Finishing up

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

What’s it about?
The Blood of Olympus is the last one of the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, he of the Percy Jackson fame. It was a pretty standard Rick Riordan book – mythical creatures, snarky teenagers, two heroes that it’s maybe kind of hard to tell the difference between.  There are battles, one of which happens in Greece, the other of which happens at Camp Half-Blood. The prophecy was fulfilled. Nothing was surprising – it was comforting that way.

Why should you read it?
You should read it if you’ve read the first four books. If you’ve made it this far, why not finish up the series?

(Un)necessary sequel

Split Second by Kasie West

What’s it about?
Split Second is a sequel to Pivot Point. Which means that it’s about the choice that Addie makes in Pivot Point and its fallout. It’s also about her best friend, Laila. It finally makes her into a full character with quirks and foibles instead of just a good-hearted rebel. Also, the author begins to dip her toes into exploring some of the more societal questions when you live in a world where everyone can manipulate everyone else’s perceptions. What is real? How could “reality” be used and abused by those in power?

Should you read it?
Yes, if you want to get closure on Addie’s & Trevor’s relationship, and if you want to see Laila become a full person – she’s pretty awesome. The world-building political questions kind of felt like they were explored because the author thought she should instead of really wanting to. If that makes sense. It was an ok book, not particularly good or bad. That’s ok too – I enjoyed what it delivered. I am glad there’s not a third book. I don’t think the story could be stretched that far.

World building without a point

Pivot Point by Kasie West

What’s it about?
I’m mildly embarrassed to like Pivot Point. The premise is that a group of people with special mental powers – think telekinesis or mind-erasing or healing – exist. They live in a special compound by choice, where life is better for them than for the Norms outside. (I know.) Addie, our heroine, has to make a choice when her parents divorce: will she stay in the compound with her mother, or go out into the real world with her dad? Luckily, her ability is to Search – to go down two different paths in her head to see how everything will play out, depending on who she chooses. The book alternates between the two plot lines, eventually coming back to the beginning of the story once she’s seen her choices play out.

Should you read it?
Maybe? It’s not as interesting as it could be – I mean, keeping the mentally gifted in a compound? By whose choice? How does that come about? And if you can manipulate the world around you with your mind, do you ever experience the real world? If others can manipulate the world around you, how do you ever know what’s real? There are a lot of issues to explore, but Pivot Point concentrates on the romance. Seriously. It’s a fun book, but the world could lead to way more interesting stories/ideas.

What’s a synonym for charming?

Isla and the Happily Ever After

What’s it about?
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a YA romance. Which means there’s a boy and there’s a girl and it takes place in freaking Paris. Of course. That said, it’s also about impostor syndrome. Josh and Isla, our couple, get together quickly for a romance. Most of the rest of the book is Ilsa convinced that her own insecurities make her an unworthy person. She is unique in the Stephanie Perkins books in that she doesn’t have a driving passion in her life, and that makes her feel less than worthy. So the rest of the book is about her learning to love herself.

Why should you read it?
Isla and the Happily Ever After could easily be schlocky, but it’s not. Isla isn’t as charming as Perkins’ other heroines (they’d be Anna and Lola), but the book is noticeably better written. Anna was a charming book, but you could see the outline in the story. Isla is slightly less charming, but a much more robust book. If you’ve read the first two, it’s worth picking up.

Derring-do in WWII

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinWhat’s it about?
A young woman – about 20 if my math is correct – becomes an Allied spy in WWII Britain. Her best friend, Maggie, is a pilot. The young woman is captured by the Germans whilst on a mission in France and forced to write a confession. The first half-ish is her confession, and the rest is Maggie’s experiences of the same time frame. It is, as the NYTimes says, “intricately plotted.” After you finish, you want to go back and read it again, just to make sure you got it all.

Why should you read it?
Code Name Verity is a rich story and a great thriller. Will they make it through?  What, exactly, is going on anyway?  I certainly hope that Hollywood adds it to their growing spate of movies from YA novels. It could make a great female action movie that passes the Bechdel test in spades; there would be plenty of women having conversations about war and jobs and family amongst all their derring-do.