The Hunchback Assignments, by Arthur Slade
Finally holding true to my promise, I let myself go into some easier-to-read YAs this summer. I find that this genre can be so surprising. Some of it is really good, some of it is quite bad, but a lot is unexpected. Take Arthur Slade’s The Hunchback Assignments. It’s a steampunk Victorian mystery, already a very cool premise. The protagonist is Modo, a hideously deformed hunchback who has the ability to change his appearance. He takes on some of the darker minds in London, set on destroying order and good government, or whatever.
The book was interesting, but I found it a little childish. If I were twelve, I would be all over this book, however.
As it was, the book was good. I’d put the reading level close to that of Harry Potter, so clearly this is the type of thing I can read for enjoyment.
Nevermore, by Kelly Creagh, unfortunately fell into the “truly dreadful” of the YA category. Maybe I’m being harsh. The idea, a fantasy YA based on the works and mysteries of Edgar Allen Poe, sounds awesome. The head cheerleader falling for the goth guy is also a good idea. In reality, though, I don’t think Creagh pulled it off. A lot of the characters were nonsensical, and behaved in ridiculous ways. The “love” between the two protagonists was equally as ridiculous, as there was essentially nothing to support it. I thought that could be developed a lot better.
This books major flaw, for me, was that it was boring. I found myself skipping whole sections, something I never do, just to try to figure out when the plot was going to do something. Creagh is very descriptive (maybe influenced by Poe on purpose here), but when the setting description goes on and on and on … well, you get my point. If this had been cut down by 100 pages, and the two lovers had absolutely any reason to like each other, I might get behind this.
Dark Inside, by Jeyn Roberts
This book was a little bit stunning. I will put my biases right out there and say I love supporting me a Canadian author, and it’s always fun to read about your home city where the streets and buildings are recognizable to you, even during the apocalypse.
That said, Jeyn Roberts’ apocalyptic novel is something new. The world is ripped apart by earthquakes, which lets out an ancient evil that infects humans, causing them to become monsters. Not everyone is affected though, and the book follows four teens from different parts of the continent trying to survive.
Intense action, pacing and tension. It was almost breathtaking, as in I found myself often holding my breath. I’m a big fan of zombie books, but this one was by far the scariest. I think because the monsters weren’t slow, dumb zombies, but former human beings, often friends and family of the survivors, who were fast and smart and hunting them down. It was terrifying. And awesome. I will definitely be searching out the next book in this series.
Dust Girl, by Sarah Zettel
I had no big expectations on Sarah Zettel’s Dust Girl. Oh look, another fairy book. But I was pleasantly surprised. Set in 1930s Kansas, during the Great Depression when that part of America was turned to a great plain of dust, made this book fresh and interesting. Even more interesting was the main character’s struggle with trying to hide the fact that she was half black. A little disappointed with the cover again, I wouldn’t think the protagonist was half black from this. Although maybe that was the point.
Anyway, the story was inventive and creative. I didn’t know what would come next. So it was a really enjoyable read, one I’d recommend for someone looking for something light. I might maybe look up the next installment.
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