Friday, June 05, 2009

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - Sara's Face, Sucks to Be Me, and The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

What with all of the zaniness involved in getting ready for Teen Summer Reading, school visits, etc., I've been reading, but I'm way behind on posting. I've accumulated a backlog of 3 books, all quite different, so hopefully there's something for everyone. Here goes...
James Patterson's The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is about a young man who witnessed his parents' murders by an alien outlaw when he was just 3 years old. He's been living on his own ever since, having found his father's hidden computer that contained The List of Alien Outlaws. Turns out his parents were essentially alien bounty hunters, but the bad guys were so bad, that they killed them rather than trying to turn them in. Daniel needs to move regularly, both to find the next outlaw on his list, and to divert suspicion as authorities realize that he doesn't seem to have parents or go to school. He also has some unique abilities. He can essentially shape shift, turning himself into anything else he wants to be. He can also make things materialize that aren't really there. Both useful for hunting aliens. He's about to venture into the top 10 on the list, going after the alien who murdered his parents. It's an amusing book, good for middle schoolers, boys especially. A little bit Men in Black, and a little bit superhero. Due to a lot of references to current events and pop culture, it won't hold up well over time. But it's a nice light summer read.
Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley is a lighter vampire story. 16-year-old Mina finds out that her parents have been hiding her from the Vampire Council because her parents, who are vampires, aren't permitted to let anyone know that. Mina has known since she was a little girl. Ordinarily children aren't an issue because vampires can't reproduce, but in her case, her parents turned just after she was born. Once the Council finds out about Mina, they give her just a few weeks to decide whether or not she will turn. If she does, the family can stay together, but they will need to move away. (Since vampires don't age, they need to move every few years and take on new identities so people don't get suspicious.) If she doesn't, she will be taken from her parents, and parts of her memory zapped. And of course, you also have to factor in the guy she has a crush on, as well as the potential loss of her best friend. A good, light, funny, chick book, with nothing that would be objectionable for middle schoolers. Great summer reading.

Sara's Face, by Melvin Burgess is the darker, more serious one. Typical for Burgess, there is some mature content, especially in the first chapter. He seems to like putting a shock factor in the first chapter. Sara, a 17-year-old girl with some long standing emotional issues, is taken in by a rock star, Jonathan Heat, who promises to make her both beautiful and famous. Heat has his own emotional baggage, as he has had so many plastic surgeries on his face that his face has essentially collapsed, and he now wears a mask at all times. Sara's former boyfriend, Mark, gets a job with Heat to try to be close to Sara, but soon realizes that things seem to be very wrong. He tries to convince Sara to leave, but she doesn't want to go until she finds out who or what, the ghostly visions she has been seeing is. A very unsettling book that takes a hard look at fame and beauty and the desire for both. Recommended for high school only.


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