cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Books 78-80

Zero Sum GameZero Sum Game by Cody L. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I won this a while back and it took me forever to review (a reflection of own crazy life, not the book). I enjoyed it though it took a bit to get moving. It has a slow start but once Hina gets the 'battle suit' things pick up.

Hina is a fourteen year old school girl (the author is an American teacher who has taught in Japan for several years at Hina's level). She's a bit different in that she's a competitive weight lifter. Her parents have recently divorced and her mother has moved away leaving her with her father.

In Hiroshima a group of aliens, the Noigel, as masked as humans with these battle suits that make them nearly invulnerable. They are from the Noigel ark. Their world has died and they want to terraform Earth into a new homeworld (but humans would not survive the process). The Noigel aren't in agreement about this and two of them turn on a third who dies but not before passing the suit onto Hina out of desperation.

The suit, which she dubs Voice (as it can talk to her), is stuck in the form of her school uniform. Unable to change and go to someone else, like a soldier, Voice is stuck with a fourteen year old girl. Hina now has to bear the weight of saving the world.

Once we get to this, especially after she has to tell her teacher Ozaki the truth, the story really picks up. It of course has a manga/anime feel to it but that's fine, I love that. Hina is a good character, I liked her a lot. I enjoyed the story, though it does have some pacing problems. Still it's fun.

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The Child ThiefThe Child Thief by Brom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had this on my shelf for years, bought mainly for Brom's art as I knew nothing of his writing but I thought this dark retelling of Peter Pan was well done. The prose is evocative in many places. This is dark but really if you look a Peter's story (as written by Barrie) it is actually rather creepy. Forget about Wendy and her siblings. Think about what the lost boys actually do. They attack and kill pirates. Peter himself says something along the lines of Death Would Be an Awfully Big Adventure and talks about weeding out boys who get too old (how, Barrie doesn't say).

Brom grasps onto those ideas with this and then mixes them with actual faerie lore, tosses in some Arthurian legend along with Celtic/Welsh folklore with Lady Modron and her son Mabon ap Modron (who has been lost in this). What you get is a Peter as a faerie/human hybrid who keeps coming back to Earth to steal children for his army. He knows that they will die but he feels compelled to attack the Flesh eaters who were early pilgrims, now trapped in Modron's 'avalon' for centuries, slowly turning nearly undead monsters.

Enter our other point of view character, Nick who is a young man whose mother has let out rooms in her house to drug dealers, and they want Nick badly hurt if not dead. He's on the run for his life when Peter claims him. This Peter is fine with killing and stealing and Nick goes with him into 'Neverland' and to the Lost Boys (who are called Devils in this).

The beginning of this is not linear bouncing between Nick's story, Peter's present story and Peter's past story. We watch Seku (a young Native American girl) train Nick and get to know some of the Devils and the wanna-bes. We learn that if you're too old the magic won't sit right within you and you become what the Flesh-eaters are (and Nick is on the cusp on being too old).

Avalon is dying, however, even if Peter is having trouble admitting it. Modron has withdrawn into her own world. Many of the old gods have died. And instead of helping Ulfgar has spent the last centuries angry at Peter and the unfairness of it how he sees his life (in spite of being the heir to Herne the Hunter/Cernnunous) so Peter has no help from the faeries and the Devils are good but they are never enough.

If there was anything I didn't like, it was the pacing. We don't get to see the actual bad guys until the last quarter of the book. It felt a bit dragging in places. We do spend a lot of time with Nick as he tries to fit in, realizing he isn't and his desire to get home to his mother (who he realizes now he's left alone with these horrible men). At least another of the young (quite young) kids would like to go home too and it might all be a moot point, as Avalon dies, they're running out of food.

Nick is a far more compelling character than Peter in many ways. He's been caught up in horrible things. Peter's story is tragic too but he authors much of his own drama.

I will say I am very conflicted about the ending. It's fitting for the story which is dark fantasy/horror. That said, I felt let down by it. It wasn't the ending I wanted after wading through nearly five hundred pages of text.

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Yankee Doodle Dead (Death on Demand, #10)Yankee Doodle Dead by Carolyn G. Hart

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay as a mystery it's not bad but there were some things that truly annoyed me in this. To be fair, I wandered into this on book 10 (and have no real desire to find any others in the series which should tell you something). So obviously someone likes this series. Annie runs a book store in town on a small South Carolinian island and her husband, Max is apparently wealthy, more interested in golfing than working.

Annie does three things that really annoyed me to no end. 1) the endless repetition of 'speak your mind' things she wants to say but doesn't. It gets old fast. 2) The endless listing out of fictional sleuths. Okay I get it. She owns a mystery book store and loves mysteries. I have things I'm a super fan of too but I don't constantly list out what Kirk and Spock would have done here. And if it was just one sleuth per incidence it wouldn't be so bad. But no, it's often three or four each and every time. I couldn't help feeling annoyed. 3) Annie's interview style is abrasive and honestly I don't know why anyone on this island talks to this woman with how she handles things.

For that matter, the victim took forever to die. The book is only 270 pages and it takes him over a hundred pages to get his misogynistic self dead. We know General Bud Hatch is going to die (says so on the dust cover) and even if it didn't you want him dead. He comes into town and tries to run it his way, taking over the local youth center and treating it like bootcamp, taking over the library and the fourth of July celebration which was supposed to be about the historic women of town but what do women have to do with history and being interesting? Well nothing according to Hatch.

Naturally someone Annie likes gets blamed (a young African American boy) and she has to save him before the lazy prosecutor settles for the easiest target, i.e. Samuel. Everyone had reason to knock hatch off from the women he was trying to get fired, the gay men he was trying to run off, the husband of the woman who was cheating with Hatch.

So mystery wise there's plenty of suspects but it wasn't all that entertaining.

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Tags: fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, young adult

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