31 March 2013

Good Riddance; Cynthia Copeland

Good Riddance: An Illustrated Memoir of DivorceGood Riddance: An Illustrated Memoir of Divorce by Cynthia Copeland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not my usual read on two counts: I don't care about divorce memoirs and graphic novels aren't my favorite. The fact that this was also an ARC, with sketchy drawings and editing on the text made it even more difficult to get through. Having said that, if you do like either divorce memoirs or graphic novels (or both), you may enjoy this. At the very least, the author provides something of a sense of humor and the self-pity is kept to a minimum.

ARC provided by publisher.

My Summer of Pink & Green; Lisa Greenwald

My Summer of Pink & Green (Pink & Green, #2)My Summer of Pink & Green by Lisa Greenwald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pink and green don't make me think eco-conscious, they make me think preppy. But that's clearly just me and a holdover from my 70s prep school days. In this book, we're not talking Izods and espadrilles, we're talking "spa with eco-friendly products."

Once again, Lucy's involved with the family pharmacy, soon to be family pharmacy and spa. She's all excited about the work she'll be doing to help organize, order, arrange, etc. over her summer vacation when reality sets in: because she's only in 7th grade, she's not going to be in charge. No one sits her down and says this, of course, they just hire a spa consultant and essentially leave her out of the planning process. That didn't quite ring true for me, because if she was responsible enough to get them the grant and save the pharmacy, give make-up applications and all that before this summer, when did her mother and grandmother start to forget that perhaps she should at least be told what's going on?

What was far more real for me was her relationship with Sunny (semi on the rocks because Sunny has a new boyfriend), her potential boyfriend Yanir, her being upset with her sister for daring to bring home a boyfriend, and her angst about spending time with annoying Bevin. Those stories shone and really will resonate with readers. The spa? It's fun, and a great idea, but the way in which Lucy's family manage that topic vis-a-vis Lucy just didn't work.

ARC provided by publisher.

Riptide; Lindsey Scheibe

RiptideRiptide by Lindsey Scheibe
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

At first I thought it was because I just don't get surfing culture or language (but, you know, whatev). Then I thought it was the triteness of Ford and Grace's BFF-only relationship. Or maybe that Grace's father is an abusive one. Or Ford's interest in immigration law and Grace's father just happening to be an immigration lawyer. After 54 pages, it didn't matter. The writing was too loopy, the situations too stock. Result? DNF.

ARC provided by publisher.

30 March 2013

The 5th Wave; Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another dystopia - this time, in many ways similar to Stephenie Meyer's The Host. At some point, aliens/others begin to invade earth, first with an EMP that takes out 'mod cons', then a tsunami, then a plague, then picking off those still standing. Yancey makes it very clear that these are not your TV/movie aliens, either "ET"-cuddly or "Independence Day" defeatable.

Told from a variety of points-of-view, including one of the others, we get a sense of the fear and panic that have spread since the mothership shows up. We also get nonstop action as the humans learn that knowing whom to trust is beyond difficult when there's no physical difference between Us and Them.

Clearly this is a series, and one I predict will be very popular.

ARC provided by publisher.

29 March 2013

Maid of Secrets; Jennifer McGowan

Maid of SecretsMaid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There's a pun in the name: our heroine is both a Maid of Secrets (spying for the Queen) and Made of Secrets (what she knows, who she really is). As historical fiction goes, I'm always leery of the ones that heavily feature the famous people of that time - this series is set in Queen Elizabeth I's court, with Cecil, Walsingham and Dudley making appearances.

After being caught as a pickpocket, Meg is brought to Windsor Castle and trained to spy on behalf of the Queen. She's one of five Maids, but learns she's replacing Marie, who was murdered a few months earlier. Her brief is to learn who is causing the disturbances within the Castle/court, what role the Spanish are playing in all this, and who the Queen is meeting that might create problems for her reign. There's a lot going on here and the pace is pretty non-stop (although skipping over a week here and there helps). While Meg doesn't really fit in with the others, it's clear by the end that they're a good unit; what's less clear is how this series will develop if these spies get married.

Another series with a strong female for middle school girl readers to enjoy (and they won't notice the anachronism of the dresses, which weren't single units as we knew them but pieced together from disparate parts for every outfit - it did bother me, though).

