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The Reference Room

reviews of published fictional novels


[novel] The Woman in Black
{Sho} muse
the_edjucator
The Woman in Black
By Susan Hill

Summary

Arthur Kipps is sent by the lawyer he is studying under to attend to the affairs of a recently deceased client.  While in the frigid, marshy town of Crythin Gifford he attends the client's funeral Kipps spies a woman in black lingering on the peripherals of the lonely service.  Any time he attempts to discuss the sighting with others he is met with silence.  He dares to spend a night in the house of the client and encounters bizarre sounds, haunting images in the early hours, and chilling screams of a young child.  The woman in black means something but no one is forthcoming with information so Kipps must find out for himself.

Review

Hill comes forth with a lot of excellent writing in this novella.  However, if you're looking for a chilling book then this is not what you'll want to read.  I totally gasped at some points and really, she's a good writer, but as a horror/mystery story it fell through in a lot of places.

[novel] The Book Thief
{Jun} on sunday
the_edjucator
The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak

Summary

Death knows more about the human condition than you know.  Death is not harsh and capable of his own thoughts and feelings, but he does have a job to do that no one else can do.  During wars especially he is busy most markedly during the second World War.  Even though he didn't carry the soul of the Book Thief during the war he did meet her on three remarkable occasions and through those encounters was able to piece together her story.

Review

The legacy of WWII is that of images of Adolph Hitler overseeing rows of soldiers goose stepping down roads, the ghostly faces of Holocaust victims, and stoic Japanese faces our modern feelings towards the people can't fathom belied monsters capable of horrific acts rivialing the terrors of Europe.  What few people know or care to even hear is that many Germans citizens were against the ideologies of Nazism.  Fear of the unknown is what made them complacent since those who openly rebelled were never seen from again.  What Zusak has done is shown a group of people who rebelled in a quiet way.  Not just against the atrocities towards the Jewish population but the political ideology of National Socialism.  The Book Thief is going to be read in the future as one of those books about the war that teaches the universal message of standing up for what is right but hopefully will get readers to ask themselves will they do it quietly or loudly?

[series] Inheritance Cycle: Inheritance
{Tiana} make a wish
the_edjucator
Inheritance Cycle: Inheritance
By Christopher Paolini

Summary

The Varden is quickly pulling together the last of their resources and the few cities still under Galbatorix's control before marching off towards the final battle.  Eragon and Saphira have much training left to do and a final task to complete before they can stand at least a little bit of a chance to end all this.  Roran has to face his new responsibilities while others face the grim reality of their situation.  The final battle for Alagaesia is under way!

Review

I just finished this book and I had to post this while everything was still fresh in my mind.  There is a lot of stuff Paolini covers in his novels and Inheritance was no exception.  It seemed almost like there was too much but you know your author is going to treat you right when there's a little over 100 pages where everything gets settled before you get to The End.  A lot of people bemoaned the seemingly unimportant filler of giving every little detail of these characters' actions, thoughts, feelings, and surroundings but in Inheritance you are thankful for it.  Reflecting on the series as a whole you see just how much Eragon and Saphira grew and stepped into their roles.  Some awesome people were killed and still cooler people surprised you in wonderful ways.  Eragon and Saphira's story ended almost the way you wanted it to but still didn't disappoint.  It'll be really interesting to see what Paolini writes next, be it more about this wonderfully rich world he has created or something entirely new.

[series] Matched: Crossed
{Haru} glory
the_edjucator
Matched: Crossed
By Ally Condie

Summary

Cassia has broken free of the Society in search of Ky only to find its presence everywhere.  Ky continues his escape from the Society but has other fears unknown to Cassia.  They'll have to make new friends and look for clues from old ones.  Will the Society get in their way or will they figure out more about the Rising?

Review

This one alternates between Cassia and Ky's point of view.  Matched had a lot of good writing in it but Crossed came off as too soft and just a little full of itself with the immitation poetic writing or something.  I don't feel like I benefitted at all from seeing things from Ky's perspective.  It'd be nice if these authors would let that kind of thing go.  If you're first book follows the one character then the rest of the series needs to.  It really doesn't give you much more to the character since they've gotten used to using the one voice from the beginning.  There were quite a few times I got confused on if I hearing Ky or Cassia's voice.  Anyway, I'm interested in seeing how she wraps this one up.

[series] The Maze Runner: The Death Cure
{IkutaToma} make the escape
the_edjucator
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure
by James Dashner

Summary

They toyed with them in the maze then they set them against the harshest of elements in the trials.  Thomas has had enough.  This time he takes measures into his own hands and breaks out of WICKED to find answers on the outside.  What he finds is more horrifying than he could have ever imagined and makes him second guess everthing except for one thing: WICKED is definitely not good.

