Candlewick Press, 2007. 256 pages.
$16.99 ISBN: 978-0-76362-906-9
Ghosts, ghouls, tell-tale hearts, and vampires. This collection of short stories has something for everyone that is a fan of supernatural tales, all written by some very well known young adult authors.
As I’ve heard other readers mention, the problem with short stories is that they either tend to feel formulaic, as the writer tries to craft a tale to fit a certain length (and in this case, genre) OR the other extreme – they are too short and you would rather sit down with the characters for a full length novel.
I found several of the stories in this collection hit or miss. A few of them felt like the authors were just doing an assignment: write a short story that incorporates something supernatural. But there were a few stand-outs for me. Ones that went beyond the basic retelling of a classic eerie story and really tried to make it their own.
If I hadn’t been assigned to read this book for ” Books the for>978-0-76362-906-9Ghosts, ghouls, tell-tale hearts, and vampires. This collection of short stories has something for everyone that is a fan of supernatural tales, all written by some very well known young adult authors. As I’ve heard other readers mention, the problem with short stories is that they either tend to feel formulaic, as the writer tries to craft a tale to fit a certain length (and in this case, genre) OR the other extreme – they are too short and you would rather sit down with the characters for a full length novel. I found several of the stories in this collection hit or miss. A few of them felt like the authors were just doing an assignment: write a short story that incorporates something supernatural. But there were a few stand-outs for me. Ones that went beyond the basic retelling of a classic eerie story and really tried to make it their own. If I hadn’t been assigned to read this book for “Books for the Beast”, I probably would have skipped over a few of the tales that I felt moved too slowly or were too predictable. None of the stories are particularly keep-you-awake-at-night scary, but several of them have moments that will give you a chill. If you’re craving some short stories to read while you gear up for Halloween, this might be a good place to start. It’s also a nice way to get a taste of several different writing styles. I know I jotted down a couple of the authors’ names so I could look into their full length works. And there are a few I might avoid after reading this book as well. 2.5 stars
1. Have a wacky sense of humor
2. Be up on pop culture references from 1980s-present day
3. Be ready to laugh out loud! Honestly, if you had told me that was going to enjoy a movie with zombies and Woody Harrelson, and I would spend a good hour and a half laughing non-stop – I would not have believed you! Even with a solid score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, I had my doubts. I mean, a comedy with zombies? It has to be seen to be believed! Even though they shove Woody Harrelson in your face during the trailers, it is Jesse Eisenberg that is the star of this movie, his deadpan, matter-of-fact delivery of the real rules to surviving in the zombie infested world (#1 – CARDIO!) will make you giggle. He’s that loner loser that so many of us can identify with, spending his free time cooped up in a dorm room, playing World of Warcraft. But all that changes after the zombies arrive! He meets up with Harrelson’s character while trying to get back to his parents in Columbus, OH. Hilarity ensues. The best thing about this movie is that it is ridiculous, and it never tries to be anything else. It’s like “Hey, this movie is about ZOMBIES and it’s gonna be FUNNY! Deal with it.” It never tries to preach about society’s values; it doesn’t get sidetracked by a love story; it doesn’t spend loads of time trying to explain why this has all happened. It stays true to it’s mission – to make the audience laugh out loud for as much as possible while our heroes wise-crack their way through a world filled with disgusting, drooling zombies. Yes, Zombieland is SMART and FUNNY and the kind of movie that you walk out of the theater quoting…and then find yourself quoting it days later. The jokes range from toilet humor to literary references. I don’t want to give too much away. There are so many jokes and little surprises that make this movie great. Go see it before you get spoiled. This movie makes my personal top ten list for 2009 – it was that good. So do your cardio, remember the double tap, and always check the back seat.
Egmont, 2009. 249 pages.
$16.95 ISBN 978-1-60684-012-2 Respectful space in every place.
Academics are the key to success.
Never keep secrets from your parents. These phrases sound like something the average teen would hear on aregular basis as adults try to influence their behavior. Whilechildren may not immediately obey these words, they do listen. Butwhat if they had no choice but to listen? What if these messages werenot coming from their parents’ mouths, but instead being deliveredsubliminally, every second of every day? In the town of Candor, that is exactly what life is like. Well-to-dofamilies move in, hoping that the messages will help mold theirchildren into something “better”. It only takes a matter of daysbefore the child starts to spout these phrases. Once cherished items,like skateboards, art supplies, and M&Ms, are thrown in the garbageby their owners. The town is quiet, safe, and seemingly perfect sinceall of its citizens must obey the Messages. Oscar Banks is the son of Candor’s creator. As the Messages will tellyou, he is a superior person. He does well in school, participates inextracurricular activities, and even has a perfect girlfriend, Mandi. But no one knows the real Oscar. He was in Candor from the start, andhe’s managed to figure out how the Messages work. He can’t avoid themcompletely, but he has created a set of special messages just forhimself, to help him remember who he really is. He also createsmessages for kids that are willing and able to pay his high fee to getout. He has managed to build his own little world inside right underhis father’s nose, and no one knows about it but him. Then one night, Oscar meets a mysterious girl. She’s clearly new intown, still wearing her dark clothes and a collection of earrings. She’s also snuck in a can of orange spray paint. He is amazed by thespirit this girl possesses and is drawn to her. He slips her a musicCD, filled with special Messages to keep her from changing into abrainwashed Candor teen. He doesn’t tell her that, of course. Whowould believe that they were being controlled by subliminal Messages? Plus, he hasn’t quite figured out what he wants to do with her – shouldhe smuggle her out of Candor and out of his life? Or should he keepher in the town so they can be friends…or more? Pam Bachorz’s Candor is a society that feels eerily plausible. Oscar Banks narrates the story in a natural voice, explaining to thereader how the Messages and the town work as a whole. Oscar starts outsomewhat self-centered (as anyone in his situation might be, since heis the only teen not repeating the Messages) but as the story goes on,he begins to realize a bit more about himself, Candor, and the what theworld outside must be like. He starts to see how much of a personalitycan really be suppressed by the Messages, and how far his father willgo to keep the town safe and sterile. Candor would be a fitting book suggestion for a fan of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series- the bubbly Pretties and the Candor teens have a lot in common. Buteven if they are not familiar with that series, readers will enjoy thiswell-written, fast-paced (and other hyphenated words) story.