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Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

Apr. 3rd, 2011 | 07:45 pm

Like the first in the series, this one flew by, possibly because it's shorter, but most likely because Koontz writes horror, and even though this is, like the first one, less horror and more mystery it is still paced like horror. Thus, it flies.
Again, it's fluff. Pure and simple fluff, which also allows you to breeze through it, because the only really developed character is Odd. There is no need to analyze; it is only there to entertain.
However, (now that I've said that I'm going to go and contradict myself) I'm starting to notice the slight religious undertones of Odd's "I see dead people" life. Odd is a Catholic, though not necessarily a practicing one, but he certainly believes in Hell and Heaven. This was something that I didn't pay much attention to in the first book, but in this one, Odd talks more to the dead, and convinces them to move on to that other place, whether it is Heaven (something he never labels it) or another life (something else he never directly says). It very subtly pushes you in the direction that there is something greater than this life in store for us, but, thankfully, doesn't force it on you.
I wouldn't be nearly as entertained by these books if it was, but because there is no forcing of faith on the reader, I am very much entertained by these books. The plot is engaging, suspenseful and easy to read. Odd is a likeable and reliable narrator; you care about what happens to him.

Overall- 3 stars. They're perfectly average, fun, fluffy beach books. I recommend them, as we approach (we hope) warm weather and lazy afternoons.

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Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Mar. 30th, 2011 | 05:35 pm

Odd Thomas, the story of a young man in a small world (a town called Pico Mundo) can see the dead. Not all of them, but the ones who choose to hang around, mostly because they have unfinished business, so they come to Odd and bug him until he takes care of it for them.

Because Dean Koontz primarily writes what better falls into the horror genre, this is a mystery that reads at the pace of horror. I flew through 500 pages in a matter of days, because he hooks you with a minor, but very engaging, incident at the very beginning, and then dives right into the larger plot.

Mostly, it's fluff. There are some thoughts about destiny, some twisted family values, but for the most part, it's a beach book. But it's a GOOD beach book; I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the next one. I recommend it, because everyone needs a little fluff in their lives.

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Mar. 25th, 2011 | 09:27 am

I finally got around to reading Stargirl. I was never a huge fan of Jerry Spinelli when I was younger, and I'm still not. He's certainly not terrible, but there was no...spark.

Stargirl is a very easy, if predictable, read. I like her character, she's different, interesting. Leo I find a little flat. That said, I really like the perspective of the narration, it's very much like The Virgin Suicides, and I think it makes the book better than it would have if it was narrated by Stargirl herself.

But overall, meh. Didn't hate it, but didn't love it; there was nothing spectacular about it.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Mar. 22nd, 2011 | 07:14 pm

I found this book entirely average. It was an interesting story, at least from the perspective of someone who really enjoyed the class on fairy tales that she took in college, but I had no mindblowing spiritual revelation. From what I've heard about the book, I thought that I was supposed to. Very similar to the Shack, although this one is less about religion and more about humanity, it's an interesting concept, and there are life lessons in it that honestly I got out of life, and I'm not sure why anyone would need Paulo Coelho to spell them out, but from the amount of time this spent on the bestseller list, I guess lots of people do. Overall, interesting, quick read, so even if you hate it, it's not that much of your life wasted.

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A Lion Among Men- Gregory Maguire

Mar. 10th, 2011 | 07:07 pm

The third and, I believe, final book in the Wicked Years trilogy.

Honestly, this book was almost wholly unnecessary. We finally find out what happens to Nor, from the first book. We do not, however, see Liir or the second green girl again. 

Mother Yackle is an interesting character, but we didn't need to know what happens to her. The Cowardly Lion's story is completely irrelevant. This one also touches on the destiny/fate theme from the last one, but these characters are so far removed from the original story, that I just didn't care. There was one revelation about who exactly informed on Elphaba and Fiyero, and we find out where Nor's been, but other than that, the book is, while entertaining, irrelevant. 

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Son of a Witch- Gregory Maguire

Mar. 10th, 2011 | 07:01 pm

The sequel to Wicked picks up more or less, more like less, where the first one left off. At the end of Wicked, we want to know what happened to Nor. And Liir, but more Nor. We find out what happens to Liir in a kind of roundabout story. It's not bad, I actually rather liked it, as Liir grows up and what begins with him following Dorothy like a puppy ends with him finding his destiny (as Elphaba's son, which is something that he fought the whole time).

We're never really sure, either, if he is Elphaba's son or not, until the very end, when....

SPOILER ALERT

he finds the little girl born to him and Candle...and she's green.

Overall, a good story, and I'd recommend it. The sequel, like the first one, touches a lot on the themes of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil and this one throws in the theme of fate/destiny. Liir spends the majority of the novel fighting who he is, and who people want him to be, and the whole time while doing this, he is really fulfilling his purpose, and eventually he comes to embrace who he is- the son of the Wicked Witch.

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Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Feb. 11th, 2011 | 11:41 am

It's true that no one mourns the wicked.

But what makes a person wicked?

Gregory Maguire has made a name for himself by turning fairy tales around and telling the story from a lesser known point of view. With this book he tackles The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and tells the story of Elphaba (a name that came from Mr. Maguire phonetically reading aloud the original author's initials, L. F. B...) the Wicked Witch of the West.

Why is exactly is she so wicked, though? Is it because she thinks for herself? Is it because she chooses to do what is right, rather than what is popular? Is it because she considers herself the sworn enemy of those in power, (the Wizard) even though he runs a vicious dictatorship? Is it because she seeks the truth and tries to protect the rights of others, like the Animals?

With his novel, Maguire presents an interesting take on good and evil, and lets the reader draw their own conclusions. He lays out all the facts, but doesn't concretely answer all the questions, which would ordinarily be annoying. The way he does it though, the answers are there, but first the reader has to decide for themselves exactly who IS good and evil, right and wrong. He guides you in the direction that he thinks you should go, but doesn't force you to choose his side.

So read it, and decide for yourself. Is the Wicked Witch of the West really wicked?
I'm off to read the sequel now.

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Jan. 3rd, 2011 | 12:19 pm

The third and final book in the Hunger Games Trilogy, this book was not an altogether satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. I felt like the ending was rushed, even more so than the other two, and I wasn't happy with the way some of the characters turned out in the end. The epilogue especially seemed a very J. K. Rowling-ish cop out of an ending. That said, I enjoyed reading it, and I still highly recommend the entire trilogy for reasons previously stated in reviews, but as is the case with most series, as they continue and gain popularity, quality is sacrificed.

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Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Jan. 3rd, 2011 | 12:13 pm

Second in The Hunger Games trilogy, this book is just as engaging as the first one, with an incredible twist and cliff hanger at the end. Katniss is a great character, although I get a little frustrated with her being the last one to realize things sometimes. Collins has definitely succeeded in creating a fascinating other world, and this is a refreshingly different spin on Young Adult literature.

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Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

Sep. 25th, 2010 | 03:11 pm

Very similar to The Pillars of the Earth at times, although I admit that I haven't read that, only seen the movie. Set in Barcelona though, and it's an interesting look at Feudalism and the Inquisition in Barcelona, an independent city surrounded by lands ruled by Feudal lords.

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