Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Heroines that Could Kick my Ass

I have been avoiding the frightening reality of working in public education by wallowing in a warm pool of alternative worlds and distant futures. I managed to get hold of several want-to-reads under the guise of buying books for my ten-year-old book worm. Buying books is easy, but getting them out of my daughters room is not so simple. She has a passionate desire to keep all the 'good books" in her room in case any one "messes them up". My friend Phyllis (who is older and much more reliable than me) has not yet been forgiven for returning Fire Bringer with a scotch-taped cover. I am no longer allowed to lend books to Phyllis, but where there's a will there's a way. I seem to have found my way in to a world where girls are tough and leave the boys behind in a cloud of indignation and embarrassment. The ones they don't kill have two choices - become embroiled in a complicated relationship and/or have their hearts broken. Excellent. Go girls.
I finally got around to The Hunger Games immediately followed by its sequel, Catching Fire. I am sure that most of you have read these almost instant classics by now, or read another review, so I shall spare you the details. (If not, here's Stephen King's review for EW and I agree with Stephen, Katniss is a hard name to get over.) We all have to wait until the summer of 2010 to find out if Katniss, the heroine, ends up with Peeta, heart-on-your-sleeve adorer from afar, or Gale, smoldering hunting companion/bestfriend. My friend Phyllis and I are wholeheartedly on the Peeta side of the fence.Luckily, Phyllis and I will be able to remain friends. There are, believe it or not, and I do, chat rooms dedicated to the Peeta/Gale debate.
The rights for the movie were bought by Lionsgate in March. If one is so inclined, and one was, you can go on Youtube and see fantasy cast lists for the movie. Brendan Gleeson would make a great Haymitch. Anyhoo, Suzanne Collins also wrote the The Underland Chronicles, which my daughter adored and Phyllis enjoyed, too (after checking them out from the library).
I moved swiftly on to Graceling by Kristen Cashore. I read it in a couple of days and will be reading the sequel Fire the minute I can pry it out of my daughter's iron grip. I smuggled Graceling out to Phyllis before winter break, so the jury is still out on her response. Thank goodness this heroine, Katsa, didn't end up in a love triangle. That would be too much to bare. She falls for and sticks with the lovely Prince Po. Thank you Ms Cashore. Both girls are tomboy heroines and both of them could kick my ass (which I'll admit wouldn't be difficult). Katsa, however doesn't have to learn to kill to survive. In Cashore's midievelesque alternate world, Katsa is a graceling - gifted with a "grace" and different colored eyes that signal her uniqueness (kind of like David Bowie). Unfortunately, her grace turns out to be more of a burden. She is a killing machine; a young girl capable of taking down the strongest of men with the flick of her wrist. Only until she escapes her evil uncle's influence and can use her grace for good does she realize that killing may only be one facet of her gift.
Phyllis suggested that Cate might like the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce. So, I checked a couple out from the library for me trying hard not to be put off by the cheesy covers of the Random House editions. Needless to say Phyllis is always right. I am now on book three of the four book series (qualogy?). The heroine is once again a girl with the strength of a man and the intelligence of a woman (great combination), who battles prejudice and puberty to become a knight. There's always a love interest and this heroine, Kel, develops a crush on a fellow trainee (he has floppy hair and green eyes - I imagine hime to be a better looking Hugh Grant with magical healing powers). As I am only on book three and she just turned fourteen, I don't know if the crush will come to aught or not.
While reading First Test I received a notice that my request for The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness had arrived at the library. Another trilogy, Chaos Walking, of which there are two so far. I gobbled this one up just as quickly as those aforementioned. The Knife takes place on another planet that has been settled by humans looking for a simpler and less crowded way of life. The hero (don't worry, a strong female character turns up pretty quickly) of the story, Todd, is the last boy in a town of men. The women, he has been told, all died of a germ spread by the native "aliens" who were then wiped out for their sins. The germ also left all men, boys and living creatures able to hear each others' every thought. So, life in the town is very noisy and keeping a secret requires mental agility. When Todd and his dog stumble upon a pocket of silence in the swamp outside the town, life changes dramatically and Todd is soon on the run discovering that everything he thought to be true is not so. The book is well written and moves as fast as your eyes will allow you to. The idea of others being able to hear every thought reminds me of standing in line with someone talking on their cell phone. You are trapped in their conversation whether you like it or not, learning things that more often than not are mundane. Imagine being surrounded by hundreds of people on cell phones twenty four seven. The publishers try to recreate this experience of "the noise" by strategically filling a page or two with thought scribble. The Knife leaves you hanging and there was a tense exchange at my local library when the next installment, The Ask and the Answer, was found to be "missing". Undeterred, I trudged down to the Central Library through freezing slush and over pee ridden snow banks. That copy was MIA, too, but the librarian sensing my rising panic agreed to "look in the back just in case" and voila! I left clutching the elusive volume to my chest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed finding your blog today and I hope you do not mind, I pulled a quote from your Spanish Moss.
If you do mind let me know and I'll pull it.