Friday, November 27, 2015

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman Review

Title: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Wonders
Author: Neil Gaiman
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Short Stories
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Neil Gaiman. It's a name that some, if not all, fantasy readers are familiar with. And I'm not going to lie; even this man's name gives me chills and shivers. His writing is just pure magic. I'm not going to wax poetic about him, though honestly, I could. But both as a reader and a writer, Neil Gaiman is the equivalent to rejuvenation and inspiration for me. He's an author that I never stop being stunned by, and one that I certainly wouldn't mind having at the dinner table one night, if only to see where he seems to get his special brand of dark, creepy compulsions that lead to his stories.

Though I like to be thorough and try to review every piece in an anthology, simply because it's the holidays (Happy Thanksgiving, by the way! Am I the only one in a food coma? Anyway...), I'm going to give an overall review, with just a look at a few of the many pieces that populate this volume of fiction.

Snow Glass Apples, the last story in this book, was actually my first story ever by Neil Gaiman, and ever since, I've been absolutely spellbound. It terrified me, more than a little creeped me out, but I was struck by how a familiar story, one retold countless times, was made new by a single new element--it was darkly exciting, in the way that the original fairy tale was done justice. This story is among my favorites in the volume, along with a few others.

Troll Bridge is another favorite, a retelling of the tale of the three goats. It was darkly comic, fantastically told, though it was short. I really enjoyed the funny prose between the main character, Jack, and the troll he finds living under the bridge.

The White Road was a poem, told in descriptive snippets on a dark, rainy night in a village, dark and frightening, but also funny--I really enjoyed the way the creep factor was amped up until the end of the poem, as per Gaiman's signature.

One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock: This story especially rang true with me, about the pleasures and perils that reading can bring upon a person--I couldn't tell if it was a warning, or parable, but it felt like that to me, and made me kind of afraid to live too deeply in my stories...

The Sweeper of Dreams: Inspired by a song, this short vignette was slightly creepy, and it took me a few readings to figure out what Gaiman was talking about, but it was psychedelic and dark. (I love a story that really makes an impression, no matter the length.)

Foreign Parts: This story was interesting to me because it dealt with the often abstract subject of gender--it was so unlike Gaiman's usual style, but it carried the same seductive, compelling creepiness--I'm not going to lie, I had to put the book down after this one, but it was impressive and exciting, and made me think about what gender really is and what it means to people.

And lastly: Murder Mysteries. This story is the kind I love; a lone main character who gets pulled into a compelling story that may or may not be true after all, complete with angels, murder, and a fun, slightly enigmatic talk with good old God. It was, after Snow Glass Apples, probably my second favorite story of the collection.

The bottom line: An exciting story collection that contains something for everyone, whether you're a Neil Gaiman diehard or a newcomer, Smoke and Mirrors completely stole my imagination--a wonderful triumph for a king of fiction! Next on deck: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Review

Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Dregs, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Six of Crows is one of those books that people have spent all year waiting for, and when I saw that it was available through my library ordering system, I just couldn't resist it. The book itself is gorgeous--red end papers, maps, black pages--but what I really wanted was an amazing story. I haven't read the rest of Bardugo's Grisha trilogy yet, but if this is any indication of what I'm in for, I'm ready to sign up immediately.

I'm not even sure, sitting here in my living room, just what emotions are running through me. I have a lot of mixed feelings. But I have to say that all the hype I've heard about this novel, taking place in the same universe as the Grisha trilogy, is well-deserved. More than well-deserved--it is every bit the blockbuster everyone is saying it is.

Do you like novels with adventure? Magic? A large cast of characters, all with exciting depth? Extensive, well-thought out world-building? How about food porn? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, I highly recommend going to your nearest bookstore or library, locking yourself in your room with a glass of your favorite drink and a snack, and giving yourself over to the magic that is Leigh Bardugo, as well as the characters she renders so lovingly.

