Archive for the ‘YA’ Category
#28: Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware by MT Anderson:
“Perhaps,” said Jasper shyly, “you would like some Gargletine Instant breakfast Drink?”
Katie fixed him with a long, level stare. Gargletine caused hysteria in lab rats and took the brown off horses. “Maybe not,” said Katie. “But thanks.”
Synopsis: Jasper Dash, hero of a long forgotten series of children’s books, inventor and stare-eye champion extraordinaire, is joined once again by Katie (herself the heroine of the Horror Hollow YA books) and Lily (no books to speak of) on an adventure to help an old friend in the legendary Vbngoom monastery high in the mountains of Delaware. At night, the dinosaurs come.
Whatever adult made up the idea that these books are targeted for a YA audience is lying through their adult teeth simply so that other adults will be denied the sheer unmitigated joy of reading them. Because adults don’t just lie, they like to suck all the fun out of life for other adults, too.
When they’re not changing into snakes and selling priceless religious artifacts, that is.
These are just some of the many valuable lessons I have learned from the Pals in Peril series, where Jasper Dash, a boy hero who outlived his books and found himself a terrible mismatch for the modern world, cynical-beyond-her-years Katie, herself a book series survivor and their bookless friend Lily team up to — say it with me: fight crime. And sometimes kangaroos. But mostly crime.
In this third installment, the Pelt Middle School’s Stare-Eye team is soundly defeated by a spooky team from Delaware. As stare-eye is not the most thrilling sport imaginable, Katie sneaks off in the middle of Jasper’s match and witnesses Delaware’s Team Mom selling priceless artifacts out of the back of the Team Van. As a dedicated crime fighter, she’s just about to intervene when her own mother arrives and is really really embarrassing.
But she survives the ordeal and when she recounts the tale to Jasper, he realizes that something rotten is afoot in the state of Delaware, probably involving the mystical monastery of Vbngoom (where he learned his stare-eye powers), and which will entail the three chums sneaking over the Delawarian border and making their way through the jungles, swamps, mountains and nefarious capital of the state, Dover. Yes, Dover. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.
And if you’re sitting out there thinking yes, that’s all very well and good but Delaware doesn’t have any jungles, swamps or mountains and actually Dover’s only slightly dodgy after dark, let me simply say that even if you can’t see the dinosaurs, my friend, there is nothing to say that the dinosaurs can’t see you.
Five stars. Any book that begins with a swarm of mysterious beetles and ends with flying monks is all right by me. I just hope next time they go to Cleveland.
# 90: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville:
The Black Windows were not only clambering over every surface, raising their segmented legs high, through every loop and hole of webbing. They were clambering in and out of each other
…All sorts of complicated maneuvers occurred. Windows that had just ingested others themselves climbed into yet others. A window opened and emitted three of its siblings, one of which then climbed into another, while the third spat out a fourth. Deeba saw one window emerge from another, then eat its own regurgitator. It was endless.
The web was dim. Noises were hushed. There was a soft clicking from countless wooden limbs.
Synopsis: Under London lurks another city, a city in grave danger. One that can only be rescued by the heroine of a prophecy…right up until that totally doesn’t work.
# 60: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin:
When the Nightlord sagged to the ground, dropping Sieh in the process, I nearly fell with them. I had no idea why I was still alive. The tales of the Arameri’s weapons are full of them slaughtering whole armies. There are no stories of crazed barbarian girls fighting back.
Synopsis: A crazed barbarian girl fights back. Against the bloodthirsty relatives who hold her future in their hands, against the ghost of her dead mother and oh yeah, against the gods.
#41: Zodiac by Neal Stephenson:
They shut off our phone service so we all had to sit down and thrash out about three months worth of unpaid long-distance bills. In the middle of a spirited discussion of who had made seven consecutive calls to Santa Cruz at three in the morning, Ike got up and announced that he was moving out. He was tired of the plumbing problems, he said, and the weird messages on the answering machine, and Roscommon had come in while he was at work and torn down the Mel King campaign poster on the front balcony. That was okay. Ike was a shitty gardener anyway and he complained when I ran my model trains after bedtime. Tess and Laurie, the lesbian carpenters, announced that they liked the kitchen better after we’d untrashed it and cleaned it up so why not try to keep it that way? I pointed out I had bought three new badminton birdies before I left for Buffalo and now they were all gone. Should we call our place a “co-op” or a “commune”? How about calling it a “house”? Who had scrubbed the Teflon off the big frying pan?
Synopsis: Shadowy conspiracy poisons lobsters and tries to take out chem-savvy bicyclist with awesome name. Kinda.