So folks, I’ve been a little behind on the book reviews. And I don’t want to clog up my subscribers’ inboxes with three in one day. Because I love you guys. So here are the reviews for three books, all in one amazing (surprisingly short-ish) blog post: Black Heart, by Holly Black; Trash by Andy Mulligan, and My Name is Mina by David Almond. Enjoy!
My Name is Mina by David Almond:
The voice was, of course, wonderful. I love Mina. She is such a unique character! The writing was beautiful and the perspective was astounding. “How did he think of this?” is a question that resonated in my mind. A lot.
But I kept waiting for Skellig to begin! Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that this was a prequel, but I had secretly hoped that I would get to see more of the Skellig story from Mina’s point of view. It is such a wonderful point of view! I wanted to see her joy and wonder when she made the biggest discovery of her life! I wanted to see the dance in the attic from her perspective.
In truth, although it was enchanting to read, it felt like a story built of backstory; vignettes all strung together. Although the character’s journey was there, the plot was a little too episodic for my taste. And ironically (given Mina’s distaste for school), the book seemed like one that would be read in the classroom, with the students all required to do Mina’s Extraordinary Activities. And although that would certainly be beneficial to the students, I have a feeling it might make Mina a little sad.
3 out of 5 stars, just because I’d rather read Skellig!
Black Heart by Holly Black:
I really like this series.
What do I like about it? Mostly, I love the world that is created. The basic premise: some people are born with certain “curse working” abilities- changing someone’s luck, for example. Because of these abilities, however, a whole alternate reality has been created by the author, Holly Black (who did a great job with this alternate US). Since “curses” are worked through the hands, everybody wears gloves. All the time. Public, un-gloved hands are seen either as hostility or pornography. “Curse” working is illegal, so all curse workers are driven into mob-like criminal families. It is an incredibly believable alternate reality.
Cassel, the (male!) narrator of the story is the youngest in a small-time crime family, but the love of his life is a mob-boss’s daughter.
I liked this last book in the trilogy quite a bit. There were a ton of times where I was thinking, “How’s he gonna get himself out of this one?!” and, of course, Cassel didn’t fail to disappoint. I like his reality. I like how he wants to do the right thing. I like his smarts and his ingenuity.
The only *eh* part? The very very end. The build-up, the climax, everything else was awesome. Except for the last 3 paragraphs or so.
Basically, in this “morality is grey” “you have to watch out for yourself” world, I wish Cassel had made a black-and-white, bold decision. To me, it feels a little like he’s escaping his problems instead of really facing them. I understand that he faced his problems earlier in the book head-on, and with lots of awesome planning and great action. But at those times he was forced to face them or die. I wish he’d have chosen to face them even when he didn’t have to- just to do what was right.
I hope there are more books starring Cassel Sharpe!
From my understanding, this is the final book in a trilogy, but a spin-off series starring his brother Barron would be incredible.
4 out of 5 stars!
Trash by Andy Mulligan:
Although I loved the story, as well as the alternating voices of the narrators, it seemed… too much and not enough at the same time.
I think it was the juxtaposition of the real (boys in poverty, living in trash) and the not-plausible (plot involving a servant stealing from a corrupt politician and the hunt that ensues).
I loved the boys- I would have been happy with a less fantastical story that highlighted their personalities and the intricacies of their relationships. It would have been nice to see them get out of poverty in a way that’s more possible.
This book had the possibility to be preachy, and it wasn’t. Which was awesome. It showed missionary work for what it is- hard, confusing, and seat-of-your-pants-ish. It praised the “good” people without idolizing them. And it subtly encouraged the reader to be more socially aware without bashing them over the head with awareness.
I felt like the plot came out of a different book. Like a political thriller or something. Like the kids took the place of some down-and-out lawyer. I liked the plot! I like the “little guys stick it to the big guys” idea, but I just felt like it was out of place.
All in all, 3 out of 5 stars. I liked it but it wasn’t life-changing for me. A more realistic plot line might have made it life-changing.