Posts Tagged ‘bleak’

The Casual Vacancy

December 5, 2012

casualvacancycoverAuthor: J.K. Rowling

Title: The Casual Vacancy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 512

Geographical Setting: English village of Pagford

Time period: Present day

Genre: Black humor; Satirical fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In the quiet village of Pagford, chaos ensues after the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother leaves a vacancy on the parish council. The local election that follows exposes secrets, causes intense battles between families and community members, and leads to unexpected revelations that may change their lives forever.

Subject Headings: City council members – Death – Fiction. Local elections – Fiction. Country life – England—Fiction. England – Fiction. Black humor (Literature).

Appeal: Character-centered, detailed setting, bleak, thought-provoking, engrossing, unsettling, strong language, humorous, multiple points of view, closely observed characters, political

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, bleak, thought-provoking

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Readers who are seeking another bleak read with self-absorbed characters might enjoy An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge. This darkly humorous book also takes place in an English village and involves a bickering town council. The book also centers on young actress Stella, who takes on the job of assistant stage manager at a reparatory theatre company in Liverpool and finds romance with the director of the show.

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

For another darkly humorous, satirical fiction tale that takes place in England, readers should check out Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis. This satire pokes fun at modern society and culture in this story of thug Lionel Asbo, who looks out for his nephew Desmond Pepperdine. While Desmond just seeks a quiet and simple life without any trouble, his uncle’s criminal lifestyle has always gotten in his way, but Desmond has no idea how much worse it will get once Lionel wins big in the lottery.

Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel

Like The Casual Vacancy, Every Day is Mother’s Day is a character-driven book with a darkly humorous tone. This book focuses on medium Evelyn Axon, her daughter, Muriel, and their social worker, Isabel Field, as they all confront their own problems and dark secrets.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

J.K. Rowling: A Biography by Sean Smith

Author J.K. Rowling made a huge name for herself with her legendary Harry Potter series, and had fans eagerly awaiting the release of The Casual Vacancy, her first book for adults. These fans might want to check out a biography about Rowling and learn more about the life of their beloved author. J.K. Rowling: A Biography is the full-length story of her life based on research, interviews, and evaluations of her novels by author Sean Smith. Readers will learn about Joanne Rowling before she became the best-selling author she is today, and the experiences that helped lead her to where she is now.

A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar

Readers who enjoyed the secrets and scandals exposed in fictional work The Casual Vacancy might enjoy reading about actual scandals and true stories of notorious rulers in history. Some of these include Catherine the Great, King George III, and Joanna the Mad.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson

In The Casual Vacancy, politics and social classes played a big role in the story. Readers might enjoy this book because it discusses English society during a period of time in 1911 and covers milestones such as the crowning a new king and paralyzing strikes in the British industry. Also, this book is told from many points of view, much like readers get several different character’s perspectives in The Casual Vacancy.

Name: Melissa Apple

Night

November 28, 2012

Author: Elie Wiesel
Title: Night
Genre: Memoir
Publication: 2006
Number of Pages: 120 pages
Geographical Setting: Europe- Germany
Time Period: 1933-1945
Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

Wiesel writes what seems to be his own autobiography through the eyes of the narrator -Eliezer.  We get a first person narrative of events of the holocaust as Elies takes us through the Nazis invasion of Hungary in 1944.  To the rude awakening of the Jews, a lot of oppressive and stringent laws are created to oppress the Jews forcing them into the ghettos. From then, there are imposed restrictions and eventual massive deportation of the Jews as prisoners by cattle cars to Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.   On getting to camp, Elie is separated from his father during “selection”. From then on we get a detailed  account of the horror, hardship and inhumanity as suffered by Elie Wiesel and his family and the rest of the Jews. Babies are burned in the ditch, hundreds of Jews burned in the crematoria. Prisoners are stripped naked and exposed to extreme weather condition, most people die from malnutrition and disease.

In the end, we see a broken down man, his spirits crushed which causes him to question his faith in God and in his fellow men.
A gut wrenching read, will appeal to those curious about the holocaust.

Subject Headings:
God (Judaism), Wiesel,  Elie, 1928, Birkenau Extermination Camp, Auschwitz (Concentration Camp), Jewish teenage boys, Holocaust survivors, Belief and doubt, Loss, Holocaust, Jewish (1933-1945) – Personal narratives

Three Appeal Terms:
Moving, Disturbing, Gruesome

Appeal:
Reflective, Moody, Haunting, Menacing, Disturbing, Bleak, Gut wrenching, Engaging, Thoughtful, Descriptive, Compelling, Candid

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Gratitude by Kertes, Joseph

Another gripping account of the events of the holocaust, but this time the story is based in Hungary.  We learn more about the atrocities committed against the Jews but with a different story line and complex plot twists than the Night.  Will make a great read for those yearning for more holocaust stories.