I don't want to talk about the plot too much, as I don't want to give any spoilers, but here goes: Five outcasts, misfits, are given a near impossible job, and in order to complete it, they must use every skill they possess.

I don't want to mince words anymore, so I'm just going to say it: I loved every single minute of this novel. It was a fascinating thrill ride that left me, more often than not, either breathless, or just plain emotional. The pacing was absolutely breakneck, the characters well-drawn and full of exciting depth that made me turn pages frantically, the premise just new and original enough to keep me glued to the pages, and the world-building was wonderful and exciting--I loved this trip through Ketterdam!

The only problem is: I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait until next September for Crooked Kingdom. It's so far away! The bottom line: An exciting new adventure in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse, Six of Crows is a fantastic, hang on the edge of your seat adventure that took my breath away--one of my favorite books of all time! Next on deck: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions by Neil Gaiman!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Browsings by Michael Dirda Review

Title: Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living With Books
Author: Michael Dirda
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction/Essays/Literary Criticism
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Pegasus, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

Normally, nonfiction is not my thing. It's not a genre I'm in love with, usually. I just prefer, most of the time, to disappear into a new world. But this book really struck a chord with me--I feel like I've known the author forever. And we would most certainly get along, due to his book addiction. I thought this book was going to be about the books Dirda has read--and it was, it was. But what really was unexpected (in a good way) was the way he spoke about all kinds of books, and reading in general. I thought, Here's a person who loves books just as much as I do. And it's pretty fantastic!

For book lovers, reading Dirda's essays--well-written, meticulously researched, delightfully funny and relatable--is like sitting with an old friend over a cup of tea and talking about one of the things they love most--literature. I really enjoyed these essays--they were so fun and passionate. I also enjoyed the way Dirda gave helpful tips in browsing, in expanding one's horizons towards something new. In fact, I'm going to be seeking out many of the books mentioned myself, once I'm able.

It was also deeply personal for me, because, really, what bookworm doesn't walk into a bookstore and wants to leave with at least three boxes, full of new information, and best of all, new stories? This book is honestly a must-have for anyone who loves literature, is passionate about books. It was a fun, exciting treat, and an intimate look into an author's life.

At times, though, it got a little hard to follow, what with the constant name-dropping of authors throughout the book, but overall, this book was just lovely. It was like sitting next to the fire with an old friend, a cup of tea, and of course, a big book! Wonderfully researched and finely written! Next on deck: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz Review

Title: The Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Age Group: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Descendants, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

First off, I'd like to start by saying that I am just a sucker for all things Disney. A total sucker. If it has the signature curlicue writing of Walt, chances are good that I'm at least checking it out. I've been looking forward to The Isle of the Lost since I found out that it was coming out in May. And de la Cruz is a popular teen and children's book author, so when I saw it at my library, well... I snatched it up.

This book was a light and fluffy, entertaining romp through de la Cruz's world, an alternate one where Disney's greatest villains, Maleficent, Grimhilde the evil queen, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil, were punished for their crimes and sent to the Isle of the Lost--as well as their not-so-evil children, and there's also Ben, son of King Beast and Queen Belle, the heir to the Kingdom of Auradon, the opposite of the Isle of the Lost--a virtual paradise, in comparison.

This book was written as a prequel novel to the Disney Channel movie, The Descendants, and I must admit, I'm curious about the film, low budget though it seems. I loved the constant pop culture and Disney references--more often than not, I was laughing aloud, delighted that the author took to the narration of the story with such gusto and detail.

I'd call this book 'fantasy lite'. It definitely had hints of a fantasy adventure novel--epic quests, magic, curses. But it wasn't dark, not in the traditional sense. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable journey, and I'm really looking forward to more from this author, and this series. It was hilarious.

