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“Coraline Graphic Novel” by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

I know lots of you have read Neil Gaiman's "Coraline," perhaps as part of your school's required summer reading program. Did you know that HarperCollins is releasing a graphic novel version of "Coraline" this summer? Well now you do!

Very quickly, for newbies out there, Coraline has moved to a new flat (British speak for apartment) with her folks. She's terribly bored during her first summer there, and while her unusual neighbors provide a bit of mystery and diversion, Coraline longs for something more. Her parents don't seem to pay enough attention, so Coraline takes to exploring on her own. One day, she opens a locked door and finds not the bricked-up entryway she expected but an entirely new passage into another world. This new world looks very much like Coraline's, but on this side of the hall, her mother has black button eyes and evil intentions. With the help of a talking black cat, Coraline must be brave and clever enough to outwit her "other mother," rescue her real parents, and return back to her own world.

I was so impressed with the focus of the graphic novel adaptation. P. Craig Russell, who adapted the story and illustrated it as well, very capably selects scenes from the book to depict here. His graphic novel maintains the same steadily creepy pace as the original book, building toward the big confrontation between Coraline and her other mother. The illustrations are also stellar. They perfectly capture the spooky yet still gentle tone of the novel. If you've read the book, I think you'll get a huge kick out of seeing Neil Gaiman's imaginative novel come to life before your eyes in everything from the snarky black cat to the disintegrating other father. It's a scary but fun take on a now classic novel, and I recommend it to all our readers in middle school and up.

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Posted by on April 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

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“Neuromancer” by William Gibson

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

"Neuromancer" is a sci-fi novel first published in 1984, well before the Internet age that we all take for granted. Given the fact that the book is almost 25 years old, it's amazing that author William Gibson was able to envision a world of "cowboys" using portable computers to hack into "cyberspace" at a time when the vast majority of folks were working on typewriters. Yes, you read that correctly. Typewriters. And, yes, Gibson actually invented the term cyberspace. Pretty cool, huh?

So the novel does an incredible job of predicting how our current technological world functions. But is it any good? I won't lie. I had a very difficult time getting through the first few chapters, in which our hero Case (or, I guess, our anti-hero, because this fella has major issues) is drifting about Chiba City with little money and even less motivation. Case was once a world-class cowboy, illegally hacking into corporate computer networks, until he crossed one of his clients and had part of his body's nervous system destroyed. After the assault, Case is no longer able to "jack in," since hacking is essentially a virtual reality experience in which the cowboy experiences streams of data as physical objects.

Case has basically given up on life when a woman clad in tight leather with lens implants and retractable blades in her fingernails (think X-Men's Wolverine) shows up in his coffin hotel with a job offer. Case agrees to join the woman, Molly, and her employer, the mysterious Armitage, on a complex operation to penetrate the super secret Tessier-Ashpool network. In exchange for his hacking, Case gets a nerve-restoring operation and the promise of lots of credits. Case and Molly then travel around the world — our part of the U.S. is known as the Sprawl — assembling various gadgets and equipment for the run at Tessier-Ashpool, which will take place in an orbiting resort known as Freeside (think Jamaica, but with zero gravity!).

Confused yet? Well, I haven't even hit on artifical intelligence (turns out Case and Molly are actually working for Wintermute, an AI created by Tessier-Ashpool who now wants his freedom); a deranged drug addict with the ability to create elaborate illusions; a long-ago military operation called the Screaming Fist; cybernetic implants; a family that survives through cryogenic freezing and cloning; a Japanese assassin; and the long-dead personality of Case's friend reincarnated as a computer construct aptly named Flatline.

Yes, this book can get confusing. And, as I mentioned above, I found the immediate immersion in this world to be unsettling and almost chaotic. As at the beginning of the novel, there were several times during the story when I literally could not orient myself to the action and determine what was going on. But if you stick with it, the rewards are amazing. Gibson writes in a straightforward, accessible manner, and he keeps the story rolling along at an almost frantic pace. As a reader, it made me anxious to keep turning the pages. Gibson also uses incredible imagery to describe this bleak futuristic world, so even when the narrative gets a bit murky, you can still clearly envision what both a hacking Chinese computer virus and an utterly desolate, utterly lonely beach look like. Gibson's descriptions really are that good.

This book has lots of raw language, references to drugs and sex, and some disturbing imagery, so I'd only recommend it to high school readers. Having said that, if you're a sci-fi fan in that age group, I think you'll find "Neuromancer" to be a fast-paced, thought-provoking novel that's probably unlike anything you've read before.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier

SUMMER READING REVIEW!

FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:

I liked this book because the author put in two sides of the story. There is Jerry Renault's side, and there is Archie's side.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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“Night” by Elie Wiesel

SUMMER READING REVIEW!

FROM KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWERS:

Review #1:

I liked this book, even though he endures a lot of terror.

Review #2:

I didn't like the book because it was all very confusing. The book would change back and forth in scenes.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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“Weetzie Bat” by Francesca Lia Block

TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:

"Weetzie Bat" is considered a classic of modern young adult literature. This short novel, written in 1989, uses a style called magical realism, which may or may not be familiar to you. Basically, there are magical or fantastical elements and rich, colorful images woven through a story that deals with very real issues, including death, grief, love, forgiveness, and even AIDS. Whether you ultimately enjoy this novel will probably turn on how you feel about the sort of other-worldly, fairy tale images and descriptions that form the basis of this novel.

As for the story, it essentially follows the life of older teenager Weetzie Bat in Los Angeles as she becomes friends with the cool, mohawked Dirk; falls in love with her dream man, My Secret Agent Lover Man (that's his name — really!); moves into a small cottage with Dirk, his boyfriend Duck, and My Secret Agent Lover Man; and goes on to star in My Secret Agent Lover Man's movies. Eventually, the family grows to include two children, Witch Baby (yes, Witch Baby) and Cherokee.

There is something sweet about the themes of acceptance, forgiveness, and family in this novel. To be honest, not very much happens in the story, but, for some, the lush, whirlwind descriptions of food, settings, clothes, and cars may be enough. Please note that although this is a short novel, it is definitely geared toward older teens.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

 

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