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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Artemis Fowl, An Abundance of Katherines, and A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Twelve-year-old genius, Artemis Fowl, comes from a long line of Irish crime lords, and when his father disappears, he’s determined to fill the footsteps that have been left for him. Along with his highly-trained, militant body guard, Artemis cracks a complicated code to learn the rules and history of the fairy world. His twelve-year-old mentality gives him a unique viewpoint regarding those creatures humans assume to be make believe, so Artemis is the only crime lord who would dare to attempt the ultimate crime: stealing the legendary fairy gold.
This short novel is cleverly written, fast-moving, and highly amusing. Perfect for reaching out to young pre-teen and teenage boys who are indifferent to the world of the printed word, the book is full of fast-paced action that keeps the pages turning. There is even a graphic novel of the Artemis Fowl story for those who are really anti-reading. The books are fairly popular in the post-Harry Potter young teenage reading world, and after you read one, it’s not hard to see why. I might consider using the novel in my classroom, but it does involve magic and folklore, so those who are anti-fantasy will not be impressed.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Colin Singleton seeks a Eureka moment, some stupendous discovery to bring meaning and significance to his life. He used to be a prodigy, but now he's a recent high school graduate, and what means "gifted prodigy" at age 2 means simply "smart" at age 18. Not only that, but his girlfriend Katherine just dumped him. In his lifetime, Colin has dated 19 girls named Katherine and been dumped by every single one. Stuck in that between-time, between boy and man, between high school and college, and positively heartbroken, he goes on a road trip with his best and only friend, the ever-so-blunt Hassan. Somehow, the two end up in Carver County, Tennessee, in a little town called Gutshot. There they meet a kind girl named Lindsey Lee Wells, who defies all Colin's expectations of women and the world. In Gutshot, Colin eventually finds his Eureka moment, but it isn’t the mathematical revelation he was expecting. Instead it’s a personal breakthrough, the culmination to his journey of self-discovery.
John Green is extremely witty, and I especially love the fun footnotes and endnotes he includes. He claims he’s not a mathematician, but he’s pretty convincing because getting caught up in the math is probably the biggest fault of the book. While the formulas and math are a big part of the book, and he weaves them in very cleverly, I still found myself skimming over lengthy mathematical explanations to just get on with the story. You can also tell that he’s had some experience with teenage romance, but he’s not condescending or supercilious as some authors can be regarding teenage love. He mocks, but at the same time takes his characters seriously. Overall, the book is very well done.

Alysa's review here.

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Eleven-year-old Zoe dreams of giving piano recitals at Carnegie Hall. When her father purchases a Perfectone D-60, though, she must settle for the sounds of the organ rather than the distinguished sounds of a baby grand. Her organ teacher, Mabelline Person, notices the child's small talent for music and recommends her for the "Perfectone Perform-O-Rama"; she will play Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans." Accepting this new twist to her ambitions, Zoe must depend on a quirky support system: her father, who gets anxious when he leaves the house and who earns diplomas from Living Room University; her workaholic mother; and her classmate Wheeler, who follows Zoe home from school daily to spend time with her father, baking. Playing television theme songs from the '60s and '70s rather than Bach doesn't get Zoe down. Instead, aware of the stark difference between her dream and her reality, she forges ahead and, as an underdog, faces the uncertainty of entering the competition. In the end, resilient and resourceful Zoe finds perfection in the most imperfect and unique situations, and she shines.
The reading level is very low. I’d probably recommend this book for late elementary school as opposed to teenage years. However, there’s still something to be said to teenagers that lies in the message of this book. It’s about disillusionment and making the best of what you’ve got. Some dreams die hard, and some develop into new dreams that didn’t exist before—this message is important for everyone. I think teenagers, of all people, must learn to dream, but also must learn to let those dreams change with time and experience. For this reason, the book is good for any age. The witty dialogue, background thoughts of the main character, and fun diary-esque style make it a quick read and a great use of reading time.

Alysa's review here.

2 comments:

TogetherForGood♥ Angie said...

I loved An Abundance of Katherines!

If you'd like to look at my review of it you can find it here:

http://tinyurl.com/AAoKatherines

Thanks,
Angie

TogetherForGood♥ Angie said...

Hey, I just thought...you might also really like this book:

I Am the Messengery by Marcus Zusak!

http://boundtogetherforgood.blogspot.com/2010/07/i-am-messenger-by-marcus-zusak.html

Angie

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