It has been a while since I have posted any book reviews. This past year, the library established a book club that went through several titles. So, it is not due to a lack of reading some wonderful books. I will try and catch up by reviewing some of the books that were read last year and over this summer. We have a lot of new titles coming into our library, and I hope to establish a podcast of the book club's reviews of the books that were read.
Far from the tree by Robin Beneway
This is a family drama about a family that never knew they were a family. Sound confusing? If you are Grace, an only child that was adopted at birth to a caring upper middle-class family, it gets incredibly confusing when she goes on a search for her birth mother and discovers that she has two other siblings: a younger sister and an older brother. Her sister, Maya, was adopted into a family of redheads (she is a brunette) and has always struggled to feel like she fits in when everyone else looks so different. Her older brother, Joaquin, has had a much tougher time since the siblings were taken from their mother. He has spent his entire life in the foster system and has always found it difficult to trust anyone.
This book is a wonderful exploration of family dynamics and what the word family really means. Grace, who starts this journey after she decides to give up her new born child for adoption, but this book is not about Grace. Each sibling brings their own life struggles, and for me, that is what is truly fascinating. Beneway masterfully creates these characters traversing all the difficulties of life only to face a new challenge of integrating other people into your understanding of family. I really enjoyed Joaquin's story and how he struggles with trust and the idea of couple wanting to adopt him at the age of seventeen. There is a reason that this book the National Book Award for Young People's literature. Read it, you will not be disappointed.
Warcross by Marie lu
Marie Lu's book Warcross is one of the 2018-2019 South Dakota YARP (Young Adult Reading Program) books for the middle grade. It is an interesting dystopian book set in the future, where the world has become obsessed by the Warcross video game. The main character, Emika Chen, is a brilliant, but struggling bounty hunter (despite being 16) that hunts down bounties of illegal players of Warcross. Using her hacking skills to break into an international Championship event, and gets discovered after glitching into the game. Instead of getting in trouble, she ends up getting recruited by the Warcross game creator for a special mission to track down a threat to the entire Warcross world.
As a fan of games like League of Legends, Overwatch, and Fortnite, I get the kind of desire people might have following something like this. It always has qualities similar to Ready Player One where the world has given themselves to a virtual reality world. So the action scenes involving the game competition was of interest in the book, I enjoyed Emika and some of the memories she has with the loss of her father. I felt that the story was under-developed. I thought the RL world and the VR world were both lacking detail that could pull me into the story. I think that the story will appeal to many teens, because the idea of video gaming replacing traditional sports and the idea of avatars and creating a different life in a new world is not new to them. If I had to rate the book on a scale of 1 to 5, I would have to give this book a solid 3.