ARC provided by publisher.

& Sons; David Gilbert

And Sons: A NovelAnd Sons: A Novel by David Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This came so close to being a five-star, but the occasional (all right, more than merely "occasional") bout of overwriting and a lack of clarity as to why this was being told by Philip at a remove of several years dropped it down.

The & is important: Ampersand was the brilliant novel written by A.N. Dyer, set at a fictional version of Exeter and loosely based on his friends and experiences. His other novels have also sold well, all seeming to be in the Louis Auchincloss mold of "Upper East Side/St. Grottlesex" lives examined. How this has effected his family (sons Richard, Jamie and Andy) and the son of his best friend, Charlie Topping (the narrator, Philip) is the "sons" part of the title. Clever.

None of the sons is in good shape, Richard is a former junkie, Jamie spends his time filming unwatchable documentaries, Philip has a failed marriage, and Andy (at a mere 17)is aware that he's the reason why A.N. and his wife divorced and that he's mostly tolerated because of his lineage. The first three haven't see each other in years, and Andy has never met his two half-brother. When Philip's father dies, A.N. has a bit of a breakdown and insists that his two older sons come home - he has something to tell them. This sets everything in motion, with several flashbacks to Philip's youth/friendship with Jamie, their relationships with their fathers, etc. As with all these types of books, Deep Truths Are Revealed and Relationships Changed.

Of all the sons, Andy is the most likeable. His combination of insecurity and preternaturally adult wit remind me of many of the boys I've met in the prep school world. The others? We see them negotiating how to be friendly as adults, realizing that they were never really friends as children. It's done well, but sadly, the overwriting at times got in the way. Each section is prefaced with a letter, usually from A.N. to Charlie; because I read this on my Kindle, I couldn't really read the letters (they're handwritten).

ARC provided by publisher.

28 March 2013

Absent; Katie Williams

AbsentAbsent by Katie Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yet another YA book about death! This one follows Paige, newly dead and sentenced to remaining in her high school, limited in her roving to the property lines (when she forgets, she is immediately pulled back to her 'death spot'). Joining her are Evan, a boy who died sometime in the past, so long ago that Paige doesn't know who he was or his story, and Brooke, also recently dead of a cocaine overdose. They spend their days roving the school, sometimes hanging out with friends, at other times attending classes. Then one day Paige discovers she can go into the body of someone thinking about her and she spends days being her former classmates, in part to allay rumors that she jumped and in part to find out what people really do think of her.

Absent has many interesting qualities, but the greater ideas of what death is and means don't really come up (as they do in books like Elsewhere or Between) nor is there a lot of humor (as in Scorch or the "Death is..." series). Paige does ultimately learn the truth about her death and manages to move on. The writing has some wonderful parts, as when Paige talks about the various cliques/types in her school.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Girls of Atomic City; Denise Kiernan

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War IIThe Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a member of the committee that gave Bomb the award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, a book about the women working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on enriching uranium was a Must Read! The story of the people who actually did the grunt work couldn't help but be interesting.

This is somewhat sprawling, starting with a cast of characters and pseudonyms ("Tubealloy" and "Site X") to help readers keep track of people. Then we start to meet the women, from different walks of life - from local gals just out of high school to black cleaning women to college graduates and internationally known scientists - that helped with the project. In all cases they didn't know what they were working on, although one or two figured it out thanks to their role in the process. By the end, after the bomb was dropped on Japan, their relief in being able to talk about what they were doing (and where!) is palpable. How the pieces and people came together, how the government created a "town" of over 80,000 people yet kept it all a secret is fascinating.

What dropped this from a 5 to a 4 star were two things. First, when talking about the letter that Einstein famously wrote to Roosevelt about the bomb and the war effort, the author claims that Slizard met Einstein in Princeton. While it's true that Einstein was at Princeton, when the two met to discuss this it was on Long Island (where Einstein was on vacation). Second, there were often very long digressions into other areas of the war that just added to the length of the book when that space could have been spent focusing more on the women. At times I thought this might have been a YA book because of the writing style, but it's for adults.

ARC provided by publisher.

25 March 2013

The Ashford Affair; Lauren Willig

The Ashford AffairThe Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is really not "Downton Abbey" - it's Evelyn Waugh/Bright Young Things-meets-The Secret Garden. The "Out of Africa" parallel is apt, however.

