The City of Ember

4 stars (I really liked it)

The City of Ember cover (link to Goodreads)

Isn’t that cover gorgeous? A librarian recommended this one to my son, and it was a great recommendation. He ended up reading all four books in the series!

I read only this one, but I liked it a lot. It’s about a city built underground–but the power keeps going out. Something is wrong in Ember, and if someone doesn’t figure out what it is soon, the whole population (and possibly the whole human race) may die.

The two viewpoint characters are perfect middle grade characters. They’re young but brave, resourceful, empathetic, and full of heart. They have families they care about and hopes and dreams, and when they get swept up in the mystery, the plot clips right along. I predicted the end, but I imagine every reader will, and that’s part of the point. WE know what Ember’s secret is, but we’re dying to know how its citizens will figure it out and what they’ll do when they do.

The movie is not good. I don’t recommend it. I think my son liked this book better than the others in the series, FWIW.

Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

4 stars: I really liked it.

Mirage cover (link to Goodreads)

This book surprised me. In some ways it feels familiar (court intrigue, forbidden romance, evil empire vs. rebellion), what’s really great about it is what it says about colonialism (the setting is based on historical Morocco) and the complex characters who fill the two starring roles. Maram is the cold, cruel princess, and Amani is her slave/body double. Despite the princess, the balls, etc., this is actually a space opera, not a fantasy. The story sizzles as Maram and Amani get gradually more familiar with one another and realize that things are not as simple as they seemed at first. The romance beween Maram and Amani’s fiance is well done also. I enjoyed the difficult decisions Amani was forced to make over the course of the book and the way the book made me think. Recommended.

Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3 stars: I liked it.

Obsidio cover (link to Goodreads)

So . . . I love this series. This one had more of what I love, including fun teen romance, lots of sci-fi mayhem, impossible odds, and sky-high stakes. AIDEN continues to be creepy and chaotic neutral. I liked that our beloved heroes of previous books get time on the page in this final book. But . . .

And I know I’m alone in this judging by the 4.56 star rating over on Goodreads . . .

I’m tired of AIDEN being the deus ex machina in each of these books. He’s just so powerful and so willing to do what it takes, regardless of the cost, that it takes some of the power to save the day away from our other protagonists. And in this book, it became more of a problem. I’m not sure how the authors would have solved the incredible problems without AIDEN, though.

Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

3 stars: I liked it.

A Wrinkle in Time cover (link to Goodreads)

The thing is, middle grade has come a LONG way since I was a kid. The books that were the best there was back then often aren’t as good as the average book being published nowadays. There’s just so much excellent stuff being published in this century. I think Harry Potter changed the game permanently, in a good way. 

So yeah, this was good. But if you’re not giving your kids more recent MG, you’re doing them a disservice. (And no, I’m not talking about Diary of a Wimpy Kid.)