Posts Tagged ‘detailed characterization’

Room

August 8, 2012

  Author:  Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre:  Psychological Suspense, Bestseller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  321

Geographical Setting:  Not specified- probably North America

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  Five-year-old Jack has lived in Room his entire life.  His Ma was abducted at age 19 and forced to live in a one-room shed for seven years.  She has done the best she could raising a small child, making sure he has been fed and healthy and keeping their captor from coming near Jack.  But, as Jack gets older she knows they must get out and away from “Old Nick”.  Escape is dangerous and the outside world will be scary but Jack and Ma are ready for a new life and a second chance.

Subject Headings: Boys-Fiction, Mother and Child- Fiction, Kidnapping-Fiction, Psycopaths- Fiction, Escapes- Fiction

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, detailed characterization, intriguing, realistic characters, well- drawn characters, complex, issue oriented, thought-provoking, bittersweet, foreboding, candid, unusual style

3 terms that best describe this book:  compelling, well-drawn characters, thought-provoking

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Anatomy of a Kidnapping- Steven L Berk
In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice.  This nonfiction book would interest readers who want to hear a true story of abduction from an adult point of view.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old; she was abducted from a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behavior raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garridos’ home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.  A Stolen Life was written by Jaycee herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991, up until the present. This book is a very similar, true-life story of Jack’s Ma in Room.

Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a “New York Times” scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  This is a compelling story about a woman breaking free from extreme adversity that readers of Room will thoroughly enjoy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
Che is an eight-year-old boy being raised by his grandmother in New York in the 1960’s.  His parents are radical student activists and Che has been yearning for them since he was very small, but his grandmother has kept him in relative isolation.  One day someone comes to take him back to his real parents and Che enters a wild journey that leads him to Queensland, Australia.  This book deals with the same themes of isolation and kidnapping that Room does.

The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell
A mother and a daughter live quietly in the rustic gatehouse of Shrove House, an isolated British estate. Their life seems perfectly ordinary except that daughter Liza has been kept isolated from the outside world for all of her sixteen years. And that she has seen her beautiful mother commit murder. Now, as the police come searching for a missing man, Liza’s sheltered, strange world begins to fall apart. Room and The Crocodile Bird are both haunting psychological suspense stories in which a child who grew up in isolation now faces the unexpected real world.

Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
When a newspaper heiress is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, she ends up surprising everyone by taking a new name and staying with her captors.  This story is loosely based on the Patty Hearst case and chronicles the next 16 months of Tania’s life in hiding with them.  Like Room, this book deals with the psychological effects of living in isolation and captivity.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

Many a River

July 16, 2012

Author:  Elmer Kelton

Title: Many a River

Genre:  Western

Publication Date:  2008

Number of Pages:  335

Geographical Setting:  Texas and New Mexico

Time Period:  Civil War era

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  The story of the Barfield brothers, who are small children traveling west when Comanche Indians attack their family and kill their parents.  Todd is taken by the Indians and sold, while Jeffrey manages to hide and is eventually picked up by some traveling militiamen and given a home.  The book follows the lives of each boy through adolescence as they get caught up in the drama of the Civil War in the Southwest.

Subject Headings:  Civil War period, Brothers, Indians of North America, Comanche Indians, Comanche Indians- Captivities, Mexico, Confederate States of America, The Civil War, Coming-of-Age Stories, Western Stories

Appeal:  Densely written, detailed characterization, multiple points of view, complex story line, episodic, gentle, detailed setting, historical details, candid, simple, clean, stirring

3 terms that best describe this book: Densely written, Solid historical details, Multiple points of view

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

 Manifest Destinies:  America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War– Steven Woodworth

A history of the 1840s, Manifest Destinies discusses how the acquisition of western territories forced the nation to come to grips with the approaching Civil War.

Rebel Private:  Front and Rear:  Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier– William A Fletcher

This surviving journal of a Confederate footsoldier details what life was really life in the trenches of the Civil War.  This memoir is a true-life version of Todd and Jeffrey’s time with the soldiers during the Civil War.

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History– S.C. Gwynne

This book is the story of the Comanche Indians, and their battle with the American settlers for control of the West.  Would be a good choice for readers interested in the tribe that attacked the Barfields and kidnapped Todd.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Telegraph Days– Larry McMurtry

The story of two siblings orphaned by their father’s suicide who must move from their prosperous ranch to the nearby town and start new lives.  Telegraph Days is another descriptive Western story about siblings starting over after tragedy.

Runaways– Andrew Fenady

Fleeing the devastation of the Civil War, Shad Parker shuts himself away on his farm in Texas. The arrival of three orphans during Christmas week of 1867 gives him something to live for.  This inspiring novel features the same type of happy ending for young orphans in the West.

The Shadow of a Noose– Ralph Compton

Young twins Jed and Tim Strange set out to find their sister, who left home to avenge their father’s murder over a year ago. But when they’re accused of a murder they didn’t commit, they must go on the run to find the true killers.  This is another descriptive, atmospheric Western tale like Many a River.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

The Lone Ranger, Volumes 1 and 2

March 18, 2009

Author: Matthews, Brett (writer) and Cariello, Sergio (illustrator)
Title: The Lone Ranger
Genre: Graphic Novel; Western
Publication Date: 2007; 2008
Number of Pages: 160 p.; 140 p.
Geographical Setting: Texas, Wyoming, other Western locations
Time Period: 1869
Series: The Lone Ranger. Serial comic book, series continues to present

Plot Summary: A “reboot” of the iconic Western story—which has been a serial staple for decades, on radio, in film, on television, and in books and comics—Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello’s new comic The Lone Ranger goes back to the roots of the mysterious masked hero, skillfully and engagingly revealing his family history, his the origin of his friendship with Tonto, his motivation to become a masked vigilante, and the development of his particular “no-kill” moral code. The hero’s origins are revealed in flashbacks presented throughout the series, and the first twelve issues (collected in six-issue hardbacks) sets up his transformation into the Lone Ranger and his quest to find and bring to justice the man responsible for the death of his family. While faithful to the source mythology, the new series does make some changes to the “classic” version of the characters. The author and artist collaborated carefully to make sure that Tonto, the Native American man who joins the Lone Ranger’s quest, was a more three-dimensional, less stereotypical character with his own backstory and motivations and relieving him of his broken English and unquestioning devotion. The interior and cover art is vivid and atmospheric, beautifully capturing the Western landscapes and framing the action and characters within it.