Schindler’s list by Keneally, Thomas
Schindler’s story is retold by Keneally about his life how he – Schindler a German saved more than a thousand Jews working for him during the holocaust. For those interested in the events of the holocaust, this books brings a different perspective judging from Schindler’s  acts of goodwill.

The jade peony by Choy,  Wayson

A poignant tale of the recollections of an immigrant Chinese family in Chinatown – Vancouver before and during World War II.  The story is told from the eyes of the three young children about the difficulties, sorrows and loss they felt while growing up.  This is another alternative for readers interested in the theme of persecution, suffering and survival as in Night.

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

The diary of a young girl: the definitive edition by Anne Frank
This book chronicles the personal experiences of Anne Frank and her family as they hide from place to place during the holocaust.  A more convincing account of the reality of the holocaust for those doubtful of the Night.

Maus: a survivor’s tale by Spiegelman, Art
Portrayed in a Graphic format, the author tells the story of his family’s experiences during the holocaust.  How they bounced from place to place, their hardship and survival.  Using animals in this format is a creative and effective way to depict such sorrowful events and will appeal to readers who love Graphic novels.

Holocaust: the events and their impact on real people by Wood, Angela
Find a collection of true stories of children who experienced first hand events of the holocaust.  Not only do we find each harrowing and gripping account of the suffering during this period, but we see  detailed analysis of events  leading up to this sadism and cruelty.  Great history collection.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

October 31, 2012

Author: Ira Levin

Title: Rosemary’s Baby

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 1967

Number of Pages: 218

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: 1960s

Plot Summary: Do you like reading books that have been made into movies? Then check this one out. Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband Guy Woodhouse moved into a famous apartment building in New York. A close friend of there’s feared that due to many incidents in the building’s past, there was something wrong with the building and they should not have moved there. This story progresses through Rosemary’s painful pregnancy and surprising birth of a child. Unfortunately, Rosemary’s friend hinted within a book that he left her before his death, that something was wrong with her neighbors. Could her neighbors be a coven of witches? Is her husband aware of this problem? Do the witches desire to take her baby? Has Rosemary gone insane? If you are a fan of literary fiction and want just a taste of horror, then try this book.

Sequel: Son of Rosemary

Subject Headings: Pregnancy, Witches, Witch Coven, Devil Worship

Appeal terms: leisurely paced, unhurried, bleak, melancholy, bittersweet, quirky, eccentric, tragic, investigative, classic, character centered, descriptive

Three appeal terms: tragic, character centered, quirky

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction-

The servants of twilight by Dean Koontz: This is a tale of a cult that is targeting a child because he may be the Antichrist. It was one of Koontz’s best works.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller: This is a classic play about the Salem Witch Trials.

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: This book is part of the “Lives of the Mayfair Witches” series. It tells the tale of four centuries of witchcraft.

Non-Fiction-

In the Devil’s Snare: the Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 by Mary Beth Norton: This is a book about the history of the Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692.

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen: This is a history of witchcraft accusations in New England. The author wrote about the social, religious, and economic reasons for accusing people of being witches.

Wicca for Beginners: fundamentals of philosophy & practice by Thea Sabin: This is a book about the philosophy, culture, and beliefs of Wiccan religion, a modern day version of a witchcraft based spirituality.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Vlad: A Novel

October 31, 2012

AuthVlad: A Novel by Carlos Fuentesor: Carlos Fuentes

Title: Vlad: A Novel

Genre: Horror; Mexican Fiction

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 122

Geographical Setting: Mexico City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Not part of a series, but a reimagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Plot Summary: Yves Navarro, an attorney, is ordered by his boss, the enigmatic Don Eloy Zurinaga, to find and secure a house for an old school friend of his from Europe, a certain Count Vladimir Radu, who tiring of constant unrest in the Balkans has recently decided to move to Mexico City. At first, Navarro is merely puzzled by some of Radu’s eccentric requests: the home must admit no light and a large tunnel is to be excavated beneath the premises. But after an unsettling dinner with the count, a repulsive, pale-skinned and bulbous-headed figure clumsily disguised with a wig, false mustache, and dark glasses, Navarro becomes anxious for his own safety. A sense of foreboding and menace come sharply into focus as the attorney begins to suspect Radu may be a vampire. But when Navarro discovers a photograph of his own wife and daughter taped inside an armoire in the count’s chambers—a sense of panic grips him, as he realizes too late that he has become ensnared in a web, the contours of which he is only dimly aware. Fuentes’ reimagining of the Dracula story is filled with vivid and darkly disturbing scenes, and punctuated by moments of humor, mostly in the form of roman à clef references to the Bram Stoker’s original. Beneath the tragic horror is a philosophical meditation on the meaning of mortality and what it is to be human.

