A Journey to the Great Beyond – Beyonders

I just finished reading Brandon Mull’s new book – “Beyonders: A World Without Heroes”.  After “The Surrendered” I decided I needed some light, fun, adventurous YA reading.  And yes.  I do routinely read YA novels. And I enjoy them.  Don’t judge.

So back to “Beyonders”.  I think it’s a great light, fun read.  The only critique I would have is that the adventures didn’t seem, well, so adventurous.  The heroes seem to get out of tight situations a little too easily and everything fits together just a little too well.  And yes, you can argue “Well you’re reading YA fiction! What did you expect?”  But I would argue that there are many YA fiction books that are entertaining to children and adults alike. Examples include: The Artemis Fowl series, the “His Dark Materials” series, and The Hunger Games.  In terms of complexity of characters, plot, etc. I would put it at about the same level as the Percy Jackson books.

Regardless, there is almost no chance that I won’t be picking up the next book in this trilogy when it comes out in 2012.   “Beyonders” tracks the adventures of Jason and Rachel, two American teenagers, who end up in a mythical world called Lyrian full of strange creatures and an evil ruler, Maldor.  In a world without heroes (like how I brought in the subtitle of the book? 😉 ), Jason and Rachel seek to become the much-needed heroes, ridding the world of its evil despot.  How could you not want to read a book with that kind of plot?

All in all if you’re looking for a light, fun fantasy read, I recommend “Beyonders” and any of the other series mentioned above =)

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I Surrendered to The Surrendered

I just finished Chang-Rae Lee’s The Surrendered and I have to say, it may be one of the most beautifully written, but immensely depressing books I’ve ever read.  In fact, 2 chapters into the book I almost put it down to find something lighter, happier, and less…emotionally draining.  But I am glad that I didn’t.

The first time I encountered Chang-Rae Lee was my senior year of high school when, for whatever reason, I was really into Asian American literature. I mean REALLY into Asian American literature. I devoured anything that anyone recommended that was remotely about the Asian American experience and read nothing else.  That’s when I read Native Speaker.  I remember liking it, but that’s about it. And after a few months reading only Asian-American literature I was done. Until I picked up The Surrendered.

From what I remember from my Asian American literature phase, whether Korean, Chinese, Japanese or other, there were several common themes and aspects of the Asian American experience.  Inability to relate with elders because of a different cultural environment and upbringing, not fitting into the American culture because of a difference in appearance, wanting to be fully American but always feeling somewhat of an outsider.  Although this book did address some of those themes, it was far more than that.  It focused on war’s destructive forces, death, and redemption.

Without giving too much away, the novel tracks the lives of three people: June, Hector and Sylvie.  It focuses on each life individually, the experiences that shaped each person, and how their lives are irrevocably intertwine.  This book shows the power of bonds made during war and the extents people to keep themselves emotionally and mentally together.

Welcome!

Hello greater internet world and welcome to my little slice of the net! In case you haven’t realized it yet, I’m a reader.  I read. A  lot.  Mostly fiction, but these days I’ve also spent considerable time in the worlds of fantasy / sci fi (yes I know, also fiction but it’s different! I swear!) as well as non-fiction.

The impetus for this blog hearkens back to a trip to Seattle and the Elliot Bay Book Company, perhaps the world’s most awesome bookstore.  What makes it so awesome you may ask? Well it’s big, first of all.   It’s also got that great independent bookstore feel, with the creaky wooden stairs and, well, personality.  You know it when you see it. But most of all it’s the recommendations.  They were EVERYWHERE, handwritten and signed.  Wandering around the bookstore I found books I loved (Artemis Fowl, The Little Prince, Les Miserables, Thank You for Smoking, Norwegian Wood), all with a great  review and, (could it be?) all reviewed by the same person! Could it be there was someone out there with what appeared to share my exact same taste in books??  And so the hunt began.  I wandered the bookstore looking for other books with the same messy scrawl.  Every time I found a new tag in the same familiar handwriting, I would pick it up, read the back, and lo and behold1 The book was right up my alley!  Needless to say I spent more money than I planned that day.

Over the years I’ve spent quite a bit of time sharing my love of reading with all those around me.  And I’m always looking for new books to add to my pile of “to reads”.  I hope this blog will be a place people can come to find new worlds to explore and new ideas to mull about.  And maybe somewhere, someone will have the same experience I did at Elliot Bay.