Posts Tagged ‘intricate’

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  • Doctors from Hell: the Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans by Vivian Spitz (2005) Unpublished photos and documents from the Nuremburg Trials during the Holocaust (historical account, ethics, 20th century)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

Love You More

October 3, 2012

Author: Lisa Gardner

Title: Love You More

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 412

Geographical Setting: Boston, Massachusetts

Plot Summary: In this fifth book of the Detective D.D. Warren series, the veteran detective pairs up with former lover Bobby Dodge to solve what seems at first to be an open-and-shut case. State police trooper Tessa Leoni appears to have shot and killed her husband Brian Darby in self-defense, and she has the bruises to prove it. However, what happened to their six-year-old daughter Sophie? There’s more than meets the eye in this compelling, fast-paced tale, where plot twists abound, suspense constantly builds, and secrets shock as they are unraveled. D.D. and Bobby have their hands full trying to understand the motives behind Brian’s death and the little girl’s disappearance; meanwhile, readers are exposed to Tessa’s stories as told from her point-of-view. At the same time the detectives get closer to solving the case, readers begin to approach their own understanding of what’s really going on through Tessa’s unfolding tales.

Subject Headings: Warren, D.D. (Fictitious character) – Fiction. Police – Massachusetts – Boston—Fiction. Boston(Mass.) – Fiction. Mystery fiction.

Appeal: Fast-paced, suspenseful, multiple points of view, flashbacks, plot twists, investigative, compelling, series (characters), chilling, layered, psychological, flawed characters, engrossing, plot-driven, intricate

Three appeal terms:  Suspenseful, plot twists, investigative

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag

Down the Darkest Road is a crime novel that is suspenseful, compelling, and fast-paced – all the same appeal as Love You More. Engrossing and plot-driven, this book keeps readers on their toes and unable to put the book as they follow the outcomes of the disturbing case. Lauren’s 16-year-old daughter went missing, her husband killed himself, and now she has only her younger daughter, Leah, and the desire for a fresh start to keep her going. Lauren takes her daughter and moves them to the safe haven of Oak Knoll, but soon she finds out she’s not the only one who has relocated to this peaceful town…

Survivor in death by J.D. Robb

This is another fast-paced mystery book bursting with thrills and suspense, with a little romance thrown into the mix. Lieutenant Eve Duncan is on the case of the murder of the Swisher family in New York City, and brings in her partner Peabody and her husband Roarke to help investigate. Meanwhile, she’s guarding the family’s only survivor – a nine year-old girl named Nixie. Readers who enjoyed Love You More will likely enjoy the appeal of familiar characters working together in to solve a crime in an urban setting, but might also like the more emotional aspects present in this book.

Fallen by Karin Slaughter

Fans of suspenseful thrillers will find plenty of edge-of-your-seat twists and turns in Karin Slaughter’s Fallen. Police officer Faith Mitchell seeks the help of her partner, Will Trent, and trauma doctor Sara Linton after walking into a deadly hostage situation in her mother’s home. As Faith tries to find answers and locate her missing mother, she goes on a whirlwind journey to uncover the truth behind what happened and save her mother (and herself) from a deadly fate.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

A Cold Case by Philip Gourevitch

Almost thirty years after an unresolved case of a brutal double homicide in New York, determined investigator Philip Goeurevitch revisits the case, focusing less on the murders themselves and more on the lives and minds of the killers. The investigative appeal that readers enjoyed in Love You More is present here in Geourevitch’s book, only in a different type of murder case. In Love You More, the detectives spend time pondering the whys of murder to understand Tessa’s reasoning and motives. What could drive her to kill her six-year-old child? In A Cold Case, Gourevitch questions what can drive one man to kill and another to hunt murderers.

If Looks Could Kill by M. William Phelps

Fact is often stranger than fiction, which is one reason why fans of Love You More might be drawn to this suspenseful true story. In 2001, Jeff Zack was murdered execution-style in Akron, Ohio, and former beauty queen Cynthia George was implicated in the crime. This non-fiction thriller packs anticipation as the saga unfolds and builds up to the final verdict. An editorial review on says the book “reads like a well-plotted crime novel,” and will likely please readers who enjoyed the suspenseful, crime-solving aspects of Love You More.

