15 November 2018

The XY; Virginia Bergin

The XYThe XY by Virginia Bergin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Readers of The XY might read The Children of Men next, as both deal with a world in which some virus is affecting the population. In this case, males die. The few who appear healthy are sent to Sanctuaries, kept healthy as scientists try to find a cure. Of course they provide sperm so that the women (not affected) can have children; healthy boys are given back to the Sanctuary for safety. That's just the way it is now, sixty years later; the once-was is only alive in the memories of the grandmummas. You'd think this all-female society would be better than a mixed one, but... no. The discovery of an XY (what we'd call a boy) who has escaped his Sanctuary leads to something of an unraveling of River's world.

Sadly, there's a lot missing here: how the society really functions, for example. It's hinted at, but not really revealed. River seems to realize that her village is technologically challenged, but the why isn't clear given that there are cities and air bases that function is a more familiar way. Some reviews talk about gender roles and sexuality representation, I'll just say that the characters feel stereotypical and the plot more The Giver/The City of Ember than necessary.

eARC provided by publisher.

The Blood Road; Stuart MacBride

The Blood Road (Logan McRae #11)The Blood Road by Stuart MacBride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Logan's life seems to be settling down... maybe. He's in a relationship, on meds to deal with the ptsd hallucinations, and Roberta Steele is not working in the same department. Of course that goes awry when the understaffed police department needs him to cover an investigation that only tangentially relates to Professional Standards. The usually cast of characters is here, used well and seemingly evolving with each book (not usual in many series). As for the mystery, the whodunnit part isn't overwhelmingly obvious but sharp readers will figure it out.

14 November 2018

The Girls at 17 Swann Street; Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann StreetThe Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved that this home for women with eating disorders includes people who overeat, not just those with anorexia and bulimia. Each of the women is clearly separate from the others, both in terms of disease and background, which mimics the real world. And they are women, not girls (although one or two are younger than the others, and may have been battling their disorder since they were girls), another thing not usually covered in books like this. How slowly this can take over your life, how it affects your family and friends, and how difficult recovery can be is wonderfully depicted.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Nanny Diaries; Emma McLaughlin

The Nanny Diaries (Nanny, #1)The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to slap Nanny - she's as unlikable as the Xs. While I recognized everything about her life (I've worked in schools filled with families much like the X family; and really? Dorian's? with no mention of the Preppy Murder??) and understood why she took the job in the first place, that she allowed the Xs to take over her life while complaining to the reader about the incursion was just annoying.

Slender Man; Anonymous

Slender ManSlender Man by Anonymous
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Slender Man is one of those eARCs that loses something due to the format, since much of the action is driven by texts, group chats, reddit posts and other social media artifacts. Having said that, the story of how a school community reacts to the disappearance of one of the popular girls, particularly after it emerges that one of the lesser popular guys is a close friend of hers. Max knows that there's something missing from the investigation, and he's determined to find out what happened while keeping information from the police and his therapist. One problem Max has had is insomnia and nightmares - and now they're getting worse. Plus there's the mysterious guy "helping" him online... what does he know?

This is definitely more creepy and less terrifying, perhaps because of the at-a-remove format.

eARC provided by publisher.

13 November 2018

The Zanna Function; Daniel Wheatley

The Zanna FunctionThe Zanna Function by Daniel Wheatley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not a math/science person (much to my father's dismay) so much of this went over my head - which could also be a problem (hah!) for teen readers. I suspect that much suspension of belief will be required from those who are math/science people. The world of the school Zanna attends and the relationships she forms will be recognizable: once again, we have an ordinary person wisked away into an unusual circumstance because they're special and might - just might - be able to save things from falling apart. Because this is Zanna's first year at St. Pommeroy's, it's not impossible that there will be at least one sequel.

The Boneless Mercies; April Genevieve Tucholke

The Boneless MerciesThe Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was rounded up from 3.5 - some of the world building is weak, ditto the character development.

As an idea, the Mercies (a group of women paid to help people die, usually in vengence) is interesting. Not quite assassins, not quite mercy killers, something inbetween. Tired of all that, the four (Frey, Ovie, Runa and Juniper) decide to try for fame and fortune by killing a beast and along the way they meet Trigve (who joins their merry band, but is never quite a full member) while also living among the Sea Witches, spending time with the Cut Queen and journeying to their ultimate goal: slaying the Grendel-like beast. Sadly, more time was needed to flesh out - for example - the Sea Witches and their world/mythology than was taken, so often the reader will find wonderful moments rushed. Perhaps fewer adventures would have helped?

eARC provided by publisher.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea; Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of SeaA Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently semi-biographical and very relatable. After September 11, what Muslim girl would voluntarily wear hijab? Shirin, for one. Her family has moved so many times that she's virtually given up hope of fitting in, and the hijab leads to comments and harassment that she's become used to. Then she meets a boy, one who seems to actually want to get to know her - not as a joke or dare. The clash of cultures is one that I suspect many students will recognize, as is Shirin's fear that Ocean is just joking when he claims he wants to be her friend. That she chooses to continue to wear hijab will perhaps inspire those who want to be true to themselves despite pressure to conform.

eARC provided by publisher.

12 November 2018

Close to Home; Peter Robinson

Close to Home (Inspector Banks, #13)Close to Home by Peter Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What would you do if a childhood friend disappeared, then 35 years later you learn that he was murdered? That's the situation for Alan Banks, taking him away from his vacation in Greece (much needed, and now shortened) - but it's not, as they say, on his patch. Of course he's involved, if only as a potential witness, and of course he finds out that there's more to his old friend's life than met the eye. What is more interesting is the relationship between Banks and his parents and how they react not just to his profession but also to how it leads him into an investigation close to home. There's another mystery here, a missing teen being investigated by Annie Cabot. While the two cases aren't related, the mistakes both Banks and Cabot make are interestingly similar.

Having recently read Book 12 (Aftermath) it was really easy to understand the non-procedural parts. Only a few more and I'll have read the entire series and have a really complete picture of who Banks is... maybe.

The Dreamers; Karen Thompson Walker

The DreamersThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved The Age of Miracles, particularly its look at how society falls apart when the environment changes so radically (in this case, the earth stops turning). This book looks at another odd occurance leading to a breakdown - people falling so deeply asleep that they appear dead. And it's contagious. Maybe. With the sleeping toll mounting and the town in quarrantine, how do people (including children left "behind" when their parents fall asleep) cope? And how does the medical profession react?

Walker's attention to detail, coupled with imagining the effect of this sleeping disease, is impressive. The relationships between most of the characters, however, were often predictable. More surprise there would have been welcome.

ARC provided by publisher.