What I read: January 19-February 7.
Entangled, by Amy Rose Capetta:
Cade is getting by better than most humans on the planet: she has her own hovel, she isn't spacesick, and she's got a semi-regularly paying music gig at a local bar... which is lucky for her, as it's only playing music that keeps the debilitating static in her mind at bay. But then she discovers that she's entangled—at a quantum level—with a boy somewhere else in the universe, and that they alone might have the secret to saving the human race, so she risks all to find him.
This doesn't happen all that often, but I found the secondary characters FAR more interesting than the primaries—if I read the second book, it'll be less because of the overarching story and more because I'm curious about the universe Capetta has created. Points for the slow-growing and subtle romance, and double points for not pairing up the obvious characters.
A Faraway Island, by Annika Thor:
The first book in the Stephie Steiner quartet (I read Deep Sea earlier this year), this one opens with Stephie and her sister arriving in Sweden, getting to know their host families, and slowly getting accustomed to a whole different life. Like Deep Sea, it's quiet on the surface, with powerful emotional undercurrents and depth. Love these books.
The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds:
Really outstanding book about different ways of dealing with grief, about independence, friendship, and about becoming a man. I loved it for the intergenerational friendship; for showing that one event can be life-changing for many different people in many different ways; I loved that the friendship between Matt and Chris is an important, grounding force in his life, but not the focus of the story; and I loved that while his romance with Lovey is a life-changing, healing force, it's also an eye-opening one that promotes growth for BOTH characters. I'm so pleased that Reynolds won the Steptoe Award this year.
Astro CIty #19, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson:
The second in a four-part arc about Quarrel—her childhood, her relationship with Crackerjack, taking on her father's mantle and using it to be a hero, rather than a villain. Astro City continues to be one of my very favorite comics, because it treats superheroes as actual people, not purely as archetypes or icons or symbols; because it features a world of diverse characters; AND because oftentimes, it's about what it's like to be a regular person in a world with superheroes. If you've never read it, do yourself a favor and pick up the first book.
Carrie Pilby, by Caren Lissner:
I read this one because of the news about the upcoming movie, and as the title character spends most of the book sleeping, I'll be interested to see what they do with it. I was really thrown by the fact that at age sixteen, she has an affair with her college professor—it's a situation that is rife with the yicks, even beyond the age difference/power dynamic stuff—and nothing ever really comes of it. She's not an easy protagonist to spend time with—she's judgmental, socially awkward, hard on everyone around her, and hella depressed—but she's a three-dimensional, believable one.
Seeker, by Arwen Elys Dayton:
Positives first. The action sequences are really cinematic: the characters use “whipswords,” which are basically the T-1000 in non-sentient, weapon form; there is a scene that involves base jumping off a skyscraper onto an airship while shooting fireworks at said airship as a distraction. And…that’s all I’ve really got.
The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby:
NEW SUSAN JUBY BOOK FTW. I was so happy to snag a copy of this at Midwinter that I almost cried. AND THEN I DID CRY--->
I'll be talking about this one AT LENGTH and WITH MEGA-JOY when we're closer to pub time.
Powers: Bureau, Volume One: Undercover, by Brian MIchael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming:
I'm all excited about the upcoming show, so I'm getting caught up on all things Powers. I'm happy to report that this one—in which Pilgrim and Walker become federal agents—is just as profane, violent, smart, and hilarious as the original series.
Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys), by Amy Spaulding:
Platonic friends and bandmates Riley and Reid catch their other bandmates going at it, and make a pact to find romance for themselves. Laugh-out-loud funny, but the real standout about this one, for me, was that the stereotypical gender roles were reversed: Reid very much longs for actual romance, whereas Riley just wants to have herself some sex. I have more to say about this one, so I'll likely revisit soon.
The Detective's Assistant, by Kate Hannigan:
Until my introduction to this book, I had no idea that there was a female Pinkerton, let alone that she helped foil an early assassination attempt on Abraham Lincoln. This book is her story, as told by her fictional niece. As a book, as a humorous adventure-mystery, and as a story about two lonely people overcoming grief and long-held anger to finally become each other's family, it works. As a book about Kate Warne, it's less satisfying, because the focus is very much—and, in a middle grade book, appropriately so—on the growth and experiences of the niece. Happily for those of us who want MORE KATE WARNE, there's an extensive list of suggested reading at the end.
Breaking Sky, by Cori McCarthy:
While it references plenty of other stories—The Lord of the Rings series, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ender’s Game—there’s really only one at its heart: Top Gun. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll already know the arc—hotheaded pilot with daddy issues is close to no one but her navigator; spars with more cautious pilot; tragedy almost grounds her but her former rival helps her regain her confidence and save the day (double points to McCarthy for working in the teeth snap)—and as it’s mentioned in the Acknowledgements, I assume that was an entirely deliberate choice. I’m rather flabbergasted that it hasn’t been promoted as, “THIS GENERATION’S TOP GUN.”