Thursday, April 16, 2015

This and that

I've been reading eclectically this week... I even read what passes for a grown up book this week!  Here's what's been on the list:

The Six by Mark Alpert was my favorite.  This is an action packed science fiction novel for at least middle grade and young adults.  Adam Armstrong is 17, has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheel chair.  At best, he has a few months to live.  His dad is a computer scientist who works for the government and has been working on an artificial intelligence project that is about to change Adam's life.  This program would allow a computer to extract Adam's memories and download them into a computer.  The memories would then be uploaded to a robot that would essentially BE Adam.  Adam's mom is vehemently against this idea because she is a conservative Christian who believes that God created life and humans should get out of the way.  5 other kids are given the same process and at the same time, the pilot project, "Sigma" has gone out of control and is trying to force a war with Russia.  There are a billion great ideas to talk about in this book, like end of life issues, how hard to work to save some one with a terminal illness, what exactly is life?  I loved this one and it would be great paired with some other great science fiction like "The House of the Scorpion" by Nancy Farmer or "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeline L'Engle.

I also read "Miracle Cure" by Harlan Coben.  There is an author's note at the beginning that tells that this book was previously published in England and that it was written quite some time ago (1991) and so some of the innovations that were just dreams in the book have come to fruition.  It also cautions that maybe it's not as well written as some of his later works.  One thing for sure, in my opinion, is that Harlan Coben writes amazing dialogue.  I just love the conversations he puts together and this one is no different.  The story is a group of doctors who think they have discovered a cure for AIDS, a separate group trying to stop them, a reporter, a hit man, a professional basketball player, and  a sleazy sister.  The book is a real page turner and hard to put down, even if it's a bit more cartoony and less well considered than his other works.  Still a good one.

The last one is another one for middle grade kids.  It's called "The Book of Dares for Lost Friends" by Jane Kelley.  It's about two girls, Val and Lanora, who are starting middle school.  Val has a loving and supportive family and Lanora's parents are acrimoniously divorced.  The girls are nervous about starting middle school, but Lanora decides that she is going to recreate herself-new look, new friends, new activities.  Some of the choices are not so good and Val decides she has to save Lanora.  What's good about this book are the ancillary characters-Val's little brother, Drew, her new friends, The Poets, a mystical and mysterious boy named Tasman.  I just didn't really buy the part that Lanora would dump everything to go to middle school, including her values.  When you compare one like this to a book like "Goodbye Stranger" by Rebecca Stead, also about going to middle school and reinventing yourself, or maybe finding your own true person, I felt like "The Book of Dares" didn't really ring true.

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