We're told the story in two timelines: the first is Addie's story of her life as an orphan taken in by her Edwardian Aunt (and remote Uncle), trying to fit in at Ashford (modeled on Castle Howard) and becoming best friends/sisters with cousin Bea, through Bea's marriage to Marcus and then affair with Frederick and finally Bea's disappearance in Africa. The other is Addie's granddaughter Clemmie's story as her high-powered lawyer life falls apart when Addie, by then 99, dies. The questions of what family really is, and how one person's truth may not actually be Truth, arise.

The depictions of Jazz Age London, with Bea as Debutant of the Year, are well done if a little stereotypical. Ditto the scenes in Kenya and Ashford. It was disappointing that there was so little of Toby and his connection with Clemmie - if the two of them had explored the back story of Bea and Addie together it would have been a little better than the way things unfolded. Despite this, I really enjoyed reading this - it's Waugh/Dinensen-light.

ARC provided by publisher.

23 March 2013

Where You Can Find Me; Sheri Joseph

Where You Can Find Me: A NovelWhere You Can Find Me: A Novel by Sheri Joseph
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some of the characters here were wonderful, but some I just wanted to slap silly. Mom, for example. When your son gets returned to you after three years of sexual slavery and "rescue" by the pedophile's doctor, you don't act like a spoiled child. Ditto Dad. The adult irresponsibility just annoyed me so much! Equally annoying was the shrink and FBI 'handler' Julianna - who knows what they were supposed to be doing/thinking, but it was annoying and blatantly stereotypical.

And then there's Caleb, back from what sister Lark calls three years of "Gone". At times he's confused, living a bifurcated life that relies too much on outside clues as to how to act and at others he cleverly manipulates people around him to getting what he wants. He's the reason I didn't give up on this book. The other interesting person, Lark, wasn't explored enough and I really wish she had been because whenever she was given a voice, it was realistic (although if I'd been her, I would have been so much angrier at Mom and Dad).

ARC provided by publisher.

21 March 2013

Invisibility; Andrea Cremer

InvisibilityInvisibility by Andrea Cremer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of those "darn! I wish I'd read this in paper" books because I'm sure that the differentiation between the voices of Elizabeth/Jo and Stephen would be so much clearer than it was on my Kindle. Anyway...

Such an interesting idea: a boy was cursed before birth to being invisible. He lives with his mother (who has never seen, only held, him) in NYC, not going to school and not really interacting with people. Not going to school. Waiting for the doorman to open the door so he can enter and exit the building. Dad has left, but still pays the bills, which really helps when Mom dies because people assume Dad is still living in the apartment (or at least using it as a pied-a-terre in the city) so there's no worry about Stephen being homeless. And then one day, the new girl-next-door starts talking to him, because she can see him. Has the curse been reversed?

This could only have been set in a city like New York, with food delivery a norm for many residents, and where people really don't pay that much attention to what's going on around them. Using places like Central Park's Ramble and Times Square just made the setting that much more real, and highlighted Stephen's aloneness. His friendship with Elizabeth (or should we call her Jo?) is so sweet at first, then fraught when she learns he's actually invisible to everyone else (including her preternaturally unflappable gay younger brother Laurie). All three become friends, and it didn't feel forced or weird that one was invisible, the other two siblings. Their activities and conversations being so real speak to the talents of the authors.

The cursecaster/spellseeker relationship was interesting, as was Elizabeth's battle with Stephen's curse. By the end, with the curse not lifted, I really was happy that there wasn't a pat "and they all lived happily ever after" summation but... is this a prelude to a sequel? Please, no. This was so good As Is.

ARC provided by publisher.

18 March 2013

Al Capone Does My Homework; Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My HomeworkAl Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Visiting Alcatraz is always fun; this time Moose is dealing with a fire in his home, losing a bottlecap tossing contest and trying to figure out why Piper is giving away such nice gifts to people on the island. Natalie plays an increased role, and Moose is figuring out ways to deal with her "special" nature.

My biggest complaint? Not enough Capone. He does provide The Big Clue (well, A Big Clue to one of the mysteries) but is mostly off-stage. And please, next time can he be the librarian?

Great addition to the series.

ARC provided by publisher.

