It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.
Last Week’s Books:
I found Capture the Flag by Kate Messner to be a fun and adventurous middle grade mystery. When the original Stars and Stripes is stolen from the Smithsonian, three young people snowed-in at the DC airport put their heads together to solve the mystery and catch the crooks. Anna, Henry, Jose have distinct personalities and abilities that all contribute to the group’s success. They also meet a younger boy, Sinan, whose parents and poodle are wrongly accused of having something to do with the flag’s disappearance. Although the mystery is more madcap than perilous, there are some tense moments when one or more of the kids is temporarily detained by one of the conspirators. Most memorable is Messner’s descriptions of kids riding the behind-the-scenes baggage conveyors and carousels to track down clues and elude bad guys. And bonus–the trio discover that their relatives are members of the Silver Jaguar Society, a group of people with famous artists in their lineage who are dedicated to preserving and protecting great works of art. As junior members, their adventures continue in Hide and Seek and Manhunt.
The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu is my July Random Read. Alice Franklin has a bad reputation–in fact the worst reputation in all of Healy High. Not only did she sleep with two guys in one night at the same party, but she was sexting Healy’s hometown hero and quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons right before his fatal car crash. The story of Alice’s descent into becoming the school and town pariah is told by four people: Elaine, Healey High’s most popular girl; Josh, football star and best friend of Brandon; Kelsie, Alice’s former best friend; and Kurt, brilliant guy and friendless social outcast. It will be no surprise to readers that Alice’s bad reputation was constructed by the lies of others and a school culture where rumors spiraled out of control. Hearts will break for Alice, who changes her appearance and demeanor and who at first rejects a gesture of friendship from an unlikely source. This is a powerful book for teens that will hopefully open some eyes to the lasting effects “just a few rumors” can have.
I, along with many other readers who loved Ready Player One, have been eagerly awaiting Ernest Cline’s second novel Armada. In case you are one of us, please note that this review contains a big spoiler. This time, Cline explores a familiar plot in science fiction literature and film: a teenage boy with amazing video game skills is recruited to fight a war against real aliens. Zack Lightman is a high school senior gamer who loves all things sci fi, just like his father–the father who died when Zack was just a baby and left behind a plethora of old games, music, and VHS tapes. Imagine Zack’s surprise when his boss and local game store owner, Ray, arrives at his school in a helicopter and tells him that the alien attacks in his favorite game, Armada, are real and his help is needed as Earth faces total annihilation in less than eight hours. Not only that, but Zack’s father never died–the death was a cover-up, and now Xavier Lightman is a general for Earth Defense Alliance and commander of a secret moon base. Together, and with a cast of great supporting characters, Zack and Xavier save the day, barely, and find out the real truth behind the alien invasion.
Once again, Cline’s story is filled with mentions and nods to 80s music, movies, and video games. A few reviewers have mentioned that they seem a bit thrown in and clunky at times, but I noticed that they usually occur as dialogue. Since my “nerdist” family’s daily conversation is often peppered with the same sort of catch phrases and references, I thought they worked fine, and I bet many other readers will feel the same way. I did find that this second book was a bit of a slower start for me, with the second half flowing much more smoothly than the first. Also, a few of the battle scenes were a bit long for my taste, but I am not a big gamer so that may be the cause. In all, fans of Cline’s first book will find much to love here. My 13-year-old son is reading it next, so we’ll see what he thinks :-)