Aprilynne Pike’s latest novel Earthboundis a fantastic beginning to what is sure to be a great series. Tavia is hiding-out with her aunt and uncle after being the only survivor of plane crash. She lost both of her parents and is now just trying to piece her life back together. On the plus side, she met a cute boy at the library who seems to be the only one pulling her out of her haze of grief and recovery. Things are starting to go back to normal – whatever that is – until Tavia starting seeing a mystery boy who is dressed in clothes dating back to the 1800’s. However all of this is only the beginning of “strange new occurrences” for Tavia and before long she and Benson, her library boy, are fleeing from her aunt and uncle.
I am so excited for this new series. Pike has a very lush and dynamic language that made it very easy to escape into her story, specifically when describing the cold. I felt like I was walking outside in the bitter colds of the arctic. Her characters are engaging and believable. I really like Tavia. She is an amazingly well developed character and I found her to have a unique voice that immediately pulls you into the story. I also liked that she isn’t a petty shallow character, but is a girl who is already thinking for herself before the crisis happens. Although surviving a plane crash does seem like it would make you more grown-up than simply going to school and learning that you have a cool supernatural ability. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting book two.
Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 is an outstanding YA apocalyptic story. When Dean leaves for school it is just a typical morning with him running to catch the school bus. Things take a drastic turn when extra-large pieces of hail start pounding on the bus, to the point of breaking windows and putting small holes in the bus’ roof. The school bus in front of him swerves into a Greenway shopping store after watching Dean’s bus crash and flip onto it’s side. Now his bus is on fire and the other bus driver is frantically trying to save as many kids as possible. All that remain are 14 students who are now trapped inside the store with no idea as to what natural disasters and end of world events are occurring outside. All they know is that they must find away to peacefully coexist and survive in the store until help arrives.
This was a fantastic story and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it (although I am happy that the sequel is already out). It was so different from everything else that I have been reading. The focus is completely about the kids’ day to day life in the store, which at first glance sounds terribly dull but is in fact fascinating. I was utterly transfixed but what was happening between the kids, both the dynamics between them and the extreme measures that have to be taken to live. About halfway through the book I thought that I should be more concerned with what is happening outside the store, but then decided I really didn’t care -the kids were much more interesting. Needless to say, by the time I finished the book I rushed to the bookstore to get book 2, Sky on Fire. I had to know what was happening with everyone, not to mention that the end was a cliffhanger. This has definitely become a staff pick and a favorite of mine.
Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circleis filled with tragedy and also the wonders of friendship and the strength to move forward. Mary suffers the devastating lost of her only child and feels as if she is going to cave-in on herself. She finds that she is now unable to do the activities that once brought joy to her life. Reluctantly she joins a knitting circle to help fill her endless days. As she learns new knitting skills she also learns about the other women in the group and the incredible strength that resides in all of us.
I really liked all of the characters. Hood did a great job of showing the courage and strength of all the women as well as showing how the friendships between them encouraged their emotional growth. This is a very realistic and tragic story, but Hood balanced the grief with the hope perfectly. I was heartbroken at the beginning but could see a glimmer of hope coming to swoop into the story. Aside from loving all of the characters and their charm, I also loved all of the knitting. The description of the yarn’s color and texture was incredible. I finished the book and wanted to reach for my knitting needles. I think any contemporary fiction reader will enjoy this book as well as knitting fans.