And then the characters, as well: surly, wicked Mal who wants nothing more to live up to her mother's evil legacy, Jay, the son of Jafar, the dashing, debonair thief who doesn't have a care in the world, Evie, the daughter of the evil queen, who just wants a break from her mother's constant litanies of the benefits of being beautiful, Carlos, the shy son of a certain fur-lover, who wants nothing more than for his mother to love him. I loved each of these characters--they were such a jarring comparison to their parents, each entertaining and battling their own demons.

The pacing and worldbuilding of this book was excellent--I was drawn in from the very beginning, which, of course, opened with 'Once upon a time'. The characters were fantastic, and to be honest, I'm really hoping that there is more to come from this series--it really felt like a trip back to my childhood. The bottom line: A fantastically playful, hilarious start to a new series, paying homage to the great characters of Disney, The Isle of the Lost is a fun, magical adventure worth savoring for all ages!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness Review

Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Magical Realism
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Oh, Patrick Ness. I love so. What have you done to me? This book has completely gutted me. Oh, it's fine--I don't need a whole heart or anything. God, this book. This book has got to be one of my favorite books of all time. I'm not even quite sure where to start with this novel, as I just finished it and spent the last fifteen minutes blubbering like a baby:

This book was inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, a prominent author. The book is introduced by Ness, who explains who she is and how the idea of this novel came to be. And after a slight book slump, I decided to borrow this from my library.

Needless to say, I was absolutely enchanted from the first page. The story itself was spellbinding, delightfully dark and funny, even frightening, but I couldn't bring myself to put it down. It was just so good. The writing was enchanting and beautiful, almost hypnotic, and the dark, black and white illustrations from Jim Kay were honestly just an added bonus.

Conor O'Malley meets a monster in his backyard, a monster seemingly made from the yew tree that sits next to his house. The monster is ancient, wild, and frightening, and demands the one thing from Conor that he cannot give: the truth. To top it all off, Conor's beloved mother, his best and only friend, has cancer.

I don't want to give too much of the plot; this is one of those books when it's best to go in blind. But this book--God. It took everything out of me, and put it all back, if that makes any sense. A Monster Calls is one of those stories that is absolutely essential--if you haven't read it, I highly, highly recommend it, both for fans of Ness's work as well as newcomers. Fans of the infamous Neil Gaiman will also love this book, as it's told in the same dark vein as his work.

If you haven't read anything by Patrick Ness, I highly suggest starting with this book. A heartwrenching, brutal, decidedly human tale all around, A Monster Calls will take your heart and doesn't let go--an amazing triumph of literature, speaking of the profound feelings of grief, guilt, and love! Next on deck: Browsings by Michael Dirda!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison Review

Title: The Butterfly Clues
Author: Kate Ellison
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Sigh. I saw this book on the shelves of my local library and snatched it as soon as I could. I was so excited for this novel. But it turns out I couldn't finish it. I'm not sure quite why, but this book was just not for me. DNF at 110 pages. The main character, Lo, just didn't gel with me, and I couldn't get into the story.

Consent by Nancy Ohlin Review

Title: Consent
Author: Nancy Ohlin
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, Simon Pulse, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

My previous experiences with Nancy Ohlin's work has been ambivalent--I read her other novel, Thorn Abbey, and I just wasn't feeling it. So I was a little apprehensive when I began to read Consent. For one thing, it talks of self-discovery, the constant up in the air feeling of being young, always so afraid to stand out and desperate to fit in, all at once. And that self-discovery naturally flows into sexual awakening, and the giddy, flying on air feeling of first love.

The main character, Beatrice 'Bea' Kim, is a loner, a deeply defensive young woman with a secretive passion for music, ignored by her family, in doubt about her future. In some ways, I really related to her. She was so vulnerable, and so shy. But when she meets Mr. Rossi, her music teacher, there is an immediate spark between them. Bea's voice almost becomes manic as the novel goes on, which gave the volatile and shaky feel to the relationship that felt real.