Subject Headings: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, 1430 or 31-1476 or 7; Stoker, Bram, 1847-1912; Dracula — Sequels; Vampires; Lawyers; Real estate agents; Grief; Aging; Mortality

Appeal: compelling, fast paced, dramatic, eccentric, intriguing secondary characters, quirky, vivid, character centered, layered, some elements of humor, literary references, historical references, mystical, mythic, open-ended, tragic, bleak, dark, foreboding, menacing, philosophical, sensual, suspenseful, classic, concise, elegant, sophisticated

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character centered, dark, philosophical

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (2010) by J. Gordon Melton

Vlad: A Novel weaves familiar tropes of vampire fiction into its narrative and playfully references Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers who want to delve further into the lore and literature of the vampire will enjoy perusing this exhaustively detailed collection of some 500 essays on the subject.

The Philosophy of Horror (2012) by Thomas Fahy

Carlos Fuentes’ characters rhapsodize with philosophical musings about the nature of God, the fear of dying, and grief and loss. Fahy’s thought-provoking and persuasive guide to the philosophical subtexts of horror stories will resonate with readers who responded to the thematic underpinnings of Vlad: A Novel.

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (2012) edited by Suzanne Bost and Frances R. Aparicio

Carlos Fuentes is a much-admired author and critic in his native Mexico. Readers taken with Fuentes style and subject matter, and who want to learn more about the broader landscape of Latin American Literature, will find here a collection of forty scholarly but accessible essays that describe the most significant Latino and Latina authors and their work.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic (2012) edited by Eduardo Jimenez Mayo and Chris Brown

Three Messages and a Warning will appeal to readers who enjoyed Vlad: A Novel and want to read more tales of the supernatural and the macabre told from a uniquely Mexican perspective. Thematically serious, like Fuentes’ work, the short stories found in this anthology similarly offer a sense of the vibrant Mexican literary scene. The creepy but stylistically complex tales include: a pact with the devil, an apocalyptic ghost story, and an encounter with a doppelganger.

Anno Dracula (New Edition; 2011) by Kim Newman

Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula who enjoyed seeing the character revisited in Vlad: A Novel may appreciate Newman’s offbeat and compelling spin on the venerable vampire. In the alternate history of Anno Dracula, Count Dracula has not only not been vanquished, but is married to Queen Victoria and rules over England with an iron fist. Fuentes’ story is filled with references to characters and moments from the original Dracula; Newman goes one further and presents a supporting cast of familiar literary and historical characters, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jeckyll, and Sherlock Holmes.

The New Annotated Dracula (2008) by Bram Stoker; edited by Leslie S. Klinger

After reading Fuentes’ interpretation of Dracula, those who wish to revisit Bram Stoker’s atmospheric and menacing gothic tale will find a treasure trove of history and lore along with the original story in Klinger’s lushly illustrated and comprehensively annotated edition. Along with Stoker’s original manuscript, this edition also includes an alternate ending penned by the author sure to surprise readers who think they already know the story well.

Name: John Rimer

V for Vendetta

October 24, 2012

Author: Alan Moore

Title: V for Vendetta

Genre: Graphic novel, book to movie, comic books

Date Published: Nov. 2005

Pages: 256

Setting: Alternative England

Time Frame: The near future

Series: N/A

Summary: In a different world and a Totalitarian England that never was, a young woman, Evey, is rescued by ‘V’, a charming and mysterious vigilante who stands for the downfall of the government’s tyranny and shows her a new and different way of thinking and living.

