Reviews: The last of 2014

Yes, I know we’re already nearing the middle of second month in 2015. And yes, I know I’ve not managed to write a post since a review of Golden Son, which incidentally, I wrote out in December and set it to publish when the book published. But, really, I continue to read faster than I can review books for you. So, whether you like it or not, I’m posting another round of mini-reviews for you, all of which I read in late 2014. I could probably say more about all of these books, but winter is the season when I am least motivated (which doesn’t bode well for those pesky resolutions!). Sorry it took so long to get these posted, and I promise that I’ll get back in the habit (eventually).

Alias Hook

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Did you ever watch Peter Pan and wonder where exactly those pirates came from? Did you ever watch Hook and find yourself oddly sympathetic to the irascible pirate’s plight (thanks largely to Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal)? If you said yes to any of that, than you, like me, will likely appreciate this rewritten fairy tale, courtesy of Lisa Jensen. Jensen takes everything you know of Neverland, and spins it into a dark tale that leaves you rooting for the bad guy. Hook, a buccaneer who turns to piracy after he is betrayed, gets cursed to live in Neverland by a voodoo queen lover. Once there, he pulls together the lost souls who had once been Pan’s lost boys. See, once the lost boys grow up, they are returned to Earth, where they live half-lives, always yearning for the Neverland they left behind. That yearning brings them back as men. Shunned by Pan, they are adopted by Hook and whipped into shape as pirates tasked with amusing the sadistic and violent young Pan through battle. So really, Hook is just a good guy trapped in a bad situation? Well, not really. This isn’t a kids book. There are no absolutes, but that’s what makes this version so appealing.

Into this crazy world enters a grown up “Wendy” (Peter’s name for the girls he brings to Neverland to take care of him until they tire of him), something that shouldn’t be possible.  Against his better judgement, Hook takes her in, setting off a series of events that will change his role in Neverland and himself forever. The unique story, poetic language and historic details bring the Peter Pan story to life like never before. I especially loved Jensen’s ability to bring wonder back into a story that we all used to know by heart. Here’s a great description of fairy travel:

“It’s like dreaming, an effusion of random sensation: tinkling laughter, points of sunlight dancing crazily on the sea, a tang of salt and allspice in the air, a constant, shuddering vibrato, deeper than normal hearing, like a huge swell just before it breaks, or a gust freshening into a gale. Then silence, and the warmth of the sun on my face. Glimmersailing, she called it.” (p. 274).

The Wonder of All Things

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

Since the resurgence in popularity of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, the quirky, young heroine coping with personal tragedy has been popping up in fiction beyond young adult. But there is more than a spunky, sharp-tongued teen to love about this book. The Wonder of All Things, by Jason Mott, features Ava, a tomboy who is suddenly able to heal her best friend, Wash, after a plane accident. She and her little family (including father Macon and her pregnant stepmother Carmen and the aforementioned best friend) are caught in a firestorm of demands, fear, hope and faith as the news of what she managed to do spreads. As Ava faces the world, she learns truths about family, love, responsibility and just plain living. Mott has an amazing command of both language and characterization, easily creating a beautiful and flawed world where every person and the choices they make are perfectly real. Mott offers no shortage of amazingly phrased passage that I’d love to share, but I only have room for the one:
“Sometimes in life, love and loving can still lead to an ending that we would otherwise choose. A fate with no blame to be taken. She understood that, in this world, there are unexplained wonders and faultless horrors both.” p. 297
You’ll just have to pick up the book to read more!
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

If it’s not obvious, I should let you know that I am a Star Wars maniac. I watch the movies at least once a year. I read many of the books. And when I get bored, I pass the time exploring obscure trivia entries on Wookiepedia, the wiki devoted to all-things Star Wars. But that’s not the only obsession I have. I also love Shakespeare. It’s what gets me to pick up random fiction such as My Name is Will and The Bookman’s Tale (both of which feature Shakespeare prominently). But when I heard some crazy brilliant fool was rewriting the Star Wars original trilogy as Shakespearean plays (complete with iambic pentameter and a fool that comments on society), I almost couldn’t contain myself. In fact, I definitely did a dance (or three) every time the new installment landed in my hands. If you have any interest in either, these are worth picking up.
My favorite character in the movies is R2-D2, the spunky little droid that saves the day on more than one occasion. In the movies he can do little more than change the frequency of his trills and rock back and forth to comment on the world around him. In these plays, R2 is given the gift of language through his asides, becoming one of the best parts of these plays. I think any person who knows the Stars Wars plot and struggles with Shakespeare could also get a better grip on the bard’s style through these delightful plays. And Shakespeare and Star Wars lovers alike will get a kick out of the little nuggets of geekery sprinkled throughout the text. Sometimes I think Ian Doescher did these just for those few crazies people like me who are obsessed with both!

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