This novel was really intense, and really painful. It evoked the agony of growing up, and being seventeen, perfectly. It made me hurt for Bea; she just wanted to be loved and accepted, and when Dane shows that toward her, she gravitates and stays in his alluring, seductive orbit, and it spurs the novel at a breakneck pace. And then there's Dane himself, hopelessly attracted to Bea, unable to control himself. It really bothered me that he seemed to prey on her insecurities--it made it feel wrong, despite Bea feeling like she's in love.

Regardless, though? This book is dark and real and raw, ripped right from the headlines, and I enjoyed it. It was an eye-opening look into relationships such as these. I really liked it. The bottom line: A dark and gritty novel that had me feeling everything, Consent is a fantastic peek into the consequences of a passion gone too far! Next on deck:The Butterfly Clues by Katie Ellison!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer Review

Title: The Sea of Trolls
Author: Nancy Farmer
Age Group: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Sea of Trolls, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Nancy Farmer was one of the first authors I'd ever encountered, way back in middle school. In the dusty library in eighth grade, I was drawn to one of her first novels, taking place in Africa, called The Girl Named Disaster. (I loved it and plan to reread it as soon as possible!)

But this book, The Sea of Trolls, takes place in what now would be considered Scandinavia. It really reminded me of Lord of the Rings, but to sum it up there would be to do this book a terrible injustice, because this book was a masterpiece, a triumph in fantasy literature. It reminded me of why I grew to love reading in the first place. Nancy Farmer is a fantastic writer, but what really sold this novel was the meticulous research put into the time period--even the fantasy elements! I love when an author goes all out like that. (Don't be daunted by the many pages in this novel; it goes by quickly!)

But really; this book was just wonderful. It tells the story of a young farm boy, Jack, and his little sister, Lucy. Jack becomes the apprentice to the village's bard, and how both their lives get turned upside down when they get stolen from home by berserkers, or, as we would call them today, Vikings. The two children are drawn into an epic quest that leads them all over the world, complete with dragons, magic, trolls, and hilarious characters.

There was really nothing about this book I didn't like: The world-building was solid and believable, and didn't feel too heavy as the information was doled out. The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I couldn't put it down once things began to roll. The characters, too, were wonderful: from Jack, to his sister Lucy, to the wild pack of raiders that become their family, including the feral, frightening Thorgil, and Olaf One Brow, the oddly noble and likable Viking leader, each, whether they were human or some otherworldly being, was wholly three-dimensional, seeming to jump  off of the page.

This book was a fun, dark adventure that completely swept me away, in a way that few other books have done. It was so atmospheric and huge, and highly enjoyable and fulfilling. Anyone looking for a fantastic, consuming adventure will surely fall in love with The Sea of Trolls! The bottom line: A deeply fun and fulfilling adventure, The Sea of Trolls is a true treat for anyone looking for an epic quest! Next on deck: Consent by Nancy Ohlin!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott Review

Title: Da Vinci's Tiger
Author: L.M. Elliott
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This book was given to me by the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

I don't know if you guys know this about me, but one of the things I love dearly is history, and one of my favorite periods in history is the Renaissance. It was just such a fruitful time for cultural growth--art, culture, literature and music exploded, becoming revered professions from the fame garnered from that period. And one of my other favorite things about this period was the art. (Although, guys, don't take Art History in college. One of the hardest classes I ever took! Lol.)

Da Vinci's Tiger tells the story of Ginevra de Benci, a young woman who longs desperately to be a part of the cultural world, ruled by men's iron fists. Try as she might, she is just not content with the life of a mere domestic housewife--she wants more from the world, and to contribute to it. Her wish is granted when she catches the eye of the promising young artist Leonardo da Vinci, and she realizes that even though the world is more open to her now than ever before, real love just might be right out of reach..

I don't want to mince words, so I'll just say this right now: This book, for me, is a new classic. It really spoke to me, as a woman and as a writer, just like Ginevra, to balance the domestic sides of herself, and the longing for true meaning, and for an artistic career, which, for a woman, was out of bounds in those days. I really related to her, and her desire for love and fulfillment, in the days where a business marriage wasn't uncommon.