Headings: Vigilantes, Dystopias, resistance to government, human experimentation in medicine, Totalitarianism, Fascism, revenge, hope

Appeal: dark, grim, bleak, dramatic, suspenseful, thought-provoking, realistic art style, antiheroes, intricate, world-building, gritty, character-driven

Three Best Descriptions: Character-driven. bleak, suspenseful

Similar Fiction Authors:

  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (1996) Located in an alternate Oxford, England, young Lyra must discover why local children are being kidnapped and why they are being severed from the Daemons that form part of themselves. (medical experimentation, suspense, world-building, steampunk, teens and adults)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) In a post-apocalyptic North America known as Panem, a lottery is held every four years to select a boy and a girl from each of its twelve Districts to participate in the widely broadcasted and gladiatorial Hunger Games; in order to prevent revolution. (world-building, character-driven, scifi, bleak, teens)
  • 1602 by Neil Gaiman (2004) In an alternative England, familiar Marvel comic book characters step into new roles in the court of Queen Elizabeth and have to deal with many trials (GN, historical, superheroes, teens and adults)

Similar Nonfiction Authors:

  • The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (2004) A political analysis dealing with Totalitarianism through its many phenomenas in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the 19th century. In depth study for those who need a definition of the way of thought. (antisemitism, social movements, historical writing)
  • Persepolis: the Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003) An autobiographical  and child’s eye view at life under the Islamic Revolution. (GN, memoir, historical writing, family and relationships)
  • Doctors from Hell: the Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans by Vivian Spitz (2005) Unpublished photos and documents from the Nuremburg Trials during the Holocaust (historical account, ethics, 20th century)

Name: Jennifer Palermo

Embroideries

October 24, 2012

Embroideries
Embroideries

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Genre: Graphic Novels; Autobiographical stories; Women’s Lives

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: unpaged

Geographical Setting: Iran (present day)

 

Plot Summary:  A multi-generational group of Iranian women gathers after a meal to share a cup of tea and raunchy stories.  In this book, Marjane Satrapi reveals a glimpse into the world of the women in her life.  These compelling stories of sexual exploits range from humorous to sad.  Despite the fact these women come from an exotic country, the stories are accessible, engaging and full of issues that arise in the lives of most women, regardless of era, country, and culture.

Subject Headings: Family; Friendship; Marriage; Women; Sexuality; Interpersonal relationships;

Appeal:  Thought-provoking; Humorous; Reflective; Character-driven; Accessible; Conversational; Engaging; Spare; Nostalgic; Issue-oriented; Exotic; Introspective;Realistic; Bleak

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Exotic; Humorous; Realistic;

Three fiction read-alikes:

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (Islamic county, Women’s lives, Sexuality)

Four young women navigate the complex line between today’s modern culture and the more traditional one of their parents and their land.

Laughable loves by Milan Kundera (Character-driven; Spare; Exotic)

A collection of short-stories revolving around the sexual games and fantasies of middle-class Central Europeans.

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros (Character-driven, Spare, Reflective)

Family secrets unfold and sibling rivalries flare during intergenerational vacations involving road trips from Chicago to visit relatives in Mexico.

Three related non-fiction titles:

 Unlikely by Jeffrey Brown (Graphic novel, Interpersonal relationships, Autobiographical)

In this autobiographical graphic novel, Jeffrey Brown bravely shares the compelling story of his first sexual relationship and eventual breakup.

 Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (Iran, Women)

This is a compelling true story of a group of women in Iran, who risk their lives for the love of literature.

Passionate uprisings: Iran’s sexual revolution by Pardis Mahdavi (Iran, Sexuality)

Told from the unique point of view of a Westerner born of Iranian parents, this book explores the sexual revolution and extreme risks taking place in Iran today.

Name: Shira

Await Your Reply

October 17, 2012

Author:  Dan Chaon

Title:  Await Your Reply

Genre:  Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  320

Geographical Setting:  Various locations throughout the U.S. (including Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska) and abroad (Canada and Ivory Coast)

Time Period:  2000’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

Three seemingly disparate narratives, divided into three sections, comprise this book.

-Miles Cheshire searches for his missing, mentally unstable twin brother, Hayden- a search that has consumed him for the past ten years.

-After discovering that he was adopted, Ryan Schuyler drops out of college at nineteen to join his real father, Jay, who involves Ryan in his fraud and identity theft schemes.

-Lucy Lattimore is an orphan who runs away with George Orson, her former high school history teacher, looking for a new life.

Rotating between each of the characters, the stories are connected via themes of loss and identity, and perhaps much more.  A compelling read that addresses ideas of self and reinvention, Await Your Reply builds in intensity as readers discover the interconnectedness of the characters’ lives and the dangerous consequences of journeys ill-chosen.

