Friday, October 28, 2011

Charlotte Shines in A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL by Suzanne Young

So I want to gush and tell you about how beautiful this book is, but I have this strict No-Spolier policy.  Actually it's more of a moral-code than a policy, but still.  The ending is one of my favorite parts of this story, but I'm not going to tell you about it, except to say I loved how Suzanne Young didn't wimp out in A Need So Beautiful.  She set up a battle between light and dark and followed her own rules.  I might have already said too much. I'll stop.

Ok, so since I'm not going to talk about the ending, I'll tell you about my other favorite part of A Need So Beautiful-- Harlin.  See what I did there?  We just switched from a meaningful spiritual ending to a hot guy on a motorcycle.  I'm not the type to usually develop crushes on fictional characters. First, it makes me feel pervy to crush on minors, and second, even though I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter, I DO remember they're not real. Most of the time.

But Harlin? It's hard not to crush on the bad boy with a good heart.  Charlotte and Harlin's romance is so perfect because not only is it hot, but I beleived they're truly in love.  So often YA romances are either about two people who fall in love and know each other well but never touch, or two people who get hot and heavy but never talk.  Charlotte and Harlin's relationship is a realistic blend.  They care about each other and share hopes and fears, but also share some smokin's scenes.

Young started out as a contemporary writer and her strength there shines through.  Although I liked the unique paranormal element, the realtionships are the strength of this story.  And not just between Chralotte and Harlin.  Charlotte's relationship with her troubled best-friend is both heart-breaking and inspiring.  I also might have gotten a little choked up at the scenes with Charlotte's foster family.

I'll definitely be reading the sequel, A Want so Wicked when it comes out this summer.

Give Away!
Oh, and I haven't blogged for two weeks, so to make good on my promise, I'm giving away a copy of A Need So Beautiful.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post before 12pm Central time on Friday 11/4/11 saying you want a book  and I'll randonly pick one lucky winner to receive a copy.

Winner! chose #1, so that means Karen is our winner!  Congratulations, Karen!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Paolo Bacigalupi writes real women in SHIP BREAKER

You don't need me to tell you Ship Breaker is an amazing novel.  It won the 2011 Printz Award and was a National Book Award Finalist.  A lot of people much smarter than me agree Paolo Bacigalupi has written a masterpiece.

Ship Breaker has some of the best world-building I've ever read.  You might expect an epic post-apocalyptic sci-fi pirating novel to be a little far-fetched, but the world Bacigalupi has created felt so real, gritty, and complete I never questioned any aspect of the complex setting.

Nailer is a perfectly flawed hero.  He's loyal and kind, yet fierce.  I was swept away by the story and captivated by Bacgalupi's prose.  The danger and desperation of Bright Sands Beach and Nailer's life of poverty and abuse felt so real, I ached for him to escape.

But more than just an excellent story, I was impressed with the women in this book.  Bacigalupi created a stark dichotomy between rich and poor, or swank and ship breaker, and in doing so he was careful to craft whole and mutli-faceted female characters.  So when Nailer meets Nita, their differences aren't about gender, but about economics and culture.

So often stories that follow the hero's journey have oversimplified archetypal females: the mother, the witch, and the sex-object love interest.  Bright Sands Beach is full of smart, tough, hard-working women who are fleshed out as complex characters.  There's smart and loyal Pima, Nailer's best friend.  There's Sadna, who acts like a mother to Nailer but also beats the crap out of the villain.  There's Sloth the betrayer, and Blue Eyes the crafty cult-member.

Even Nita who is weaker than the other girls because she's grown up in the lap of luxury and needs to be rescued a few times, is awfully tough and pretty smart.  She helps to save herself like any self-respecting heroine should and she has an awesome line at the end basically telling Nailer to suck it up.

I also loved how Bacigalupi crafts the romance.  Nailer's culture values hard-work and the ability to earn a living, so we know he's falling for Nita when he compliments her ability to skin eels.

Ship Breaker is a dark adventure with some tough chicks who hold their own.