It feels silly to lump these two very different books into one post, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Also, after weeks of my sister borrowing my clunky old laptop, I’m borrowing her shiny brand-new one.  It’s literally very shiny – she’ll be able to see my prints.  There’s nothing wrong with my laptop (apart from its weight and 10-minute battery life), but I can’t resist trying out a new one.  Also, I just started reading Nation – the only Printz Honor I hadn’t read yet – and I’m totally hooked.

In My Father's Den In My Father’s Den by Maurice Gee

My review

I’m not sure what to say about this one, so I keep saying nothing…The writing is precise and perfect for the story. The narrator – both the character and the audio book reader – keeps you at a distance, even when revealing the most personal things. The story looks like a mystery on the surface – a girl has been killed and the narrator is a suspect. You wonder for a bit how reliable the narrator is, until you learn to trust his voice and observations. The story goes back into his childhood, to his fanatical religious mother and his father, escaping with books into his private den. I would recommend it particularly to people who like books where that slight distance is kept. The audio version is great, and the narrator has a cool, level voice – and reads in a New Zealand accent (for those of you who like accents). If you’re looking for a straight-up mystery, this one probably won’t be what you want, but as more of a psychological exploration it’s fascinating.

Evil Genius Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Evil Genius is a tricky one to categorize. The plot reminded me a bit of a season of 24 (minus the torture) – regular plot twists, people who aren’t what they seem, intrigue and action and technology and explosions. But it’s also a story about a bright boy raised without any real relationships, facing things at a young age and without real support from adults.

From the description, I expected the book to be more of an action/comedy – over the top and fun. It’s quite long, though, and the plot gets more and more convoluted, and there’s some great character development buried in there. I really want to see more of the characters, and I feel like they almost got lost in the premise and the plot. It took a surprisingly long time to read, and things didn’t really pick up until about 200 pages in. I would recommend it to kids (probably middle school) who like big books and that blend of plot twists and technology.

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