Subject Headings:  Identity theft, Secret identity, Twins, Missing persons, Runaways, Adoption, Family relationships, Teacher-student relationships, Embezzling, Cybercrime, Second chances, Truth.

Appeal:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted, Multiple storylines, Disturbing, Bleak, Complicated, Suspenseful, Unrelenting, Family dynamics, Twin brothers, Secrets, Reinventing yourself, Search for truth, Quest for identity, Criminal activity (identity theft/cybercrime).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Stealing Your Life:  The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan  by Frank W. Abagnale

From counterfeiting expert and author of Catch Me If You Can, comes a book about identity theft that discusses both the methods used by criminals and the steps people can take to prevent and/or deal with becoming victims themselves.  Await Your Reply involves characters that are perpetrators of identity theft.  Readers searching for more information about identity theft may find the many case histories and suggestions included in this book to be useful.

2.  Kingpin:  How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground  by Kevin Poulsen

Kingpin follows the rise and fall of Max Butler, a criminal hacker who stole access to over a million credit card accounts, exposing readers to hacking culture and the cybercriminal underworld along the way.  Readers who found the secretive and dangerous aspects of the crimes committed by the characters in Await Your Reply intriguing could find this title to be a compelling read.

3.  Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited  by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Two sisters, separated as infants by an adoption agency, reunite later in life.  In this book, they share the journey of their relationship from strangers to sisters.  Await Your Reply includes twin brothers as prominent characters.  Readers interested in learning more about twins and their relationship with one another may find this book to be a good match- it includes both information about twin studies and statistics as well as the emotion connection that the sisters form.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Talented Mr. Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley travels to Italy to convince a former classmate, the wealthy Dickie Greanleaf, to return home to his family.  Plans go awry when their friendship cools; Tom kills Dickie and assumes his identity.  Await Your Reply and The Talented Mr. Ripley are both character-driven psychological suspense stories that involve stolen identities, written in a spare and compelling style.

2.  Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie investigates three past crimes, all involving dead and/or missing girls.  Although a mystery, Case Histories is similar to Await Your Reply for being character-driven, disturbing and suspenseful.  Both stories also contain multiple storylines that involve family relationships and missing persons.

3.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Thomas H. Cook

Diana Sears doesn’t believe police reports that find the drowning of her son to be an accident.  In Diana’s obsessive search for answers, details about old crimes resurface and questions arise as to whether several murders may have been committed.  Both Await Your Reply and The Cloud of Unknowing are character-driven, disturbing, psychological suspense stories that are compelling to read.  Both stories also involve family relationships and Schizophrenia.

Name:  Nicole

Man in the dark

October 17, 2012

Book JacketAuthor: Paul Auster

Title: Man in the Dark

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 180

Geographical Setting: Vermont

Time Period: 2008

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: August Brill spends his days watching movies with his granddaughter, Katya and his nights creating stories when he cannot fall asleep. Man in the dark is a bleak novel about August Brill’s stories of the alternative history of modern day America. The alternative America that August Brill comes up with is that America is in a war with itself and individual states have become their own republic. August Brill envisions this thought provoking story through the eyes of Owen Brick in which he is brought to kill the man in charge of the war. August Brill’s fictional story about the modern day civil war reflects his own life and the family surrounding him. August was never able to fight in the war, he recently lost his own wife, got into a car accident and had to go live with his daughter Miriam. Also, his granddaughter lost her boyfriend Titus in a terrible accident. Man in the dark is a spare, stylistically complex and descriptive written novel in which it has a lot of plot and detail for a shorter book. The main question is how does his story of the modern day civil war relate to his own life?

Subject Headings: Memories; imaginary wars and battles; senior men; imagination; father and adult daughter; married women – death; murder victims; former critics; forgiveness; civil war; violence

Appeal: bleak; contemporary; descriptive; disturbing; experimental; gritty; flawed; intricately plotted; leisurely-paced; melancholy; reflective; spare; stylistically complex; thought provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: bleak; spare; stylistically complex

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

– Butler, Blake, Nothing: a portrait of insomnia (true story of a man who has insomnia and creates stories that based on his past experiences)

– Cowley, Robert, What if?: the world’s foremost military historians imagine what might have been: essays (historians look at how wars could have ended different if something different happened)

– Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: a narrative (describes the real civil war between 1862-1864)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

– Banville, John, The Sea (stylistically complex, reflective, dealing with family after wife died)

– Evaristo, Bernardine, 1959-, Blonde roots (alternative history about the United States)