Readers who turn to this incarnation of The Lone Ranger because of a childhood affection for the 1950s TV series will be pleased with the detail and care given to the characters but may be surprised by the graphic violence portrayed. The Lone Ranger’s no-kill code does not entirely prevent him from committing other acts of violence, and most of the other characters have no qualms about killing. This is a comic meant for teens and adults, not children. The series won the 2006 Eisner Award winner for Best New Series and Best Cover Artist, and True West magazine’s awarded the series the “Best Western Comic Book of the Year” in their 2009 Best of the West Source Book.

Subject Headings: Lone Ranger; Tonto; Western stories; Texas; Texas Rangers; adventure; comics and graphic novels; serial publications; series characters; interracial friendship; vengeance; law and justice; vigilantes; Old West.

Appeal: action-oriented, award-winner, character-centered, cinematic, colorful, darker, detailed characterization, detailed setting, details of Old West, details of Texas Rangers, dramatic, engaging, episodic, evocative, explicitly violent, faithful characterization, familiar characters, flashbacks, hard-edged, melodramatic, menacing atmosphere, psychological, recognizable characters, rural atmospheric, series characters, strong secondary characters, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, vivid, well-developed characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Rangers of the Lone Star. Zane Grey. (Classic Western author, Texas Rangers)

· Lonesome Dove. Larry McMurtry. (character driven Western featuring retired Texas Rangers; see also McMurtry’s “prequels” featuring the characters’ careers in the Rangers.)

· Bat Lash: Guns and Roses. Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones (writers); John Severin (illustrator). (Comics and graphic novels, Western, update of classic Western comic book character)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

  • Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers. Robert M. Utley (history of the Texas Rangers in the 19th century)
  • Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State. Randolph B. Campbell. (Texas history)
  • Hollywood’s West: The American Frontier in Film, Television, and History. Peter C. Rollins and John E. O’Connor, editors. (essays about Hollywood’s interpretations of the West)

Name: Cynthia

The Foreign Correspondent

February 18, 2009

Author: Furst, Alan

Title: The Foreign Correspondent

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 273

Geographical Setting: Spain, France, Italy, Germany

Time Period: 1938, pre-World War II

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

When Bottini, editor for the Italian Resistance newspaper, the Liberazione, is murdered in his lover’s arms, a group of Italian ex-patriots must find a new editor to continue their anti-fascist cause. The group selects Carlo Weisz, foreign correspondent for the Rueters News Agency. But, in a European landscape gripped by fear, Carlo Weisz finds himself “volunteered” by British Intelligence agents to write propaganda filled novel about an anti-fascist freedom fighter’s heroic exploits in Spain. Now in a world where communists, Nazis, spies, traitors, assassins, and a global war could be just around the corner, Weisz must balance his job at the paper, his work at the Liberazione, his novel about the anti-fascist hero, and his love affairs before they all comes crashing down around him. Then, when the reader thinks that Weisz cannot keep his grip on it all, he is forced to sneak into Mussolini’s fascist Italy to save the love of his life, to save his beloved country, and to save himself.

Subject Headings: Journalists, Spy, Mussolini Benito, Italy-Resistance, France, Paris, Underground newspapers, Fiction, Fascism, Italy-History-20th century-Fiction, Europe-History-1918-1945-Fiction, Italy-Politics and government-1914-1945-Fiction, World War II-historical fiction.

Appeal:

Unhurried, engrossing, detailed characterization, action oriented, detailed setting, historical details, strong main characters, political, gritty, hard edged, suspenseful, character driven, dramatic, thrilling.

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

A Spy at the Heart of the Third Reich: The Extraordinary Story of Fritz Kolbe, America’s Most Important Spy in World War II, by Lucas Delattr – Once only known as the “anonymous hero,” this work describes the thrilling true story of Fritz Kolbe, one of the major spies who risked his life for the Allied nations during World War II.

The Italian Resistance: An Anthology, by Phillip Cooke – A collection of various works that discuss and describe the Italian Resistance. Works span from 1943 through 1995 and include a variety of texts including songs, novels, short stories, and memoirs.

Mussolini, by R.J.B. Bosworth – A biography about the man who rose to power from modest beginnings, became an Italian dictator who craved an empire, and is remembered as one of histories greatest tyrants.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Guns of Heaven, by Pete Hamill – On a trip to Northern Ireland, New York newspaper writer Sam Briscoe gets more than he bargains for when he is asked to deliver an important letter from a high-ranking official in the Irish Republican Army. An international chase begins, as Sam and the letter must find their way back to New York City in one piece.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le CarreA detailed, character-driven, Cold War thriller about Alec Leamas, a man who, at last, can end his career as a British spy. However, before he can do so, he must travel to Soviet controlled East Germany and complete one last harrowing assignment.

The Ministry of Fear, by Graham Greene – An eccentric tale of mystery and suspense unfolds when an ordinary man witnesses several strange occurrences, is accused of murder, and is hunted by Nazis, all because he took part in a charity fundraiser.

Name: Mike