Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pendragon #1: The Merchant of Death by D.J. McHale

The Merchant of Death (Pendragon, #1)This book is the first in a series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Bobby Pendragon misses his middle school's championship basketball game, because Uncle Press says some people need Bobby's help. Bobby doesn't know much more than that when they enter the flume and travel to another world. Almost as quickly,  Uncle Press is captured by some warriors and Bobby is left on his own. He finds a savage world where the Bedoowans have enslaved the Milagos and are forcing them to mine for gems. The Milago plan to fight back, and they expect Bobby to help lead them. Bobby isn't a warrior, but he becomes more alarmed when he discovers the Milago plan to use an explosive called tak to defeat the Bedoowan. However, they've collected enough tak to blow up their enemies and themselves and send their world into an endless spiral of self-destruction. The survival of this world, and Earth, depends on Bobby.

I'd seen this book on my classroom bookshelf for years but never read it. It's always interesting to read plots where the seemingly untalented character is the key to resolving the conflict. I enjoyed the interaction of Bobby and Loor, because she was a warrior and became disgusted with Bobby's lack of interest in helping. The author had Bobby write journals for Mark and Courtney, two of his Earth friends, that became periodic chapters in the book. This style helped change the pace of the plot and shared necessary information for the reader.

Powerless by Matthew Cody

Powerless (Daniel Corrigan, #1)This book was recommended by one of my students, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Daniel moves to a new town and discovers that he is the only member of his group of friends without a super power. However, his twelve-year-old friends know that they will lose their powers and memories when they turn thirteen. Daniel is a Sherlock Holmes fan and sets out to uncover this mystery. He discovers that some comic books actually tell the history of the super children and that the author illustrator lives in town. The author shares some helpful information, but it may lead them to their doom. The Shroud continues to lurk and suck away the super powers, and a showdown in the climax is inevitable.

The plot read like a comic book, not with the pictures but in the style. Daniel was the only character without powers, so it seemed obvious that he'd be the one to make everything right. The interaction of the characters was entertaining, and the author provided some twists to the plot that kept me guessing. It was a fun book to read.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Midnighters #1: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld

The Secret Hour (Midnighters, #1)I reread this book, the first in a series, and gave it a rating of four out of five. Jessica moves to Bixby, Oklahoma, and she soon discovers that strange things are happening. There are the strange kids at school who keep staring at her. Then, it's her weird dreams at midnight. Are they really dreams? How can she run through raindrops, frozen in the air, but how can she explain her wet clothes in the morning if it didn't actually happen? What about the slithery snakes, the flying creatures, and the giant cat that almost killed her? Rex, Dess, and Melissa try to explain the 25th hour of the day to Jessica, when only Midnighters and Darklings roam the Earth. The Midnighters realize that there is something different about Jessica; she possesses a hidden talent that scares the Darklings. And the Midnighters must go to the center of Darkling territory to unlock that secret!

The plot was entertaining, and the setting was creative. I mean, a 25th hour of the day that know of us are aware of? The fact that the Midnighters had exactly one hour to move around freely added some suspense, since they were sometimes caught far away from where they were at the start of the midnight hour. People would notice something was strange if the Midnighters were ever seen when the hour expired. They would appear out of nowhere when the regular people unfroze.

Midnighters 3: Dark Noon by Scott Westerfeld

Blue Noon (Midnighters, #3)This book is the third in the series, and I gave it a rating of five out of five. The Blue Time is expanding. Soon, much of the daylight world will be consumed by the Blue Time and all of the Darklings will feast on the humans. Rex has an internal battle going on between his Darkling part and his human part. The Darkling part sometimes takes him over. Once again, Jessica is the key to stopping the Darklings, but her sister, Beth, starts to complicate things. She's very observant, and she knows Jessica has been doing something around the midnight hour. Her curiosity may lead to her death, or it may spell the end of all humans.

The plot brings the whole series to a conclusion. The Darklings are excited for the upcoming Halloween, and the Midnighers aren't sure if they can trust Rex. Midnight on Halloween may signal the death of many humans, or it may be the end of the Darklings. The resolution of the plot is surprising when you discover what's happened to Jessica. It's a little sad.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness by Scott Westerfeld

Touching Darkness (Midnighters, #2)This book is the second in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. The Darklings seem to be less active since, Jessica fried most of them at the end of the first book. However, the Midnighters make several discoveries, a couple of which may be large problems. They find out that there's a Midnighter seer in Bixby who has been hiding from the Darklings for the past fifty years. They also find out that there are some "normal" humans who have been helping the Darklings by spying on Jessica and leaving the Darklings messages. The biggest problem is that they discover a Midnighter who was changed into a partial Darkling and has been helping them for the past fifty years. The problem gets worse, because the Darklings need to capture Rex and change him to replace this dying Midnighter.

My summary will make more sense if you've read the first. You need to read these books in order. The plot has many twists and turns as the Midnighters realize they have bigger problems brewing. Jessica and Melissa are still trying to learn to master their powers, and Dess has some internal conflicts developing because of the hidden Midnighter. The plot ends with the Blue Moon rising at 9:00 in the morning! Blue Noon is the third book in the series.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner

Eye of the StormI came across this book at our school library, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Jaden moves to Placid Meadows to live with her father and attend the Eye of Tomorrow school. The school trains some of best minds in America to become future scientists. Jaden is interested in learning to control the weather, since tornadoes and hurricanes are out of control on Earth. Her father is a leader in weather research, and he runs the school and science lab located nearby. For some reason, the daily tornadoes never enter Placid Meadows, and Jaden starts to wonder why. She does some research and has suspicions that lead her to question her father's work. She refuses to believe the truth until it's almost too late.

The plot has an interesting conflict, although some readers may be turned off by the weather talk. It's interesting to wonder about controlling the weather, which I'm sure is being studied by real scientists today. The conflicts between characters create a variety of tense moments as Jaden tries to sort through her loyalties. She develops some close friendships, but she's also trying to understand and love a father she rarely sees. The author did a wonderful job of creating suspense during the climax. She kept adding more and more obstacles as Jaden tried to stop three tornadoes from destoying Placid Meadows.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Elemental by Antony John

ElementalI found this book on the new releases shelf at my public library, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Thomas  lives with The Guardians and their children on Hatteras Island, just off the Atlantic coast. The Guardians and their children are Elementals, able to control different parts of nature. Some control water, some the air, and some the earth. However, Thomas is kind of an outcast, because he doesn't seem to have any Elemental powers. The children are sent to Roanoke Island for protection against an oncoming storm, but they start to uncover some secrets about an abandoned town on the island. They realize the adult Elementals have been keeping secrets from them, and they are shocked to find pirates have kidnapped their parents. However, the pirates really want to get their hands on Thomas and his younger brother. Apparently, they hold the key to The Solution. Is the problem the plague that wiped out the population, or is there something even bigger going on?

The plot started off slowly for me, but it became more interesting once the children started to find strange things around Skeleton Town, on Roanoke Island. The children did't realize that the setting for this book was only a couple of miles from North America. A plague killed all of the people on the mainland, but Hatteras Island and Roanoke Island offered protection from the illness. It was fun to see characters' secrets revealed as they tried to discover the truths to their parents' lies. The pirates created action and suspense. A secret about Dash, leader of the pirates, is realized on the last page of the book. I assume there is a sequel to this book.