Category Archives: coming of age

tell it slant

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss 2007 (284 pgs)

Magical realism at it’s best: witches, flying cities, talking bears and all of it oh-so-real-seeming. Enjoyable author, with an old-world flavor updated by modern fantasy sensibilites.

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forget to remember to forget

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson 2008 (266 pgs)

When Jenna wakes up, she can quote the entire text of Walden Pond, but she can’t remember her best friend’s name. Or even if she has a best friend. The parents she doesn’t remember tell her she’s been in a coma following an accident. As Jenna comes to terms with the disturbing holes in her memory, she finds that there’s more to her past than her family wants to tell her.

Good balance- enjoyable to read, while also tackling larger issues of medical ethics and the nature of identity. Made for a fun afternoon read.

possession is nine tenths of the law

The Host by Stephenie Meyer 2008 (619 pgs)

When the world’s population gets body-snatched by invading aliens, a few rebel humans are forced into hiding, struggling to remain whole. A newly installed alien named Wanderer finds herself in a body whose former owner hasn’t quite vacated. What should be an effortless takeover instead becomes a battle of wills as Melanie refuses to disappear. At first biding her time, waiting for Melanie to surrender, Wanderer instead finds herself coming to an understanding and eventual affection for the human trapped in her mind. As they share memories and experiences, Wanderer even comes to love those who Melanie loves. Together they break away from the alien occupied civilization to track down Melanie’s loved ones.

I was pleasantly impressed with Meyer’s much more refined and challenging writing. This in no Twilight novel; it surpasses that series in character realism and evolution, its exploration of humankind’s capacity for cruelty and kindness, and the nature of selfhood and emotion. Billed as “the first love triangle involving only two bodies,” what could easily have become a cheesy sci-fi or sappy romance is instead a surprisingly deft exploration of identity and humanity.

blood is thicker

The Society of S by Susan Hubbard 2007 (320 pgs)

Ariella doesn’t realize what a sheltered life she’s led for her first thirteen years until she’s introduced to the wider world through her housekeeper’s family. She makes her first friend, has her first kiss, becomes enthralled by the horses at the nearby track, and generally learns what it is to be involved in the world. She also begins to wonder what became of her mother and why her father is so mysterious and otherworldly.

Yup, dad’s a vampire. And because Ariella is the child of a vampire and a human, no one knows quite what she will become. So she sets off to search for her mother and discover her own identity.

Enjoyable, quick read. The characters are exceptionally well developed, with even peripheral characters are fully sketched and well-drawn. I’ll definitely pick up the sequel.

do you believe in magic

The Magician’s Nephew  by C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) c.1955 (202 pgs)

 What does this make, re-read number 28? At least. I devoured the Narnia books repeatedly as a kid and still love to pick them up again every once in a while. The adventures are always fun, and grounded enough that you could imagine yourself in them. The religious overtones (which I don’t remember noticing as a kid) are light and never overpower the story itself. This volume (although written after the rest) is where it all began- with an attic room, an evil uncle, and a pair of magical rings.

the way of the wanderer

I Who Have Never Known Men  by Jacqueline Harpman 1997 (206 pgs)

What is it that makes up the human experience? Are we defined by our family, our possessions, our personal history, a life lived with purpose, who we are in relation to others? The narrator, a survivor of an unknown apocalypse has less than that. She lives a solitary life focused entirely on mere survival. And yet she strives, she desires, she learns for the enjoyment of pure knowledge regardless of its usefulness or applicability. She is in short, entirely human.

Previously reviewed here.

horse of a different color

Jaran  by Kate Elliott (The Jaran#1) 1992 (494 pgs)

Tess is full of doubts and intent on evading the heavy expectations that result from her position as sister and heir to the only human duke in an alien empire. When she heads for a vacation on a backwater planet in her brother’s domain, she instead stumbles upon a group of aliens violating territorial agreements by setting out on an expedition across the forbidden zone. On instinct she follows them, determined to aid her brother and his planned human rebellion.

She finds herself alone among the Jaran, a warlike equestrian nomadic society that rules the plains. There she works to earn the acceptance and respect of the tribe while trying to discover the aliens’ true purpose.

Great fantasy series I like to re-read every once in a while. The world is richly developed with fascinating characters and plot.