Ceony Twill has worked so hard to fulfill her dreams of becoming a Metal Magician but on the eve of her graduation she is asked to become one of the few Paper Magicians and once bonded to a specific type of material she will only be able to perform magic with that material. The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg begins with Ceony arriving at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane but not everything is as it seems when it comes to paper magic and sometimes we are lead to where we need to go even when it wasn’t part of our original plans.
When Magician Thane is attacked soon after Ceony’s arrival, it will take all her ingenuity, courage, and determination to save him from the practitioner’s of the forbidden dark arts.
I picked up The Paper Magician because it has been awhile since I read a true fantasy (as opposed to a paranormal/scifi/fantasy mix) and awhile since I read a Young Adult novel. The Paper Magician is an interesting fantasy novel, very different from most of the high fantasy I have previously read. In the world Holmberg has created, you only get a glimpse of the outside world as Ceony spends most of her time in the cottage or in a specific spot trying to save Thane (I’m not going to say too much because it will give away part of the novel) but the rules of magic are interesting and the few characters are well developed but it is Holmberg’s way with words that I really enjoyed. The images she weaves are, dare I say, magical. Little pearls of wisdom are disbursed throughout the novel and are so spot on, “The ghostly images lasted only a moment longer before fading away, as all unread stories were wont to do.” But ultimately the great theme of the novel is summed up as this “Everyone has a dark side! But it’s their choice whether or not they cultivate it.” The Paper Magician is a fun fantasy novel that is well worth a read and I look forward to reading The Glass Magician.
This week marks the 110th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth (1905-1982). While I am not a huge fan of the dystopian genre (yes I have read The Hunger Gamesand Divergentbut I just didn’t love them), Ayn Rand’s Anthem had a HUGE impact on me in high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the term dystopian Wikipedia describes it as:
A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia,kakotopia, or anti-utopia) is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is literally translated as “not-good place”, an antonym of utopia. Such societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in a future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization,totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, and/or technology, which if unaddressed could potentially lead to such a dystopia-like condition.
Anthem was an assigned reading for one of my English classes (I don’t remember which one) and I was blown away with the realization of how powerful language could be upon a society. When you take away a person’s ability to learn, to innovate, and to think in terms outside of a collective society you take away who they are and what makes them human. I’m sure I read novels with this concept before reading Anthem but for some reason this concept really hit home that time. Anthem is one of those books I usually read at least once a year because it is just that fabulous. For those of you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this thought provoking book I highly recommend you do. It isn’t very long (definitely not the volume that Atlas Shrugged is) and it is in the public domain which means you can legally download and read it for free here.
Oscar Banks lives in the extremely popular city of Candor that his father founded in the book “Candor” by Pam Bachorz. In Candor all of the kids are perfect and never make mistakes, relationships miraculously become better and best of all, no one ever wants to leave. Oscar is the star student. He gets straight A’s, volunteers frequently for every club, and all of the other kids want to be just like him. However, it is as if Oscar is under cover. He knows how to fight the subliminal messages that are fed to all of the citizens of Candor and he helps those teens that have enough money escape to the real world. When Nia moves into town, it turns his world upside down. Nia is a teenage artist with some obedience issues and Oscar likes her just the way she is. He secretly feeds her his own messages to keep her from learning the truth and wanting to leave. They fall in love. When Nia learns about the secrets he was keeping from her, everything begins to fall apart. Will their relationship be able to weather this storm or will they be lost forever?
While I was reading Candor I thought it was pretty good with an interesting premise, however, it had several inconsistencies within the story. There were two that really bothered me. First, it said that the parents were told about the Messages before they move in and that’s how the kids stop misbehaving and their marriage problems might go away. So, they know that their children are being brainwashed and they know that they will be brainwashed as well. This bothers me most because I don’t know of any parents, no matter how rotten their kids are, that would be willing to have their own children brainwashed, let alone do it to themselves. It is unbelievable and that is the biggest issue I have with it. That being said, there was one other inconsistency that really irked me. The Messages were given subliminally through music. Yet some of the Messages talked about how art was evil and it shouldn’t be encouraged, etc. Hmmm… last I knew, music was a form of art. This one definitely bothered me the most because it was so glaringly obvious and pushed by the author throughout the entire book!
I liked the main character, Oscar, a lot. I thought that he was interesting and can’t forget how difficult it would have been to hide the truth from his own dad. He did love his dad even for all of his father’s faults. It would have been extremely lonely in a town when only he knew the truth. He would have made friends with those that he helped to escape but then would have no other contact with them. Even though I liked Oscar, I can’t help but wonder if the reason he fell in love with Nia is just because she was so different from everyone else in that entire town. Also, why doesn’t he just tell her the truth in the beginning? It would have made everything a lot simpler and it would have been easier to get her to act how he needed her to. Other than those things, I liked Oscar. He was a well rounded character and it was sweet how he cared for the people in the town even though they were brainwashed. Overall, I enjoyed the story line and thought there were several good things brought up in this book.
Seventeen-year-old “Hank” doesn’t know who he is or where he came from, he only knows that he woke up at Penn Station in New York City with ten dollars in his pocket and a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Waldon in his hands. So Hank decides to start on his own journey to Waldon, trying to discover what it was that Thoreau discovered and, hopefully, in the process discover who he is and what his own journey is about.
I have to admit that Being Henry David is not the usual YA novel that I read, I read it because my book club chose it for the book for this last month. That being said, it was an interesting read. It took me a little while to get into it, especially since the beginning made me think it was going to be about teenagers and the underground drug culture, which it is NOT about. But once I started to get into I found myself traveling with Hank as he discovered who he is and what was so horrible in his past that his mind caused him to forget it (totally NOT what I thought it was going to be). Armistead mixes quotes from Waldon throughout the novel, weaving an interesting mix of the old and new as Hank experiences new things and discover old things he has forgotten. Being Henry David is worth a read.