Review

I've been looking forward to this conclusion to the series for all of summer.  Seriously, it was really well done and a lot of points were addressed leaving me wanting more, honestly.  Some things didn't get answered but as far as conclusions go... I'll take this one.  I got the copy through B&N so I had all those extra pages of information that came with the edition and... wow.  I bet I'll find the book more enjoyable after rereading the entire series back to back but it was a very nice ending.

[series] Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune
{Jun} on sunday
the_edjucator
Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune
by Rick Riordan

Summary

When Percy Jackson wakes up all he can remember is his name, age, and some girl named Annabeth.  He knows he's a demi-god and needs to head to camp.  Camp Jupiter.  Once there he meets Hazel, a girl with strange abilities and a very secretive side, as well as Frank, a huge power house of untapped abilities with a face like a baby's.  The three are quickly sent on a quest to the north, a land out of the gods' influence, but what will they find there?  Why can't Percy remember anything?  And why does everyone call him the Greek?

Review

I'm going to go out on a limb here and state for the record that Heroes of Olympus is looking to be even more epic than Percy Jackson was.  There is so much going on with these characters and I'm loving the blending of Greek and Roman mythology.  Hopefully in the third installment we'll see these two camps get together and just watch the sparks fly!  If you've been hesitant to pick up the series for fear it'll tarnish the original Percy Jackson series, you're missing out, my friend.

[series] Gone: Plague
{Bowie} Ziggy played guitar
the_edjucator
Gone: Plague
by Michael Grant

Summary

The kids have been dealt a devastating blow with the loss of a key member of their community.  Now a strange flu-like virus is spreading with a cough that literally kills.  A routine meeting brings to light a strange addition to the FAYZ that eerily shows the Darkness' increasing power fatal to the kids.  On top of that, there is still discontent among the Perdido Beach kids over who is in charge.  Add in the fact they're quickly running out of water and the answer is surprisingly simple - they need to relocate.  Where can they go trapped behind the wall?  Will there even be enough of them left over to head towards greener pasteurs?

Review

There was non-stop action in this book and the bugs (ew, you know what I mean if you've read it/are reading it) completely creep me out.  A lot more information comes or way and each of our main characters have some new moral issue to deal with - fantastic!  The character keep growing, the overall plot thickens, and... really, will they ever get out?  I don't know.  Two books left in the series and April cannot come here fast enough for the fifth book!

[series] Gone: Lies
{Aiba} magic
the_edjucator
Gone: Lies
by Michael Grant

Summary

Things are starting to look better.  The kids are realizing they need to actually put in the time and effort to find food, manage each other, and work hard to improve life in the FAYZ.  Unfortunately, secret keeping is running rampant among those in charge.  Relationships and loyalties will be tested as new information comes to light and the Darkness starts stirring again.  In the FAYZ, keeping a secret can prove fatal but what will it take for them to realize it?

Review

Shorter than the first two in the series, this constant exchange of power is a very interesting one that Grant keeps using.  Relationships improve while others fall apart and then the Coates kids come in and of course everything goes haywire.  The best part is that there is further growth in the characters on the fringe of being in charge.  This book was really gripping.

[series] Gone: Hunger
{Atobe} be awed
the_edjucator
Gone: Hunger
by Michael Grant

Summary

Months after the big battle between Sam and Caine food begins to run out.  Sam is over stressed in Perdido Beach having to deal with every little dispute among the over 300 kids in town.  At Coates, there is a new power struggle as Caine recovers from his run in with the Darkness.  Drake is impatient to start running things his way but Diana keeps thwarting his attempts by maintaining Caine's status as number one.  All the houses are empty, the grocery store is critically low on supplies, and there are mysterious worms guarding what little crops are out in the fields.  To top it all off, the Darkness is continuing its plots but will all its pawns die from starvation first?

Review

Hunger went a bit slower than Gone did but there was a lot of ground to cover in the second installment of this series to move on to the rest.  The whole running out of food that the kids are used to was one of my biggest concerns.  It was nice to see some kids stepping up and figured to see others not quite there yet.

[novel] Ready Player One
{Page} otaku mecca
the_edjucator
Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline

Summary

The future's pretty bleak with everything short of a nuclear fallout happening.  The only thing to help distract everyone is a virtual reality called the OASIS.  When one of the co-founders dies he leaves a cryptic message behind leading people to the first of many clues to uncovering an Easter Egg within the OASIS game.  The reward is the inheritance of millions of dollars and tons of perks an average person would love to get their hands on.  The clues seem impossible to unwind unless you're fluent in 80s pop culture.  When Wade Watts stumbles across the first clue he is suddenly sitting at center stage with the whole world watching him.  Can he find the Egg before someone else or the OASIS company's rival company does?

Review

Awesome.  This book was so much fun to read.  Even if you don't know much about video games or gamer culture, what little you know of the 80s makes up for it by the truckload.  I had a blast reading this thing and absolutely loved the characters in it.  I kind of wish he'd write another but I felt very satisfied with the ending.  Totally pick up this book if you see it!

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