundreds of years before. But did she? In fact, new technology has allowed scientists to reconstruct the two teens, unbeknownst to their long-dead parents or Jenna, but at what cost? Pearson continues the examination of soul in this second installment, but extends the exploration to constructed organisms. What makes a soul, and how much of the physical body can be absent before the soul is incomplete? Does an incomplete soul make for an incomplete conscious? And, can a soul evolve from a constructed entity? While these questions seem very complex, the novel presents them in a fairly straightforward manner; however, the reader is left to make her own determination.  Despite the heavy themes, Kara and Locke’s escape and life on the run make for plenty of nail-biting action to keep the reader engaged, and the addition of the new character Dot the Robot, who rivals Iko in Cinder (by Marissa Meyer) for lovability factor is fantastic! Perhaps the most satisfying element in the novel is the discovery of how Jenna has weathered the last 260 years, and how wise she has become. Readers who lost track of the series will be pleased to know that this second book was published in 2011, and the third book, Fox Forever, which I will read and review in the next few weeks, is already on the shelves.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review of Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

Simon and Schuster Books
for Young Readers
The Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles Book 1)
by Kresley Cole
5+ Scribbles

After a summer in a psych ward to overcome her powerful and distressing hallucinations, Evie Green returns to high school and recovers her coveted reign as one of the popular and pretty rich girls on campus.  In the midst of patching it up with her boyfriend, Brandon, and covering up her summer hospitalization with her best friends, a new group of Cajuns waltz into school, led by Jackson Deveaux, bad-boy-about-the-bayou, and despite her disgust, Evie can’t take her eyes off of him. And then “The Flash” happens, and there is virtually no one left to look at—

Call this a story, within a story, within a story—all brilliantly interwoven—past, present, and possible future, serving to titillate and captivate the reader.  Take the first chapter, which seems as far from Evie’s high school as it could possibly be; and it is, because this riveting, spine-chilling first chapter takes place in the present. The reader experiences Evie’s past, both before and after The Flash through the eyes of the two characters chatting over hot chocolate, and discovers Evie’s highly unusual and extremely useful supernatural skills.  The hook in chapter one is enough to leave readers breathless and wanting more, but moving forward into the novel (and into Evie’s past) the tension and anticipation intensifies. It doesn’t take long to see that handsome bad boy Jack is really into Evie, even though she doesn’t admit her attraction to him, at least not at first. The cat-and-mouse of their relationship is a delicious tease, and once the real feelings between these two begin to emerge, the action between them is so hot it burns the pages. (I’m talking spontaneous combustion here!) Toss in a wonderful new twist on the paranormal, characters with special skills based on the Tarot, and you have the foundation for an exciting new series.  This is one of the most original and engaging works of the paranormal I’ve read in ages—my only regret is that I have to wait until October 1st, 2013, to get the second book, Endless Knight. And since this novel has become the standard by which I’m judging all the other paranormal YA I read, I’m not quite sure I’m going to make it that long!
One last thing--this book rocks on audio! The accents are amazing and Jackson's French-Cajun is to die for!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Review of Parallel by Lauren Miller

by Lauren Miller
3 Scribbles

Some seniors have a dream of where they want to attend school and what they want to do in life from a very young age--so much so that any other school doesn't seem to be a viable option. This is this case with Abby Barnes. Yet, Abby ends up being scouted and and cast in a movie opposite Bret Woodward (after a scheduling fluke forces her to take Drama Methods instead of music history) so she puts her dreams of attending Northwestern as a journalism student on hold. Who wouldn't right?  But when a strange earthquake rocks the world and Abby wakes in a dorm room at Yale, she has no memory of how she got there. Suddenly, Abby wonders if she has any control over her destiny whatsoever.

This book will blow the mind of all but the most curious and science-savvy. You see, according to a theory of quantum physics, there are parallel universes.  And since there are parallel universes that sort of mirror our own, then there are parellel people that mirror us? Right? Now, stay with me stands to reason then that there are individuals living parallel lives, and in Abby’s case, she is aware of it while those around her are not.  In Abby's world, everyone else wakes up the morning after the earthquake with a headache—a sign that the memories they had of the year they just lived have been erased and replaced by their parallel self’s memories—but Abby keeps her memories of Hollywood, of before, and her parallel’s memories begin to emerge as they are formed (since apparently the parallel lives are actually lived in different times since time is not linear in the parallel universe). If you are still with me, and still interested in blowing your mind with this book...then here's the skinny on the rest of the content. While the content is quite sophisticated, Miller deals with tried and true themes. Do we have free will, or are we destined to reach the same outcome no matter what path we choose? Are our actions determined by our biological makeup or our circumstances? Abby's character is down-to-earth, relatable and well-drawn, and quirky secondary characters prove that a real best friend sticks by you no matter how out of your mind you may sound! Lastly, a few hotties add just a touch of romantic angst to keep those of us who aren't hard core sci-fi fans in our comfort zone. Fans of time travel or scientific theory will enjoy this novel, and fans of romance may like it too, even if they don't get the science.