Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Recent FYA Book Club Choices

From Goodreads:
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
This one is just an absolute delight to read in every way.  It felt familiar, but not in a cliched way.  I liked that the series seems, so far, to be somewhat episodic, which is exactly what appeals to me about the two tv shows used to blurb the book: Doctor Who and Sherlock.  I love getting a complete story at once, knowing I can look forward to sequels and maybe a continuing story line, but with a fully formed story as well.  The characters are fun and quirky and the story made for compelling reading.  I did figure out the "who done it" very early on.  And while I appreciated the familiarity of the characters, I felt like they were pretty soundly influenced by Doctor Who and Sherlock.  You could easily replace Jackaby with either and not miss a beat - but for me that wasn't problematic.  It's meant to be fun and fanciful and it completely lived up to that expectation.  I highly recommend it and can't wait to read the next book in the series, which comes out in September.

From Goodreads:
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. 
The first three quarters of this book were absolutely beautiful and captivating.  I loved the friendship between Dante and Aristotle.  I loved how open Dante was about his identity and sexuality, even though it led him to danger.  His character is so well drawn - he's full of such exuberance and just so very much himself that he can't help but show it to the world.  And I enjoyed reading about a friendship with an unrequited romance.

I felt like the end caved to the pressure of having a message.  It became more on the nose regarding the issue of homosexuality and, I felt, made a point about acceptance rather than honoring the characters, who were already diverse and nuanced and showing a unique and accepting friendship that didn't need a romantic element.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I felt like the ending was somewhat forced.  I was also disappointed by the 1980's setting.  There were few cultural references and, were we not occasionally reminded of the era, I never would have noticed it didn't have a contemporary setting.  There didn't seem to be much of a reason to set it in the 80's other than for novelty, but the author didn't follow that novelty through consistently.  

Overall, I think it's worth reading, but it lost some entertainment value (and writing value) for me when it became more of a message book and less consistent in terms of characterization.

A big thanks to my public library and my college library for providing me with copies of these two!

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Who meets Sherlock seems like a have-to-buy book for my son who is addicted to both.