17 March 2013

Baker Towers; Jennifer Haigh

Baker Towers: A NovelBaker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Family saga set in Pennsylvania mining country? Sorry, that doesn't equate (as the blurbage suggests) to a new Mysteries of Pittsburg. Nor is it an American Penmarric. Instead, Baker Towers takes the Novak family, already an anomaly thanks to their Italian mother/Polish father in a town where people simply don't marry outside ethnic lines, from World War II through a vaguely modern era. The five children are all in some way flawed, each attempting to escape their impoverished small-town roots and each failing. As we move through the decades, smaller moments are intermixed with big ones; some of the bigger moments, like Rose's death, happen off stage.

Overall this feels like it should have been a much larger book, rather than the fewer than 400 that it is. Belva Plain couldn't have done this in fewer than 700! That's actually a good thing, because the author's choices of what to include, what to leave out, and what to elide make this a less exhausting read.

Copy provided by publisher.

15 March 2013

The Bookman's Tale: Charlie Lovett

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of ObsessionThe Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like Finding Camlann, we’re after a Holy Grail of sorts – in this case, proof that “the glovemaker” of Stratford was, in fact, the Bard (as opposed to De Vere or Oxford or even Kit Marlowe). Too many suspension-of-belief coincidences play a role here, sadly, but the historical elements are interesting.

Our detective, Peter Byerly, is socially awkward and from a poor background; his sophomore year in college he becomes entranced with a first year student, Amanda, and embarks on a career in book preservation (he gets a book rebound for her as a gift, before even officially meeting her) that ultimately leads to their marriage. Their relationship is short lived, and she dies after six years from a brain tumor. He’s now floundering and goes to their cottage in England (she’s from an incredibly wealthy family, by the way) to restart his life, which he does after finding a watercolor of a woman who looks like Amanda in a used book in a bookshop in Hay-on-Were. Annnnnd we’re off: who painted this watercolor? Why is it in a book about forgeries? All this leads to searching for a version of Robert Green’s Pandosto (which may have influenced Shakespeare). In order to prevent him, and his possible new friend Liz, from learning the answers, there are murders and attempted murders committed by someone involved with both the painting and forgery.

It’s those murders, and Peter and Liz’s investigation and escape, that really strain credulity. It seems as though the author needed some sort of thriller aspect, got in a little too deep and quickly invented a way out. I’ve never been a fan of the killer explaining how and why and when while waiting to kill the detective/victim. Much better was the history of Pandosto, traced from Green’s death in Shakespearean England through modern day.

ARC provided by publisher.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds; Cat Winters

In the Shadow of BlackbirdsIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction set in 1918, amid the Spanish Flu pandemic and the end of World War I. It's when spiritualism flourished because with so many dead, who wouldn't want the comfort of knowing that their loved ones were happy on the other side, and looking out for the living?

Mary Shelley Black's father has been arrested for traitorous leanings (he's anti-war) and she leaves Portland to live with her Aunt Eva, recently widowed, in San Diego. That just happens to be where her childhood friend/possibly love-of-her-life Stephen lives, only he's just gone off to fight in WWI. Eva is much taken with Julius, Stephen's older half-brother, a spirit photographer; Mary is convinced that the photos are faked but agrees to get a new photo taken (her first is being used - without her permission - as an advertisement by Julius). Things get weird from there, with the possible ghost of Stephen contacting Mary.

Even without the spiritual elements, this would be an interesting book. Who knew that garlic and onions could keep the flu away? The fear and panic that we felt during the SARS and recent H1N1 epidemics were nothing to what these people felt, in addition to the Great War's effect on the population. Part of me wishes that the author had focused on that alone, leaving the spiritualism aside.

ARC provided by publisher.

Nowhere But Home; Liza Palmer

Nowhere But HomeNowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very typical - but enjoyable - romance.

Queenie (nee Queen Elizabeth) Wade is one of the Wade Girls, cursed in town because her mother was overly friendly with the townsmen. Mom, by the way, finally got hers at the hands of one of her BFFs, when said BFF found Mom in bed with her husband. As soon as she could, Queenie left North Star and the rumors and the man she could never have, Everett (the scion of the Paragon Ranch, town royalty). Yet try as she might, her career as a chef has turned into running from town to town to city to city and job to job to job. Finally at the end of her rope, she returns to North Star and her older sister, Merry Carole (who has apparently taken on her mother's mantle because she got pregnant at 16).