I loved Ginevra, and Elliott does an amazing job of bringing this bright and exceptional young woman to life--it felt, almost, as if I were sitting with a dear friend, and having her tell me about her life. She was indeed a muse, a poet, and revolutionary in her own right! I also loved how deep she was; there were so many different facets to her, (as there are with any person), and I liked the way the author expressed that.

I also really enjoyed the political intrigue aspect of the novel--it didn't really come into play into the second half of the novel, but it was really well balanced with the other events going on in the story, it wasn't at all heavy-handed. The author also did a great job in conveying that time period, especially where women were concerned. The characters, though there were many, were easy to follow, and I loved how each made an impact on Ginevra's life, great and small.

And then, of course, there's Leonardo, the mysterious, beautiful artist, alluring in his intellect and his blunt, honest manner, who becomes one of the muse's dearest friends. Their relationship was what really sold this book for me. Their bond seemed so deep and genuine, and I really enjoyed it. Everything about this novel was just wonderful; so much so, in fact, that I finished it in one day! The bottom line: A fantastic imagining of what could've been a life for a great woman, Da Vinci's Tiger is a spellbinding work of historical fiction, bulked by fact and made richer by great detail and research--a new favorite! Next on deck: The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer!

All The Rage by Courtney Summers Review

Title: All The Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: N/A
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

This is the latest book from Courtney Summers, but it just so happens to be my very first novel from this author. I've heard great things about this author's work, but when I saw All The Rage at my library, I was drawn to it without even immediately knowing what it was about. It just seemed to call me, so I checked it out as soon as I possibly could.

And God, what a ride it was. I feel, after reading this, that my reading life has been missing something crucial, and Courtney Summers just happens to be the missing link.

I'm not quite sure where to start, so I'm just going to wing it from here. This book is a blazing, searing testament to the exposure of rape culture, and its negative effects, as well as a nail-biting mystery that kept me hanging on, even as I wanted to stop. Often, with teen fiction, it feels contrived, fake, like the author is trying too hard. But this book just pulled on every single one of my heartstrings, because not only did it capture the fear and uncertainty of being a teenager in today's modern age, but it also brutally shows rape culture for what it is, in a way that was totally organic. It also perfectly captures the bad sides of living in small towns, in a way that resonated with me.

There were times when I really wished I could put the story down: it was at times sickening, frightening. But it was like watching a trainwreck: as sick as it made me, I couldn't look away from it. I tried, but this book just kept bringing me back. All The Rage tells the story of Romy Grey, a girl who has been ostracized by her classmates after she accuses the sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, of rape.

 Romy's story, though painful, was entirely necessary. It exposed rape culture in a totally brutal way that really drove the point home. The cast of characters around her, her parents and schoolmates, as well as people in her hometown, made this book doubly painful in the way that Romy was treated.

All I can say about this book is that it completely turned my heart and soul inside out. It tore me apart and put me back together, in the best kind of way. This book needs to be read by all; it is all at once a terrifying parable and a light in the darkness. The bottom line: A frightening and eye-opening novel, All The Rage is a book to be shared with everyone--a searing, heartbreaking story that opened my eyes and tore out my heart--an all time favorite! I can't wait to read more of Courtney Summers's work! Next on deck: Da Vinci's Tiger by Laura Malone Elliott!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Young Elites by Marie Lu Review

Title: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: The Young Elites, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I've had my eye on this book since before it came out last year, and, ever since the hype of the Legend series from almost every quarter, I've been interested in Marie Lu's work. I was a little skeptical at first, because almost every single person I've heard talk about her work has raved about it. But seriously, this was me, at the end of this book:

Holy crap. Holy crap. This book was absolutely amazing! Where do I start with this? Marie Lu, you're officially one of my new favorite authors. I need The Rose Society, immediately! How am I supposed to wait until my library gets me a copy? I'm dying here!

