Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Report: Follow Ups

I got a good start on my re-read yesterday, but I need to be a little more diligent today. I had a bad case of distraction. Still, I met my goal. And I still love this book. This is why the best writing advice I've ever heard is "write what you love." Because if you don't love it, you're going to hate it. You'll probably go through several drafts on your own before you submit it, and you'll need to proofread it at least once. Then, depending on your editor, you may go through a lot of revision rounds and have to proofread each time. You'll go through copy edits and galley proofs. By the time a book is published, you'll have read it at least a dozen times (with this book, I think I'm up to about 20). Write the kind of book you'd enjoy reading dozens of times, even if someone else wrote it.

I finally got mostly caught up on my reading, so I have a book report of young adult books that are follow-ups to things I've read previously.

First, there's The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty, which is a sequel to A Corner of White, the book about the girl in Cambridge who finds a note in a parking meter and starts communicating with a boy in another world. It's hard to give much of a plot description of this book without spoiling the first book, but it picks up where that book left off and focuses a bit more on the other world part of the story, so that the boy in the other world is the main character. He gets drawn into the midst of the action, and his communication with our world is key to the plan, but it's also dangerous because in his world that's an offense punishable by death.

I may have liked this one more than the first book. Now that we know what's really going on, the story can take off. We see a lot more of this magical world with its oddly shifting seasons and color attacks. Our hero visits the magical north and an edgy city that celebrates darkness, and goes diving for spells in an enchanted lake. I enjoyed it as an adult, but I'd have probably become obsessed as a teenager. I'd have started leaving notes in parking meters (well, if my town had them). Because I got this one soon after it was published, I'm going to have to wait for the sequel. Bummer.

On an entirely different point on the reading spectrum, I next read Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, which is a follow-up to Code Name Verity, one of my favorite books from last year. It's not really a direct sequel, but the heroine of this book is a good friend of one of the heroines in that book, and characters from the first book show up some here. This is another teen WWII thriller about an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot. Rose grew up with a flight instructor father, so she's been flying her whole life and is probably a better pilot than a lot of the men fighting in the war who've been thrown into a cockpit and taught the ropes. But as a girl, all she's allowed to do is ferry planes around. Then, after the liberation of Paris, she gets to start taking planes to France. But on one trip, things go wrong, she ends up being forced to land by the Luftwaffe in German territory, and she gets sent as a "political prisoner" to the Ravensbruck concentration camp.

I don't think this book was quite as powerful as Code Name Verity, but then I'm not sure what could be. Some of that might be because I tore through it really quickly because I had a day to read it before I had to return it to the library, and it didn't get a chance to dig into me. But it's also a very different kind of story, less about the surprise reveals and more about consequences. We know near the beginning of the story that she survives and escapes. The main part of the story is how these experiences affect her. Nearly as much of the book is devoted to what happens afterward as it is to what happens in the camp. That keeps it from being too bleak, but at the same time, the fact that these things linger keeps you from having the "escape, hooray!" kind of experience. It doesn't have the emotional punch in the gut effect of the previous book, but it is very haunting while also being life-affirming. This is published as young adult, but I'd recommend it for adults, too.

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