Monday, September 3, 2007

The House of the Scorpion and The Ruby in the Smoke

Book Reviews:

The House of the Scorpion
Nancy Farmer, 380 pages.

The verdict: an intriguing sci-fi. So intriguing that I bought the paperback when I saw it on sale. (This is impressive because at the time I was also buying all of my books for this upcoming semester, and thus feeling very broke. But I want so many people to read it that the best thing to do is just buy it so that I can lend it out.)

Fantastic characters. Gripping plot. A tad bit gruesome occasionally, but there must be opposition in all things, and the gruesomeness served to highlight the happiness. I really don't want to say a lot about the plot, because I think too many book covers spoil too much. I didn't read the inside flap of this one until I was done with it, and I was glad. Lets just say that it is set in the future, in the country of Opium -- a thin strip of land that lies between the present day U.S. and Mexico. And lets say its about a boy who lives. That should snag all you Harry Potter fans. hehe.

I predict that my dad will like this one a lot if he reads it. Again I will remind you that it has won quite a few prestigious literature awards, including the Newberry Honor, Printz Honor, and the National Book Award. Also, I've heard Nancy Farmer speak at a literature conference and she is intriguing and funny. She said that authors get their book ideas from a little shop in Tijuana.

The Ruby in the Smoke
Phillip Pullman, 230 pages.

Another intriguing volume, though quite a bit thinner than the aforementioned The House of the Scorpion. Both books, however, deal with opium. The Ruby in the Smoke is a mystery that takes you back to the late 1800's when the vile drug was legal in London, and when shipping agents had to worry about pirates. It's not a swashbuckler -- we're on land for most of the time. But its well written with just the right amount of suspense. I finished it in about 24 hours.

It is the first book in a trilogy, but at the moment I am feeling rebellious and resentful towards trilogies and sequels and such. So, as of now, I'm not reading on. This book was good and I just don't want to ruin it. Pick it up if you're in the mood for a fast, fun adventure. And you know you are.
Between the two books above, you'll know both how to harvest and smoke opium. But both volumes make you wish the stuff didn't exist. Nothing like good literature to turn kids off to drugs. Go books!

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