Archive for February, 2011

Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  424

RAC Book:  Yes

A computer hacker in Pakistan finds some mysterious threats directed toward the U.S. and he alerts the proper authorities.  The threats are examined, but there is no evidence found of any bio threats.  Then, in the U.S. two women who live on the same street die of mysterious aneurysms on the same night.  The daughter of one woman and the two sons of the other try to find out what happened to their mothers even as they start exhibiting similar symptoms.  Meanwhile, the computer hacker is moved to the U.S. where authorities hope he will be able to pinpoint a location and identification of the culprits behind the attack on a neighborhood water supply.

This bio-thriller moves at a brisk pace for the beginning and end of the story, but the middle lags a bit as the characters try to put the pieces together for why they are all getting sick. The idea behind the attack is clever and well-executed which forces the reader to think about how easily any of us could be influenced by a terrorist attack.  The steps authorities take to locate and extinguish the threat seem realistic and make the officials seem very knowledgeable and credible.  The characters are interesting, but a few have some habits of using bad language on a regular basis.  For students who enjoy spy and terrorist books this is a must.

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The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  390

RAC Book:  Yes

Chloe Saunders believes she can see ghosts.  After a particularly traumatic experience, she is sent to live in a home for troubled teens.  She is diagnosed with Schizophrenia and even though she does not believe this to be true, she goes along with the therapy in the hopes that she will be released soon.  As she gets to know others who live in the house she realizes that they all seem to be hiding secrets as well.  When her roommate is taken away to a hospital and then later visits her as a ghost, Chloe gets concerned that she may not be safe in this house and tries to find a way out.

Fantasy lovers will devour this story.  It is fast paced and the characters are intriguing.  Nothing is as it first appears and there are many unexpected twists, including a surprising ending that readers will love.  Many questions are left unanswered, but there are two sequels as Chloe’s story continues.  At first glance, this seems like a story that is very similar to many others in the YA market right now, but the ending provided some unexpected surprises.  Recommended for fantasy readers.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  355

RAC:  Yes

In this futuristic society abortion is illegal, but children can be “unwound” between the ages of 12 an 18.  This means that the child’s body is used as spare parts for other people in need of transplants.  It is believed the child will live on through these other people, but the process of unwinding is vague and not discussed until the end.  Connor is sentenced to be an unwind by his parents, but he finds out and runs away before the unwind police can come get him.  Risa was born an orphan and has been raised by the state.  She has practiced classical piano, but is not the best one in the state home and is subsequently sentenced be unwound.  Lev is a tithe, which means his family’s religion believes that a child should be sacrificed for the greater good.  All three of these teens end up on the run and must fight to save their lives and prove they are worthy of living.

This is an interesting and thought provoking story that will inevitably bring up issues about abortion and dying.  The characters are likable and easy to identify with, even in these terrible circumstances.  The book moves along at a nice pace and the journey of the teens twists a bit which makes it unpredictable and exciting.  There is a lot of action and some gore as these three try to save their lives.  Fans of The Hunger Games and Girl in the Arena will enjoy this title.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

Genre:  Historical Fiction

RAC:  Yes

This WWII story follows Sarah in 1942 and Julia in 2002.  Sarah’s family is rounded up by the French police and sent to a detention center, but her little brother refused to go and hid in a small closet in their room.  Sarah locked him in and kept the key promising to come back later in the day for him.  She did not think they would actually be detained since it was the French police and not the Germans rounding them up. When she realized she would not be going back to her home her and her father tried to leave to get her brother, but the police would not allow them out.  She held onto the key for weeks praying to find a way back to him.  In 2002 Julia is a reporter who is assigned an article on the roundup of Jewish families by French police.  She is shocked to find that many people living in Paris had no idea such a thing took place.  As she comes across Sarah’s story she becomes determined to find out what happened to the little girl.

This is a different angle on a topic that has been covered in numerous ways.  As the story moves between Sarah and Julia you cannot help but get immersed in finding out what happened to Sarah and her family.  Sarah’s journey is truly amazing and realistic as she is forced to face adult issues as a child.  The characters are written incredibly well in a complex, multi-faceted way.  Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading about this era.