Sunday, October 23, 2011

EPIC by Conor Kostick

Rating: ***1/2
Genre: Sci fi, fantasy, adventure, dystopian
Series: Two sequels
Pages: 396
     Erik's life isn't too different from many of ours': eat, sleep, work, video games. But in Erik's world, your success in life depends on your success in Epic, a virtual reality game slightly similar to World of Warcraft. If you play well, you can live in a nice house and go to college. If you don't, you live in a tiny farm house with no future, like Erik.
     But when Erik's character dies and takes his hard earned money with it, he doesn't feel like playing by the rules anymore. When he creates his new character, he spends all his points on beauty instead of strength or weapons. That would be a pretty stupid decision if it didn't cause somebody to walk up to his character and hand over a priceless jewel. Instead of fighting easy monsters for meager money, Erik convinces his friends to help him with an impossible quest that surprises them by paying off. Big time. But when Erik makes a shocking discovery, he begins to wonder if the world might be better off without Epic.
     I like the idea of the book, but the characters bugged me, particularly Erik. He not a very interesting character and I thought the story could have been told just as well from any of his friends' point of view. At least they have one or two distinguishing characteristics. I recommend Epic to readers of sci fi and dystopian fiction, as well as people who wonder why books can't be as interesting as video games.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Rating: ***1/2
Genre: Fantasy
Series: One companion book
Pages: 352
     Mibs's family is not what you would call normal. On their thirteenth birthday, they wake up with a magical talent called a savvy. Mibs can't wait for her savvy-until an accident leaves her dad in a coma. Luckily, her savvy seems to hold the key to making him better, and it's a simple matter of sneaking aboard a bus headed toward the hospital. But everything goes wrong. The bus heads in the wrong direction, there are other stowaways who suspect something is up with Mibs, one of them is a cute boy, and she may even be wrong about her savvy.
     I didn't have high expectations when I picked up this book. The cover and idea were interesting enough, but I thought writing a 352 page book about a bus ride would be a stretch. 
     I was surprised. The characters are unique, the pace is steady, and, best of all, everything goes wrong, but the characters keep on going.

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

Rating: *****
Genre: Realistic fiction, humor
Pages: 271
Annika's little brother, Jeremy, is dying from cancer. When he wishes for his favorite TV star to visit him before his operation, she will not say no. Annika patches together an insane plan that will involve breaking a few traffic laws, ugly hair nets, a live python, and one very handsome actor.
What I liked most about this book is Rallison's creativity. She doesn't write about a cat when she needs an animal, she'll use a python. Once again, she has created a character who's not too stupid, not too smart. None of Annika's ideas-no matter how well thought out-works the way she would hope. Either solutions come with a twist, or she's forced to replan. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes humor, practical solutions, and romance (there's a hunky actor. What did you expect?).