penmage: (queen of narnia (rage_my_darling))
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You still have a few more days to comment to win a signed copy of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, National Book Award finalist and Newbery Honor book!

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Girl of the Moment by Lizabeth Zindel

Lily Miles thinks her life is over when her prestigious internship at MOMA falls through. She was banking on the internship to help her stand out on her Brown application. Then, Lily is offered the chance of a lifetime—an internship with Sabrina Snow, hottest starlet in Hollywood.

But life among stars isn’t as amazing as Lily had hoped. Sabrina is selfish and spoiled, full of outrageous demands and totally fickle. Lily has her hands full walking Sabrina’s pampered dog, finagling tickets to a sold-out Yankees game, and trying not to fall for Sabrina’s gorgeous boyfriend—who seems to be falling for her, too.

Can Lily juggle the pressures of Sabrina’s life and her own? Or will she let star fever lead her into disaster?

The first two thirds of this book are great. Lily is a fun character, and there’s something undeniably appealing and having a front row seat into the life of a Hollywood starlet. There’s a hugely entertaining sense of voyeurism and getting the inner track. And I like that Lily doesn’t have it too easy—she screws up, she makes dumb mistakes, and she struggles.

But in the last third, the plot gets a little clichéd. Lily’s fight with her father is straight out of cliché city—and there’s no real buildup to it. It just kind of erupts, as if Zindel figured, “okay, now’s the time to insert some external conflict.” And the plotline about Lily’s mom’s pie business, which is given so much attention and is dragged in to Lily’s fight with her father, is never resolved. Is the business successful? Does it fail? Does it eat all the money in Lily’s college fund, or does it replenish it? It’s a minor plot point, but it seems to me that if you’re going to introduce it, you should resolve it.

Finally, Sabrina never really gelled for me. Her actions in the end of the book made her seem much more like a caricature than a real person.

And the prologue page at the beginning made me think that Lily had done something awful to Sabrina—had violated her privacy, or something. I was waiting the whole book for Lily’s awful crime to be revealed, and then…nothing.

I read Zindel’s other book, The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies, and she seems to be following the same pattern: great concept, great start, and then it all falls apart towards the end. She has these great concepts and ideas, but doesn’t seem capable of seeing them through to an equally satisfying conclusion.

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Shift by Charlotte Agell

Adrian Havoc is tired of toeing the line. He is sick of following the rules, sick of being indoctrinated with Rapture propaganda, sick of not knowing what happened to his father who went to the moon and stopped writing to him. When his mother, a prominent scientist, goes off on a mysterious government mission, Adrian is tired of sitting around. One thing leads to another, and he finds himself on a mission to rescue an aged penguin, along with a very attractive zookeeper and his somewhat psychic little sister.

But what they find in the North is far more dangerous and shocking than any of them were expecting. Before he knows what's happening, Adrian finds himself involved in a dangerous mission that might be the key to saving his family and the world--or destroying it.

What a strange little book. I'm not sure what it was attempting to do, but I certainly don't think it accomplished it. Was this a post-apocalyptic novel about a world ravage by nuclear accident? A dystopian novel about a society ruled by a strict Christian government? An buddy novel about three kids and a penguin traveling across and nuclear wasteland to find a better life? An action-adventure story full of disguises and heart-pounding moments? It was all those things in part, but none of them really successfully. It seemed to changed tones every thirty pages or so.
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