March 5, 2015

On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:36 am by suebe2

On a Clear Day
by Walter Dean Myers
Random House

Dahlia has always loved math — the numbers and formulas are dependable and help her understand the world even as things fall apart.

The year is 2035.  The C-8, eight huge businesses, control everything from food to health care.  Not only do they control who has access to what, the profit margin for these companies determines what even comes into being.  On the surface, that doesn’t mean much for the wealthy.  They live in their suburban gated communities were everyone looks like them (white).  They shop, they party and they plan.  What very few of them do is see.

Those like Dahlia who aren’t wealthy have no choice but to see.  They have to keep their eyes open for the gangs roaming city streets.  They also have to watch out for opportunities that are actually traps.  The free tablets everyone was so happy to recieve?  Once everyone was online and could access classes that way, the government had no reason to keep the schools open.   There was simply no profit in it.

Dahlia dreamed of becoming a teacher.  She would be able to help kids like herself see the beauty of math.  Now, there’s no point. No gater (gated communities) would pay her to teach their children.

Then two boys show up in a van.  From the van to their clothing, it is obvious that they have money. They may have money but they see.  They see what C-8 is doing around the world — controlling who makes it in government, who has access to health care and who has food to eat.  They are going to take on C-8.

They tell Dahlia and that they need her help.  They’ve read the paper she published in a math journal.  They know she has the computer skills needed to help them predict what is going to happen next.  They are putting together a team of young people who believe that they can make a difference and they want Dahlia to be a part of it.  Before she can decide if she can make a different, Dahlia has to find the nerve to leave behind all she knows and trust two boys she’s only must met.

This is one of the those books that is almost impossible to do justice in a review.  It is rich and it is complicated.  It is more gritty than lyrical but teen readers will love it because it is true.  Walter Dean Myers was clearly an author who could see the dangers of big business, of the 10% and of the reliance that people place on the Web.

I wouldn’t call this book post-apocolyptic but it is walks up close to the apocolypse and dares the reader to see how far they can see On a Clear Day.

–SueBE

December 23, 2013

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:43 am by suebe2

The Clockwork Scarab
by Colleen Gleason
Chronicle Books

Neither Mina Holmes or Evaline Stoker is sure what to think when the pair are summoned to the British Museum.  There the pair are charged with the task of uncovering what is happening among the young nobel ladies of London.  Two have disappeared — one of them turning up murdered inside the Museum itself.  And both were found with an elaborate clockwork scarab.

Before they can solve the mystery the two girls must learn to work together.  Mina Holmes is the niece of Sherlock Holmes and is every bit as observant and brilliant, or she thinks she is.  She’s never truly had the opportunity to pit her incredible intellect against a criminal mastermind.  Still, she knows she is brilliant and has problems dealing with anyone of lesser intelligence including Evaline Stoker.

Evaline Stolker is the sister of Bram Stoker who is writing Dracula as this story takes place.  She is also the most recent in a long line of vampire hunters, a tricky profession when you get queasy at the sight of blood.  Add to this the fact that vampires are all but extinct.  Evaline has supernatural dexterity and strength although she too is largely untried.

The pair has been chosen not because of their vast experience but because of their potential and because they are both female.  Who better to negotiate the salons and balls of society to uncover a murderer than two girls.  Girls, as everyone believe, aren’t capable of either great intellect or great strength so it is hoped that the evil doers will over look this pair.  The more you get to know them, the harder this is to believe.

They quickly discover that the girls have been taken by the Society of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess with the head of a lion, a goddess known for her strength, ruthless cunning and violence.  A mysterious leader named the Ankh is behind the societies attempts to use four ancient artifacts to bring Sekhmet to life no matter how many girls must be sacrificed for this to happen.

Gleason has brought to life two amazing heroines, and three handsome, dashing heroes, in a steam punk novel that will keep you reading from beginning to end.  Pick this one up for the young lady in your life who loves history, fantasy, steam punk or a touch of romance.  This is a page turner that would make an excellent holiday read.

–SueBE

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