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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

'The Selection' by Kiera Cass

First, let me say that I love the cover, despite (and perhaps because of) the obvious frothiness and the girl standing awkwardly in the back. Turquoise is one of my favorite colors, and I love dresses with ruffles and mirrors.

Okay, so this book is about a girl musician in a dystopian society. She's in a lower caste, composed of artists, which means she must work very hard every day to eat food. She is then selected because she's pretty and accomplished. Excuse me, she was selected via "random lottery", along with 34 other girls, to compete over the prince. She wins, but not really, because she loves someone else, and is only competing for the free food. Story in a nutshell.
In all honesty, I really thought this was going to be a wonderful book, but no. It truly wasn't.

First, the girl. Her name is America Singer. I'm pretty bothered by the name alone (named "America", she's a singer), but it was the plethora of nicknames she had. She was called Amer, Mer, America, and perhaps Ica, Rica, and Am, throughout the book. Oh god, the inconsistancy. Stick with one nickname, please.
Then, there's the "dystopian" society. There was really no dystopia. There were some rebels attacking the royal family, and then there were poor people. There were also other hostile countries - actually, I think there was only one (China). We don't call the monarchy era of Europe a dystopia, do we?
Lastly, the plot. It's been compared to "The Bachelor" in almost every review I've seen. In my humble opinion, Cass would have caught more readers developing the dystopia then recording America flinging herself at men while convincing herself she doesn't really need them. It appears Cass just called the society "dystopian" to ride the popularity wave. I'm not even going to start on the ending (mostly because I don't remember the ending at all.)

Anyways, the book gets a 2.8; some soup of a doubtful color. Let's make it turquoise, to match the cover. Anyways, you start doubtful, but dive into the adventure. Who knows, it could really be delicious! It starts out pretty yummy, but dives down fast. Turns out it's turquoise because it has soap in it. And you never want to drink something like it again. In retrospect, though, it really wasn't that bad.
Oh my gosh, why are my reviews so long and contentless?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Precious Little

by Julie Hunt

I'm surprised no one else has reviewed a picture book yet. I can't be the only one following the new publications of children's books, right?

'Take the Hope or the Dream or the Song or the Dance.
You might choose the Joke. You might take the Chance.
Take the Risk or the Scare or the Stunt or the Rip.
What prize will you pick from today's lucky dip?'

Precious Little is a circus hand who wishes to be a trapeze artists. She usually sits "backstage" and sews spangled stars and roses on the leotards. She takes the circus's famous Lucky Dip - and it appears that she is shot off into the universe. It's hard to tell.

The summary calls it a " heart-stirring story about the rewards of perseverance, friendship and taking a chance." I saw no such thing while reading. I must make clear that this is not a children's book, by no means. This is certainly a young adult to adult book, cleverly disguised beneath fanciful illustrations. Precious Little is one of those rare profound books that have no ending - it's one of those books that one sits, slightly stunned, trying to think of what they just read.
Heart-stirring? Certainly. Perhaps not. Who knows.
Rewards? Not really.
Perseverance? Friendship? Taking a chance? Well, Precious Little is friends with two clowns (Fat Chance and Tough Luck) that shoot her in a cannon. If that's not Friendship and Taking a chance, I'm not sure what is.

The illustrations are perfectly gorgeous, almost baroque. They ride the line between delicate, childish, and creepy. There are embellishments and flourishes that perfectly suit the circus. In other words, I believe Gaye Chapman was the perfect illustrator.

I think the best word(s) to describe this book is whimsical and, perhaps ruminative.
I give this book a 4 in terms of books, but a 2.5 in terms of children's books. It's like dark chocolate - children will grab it based on it's appearance, and bite, and it won't be what they expected, and they won't like it. However, older people can fully enjoy this book - although, often times they'll not attempt this book because of the option of cheaper alternatives.

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