Skyjack: the hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray

This is a fast-paced, compelling true crime story about the search for a hijacker named D.B. Cooper, who vanished after parachuting from a plane in 1971. Cooper was carrying $200,000 in ransom money with him when he disappeared, and was never to be found again. The story includes elements of mystery and suspense, as well as fast-paced storytelling and intriguing characters, making it a relevant readalike for Love You More.


April 18, 2012

Author: Sandra Cisneros

Title: Caramelo

Genre: Best-Selling Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 449

Geographical Setting: Chicago & Mexico City

Time Period: Modern

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  Caramelo is a character-driven and descriptive novel about a young girl struggling to find herself amidst her huge family.  Celaya (“Lala”) Reyes, the youngest and only girl among seven children, is a young Mexican American living in Chicago.  Each year, her entire family drives from Chicago to Mexico City to visit her ‘Awful Grandmother.’  This year, Celaya is determined to figure out what makes her grandmother so awful.   She sets out to tell the tales of her ancestors, and understand exactly where she came from.

Weaving historical detail with lyrical prose, Cisneros has created a classic coming-of-age novel.   Mixing past with present, and filled with humor, sadness, and a lot of love, Caramelo is sure to please readers from all walks of life.

Subject Headings: Family Relationships; Girls; Grandmothers; Grandparent and child; Mexican-American families; Mexican- Americans; Mexicans in the United States; Women; Family Histories; Immigrants; Hispanics, Mexico City Mexico, Chicago Illinois

Appeal: Descriptive, Character-Driven, Lyrical, Reflective, Humorous, Moving, Atmospheric, Engaging, Intricate, Historical, Cultural, Well-Developed

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe the Book: Character-Driven, Reflective, Atmospheric

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

From Out of the Shadows (by Vicki L Ruiz): This work is a comprehensive look at the history of Mexican-American women in the twentieth century.  Combining personal stories and interviews with her narrative, the author seeks to showcase how Mexican-American women went about finding their own place in America.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Caramelo for its intricate look at the history of Mexican-American women in one family.

El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (by John Ross): This is a vibrant and gritty history of Mexico City.  The author, a journalist who has inhabited Mexico City for over three decades, tells the history and secrets of the his favorite city.  This book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the location of Caramelo, and wish to know more about the historical background of the city where the majority of the novel took place.

Gabriel’s Fire: A Memoir (by Luis Gabriel Aguilera): This is a young man’s account of growing up an immigrant in the inner city of Chicago.  He touches on what it is like to grow up as a minority in America—all the while attempting to counter mainstream prejudices about Latino culture.  This work will appeal to readers who enjoyed reading about the life and struggles of immigrants living in America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

Chicano (by Richard Vasquez): This novel follows the lives of four generations of a Mexican-American family who immigrated to the United States as a result of the Mexican Revolution.  This work will appeal to those who enjoyed reading an intricate family history of Mexican immigrants.

All the Pretty Horses (by Cormac McCarthy): This novel is about a man who flees to Mexico with some companions after his grandfather’s death.  This novel will appeal to readers who enjoyed the writing style of Caramelo.  Both novels are character-driven, atmospheric, and lyrical.  In addition, both are considered adult books for young adults, as well as coming-of-age literary fiction.

Gilead (by Katherine Howe): In this novel, the main character discovers multiple family secrets when she is forced to go through the possessions in her late grandmother’s home.  She uses the various items she finds to weave a tale of her grandmother’s life (leading all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials!) Readers of Caramelo will likely enjoy this work because the plot of each novel revolves around characters uncovering family secrets, as well as retelling the pasts of their grandmothers.