Okay, okay. As usual, getting ahead of myself. But honestly, if this is what Marie Lu has to offer the world, I will gladly spend everything I am able to get my hands on this series for my personal collection. The worldbuilding of this novel was excellent, doled out in little bits and pieces throughout the novel, in a way that I enjoyed. It gave facts without seeming to be heavy or overwhelming. I loved the terrifying world that Adelina was born into, every gory, terrifying moment of it.

And then there are the characters themselves: Adelina, the narrator, so tainted by inner darkness that even she doesn't quite know where her loyalties lie, Enzo, the almighty (and pretty darn hot, too, while I'm at it) leader of a mysterious society, of a group of young people touched by disease, and gifted (perhaps cursed?) with powers the world has never seen, Rafaelle, the gentle lieutenant, and Teren, who is hiding secrets of his own, at the helm of the opposing forces.

I don't want to give anything away, so I'm going to stop talking about the plot. But man, Lu has a unique talent for beautiful writing, sympathetic characters, and amazing pacing. God, there aren't enough words in the English language that can describe just how much I love this book, and I cannot wait for the sequel. Holy crap, what a way to start a series: with a huge bang!

This is what a high fantasy novel should always be like. It literally had everything: a frightening world, so well-drawn I couldn't fight its hold over me, dynamic characters, political intrigue, more than enough twists and turns, and epic battles! I didn't want this book to end--in fact, I was more than a little tempted to start the book over just so it wouldn't be over so fast. The bottom line: A new, dark fantasy sure to make fans of Lu's writing, The Young Elites was a sweeping high fantasy epic that completely stole my heart! Next on deck: All The Rage by Courtney Summers!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus Review

Title: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: Volume One: Age of Empire
Author: Daniel Kraus
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Zebulon Finch, Volume 1
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This book was given to me by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!

When I finally got to this book, Halloween was coming, and what better book for Halloween than the coming of age story of a modern ghoul? This book--I have so many emotions about it, that truly, it's hard to get those feelings into cohesive, coherent thoughts. First off, it was long, and long for me, it took me a week to get through this giant tale. This book also spans a good sixty years, quite a timeline, especially for a young adult novel.

But, as per usual, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Zebulon Finch, a gangster in early America, gets resurrected by unknown individuals, after a deadly shootout in gangster-ridden Chicago, and, locked up in an empty chamber, forever seventeen and yet rotting at the core, tells you, the reader, his story--every nasty, gory bit of it. The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I honestly couldn't put it down, even when it got too frightening or macabre.

I had a love/hate relationship with our hero throughout the novel. I loved him, but at times, I really wanted to shake him. Perhaps I should be more forgiving of our young narrator--I mean, I'd guess it would be hard to be seventeen for one's entire existence. Another thing that I loved about its novel was its scope. This book literally begins in turn of the century Chicago, and ends at the dawn of the second World War, with Zebulon finding out about the invasion on Pearl Harbor.

There are also many characters that pepper the novel throughout Zebulon's many long years, some friends, other enemies, crawling out of the woodwork at the most unexpected times. All of these people are affected in some way by Finch, and it was interesting to see how one character, from a previous arc, would reappear, insidious and full of malevolence. My favorites among this cast were Church, a war buddy, The Barker, Dr. Leather, and of course, last but not least, the beautiful film siren, Bridey Valentine.

This novel was greatly ambitious, huge in scope, exciting and dark and macabre, in fact, so much so at times that I didn't really think this novel could be classified as young adult. Don't get me wrong, I love dark, gory, and frightening, but at times, it was just a little bit too heavy. Regardless, though, I honestly cannot wait for more from the brave and darkly hilarious Zebulon Finch--a triumph in dark fiction! The bottom line: A highly ambitious, dark novel that is gigantic in scope and minute in detail, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch was a wild ride, a true tale of a modern ghoul--wonderful! Next on deck: The Young Elites by Marie Lu!