Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Twilight and New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Twilight: Isabella Swan (Bella)leaves sunny Arizona and moves to the most dreary place on earth: Forks, Seattle. Little does she know that she's moved to a town full of mythical creatures and lands herself in the middle of a romance with sexy vampire Edward Cullen.

New Moon: Fighting off despair and reaching for any connection to the now absent Edward, Bella renews her friendship with Jacob Black at the nearby Quileute reservation, La Push. When Jacob starts to push Bella away in favor of the local La Push gang of boys will she be able to uncover what hold they have over him? And who will she choose she do when the Cullens' unexpectedly return to Forks, Edward or Jacob?

The middle schoolers I read Uglies with mentioned this book and I devoured it. I read both in a matter of a week and a half.

Twilight The first four or five chapters were slow going, but then the pace picks up and is a very fast read. The star-crossed lovers element is very heavy in this book and my one complaint is that too much time was spent building the relationship between Bella and Edward. It was just more of the same in each new situation only the place changed. The pages would have been better spent building up to the major plot action of James (I won't spoil it). While it explained very concisely I think the suspense would have been greater if James just doesn't drop in on one page and the next page the action part of the plot kicks in.
A minor complaint, after reading on Stephanie Meyer's website about the prom dresses the girls wear at the end of the book: What high school kid in their right mind would wear these dresses? What high school girl outside of Hollywood has access to couture?

New Moon: I'm on team Jake. That's all I can say. Edward left Bella with some nonsense about "I don't really love you. I don't really want you." I understand why Bella believes him, but why she would pine for him for months when they only went out for about 6 months as it was? Jake on the other hand makes no bones about liking Bella, wanting her as a girlfriend and being there for her.

It's only when she picks Edward over him that Jacob breaks his promise to Bella about always being there for her. It also annoys me that Bella runs off to save Edward and then forgives him so quickly. I just wish she'd be a little stronger.

End ****spoiler****

The romantic nature of the book will appeal more to girls than boys. The violence is very mild, no language, only sexual tension, and Bella's only drug use is superfluous cough syrup which she feels guilty for taking. 7th grade and up.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld

When everyone is super model pretty, anyone normal is ugly.
Tally Youngblood is about to turn 16. She's missing her best friend Peris, who has already turned 16 and moved out to New Pretty Town. Where Tally is from your 16th birthday doesn't bring the excitement of a brand new driver's licence, but an extreme operation that turns you from a young "ugly" to a stunning "pretty." Once pretty your only job is to go to parties and have fun. But before Tally gets her operation she meets Shay. Shay has startling ideas about conforming to one standard of beauty and decides to run away from the operation and the society that claims she's ugly.

On the day of her 16th birthday Tally is whisked off, not to have her operation, but to be given an ultimatum. Find her friend Shay with all other run aways and betray them or she'll never be pretty. Tally sets out on an adventure that takes her outside of the protections of "civilized" society and reveals the ugly truth behind the pretty operation.

It was a very exciting book with lots of action and some sci-fi elements like hoverboards and interface rings. Westerfeld does a fantastic job of creating a new society set 300 years in the future without over explination and dropping clues about what has driven humanity to this state. Westerfeld leaves us with a rather large cliffhanger at the end of Uglies compelling us to check out Pretties and Specials which round out the Trilogy and show the whole progression of Tally Youngblood.

I just finished this book with a group of 8th graders at a local middle school. The idea was to read the book in 6 parts discussing one section per week. Well, the book was a hit and most of "my kids" ended up finishing the book with in the first couple of weeks. The book has been a bigger hit with the girls than boys and has not gone over well with the younger groups (6th/7th graders).

There is plenty to discuss in this novel from self image and plastic surgery, to conformity and even ecology.

Other Books by Scott Westerfeld:
Last Days
So Yesterday

If you like Uglies you might like:
Twilight and New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Elswhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels by Libba Bray