Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three New Reviews


No pictures for these because frankly, they aren't interesting enough. Well, maybe THEY CAME FROM BELOW. I liked that one and it might be a summer reading pick for next year. Okay, I will post a picture. But not the other two. If you want to see them, come to the library and take them out. I wrote these reviews for the NMRLS book review blog so they are a little more detailed than I usually write here. Which is to say still significantly less detailed than a real book review!



THEY CAME FROM BELOW by Blake Nelson:
Emma and Reese are two teenage girls summering on Cape Cod. They are interested in tanning, partying and meeting guys. They meet two somewhat odd language students who are not at all what they seem to be. Add some cute Australians, an undersea nuclear explosion, a not-very-mad scientist dad and some gung-ho intelligence agents and you have a fun summer read that gives you something to think about.

The book starts out with a news report about a nuclear accident and quickly jumps into a standard bored-girl-looking-for-summer-romance style story. Just when it seems like the main characters couldn't get any more clich├ęd, in come Steve and Dave, the strange foreign young men, to save the day. They are movie star handsome and can speak every language they hear. They need to be taught to eat and they seem to be able to bring people back from the dead. But surely that doesn't make them dangerous?

There is fun and excitement to be had in THEY CAME FROM BELOW and a feel of 1950's sci-fi paranoia mixed with 21st century environmental awareness.


THE EVERY BOY by Dana Adam Shapiro
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If Amy Sedaris and Tom Perrotta are willing to write jacket blurbs for a book, it had better be good. THE EVERY BOY started out disappointing. Described as "Salingeresque" it seemed, at first to embody the worst of navel-gazing teen-boy sensitivity. The story seems too quirky and Shapiro tries too hard to make the reader aware that Henry Every is anything but normal. But after awhile the book (and Henry's voice) becomes more palatable. Eventually, you even begin to care.

The book revolves around Henry's parents dealing with his death with the help of his journal. Knowing that Henry dies at the end may leave the reader not wanting to get too attached. Fifty pages from the end, you may find yourself hoping that there will be a twisty "it was all a dream" ending because Henry does grow on you.

This is a dark little book where girls are untrustworthy at best and boys had better get their affairs in order because they are not long for this world. But the details in the descriptions of secondary characters and the charm of Henry keep it buoyant to the end.


BLACK AND WHITE AIRMEN by John Fleischman
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Two boys from Miss Pitchell's third grade class in 1928 Cincinatti, Ohio grew up to be World War II pilots. John Leahr was one of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen" African-American pilots who flew for the United States even as they were being systematically oppressed. Herb Heilbrun flew bombers over Europe completing 35 successful missions. The parallel stories of these two men are told in BLACK AND WHITE AIRMEN: THEIR TRUE HISTORY.

Full of photographs and primary sources, this book is a fascinating look at the different wartime experiences of military men in the segregated armed services. Leahr and Heilbrun became friends later in life and currently speak to students about their experiences. Fleischman details their childhoods, education, service records and their lives after the war. The narrative is exciting with many details that will keep any reader with the slightest interest in flying, history or wartime interested.

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