There's nothing surprising here: you know Queenie will fight the town's expectations of her and her sister, that she'll find herself and love, and that North Star (talk about a freighted name for a town!) will eventually feel like home. Having said that, it's a satisfying example of the genre and might appeal to teens ready for something a little more adult than Sarah Dessen (there's nothing too "adult", but schools won't have this author on their shelves).

ARC provided by the publisher.

A Matter of Blood; Sarah Pinborough

A Matter Of Blood (The Dog Faced Gods #1)A Matter Of Blood by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The world economy has tanked, police take protection money in lieu of raises/bonuses, the NHS is available only to the few, but crime? That hasn't changed. Cass Jones is a detective in the Rebus mold - flawed (cocaine habit, committed murder in the line of undercover duty), not loved by his superiors but they can't get rid of him because he's Just.That.Good., marriage in trouble, etc.. And there are two major cases that he's involved with, the accidental shooting of two boys that has the press in an uproar, and a serial killer to manages to lay maggot eggs precisely (virtually impossible to do) and scrawls "Nothing is Sacred" on his victims in blood.

As Cass tries to figure out who the serial killer is, and get up to speed on the shooting, he gets the news that his younger brother has killed his wife and son before committing suicide. Or has he? Evidence emerges that Cass may have been the killer and of course he's given "compassionate leave" while they figure out what his role may have been. Like all his predecessors in this sort of mystery, Cass reaches out to his few friends in the force and PIs and continues investigating all three cases while supposedly off work. And then there's a call from a Mr. Bright, somehow involved with The Bank, who wanted him on the case and points him in the direction of Mr. Solomon, the serial killer and an old associate of Bright's.

It's the Bright/Solomon connection, along with some mysterious Glow, that adds the supernatural touch to this book. It's not completely explained, and some of what is is rushed. Because Bright is cast as the deus ex machina in all three cases, the way in which they're solved is not as satisfying as it could have been. Still, I'm looking forward to the next installment to see what Ms. Pinborough comes up with.

ARC provided by publisher.

11 March 2013

The Incredible Charlotte Sycamore; Kate Madison

The Incredible Charlotte SycamoreThe Incredible Charlotte Sycamore by Kate Maddison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Charlotte is the daughter to the Queen's surgeon, engaged to a man she's never met (he's an explorer in the Darwinian mold, half a world away from England) and interested in the inventions that fill her steampunk world. One day she and two friends are attacked by what appear to be rabid dogs - only the dogs are mechanical, yet there's still the rabies issue to deal with. Charlotte finds ways to investigate both rabies and who might be behind the dogs (and then bats) while also sabotaging her engagement and hiding the fact that she was bitten and infected from her maids and father.

This reads like the start to a series, with Charlotte as steampunk adventurer in and around the world of Queen Victoria's palace. If you like steampunk, then this will appeal; if you don't, that part of the world is less intrusive than in other books and it might be a way to learn what steampunk is about.

ARC provided by publisher.

This is What Happy Looks Like; Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeThis Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

G sends an e-mail to the wrong person, Ellie, who responds because, well, she does. Suddenly there's a long-distance relationship growing over the next few months - and then things get interesting. Turns out that G is Graham Larkin a major teen movie star and his growing friendship with E leads him to suggest that the movie he's shooting be filmed in her small town in Maine. Once there, he looks for his friend, only she's not interested in a relationship with a movie star because of her past.

This is a relatively slight book, with nothing that really stands out except for the way in which it begins. The e-mail exchange is sweet and I wish we'd seen more of it, less of the in-Maine action; it's that exchange that makes this different from other teen romances. Having said that, this is perfect for readers of Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins.

ARC provided by publisher.

08 March 2013

The Sea of Tranquility; Katja Millay

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the best books I've read in a while! At times it felt as though the author had heard my complaints about YA books and took them to heart (because I do have that much power over authors...)

Josh and Nastya are both - in very different ways - "ruined". Josh has lost virtually his entire family and is leery of loving anyone; Nastya was brutally attacked and left for dead a few years before the story begins. Each is just trying to get through life: Josh by exerting some sort of force field that keeps everyone away (everyone except supersexy Drew Leighton, his BFF, and Drew's family) and Nastya by dressing like a goth whore and refusing to speak. They're aware of each other, but until Nastya is assigned to the advanced shop class, they have no reason to interact. Even then, it takes a while for them to really meet and even longer for them to become friends.

