Saturday, March 31, 2012

Post-apocalyptic angels, illegal chocolate, 1861, and an invaded Australia

(I said it last March and I'll say it again - watch how quickly I start bingeing on the YA when my assigned MA reading gets heavy.)

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Angelfall by Susan Ee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(4.5 stars.)

This book is NOT what you think it is. Unless you think it is a book set in present-day, post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where angels have destroyed/taken over the earth, and the 17-year-old heroine trained in self-defense has a paranoid schizophrenic mother and a wheelchair-bound, paralyzed little sister. If that's what you're expecting, then yes, this book is what you think it is.

Angelfall was pretty awesome, to be honest, but it got a little wild at the end. Still, it was engrossing enough to make me confused when I walked outside and saw that I was not living in the book's world. That's a sure sign of a good read. I just love that the author was probably like, "Hmm, dystopian novels are really big these days. But so are books about angels. Hey, that gives me an idea...!"

Be warned that there is a lot of violence in this book. There is also, however, an unusually satisfying scene (unusual because YA heroines are not often allowed to act this way) in which the heroine gives a jerk what he deserves, without any men swooping in to help her. Aaah, it feels so good.

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All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(3.5 stars.) Engaging and interesting and exciting and a point.

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1861: The Civil War Awakening1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

1861 is a book about the Civil War, but it's unusual in that it is written through the lens of 1861 itself. It uses contemporary sources to paint a detailed and nuanced snapshot of the United States in the few months before and after the start of the war. There are no sweeping historical judgments here, or consultations of modern scholarship that color most depictions of the Civil War as we view it now, 150 years on. It puts you right in the year 1861 and helps you see how the war unfolded in the most realistic sense, since the people writing and speaking at that time did not know how it would end (or even begin).

You could say the scope of the book is very narrow, centering as it does on only about six months of history. But the foundation it lays for that time period helped me understand so much about the rest of the Civil War. I've never read a history book quite like this one and I must say that I really enjoyed the author's interesting approach to the subject!

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Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)Books 1-5 of the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by John Marsden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know, man. Australians are weird. The premise of this book was great. The execution...not so much (September 2010 reading).

SECOND READING (March 2012): I don't know what my damage was the first time around - aside from a general aura of implausibility, this is a pretty solid 4-star book. But Australians are still weird. However, now that I'm almost finished with this series, I practically have honorary Australian status, right??

Thanks to Joe and Alison for lending me their personal copies of this entire series. They are good missionaries for Aussie YA lit.

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Susanne said...

OMW, are we 200 years post-Civil War already? That does sound like a good book. Thanks for sharing. i always enjoy these posts.

Bridget said...

Oops, I meant 150 years. The book was published almost exactly 150 years after the beginning of the war.

Crys said...

Still need to get my hands on 1861. Loved listening Adam Goodheart. Wish we lived in Washington so I could take a class from him. Maybe it would make up for the total snoresville that was my American Heritage Experience. And I happen to love what is the deal with that? I agree on the Australian it because they are out in the middle of nowhere, sort of on their own? Does it have to do with the country itself, covered in it's own unique set of animals? Is it because they coexist with some of the deadliest animals, fish, spiders, and snakes? Or possibly because their ancestors were sent to a prison camp? Who knows....just an interesting culture to be sure!


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