Monday, November 29, 2010

Wicked Girls-- Stephanie Hemphill

Sometimes, in a society that stifles the voices of youth and of women, you need to be loud and unique to be noticed. And in my opinion, that's what this book, Wicked Girls, is really about. It's set in the Salem area during the Salem Witch Trials. The novel is narrated in turn by young women, and it's in verse.

Wicked Girls takes you beyond just the facts or the information you might have learned in school. Through the verse format, Hemphill manages to make you really feel like you understand the emotional process the girls must have gone through to get to a place where they could accuse other women (and men) of being witches. These girls would convulse, seize, shriek, foam at the mouth, become feverish, and gave all outward appearances of being thoroughly tortured by witches. But Hemphill subtly asserts that they were not really seers, but lonely girls overlooked by parents and lovers; girls who needed something to break the bleak oppression a highly conservative society might bring.

Hemphill weaves fact into this work of fiction, which seems to be her speciality. While the dialog is imagined, and some names have been slightly changed, she tries to stick to the facts enough to give the reader a true impression of what happened in the past. It could be a tough sell for some teens, but this is a popular topic and maybe the verse-novel format will make it an easier sell.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flash-- Michael Cadnum

Everything about Flash is set up to be a page-turner.

Bruce and Milton have a hard life. The brothers hail from a working-class family, and their dad died in a factory explosion. To find some relief, both from poverty and the tedium of it, they decide to rob a bank.

Nina has a lot on her plate too. Her father's import business is going under. Her brother Carraway is AWOL from Iraq, and her boyfriend Terrence is almost completely blind. On top of it all, she needs money to finance her art gallery showing... an event that could be her ticket to a new life all together.

Now add to the equation: desperation, guns, and everyone's favorite: a twist.

So like I said, a page-turner right? Well for me it wasn't. Honestly I felt the writing was lacking and the characters were dull. For some teens, I bet the plot will be enough to keep them going. I would feel comfortable giving this to a reluctant reader or someone who likes crime fiction, but do not offer it to teens who want a better quality of writing.