Monday, March 22, 2010

Dead-Tossed Companion

Product Details
When I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, I was astounded how she could write a zombie novel that flowed like poetry and was full of beautiful imagery. Aren't zombies supposed to be gross and scary? But this book wasn't- it was like a whole new genre. So naturally, I was very excited when the second book came out to continue Mary's story, but when it arrived, the cover said "A Companion Novel." Companion?! I wanted more of the last story! But The Dead-Tossed Waves doesn't disappoint, I assure you. A new story, perhaps, but the ties to the first book are interesting and very creative on Ryan's part.

The book starts in the small village by the ocean called Vista. The Forest's Mary keeps to herself and raises her daughter Gabry (named after Gabrielle from the first book) in the lighthouse that protects the town from Mudo (zombies) that wash ashore. But Gabry and a few of her friends jump the barrier wall to go to the amusement park ruins. While there, a Breaker (fast-moving zombies that form when there aren't any slow moving Mudo around- designed to infect quickly) comes at the group. Two kids are attacked and turned instantly, others are infected, and all are in trouble by the guards of Vista. When Gabry sees her boyfriend, Catcher, bitten, she follows his advice and runs over the barrier and to the town so she won't be caught by the guards. The town doesn't know she was at the amusement park, but Gabry can't live with the guilt of what happened to her friends. When she goes to see her best-friend, Catcher's sister Cira, she promises to find Catcher before he turns.

On her travels, Gabry is saved from dormant Mudo by a boy named Elias. Elias keeps her safe and gets her to Catcher and back home, but doesn't want her to return. When she does return, she learns something she never thought possible: Catcher is immune. The virus is still in him, and he can walk among the Mudo unnoticed, but he hasn't become one of them. Now Catcher, Gabry, and Elias must rescue Cira and escape into the Forest they always thought was abandoned in order to keep Catcher from falling into the hands of the Recruiters who would do anything to keep an Immune for their own uses.

This is an amazing "companion" to the first to the first novel and picks up the story years after Mary with great ease. The transition gives the story the ability to grow with new characters without losing anyone who loved the first novel and its characters. Like in the first book, the zombies are not terribly scary or gory, but rather a backdrop to the real story that is full of hope and survival. Some criticize the ever-present romantic tangle Gabry finds herself in, but it didn't bother me much. Some of the descriptions could have been less flowery, but it wasn't overwhelming.

This is a great series for kids who are interested in post-apocalyptic literature or sci-fi but aren't ready for real gore or complexity. The language isn't overly complex, the plot-line is easy to follow, and the characters are interesting and easy to like or dislike. This is a good series for both boys and girls who are interested in this sub-genre. Give it a chance, but get ready to start building your barricade!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Boy From the Basement

From Guest Author, E.K.

I usually don't like memoirs, but this specific one, The Boy From The Basement, got me interested. A boy named Charlie had a father who forced him to live in their basement. Charlie thinks he deserves to be in the basement because he did something wrong. The only time he comes up from the basement is at night when his father is asleep to sneak food and get a drink from the sink faucet. 

Charlie never saw things that were outside of the basement. He never had a chance to know what it felt like to go to school. He never had the family that he wanted, like the families that spend holidays with each other. He never got to see animals in wild. It must have been hard that he could not see things that other people can.

There’s a spider that Charlie imagines in the basement. When Charlie sees that spider in the corner he feels that it represents his father. When his father is on his mind the spider appears back in the corner. He feels that no matter what he’s doing his father is always watching him. Charlie thinks he’s not independent.

I can relate to the main character. The main character and I went through similar struggles when we were little. He didn't get enough food when he was living in the basement. The people in the orphanage did not provide enough food for me to eat. I feel that both of us were treated like homeless people. They did not give us the same respect as another family would give to their children. He would sleep on an old, moldy mattress that his father threw down the basement for him to use. What they did for me was put me in any ancient crib that would collapse any moment. 

As I read the book, I was curious about how the boy handled his problems. I wanted to know how he was treated by his father. I wanted to know if he eventually gained his freedom. This book answered those questions.
I would definitely recommend this book to young readers who might have had the same struggles as Charlie. If you like the Pelzer books about survival, this is in the same genre. This book can make you aware of the problems that some children are facing today.