Name: Katie Midgley

Asterios Polyp

November 29, 2011

Author: David Mazzucchelli

Title: Asterios Polyp

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 344

Geographical Setting: New York / fictional small town of “Apogee”

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary: Asterios Polyp is a middle-aged professor of architecture. When his New York apartment burns down after a lightning strike, he hops on a Greyhound bus and gets off in a middle-America town called Apogee, where he finds employment as an auto mechanic and rents a room in his boss’s house. The story of Asterios’ sudden change in lifestyle is intercut with flashbacks recalling previous episodes in his life including a past marriage, as well as dream sequences and various abstract visual/verbal ideas (including some of Asterios’ theories of architecture) narrated by his unborn twin brother. Although it has an epic sweep, the plot is less important than the intricate and beautiful visual design of the illustrations and the intellectual ideas they convey.

Subject Headings: Architecture; Duality; Romantic relationships; Graphic novels

Appeal:  abstract, character-centered, cerebral, detailed, epic, episodic, humorous, intricate, intellectual, literary, melancholy, quirky, sophisticated, stylistically complex, symbolic, thought-provoking

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: intricate, sophisticated, stylistically complex

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Blankets by Craig Thompson [Autobiographical graphic novel; epic-length, character-centered, literary]

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel [Autobiographical graphic novel; literary, emotionally rich, complex]

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud [Covers the history and theory of comics as an artistic medium]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth by Chris Ware [Sophisticated graphic novel with an intricate visual design, emotionally rich sense of melancholy, literary complexity and symbolism]

Wilson by Daniel Clowes [Graphic novel; character study about a sad middle-aged man on a journey; complex, quirky, humorous]

The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire [Sweeping, character-centered graphic novel; also, both this and Asterios Polyp are by Canadian artists]

Name: Brian W.

Special Topics In Calamity Physics

October 10, 2011

Author: Marisha Pessl

Title: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Genre: Mystery, Literary fiction, Coming-of-age

Publication Date:  2006

Number of Discs: 17 sound discs, 22hrs

Geographical Setting: Stockton, N.C.

Time Period: Contemporary

Plot Summary:  This is a darkly funny coming-of-age story centers on the character of teenager Blue Van Meer.  Told in the first person narrative, after her mother dies in a car accident while Blue is in kindergarten, Blue travels with her eccentric, highly intelligent, and womanizing widower father Gareth for ten years.  Blue and her father travel to different obscure college towns, where her father is a visiting lecturer for no more than one semester until he and Blue are off to another college in another town.  While this does nothing for Blue’s social life, she is highly attached to her father and, in his company, has developed a clever, deadpan, and astute outlook on life, as well as an impressive lexicon of all things literary, political, philosophical, and scientific.  In Blue’s final year of high school, her father decides to finally settle down in Stockton, N.C. for the entire school year, where Blue is enrolled in the private St. Gallway school of Stockton.  In no time, Blue finds herself courted by an intriguing faculty member, Hannah Schneider, and is reluctantly accepted into her group of student followers: Milton, Charles, Leulah and Jade, each of whom seems to be hiding something about their past.  Blue is slowly accepted by this group of high school royalty known as the Bluebloods, but things soon begin to unravel when a man dies mysteriously at Hannah’s house and, eventually, when Hannah herself is found dead.  It is up to the clever and resourceful Blue to piece together the puzzle of this intricately forged murder mystery.  Cleverly told in a format that models a college syllabus (the chapters are named after everything from Othello to Paradise Lost to The Big Sleep), including a final examination at the end, this novel is an eclectic and intellectual murder mystery, full of subtle literary allusions and a slight undertone of menace or mystery pervades throughout.  Most importantly, however, is the coming of age story of extremely likable Blue van Meer, who, while being too intelligent for her own good, struggles with the classic themes of love, acceptance, and identity.

Subject Headings: Teenagers – Death, Teenage girls, Teachers – Death, College teachers, Father and daughter, Eccentrics and eccentricities, Cliques, Identity (Psychology), Moving to a new city, Murder, Murder investigation

Appeal: quirky, eccentric, dark, funny, mysterious, literary, postmodern, sincere, coming-of-age, suspenseful, character driven, intricate, detailed, engaging, leisurely paced.

