Speak

Written by Laurie Halse Anderson

Peel: After busting a summer party, no one at school wants to be friends with Melinda. So she’s stuck alone in her mind, and even there has become threatening.

This was a very difficult, but gripping, book to read, as every step of the way you want to be there for Melinda. Melinda’s character is remarkably realistic and sympathetic. The book is written as Melissa in a very close first person, and one gets to hear her darkly humorous take on high school. The prose is on the weaker side, many other characters are flat, and at times the symbolism is heavy handed; but given that the narrator was a freshman in high school, this made her more believable and affective.

There is a rather worrying message that the author seems to be conveying in her ending- that one should be hopeful for retribution. The ending itself felt too quick for me, and lost the realistic feel that Anderson had in the rest of the novel.

Nibble: “May is finally here and it has stopped raining. Good thing, too- the mayor of Syracuse was about to put out a call for a guy named Noah.”

I would recommend this to everyone.

My Rating: 9 out of 10 growing apple trees

I borrowed a paper copy from the CSPH library; click here to read the extended version.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Site

Get the book on Amazon

The Last Dragon

Written by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Rebecca Guay

Peel: Long ago humans got rid of all the dragons from the island of May, little did they know an egg survived. Now they have to find a hero to eliminate the last dragon.

This is a rather amusing take on the typical evil dragon story, and *gasp* the mentor of the hero is female. It was a pretty quick fun read, and the humor was oriented towards a younger, 12-14, audience. It was also a coming-of-age story. The art was gorgeous, and the much stronger half of this graphic novel. The colors were muted giving the story a very dreamy feel, and I’m sure the art is even better in print as I viewed an electronic version. Overall, I found the pictures more intriguing than the textual story.

The dragon itself had less of a role in the story than one would expect from a story titled The Last Dragon. I found it a bit jarring to see some of the humor, like an older brother saying ‘cool’ when his baby brother is taken by the dragon, set in such pretty delicate artwork. As a warning there is mention of death, but it’s not illustrated.

Nibble: “The isles ran red and dark with dragon blood till all of them were gone. Or so the humans believed.”

I would recommend this in print as an illustrated bedtime story to pre-teens and young teens.

My Rating: 7 out of 10 burnt red apples

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, Dark Horse, via NetGalley.

Jane Yolen’s Site, Rebecca Guay’s Site {Guay’s site may contain nudity}

Get the book from Amazon