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06 October 2008 @ 04:28 pm
Book Log: The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Soulless, Poison Ink  


The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Jenna was sixteen when she was in the accident that sent her into a coma. Now she is seventeen. She has just awoken from her coma. She is missing a year of her life, but more importantly, she is missing herself. She has no memories of herself, of life before the accident--of life at all. Her parents show her pictures, home videos, tell her stories, and slowly, Jenna begins to remember. But with her memories come the questions--what really happened after the accident? Why did her family leave their home in Boston for the remote California town where they are living now? And why, if her parents want her to remember, are there still so many secrets?

This is an interesting book, and I really did enjoy reading it. I guessed the big reveal pretty early on, but I'm not altogether sure that I wasn't supposed to--this book is less about surprising you with the plot, and more about the way Jenna reacts and feels and responds to what she learns about herself.

It's interesting--Jenna's cold, disconnected way of viewing and learning about the world at first made me almost think of Cameron, the terminator from The Sarah Connor Chronicles. If Cameron had an internal monologue, I bet this is what it would sound like.

I give it three stars not because there was anything wrong with it, but because it felt like there was a step further Pearson could have gone, but didn't. It felt a little lacking, like it almost but didn't quite catch me in that place where really good books take root. It's a good book--don't get me wrong--and a fascinating view of a possible future--but it doesn't haunt me the way I feel like this sort of book should.

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Soulless by Christopher Golden

For the first time ever, three powerful mediums join hands on the set of a live broadcast morning show in Times Square. If the seance goes according to plan, there will be a short window where people around the world will have a chance to say goodbye to the spirits of their departed loved ones.

But things don't go according to plan. Instead, the mediums slump over, comatose. And as they do, the dead start to rise. They are seeking out their loved ones, but they are also hungry.

The great thing about Christopher Golden, and this book, is that he really, really knows New York. When his characters live in New York, it's the real New York, the one I live in and understand, not the glamorized fictional New York you so often see in books like this. This is a New York where people drive on the Merrit and get donuts in Riverdale and realize that there are cemetaries in Washington Heights. It's a New York were people have family in Scarsdale.

For nothing other than that, I love this book.

Also, I started reading Soulless this morning on the train, and suddenly, in the middle of it, I put it down, and went, "Crap. There's a cemetary right near my house. If a zombie infestation happens, what's the best possible plan to get me and my family together and safe? Do we have anything useful to barricade the windows with? Maybe we should invest in some more heavy furniture."

This book is pure zombie fun/horror. If you like zombies and/or New York, this is the book you want to read. Christopher Golden is spot-on with the terror of surviving a zombie infestation.

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Poison Ink by Christopher Golden

Sammi Holland has always been a drifter. She always was friendly with people in all different groups, but never really fit in with any one in particular. That’s what makes the friendship she now shares with Caryn, Letty, T.Q. and Katsuko so precious to her—they’re all drifters, but together, they belong. And that’s what inspires them to make a spur-of-the-moment decision to get matching tattoos—to mark them forever as friends. Sammi isn’t thrilled with the idea of a tattoo—for one thing, her parents would kill her—but she doesn’t want to be the only one to back out. But when she gets to the shady tattoo parlor—the only place they can go without being over eighteen—she just can’t go through with it. She knows her friends will be disappointed, but she figures they’ll understand.

And that’s when everything changes. Suddenly, her so-called friends won’t talk to her. They won’t sit with her at lunch. And then rumors start swirling around them—smoking, drinking, drugs, seducing teachers, starting gang fights—behavior that is so foreign to the girls Sammi was friends with that she’s forced to wonder if she ever really knew her friends at all.

But it’s when Sammi tries to break up a gang fight that her former friends had started that she sees it—across Letty’s back, the original tattoo has grown, spread, crawled across her back like tendrils of poison ivy. Sammi knows that somehow, something in those tattoos is controlling her friends, destroying them from the inside out. And it’s up to her to stop it—before it’s too late.

This is not a good book. On so many levels. For one, the characters don’t behave like believable teens at all. If I didn’t know how old Sammi was, and there was no reference to high school, I would have guessed she was in her mid-to-late twenties. They’re too self-aware. Not to mention, boring.

For another, the central plot-point is never really explained. The “shocking” truth is revealed, that Dante the creepy tattoo artist has been controlling Sammi’s friends, using them to do bad things. But why? What does he get out of it? He wasn’t using them as a crime ring—he was just debasing them, making them do drugs and sleep with teachers and be nasty. Is he just a psychopath? And, what causes it?

Nothing is explained. The whole book leads up to a big fat pile of nothing. And I didn’t care for one second about Sammi or her extraordinarily boring and predictable relationship with Cute Adam, who was so unrealistic that he dragged down the already bad book.

Soulless is a great read. This is terrible.
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