- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy is an excellent YA series for fans of alternate history or the steampunk genre. Taking place during World War I, the books pit the British Darwinists (who use fabricated animals as their weapons and vehicles) against the German Clankers (with futuristic machines). At the center of the story are two young people: Deryn Sharp, a midshipman in the British service who has been forced to disguise her identity and present herself as a boy, and Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand, an Austrian royal on the run from the very same people that murdered his father, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the start of the war. When the Darwinists' new flying whale ship, the Leviathan, crash lands near Aleksandar's hideout, Deryn and Alek meet for the first time and their stories become intertwined.
Westerfeld, who also wrote the popular YA series Uglies, has created a unique alternate history and through his well written characters he keeps the story fascinating and engaging. The first book Leviathan was recently followed up by the sequel Behemoth, and according to Westerfeld's website, a third book titled Goliath should be released in October 2011.
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
An novel about immigrant teenager's life in New York's Chinatown, based on the writer's experience
Room by Emma Donoghue is told from the point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, who lives in Room with his beloved Ma. Every object in Room, such as Lamp and Floor, has a name because it is so important to Jack. But it gradually becomes clear to the reader that Jack and Ma are really prisoners and that Jack's well-loved Room is a prison created from a fortified shed by Old Nick who kidnapped Ma and is Jack's biological father.
I admired how Ma tries to teach Jack using whatever is available and tries to keep him happy and healthy and protected in spite of their circumstances. But gradually the true nature of their situation has to be revealed by Ma to Jack. His profound disorientation when he comes in contact with the outside world and other people is beautifully conveyed.
This novel stayed in my head as I struggled with what I would have done in such dire circumstances and how I would react to Ma and Jack in order to help them on the "outside."
The plot of Room is similar in plot to Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, but quite different in tone. Room is not a thriller, although it has some pulse-pounding parts, and is not as graphic as Still Missing; rather, Room is the story of a woman's desperate attempts to save her little boy and herself.
Refusing to become an unpaid servant in her brother’s household, widow Dina Dalal takes in a student boarder and hires two pariah tailors to do piecework in her simple tenement flat. These four unlikely characters together form a household unit, dependent on each other for sustenance and support. A tale of urban slum life in Mrs. Gandhi’s India of the 1970s, where everything can be fixed – for a price – and where being in the right place at the wrong time can have disastrous consequences. A comparable book with a similar theme is The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
Zen and Now : on the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Mark Richardson
In 1968, Robert Pirsig and his son rode a motorcycle from Minneapolis to San Francisco in 12 days. Later, he wrote the groundbreaking Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance about their trip. Upon publication, it quickly became one of the important American books of the 20th century. In 2004, as a Zen pilgrim, Mark Richardson rode a motorcycle along the same route. He wrote this book, published in 2008 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Pirsig’s original trip. There are 2 trips described in the book. The first trip involves the journey of the author and his attempts to be faithful to Pirsig’s trip. The 2nd trip, interwoven with the first, is a biographical description of Pirsig’s life and family before, during and after his trip. So, if you want to learn something about the man, his background, and his difficult personality that wasn’t in the first book, then this is a good place to begin. In the Afterword, there are a few web links for more information. The book also contains a map of the trip which can be copied and folded into a copy of Zen and the Art, for the next time you read the book.
Reviewed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library staff member Bruce England