It's the friendship that really grabbed my attention. Both trying to be careful around each other, learning one another's secrets and keep things private all made sense and felt so real. Adding Drew into the mix could have been the Dreaded Love Triangle but instead was a rare real friendship between three people. Even the conversations didn't seem forced but ones I could hear my students having.

The only quibble was the ending, which felt a little rushed. I didn't want or need a Happily Ever After, but just a little more would have been nice.

ARC provided by publisher.

The Demonologist; Andrew Pyper

The DemonologistThe Demonologist by Andrew Pyper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had real promise, but somehow just missed. It may have been that it took far too long to figure out why the demon was interested in Ullman, or what in his history led him here, or how the Pursuer and the Thin Woman were related to everything... or it may have been the exaggerated conceit of using John Milton's Paradise Lost as a roadmap. Whatever it was, I liked this less than I'd expected. And the comparisons to The Historian don't help, as Kostova fleshed out the story far more than Pyper does.

Some of the imagery is really heavy handed (Ullman=All man, get it?), or the use of Venice as one of the main locations. The whole question of which devil it is, so that Ullman can give it a proper name (although he refuses to use it for a long time) was interesting and could have gone on longer, but how Ullman made his decision isn't quite clear (or wasn't to me). As for Tess' diary, the less said the better.

ARC provided by publisher.

04 March 2013

The Last Telegram; Liz Trenow

The Last TelegramThe Last Telegram by Liz Trenow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Historical fiction is tricky, but Ms. Trenow does it well: no Major Historical Figures appear, so there's no implausible interaction happening. We open with Lily's husband's funeral and the cleaning out of the house (so she can give it to her son and daughter). Her niece, Emily, helps out and happens to mention that she's going the parachute jump to raise money; that plus the finding of a locked suitcase start Lily's memories of her life during World War II. During that time, her family took in three German Jewish refugees, part of the Kindertransport, and the family silk business turned from rep ties and fashionable cloth to parachute silk. We also learn about her love life, her friendships and how the war affects her family and the business.

There's nothing shocking here, nor is there anything incredibly exciting. That's not a bad thing, and the quiet nature of people going about their lives and the changes that the war brought to them (and the role of women) was appreciated. The characters were representative of a certain type and class (although there is a range of both explored) and there were few false notes in those characterizations.

ARC provided by publisher.

01 March 2013

The Silver Dream; Michael Reaves

The Silver Dream: An InterWorld NovelThe Silver Dream: An InterWorld Novel by Michael Reaves
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Was this really written by Neil Gaiman? There are three names on the cover, and there's been very little fuss about this, so I'm going to guess the answer is "no" - he may have had input but this wasn't a real Gaiman effort. It definitely read as though the author(s) weren't really thinking this through as much as they could have.

This is a sequel to InterWorld, and Joey is slowly - maybe - getting accepted by the others. He and his team are on a mission that goes badly, and somewhere along the way they pick up a friend, Acacia Jones (don't call her Casey!). Something's different about her: she's not one of the J people, yet for some reason the Old Man gives her clearance and asks Joey to show her around. Then the InterWorld people hear about two Walkers, and Joey's team is sent to rescue one who just happens to be on the world where their last mission failed. Joaquim is genial, talented and Joey's jealous of him. But something seems to be wrong... and it keeps heading that way. Casey is part of TimeWatch, and how they interact with the InterWorld people, what their role in the war between HEX and Binary is, and exactly what TimeWatch is keeps us going for the rest of the book.

Sadly, that's part of the problem. It's one thing for a character to not understand what TimeWatch is/does, but when the explanation doesn't make sense to the reader it may be that it wasn't clear to the authors what they wanted it to be. That happens in a few places in this book. It's possible that people who are huge SF fans will be able to tease this all out, keeping track of what's going on far easier than I was able to do; it may also be possible for someone to figure out why this Joey is the most important one (given that everyone in InterWorld is generally the same person. The other possibility is that all will be explained in the next book. I just won't be reading it.

ARC provided by publisher.