– Updike, John, Toward the end of time (creates stories about fictional wars in the U.S. with China, bleak, descriptive)

Name: Samantha Biegel

Tomorrow, When the War Began

October 3, 2012

Tomorrow, When the War Began cover

Author: John Marsden

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 1993

Number of Pages: 277

Geographical Setting: Australia, present day (1990s)

Series: The Tomorrow Series (book 1)

Plot Summary:  A group of teenagers blow off the town’s festivities to go camping in Hell.  After a relaxing week in the Australian bush, the group returns to the unimaginable: empty homes, spoiled food and dead dogs.  The book reads like the first in a series, giving ample time for a fully developed setting and character development before jumping into the thrilling plot.  The characters transform as their new bleak reality sets in.  Readers discover character growth and plot development through a single narrator’s point of view.  The book ends on a suspenseful note as the group decides how best to deal with the grave situation at hand.

Subject Headings: Resourcefulness in teenagers; Hiding; Imprisonment; Resourcefulness; Determination in teenagers; Determination (Personal quality); Guerrilla warfare; War; Survival; Teenagers – Australia; Wilderness areas — Australia

Appeal:  Action-packed; Builds in intensity; Suspenseful; Bleak; Compelling; Series characters; Introspective; Detailed setting; Accessible; Small-town; Episodic; Flawed; Emotionally-charged; Coming-of-age

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Compelling; Bleak; Emotionally-charged

Three fiction read-alikes:

Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Bleak, Emotionally intense, Compelling, Survival, Series)

Set in rural Pennsylvania, 16 year-old Miranda’s life changed in a blink of an eye as a meteor causes more trouble than scientists predicted.  Miranda and her family struggle to survive the Earth’s violent reaction to this event.

Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival by Joe Nobody (Survival, Action-packed, Series)

Set in 2015, a couple must learn to survive in an America that has fallen into a second Great Depression, and devastated by terror attacks resulting in governmental collapse.

Winter’s End by Jean-Claude Mourlevat (Compelling adventure story about teenagers set in other countries)

Set in an unnamed country, this dystopian story is about four teenagers daring escape from their prison-like boarding school.  The teenagers struggle for survival and quest for answers about their past, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Three related non-fiction titles:

The Time of the Rebels: Youth Resistance Movements and 21st Century Revolutions by Matthew Collin (Young adults, Resistance)

This book discusses the role youth movements played in taking down oppressive governments.

 Violent Politics: a History of Insurgency, Terrorism & Guerrilla war, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk (guerrilla warfare and insurgency in several countries)

William Polk takes a global approach to the history of insurgency, terrorism & guerrilla warfare.

 Red Earth, Blue Sky: the Australian Outback by Margaret Rau (Australian Outback)

The story of Margaret Rau’s journey through the Australian Outback.

Name: Shira

Salvage the Bones

August 14, 2012

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Title: Salvage the Bones

Genre: African American

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 258

Geographical Setting: Rural Mississppi

Time Period: 2005 (Hurricane Katrina)

Plot Summary: In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Esch, fifteen, finds out she is pregnant. She and her brothers are leading a hard-scrabble life in rural Mississippi. Randall hopes to get a basketball scholarship and Skeetah is breeding his prize fighting pit bull. Things come to a dramatic conclusion as the Hurricane hits.

Subject Headings: African American teenage girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Brothers and sisters-fiction; Rural poor-Mississippi-fiction; Hurricane Katrina 2005-fiction.

Appeal: descriptive, gritty, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, realistic, bleak, poignant, sexually explicit, profanity, earthy, rural.

3 terms that best describe this book: realistic, gritty, rural setting.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story by James Patterson Smith. Tells of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the devastation of sixty five thousand homes and the precarious days of food and water shortages that followed.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
A true-life story of one man’s ordeal in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr.Zeitoun was allegedly mistaken for a terrorist and detained for over 20 days without ever standing trial.

Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a great American City by Jed Horne
An editor of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune presents victims’ tales and the politics behind the disastrous relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. Literary, character-driven, bleak, haunting, lyrical.

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Semi-autobiographical novel of a childhood in 1950s-60s South Carolina. The protagonist, nicknamed Bone, is a victim of poverty and physical abuse, including sexual abuse. Her family, like Esch’s, are poor, loving, and protective.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Set in Haiti’s impoverished villages and in New York’s Haitian community, this is the story of Sophie Caco, who was conceived in an act of violence, abandoned by her mother and then summoned to America.

Name: Sonia Reppe