Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Off the beaten YA track - Adult book reviews (for YA of course)

I love YA lit....but there are times when I need a break from the same reading diet I consume on a normal basis, and that's where adult books come in.  You can only think of the analogies I have running through my head :)
With that said, I will tell you I didn't read anything deep and literal, more like the popular thriller on the New York Times Best Seller's List for Fiction (it spent four weeks on the top 10).  The other one was in a box, where the title jumped out loud and clear.  So here's a brief review of both with my professional opinion and yes, they can definitely be put in a high school library.

Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell, Rodale Books 2012
Just when you think man has conquered all imaginable places to be explored, there is more...and these new landscapes keep on a'comin.  Instead of calling it exploration, it is now referred to  as pollution tourism and the author of the book does just that, becoming a tourist to some of the filthiest and toxic places in the world.
In this particular non-fiction book, Blackwell discovers the beauty of nature at Chernobyl, one of the deadliest radioactive areas in the world.  Oh yes, the Geiger meter still goes off, but the awesomeness of standing so close to that famous nuclear reactor trumps all danger of getting your organs cooked.
Then there are the other places... perhaps you've heard of them, perhaps not.  Come and breathe the toxic air of beautiful South Port Arthur, Texas, where petroluem plants are king.  Visit the amazing vistas of the Alberta Oil Sands and witness the vastness of the machinery looking like Tonka trucks compared to the earth they're digging, not to mention the dead ducks in the process.  Want something with a little more tang to it?  Go to China and visit the town known for taking old computers and technology and refurbishing, melting, and scrapping them in order to make a living in a town that reminds me of Jacob Riis photographs of NYC at the turn of the century. 
Let's not forget about going on a refreshing dip in the Yamuna River in India, where you can dive for treasures but need to watch out for the turds...literally.  And then there's the enigmatic Garbage Patch, a floating flosam of the world's waste comingling somewhere out there in the Great Pacific....
This is a book that had me scrambling to the internet everytime I finished a chapter to look for pictures, more information, and the facts about these places Blackwell visited.  Now that's a sign of an excellent non-fiction book.  And what makes it even better?  Blackwell is a master of humor in the midst of a serious topic.  You'll laugh and be aghast at the same time.  HIGHLY recommended.

Zoo by James Patterson, Little Brown 2012
Jackson Oz knows something's wrong.  He knew it before anyone else, but the scientific community shunned his theories as ludicrous.  So his life of recluse in New York City is filled with monitors and video documentation, a blog, and his companion Atilla, who is a rescue chimp from a facility.  The only bright spot is his relationship with his girlfriend but things gets out of control when he travels to Botswana to help a friend out.
The animal anomalies are unprecedented...lions killing in packs, dogs from all over running amok, all types and species of animals killing humans from the remote locations to the urban cities.  Jackson knew this would happen, but doesn't know the reason why....
Flash forward three years, and the United States is in total chaos.  People are hiding, afraid of what could happen.  The government is now taking the threat more seriously, and Jackson stands on the brink of an incredible discovery.  Too little too late?
 Patterson is known mostly for his murder mysteries, but of late he's been writing novels with a definite dystopian flavor to them (I also read Toys, which has that same flair). And it's a book like this that will divide readers into really enjoying it or not.  Despite past reputation, Patterson writes a novel that is page turning, making the reader hope for the best, but knowing it may not happen.  This may be the first time a YA reader will pick up Patterson (I know mine was well over fifteen years ago) and be hooked by his new approach.  Regardless, I enjoyed the read and his departure from the killing sprees of the past.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Thanks for the reviews! The Patterson book looks great. I will be reading that soon. I just finished a fantastic book called, "Up From Corinth: Book 2 of Journey Into Darkness" by author J. Arthur Moore. This a fiction novel, which is part two of a four part series, that follows a boy's search for his father during the Civil War.