Before I get started with the introduction to nerdfighter books that the title promises I'd like to thank, Wonder Woman 2.0, for presenting the idea for this style post. Now, on to the reviews!
Since this is the first time I've done honest-to-blog reviews I figured what better way to start then with some Nerdfightastic books. Not John's of course, because I'm pretty sure you have either read, or heard of and are planning to read, or currently reading, or have opted not to read John's books. Instead I'm going to introduce you to three books written by known Nerdfighters. If you don't want to read the reviews I still advise you to scroll to the end and receive the important information down there!
by Scott Westerfeld
Summary: Leviathan can also be described as an alternate history. Westerfeld reimagines the beginning of World War I. In this story, the two camps are known as Clankers (Austria-Hungary and Germany), and Darwinists (Britain and France). Clankers love machines and technology, and manufacture great war machines that are a cross between robots and tanks, with names like Stormwalkers and Herkules. Darwinists have used Darwin’s discovery of DNA life strands to create new types of "beasties", such as a whale airship known as Leviathan. Deryn is a Darwinist who disguises herself as a boy so she can be a soldier on a British airship. When she meets Clanker Alek, son of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after a crash, they have to decide whether or not to help each other and trust the other's technology.
Review: This is what Leviathan did for me. Westerfeld has masterfully captured not only cool steampunk machines and their details, but how this way of life, that of animal-driven Darwinists and machine-driven Clankers, are shaped by their very divergent steampunk societies and beliefs. I was fascinated by how a squid-like animal full of hydrogen worked, or what made a Clanker machine tick, even what particularly unique words and phrases each group used in day-to-day life. Prince Alek and young Deryn are our guides, and as characters…they felt a little flat to me, but oh how they develop into a great means with which to sink into the steampunk aspects of the book. As with the Ingalls family, the characters in Leviathan are not so important as characters, but more so as conduits for understanding the world Westerfeld has built.
by Maureen Johnson
Summary: Scarlett Martin is pretty sure it's going to be a totally boring summer. All her best friends have left New York to do fun things because their families have lots of money. Scarlett is stuck in NYC working at her family's run-down hotel. But things start looking a little more interesting when a wealthy, eccentric actress moves into the hotel for the summer. And then Scarlett meets Eric, a hunky actor who's friends with her brother. Maybe this summer won't be so boring after all...
Review: One of Suite Scarlett’s strong point is, without hesitation, its incredible set of characters. Agreed, Scarlett’s siblings are at first a little stereotypical; but as you get to know them, you can’t help but appreciate their (mostly) strong relationship. They are fun and honest with each other, but as any real life siblings, they also encounter some bumps in the road.
Apart from that, I liked the book. Johnson’s sense of humor is perfect for this story, and her writing brings to life New York and the fantastic Hopewell Hotel. I also have to give the author huge props for writing a teenager’s romance in a realistic way. I loved how this aspect of the story ended.
by Neil Gaiman
Summary: Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
Review: This is a good old-fashioned fairy tale, but not told in too old-fashioned a manner. Gaiman uses just the right blend of old-style storytelling (including some of the graphic scenes one could expect from a pre-Disney fairy tale) and modern cynicism, as in this passage where our protagonist encounters an irritable witch:
"Thief!" shouted a cracked old voice. "I shall turn your bones to ice and roast you in front of a fire! I shall pluck your eyes out and tie one to a herring and t'other to a seagull, so the twin sights of sea and sky shall take you into madness! I shall make your tongue into a writhing worm and your fingers shall become razors, and fire ants shall itch your skin, so each time you scratch yourself--"
"There is no need to belabor your point," said Tristran to the old woman.
Gaiman has a delightful sense of whimsy (for example, at one point Tristran is trapped on a cloud, shouts out, and is surprised to be answered by a passing tall ship) which, if anything, he uses too sparingly - many elements, such as the market at the wall, could have used elaboration. The story is involving and moves along at a brisk pace. My main disappointment with the plot was the meager efforts offered by the supposedly formidable brothers from Stormhold.
Blurbing Book Club
I've, with the assistance of other Ningmasters and John, have decided to expand the time spent on each book to one month. Thus, till the end of November we are still reading, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey. Make sure to read, discuss and blurb
The idea is for me to pick a topic much like this week's; Nerdfightastic, and then you guys can e-mail me a review of any book that you think fits the category. This way you get a wide variety of books and opinions instead of just my choices.
I'm going to try for one of these posts every two weeks so any reviews I get by November 26th will be considered (assuming I get so many that can't use them all).
The topic for the next one of these blogs is, Young Adult Fiction. You can e-mail me your reviews at; email@example.com
P.S. Sorry for the length of this post.