 3 appeal terms that best describe this book: intricate, quirky, dark

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1) Donna Tartt, The Secret History.  Pessl’s novel is termed the postmodern version of Tartt’s book, which is about a young man who upon his enrollment at a small Vermont college finds himself embraced by a clique of five young people led by a professor.  This group also, however, holds a dark secret that the young man slowly uncovers.  On NoveList, Shauna Griffin says, “Subtle suspense and building dread, as well as flawless prose, characterize both The Secret History and Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Each features a cast of brilliant but self-indulgent young people, whose secrets–and guilt–eventually come to light.”

2) Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, Lolita.  Pessl directly references Nabokov on several occasions in Special Topics, and has professed great admiration for the author personally.  Lolita is referenced frequently, and readers of Special Topics may want to pick this up simply because it was mentioned so many times.  This novel is much more shocking and tragic, however, than Pessl’s novel.

3) Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex.  This award-winning coming-of-age novel is very different from the plot of Special Topics, but the authors build the story the same way and create their eccentric and likable main protagonists the same way.  If you were a fan of Blue van Meer, you would also be a fan of Middlesex’s Calliope.

3 Relevant Nonfiction Works

1) Jay Robert Nash, Among the Missing: An Anecdotal History of Missing Persons from 1800 to the Present.  Books on missing persons are frequently discussed in the novel, and a reader may be curious enough to want to pick up material on the subject.

2) Maggie De Vries, Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister.  Same reason as the above, but this one has more in common with the theme of Hannah and her mysterious past and weird fascination with missing people.

3) Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  Without giving away too much, this book would interest those who wish to learn about the political organization that comes up at the end of the novel.

Name: Rebecca C.


September 28, 2011

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title: Neverwhere

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: 1996

Number of Pages: 370 p.

Geographical Setting: London

Time Period: present day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In this gritty urban fantasy, an ordinary character suddenly finds himself thrust into a wonderfully dark and twisted adventure.  Richard Meyhew is an average Scottish bloke living in London who leads an ordinary life, is engaged to a
beautiful woman and is happily moving up the corporate ladder.  His world is turned upside down, however, when he finds a strange young woman bleeding on the side of the road one night.   The appearance of two villainous men who are on her trail and her display of strange talents lead Richard to suspect she is no ordinary woman.  His desire to help her leads him into a series of amazing adventures in “London Below,” a bizarre society under the street of London filled with otherworldly characters, mythic beasts and sudden violence that force Richard to discover parts of himself that he did not know existed.  The blend of literary illusions, nonstop action, interesting characters, and an intricately plotted quest that takes place in the parallel world of London’s underground make this a compelling read.

Subject Headings:

Underground homeless persons Fiction; Underground areas Fiction; Businessmen Fiction; Subways Fiction; London (England) Fiction;
Fantasy fiction; Horror fiction.

Appeal Terms:

Dark fantasy; menacing atmosphere; nightmarish; intricate;
dangerous situations; edgy; gritty; eccentric characters; intruiging plot
twists; contemporary urban setting; witty; imaginative and surreal.

Three Words That Describe This Book: dark fantasy, edgy, intricate

Three relevant
authors and works (Fiction):

Terry Pratchett, The
Color of Magic.  
Book one of a
series, this novel tells the story of a tourist named Twoflower and a wizard as
they journey through a magical world.
Gaiman fans should enjoy the British humor and hapless protagonist.

Charles de Lint, The
Painted Boy
. The pioneer of urban fantasy, de Lint writes about fantastic
worlds that are parallel to ours.

Steven Millhauser, We
Others: New and Selected Stories
.  Millhauser
writes imaginative and thoughtful stories that are often allegories.  This collection features a vivid and
fantastic world peopled with offbeat but sympathetic characters.

Three relevant
authors and works (Nonfiction):

Marjorie Braymen , Atlantis, the
Biography of a Legend
.  This book examines
the legends of several centuries concerning the existence of Atlantis, the city
lost to the sea.

J.Mordaunt Crook The British
.  This reference book tells you everything you
need to know about the history and the collection contained at the British

W.J. Passingham Romance of
London’s Underground
.  A unique history of
London’s subways the will explain origins of the names of the stops described
in Neverwhere.