Warm Bodies: A Novel
I requested this one from the library because Amazon said that it was about zombies and I was going through Walking Dead withdrawal at the time. I didn't read that much into it, but the actual story was fascinating and different than the usual zombie lore. These zombies, of course, eat humans. They especially seem to like brains, but they like brains because the brains give them glimpses of the memories of the person they ate. So in those few minutes, they get relive being human again and in some ways, they're able hold on to some of this humanity--which begs ethical the question, are they really dead? This is definitely not your typical zombie gore book. I would recommend it.
In the wake of school shootings and the questions of what drives a quiet, loner type kid to pick up a gun and kill, this book that begins with a sudden murder committed by a teenage boy was incredibly topical and haunting. Interwoven with life in a small town, riddled with superstitions and stories and one woman's journey to find her mother and how it relates to the boy and how he was driven made for a really fascinating story.
The Bone Lady: Life as a Forensic Anthropologist
This was a quick and easy read by a female forensic anthropologist who runs FACES, a lab primarily dedicated to facial reconstruction on skulls to help close cases with unidentified bodies. Though sad, it's admirable that someone would dedicate her life to helping families find closure and some of the cases she's worked on are fascinating. Each chapter was dedicated to a different case, which was a little choppy but made for an easy read.
This was an easy, engaging YA lit read, but not as strongly written as I'd hoped (or edited--at one point, the word "co10uldn't" appeared... how does that slip through?!). Amy lives in a somewhat dystopian world set in 2016, following a collapse of the economy. In an attempt to earn money to support her sister and very ill grandma, she applies for a job and ends up on a reality TV show where teens are put in different, dangerous situations each week and the viewing audience votes on how they will react. Not quite as brutal as the Hunger Games, but still an engaging premise, nonetheless. While I enjoyed the overall premise of the story, the characters were somewhat flat and underdeveloped, especially for a 400 page book. There are things built up through the entire book, then dropped or never explained at the end. The overall society after the collapse of the economy is never really explained in that much detail which is, in my opinion, one of the more fascinating aspects of dystopian literature. That said, it was still an enjoyable read and I can see it working well for a lower middle school reader.
I loved this novel. Most period pieces about slaves or slavery seem to center around the Civil War or the Reconstruction, but Wash takes place earlier--after the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The main character, Wash, is used as a "stud" by his owner, a man who treats his slaves better than most, yet sees no wrong in using one to breed like a prized stallion. I hesitate to call Wash the main character because the book is woven from the perspectives of many characters, sometimes switching from first to third person point-of-view and retelling scenarios from different perspectives. Yet, with all of this, it never seemed choppy or confusing, instead it was flawless and heartbreaking and you felt a real connection to each of the characters. It was beautiful and heartbreaking.