Review by: Mark Palm
First there was Harry Potter, and then Twilight, Percy Jackson, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and so on. Please don’t write and tell me which ones are good, and which are bad, because my mind is made up, and really, the point is moot. What I am saying is that one overwhelming success begets dozens of others, so that the world of YA publishing, in particular, is as crawling with as many agents looking for The Next Big Thing as Seattle was before Nevermind by Nirvana had sold a thousand copies. To continue this mixed metaphor, for every Pearl Jam you get two or three Stone Temple Pilots, and dozens of Seven Mary Threes.
This brings me to Silver by Chris Wooding. It’s a solid novel, tense, and taut, if not wildly original. The prose is solid, and it has some moments or genuine frission; but to continue my theme of mixing metaphors, it seems to me like a promising rookie rushed up from AAA ball who can’t quite yet hit a breaking pitch.
The book is set in Mortingham, a very isolated boarding school. Some students discover insects that appear to be partially made of metal. Then things go slowly and steadily downhill as first animals, and then people start showing up , transformed into metallic monsters, and hell-bent on killing everyone who isn’t like them. Of course circumstances are such that there is no way to leave, or communicate with the outside world. In the best horrific fashion everything that can goes wrong does.
The cast of teens are varied in type: Tragic Loner, Bully, Queen Bee, The Girl in the Queen Bee’s Shadow, Nerds, etc. The Staff and teachers are also varied in type, with Popular Teacher, Jaded Mean Teacher, and Crabby janitor. The first problem I had with this book is that they were not varied enough in voice and personality, enough so that I had to keep looking back to my notes to see just whom I was reading about.
Now Mr. Wooding takes a calculated risk, I presume, in keeping most of the origin of this phenomenon of the living silver metal to himself, and for the most part it works. Sometimes, though, I had the feeling that perhaps he hadn’t quite figured it out yet, and didn’t want to tip his hand. That really didn’t bother me much. Plenty of good stories and novels leave such things unexplained, or untold, and often to great effect. The other problem I had with Silver was how much it felt like a book that was just raring to be a series. I don’t know that for a fact, but it sure felt that way to me. While there is nothing wrong with series I do have a problem with books that don’t seem to stand on their own. And while I like the ambiguous ending as much or more than the next guy, this one felt less like an ending and more like a cut-off point.
If I held on,
Would they still fall?
Over the edge,
Down the tall, tall,
I lost them once,
To this large rift.
If I fell too,
Would I care?
Would it hurt,
Do I fall too,
Do I dare?
If I could pull them up,
I promise I would.
But I’m not that strong,
I don’t think I could.
What if someone came?
What if they pulled too?
That someone was you?
Would you risk the fall?
Would you risk it all?
Or pick a different fate,
Walking with that weight?
Make the choice.
Don’t be too late.
*Footnote: I try not to be the too proud parent that publicizes all of their children's achievements, but there are times when I'm so over impressed with something one of them has done that I must share it. To me, this poem is astonishing. I have no idea how my 12 year old daughter became so creative. To me, this poem has elements of genius. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I did and if so be sure to comment.
Review by: Stacy Palm
I picked this novel up not really knowing what to expect, but hopeful that it would appeal to my desire for a creepy bedtime thriller. I was not disappointed! I'm generally known as the slower reader in the house, preferring to take my time with a story, letting it simmer under my skin and absorb into my dreams. Occasionally I come across a book that I just can't put down. These are the books that I'm so thoroughly enjoying that any time I try to set it down I can't stop thinking about it and it ends up right back in my hands. This is how it was with The Vines. I literally read it last night, and did not go to sleep till I was finished, not that I could sleep if I wanted to.
There is a creep factor to this novel that I haven't found since reading Dean R. Koontz when I was a teen. Christopher Rice does something so profound in this novel that it struck it me genius! He thoroughly describes unfiltered terror in a manner that transports the reader right to the scene. Heart-pounding, throat clinching, can't catch your breath terror that will have you sleeping with the lights on and carefully watching your footing at nighttime.
It doesn't matter if you are a fan of Anne Rice or not, Christopher Rice is an amazing author on his own accord and honestly a much different conductor than his mother. I highly recommend this novel to not only horror genre fans, but those who enjoy a good gothic mystery.
What gets a family of book reviewers really excited? Nothing better than our annual road trip to the Texas Teen Book Festival held in Austin, TX! This year are family of bloggers is majorly geeked-out about tomorrow's festivities. We will post review, interviews, fun and hi-jinx throughout the day. In preparation we have been in deep discussions about who we are most looking forward to hear speak tomorrow:
Avalon (age 12 and avid WattPad user) has been endlessly talking about how to arrange "chance meetings" with none other than her WattPad Superhero, Cory Doctorow (@doctorow)! In Miss Avalon's mind there is no other agenda than to hunt down and capture the attention of Mr. Doctorow so that she may bask in his almighty glow. Seriously, she is 12 and authors are her pop stars.
Brennan (age 15, gamer, comic-con expert, self proclaimed nerd guru) has been keeping quiet what his main goals will be for #TTBF14, but I've been assured that one of his childhood favorites, Mr. Scott Westerfeld (@scottwesterfeld) is on his must see list along with James Dashner (@jamesdashner) and Garth Nix (@garthnix).
Mark (he is Dad) is the fuel that drives The Bookend Family having studied Creative Writing at University of Pittsburgh oh those many moons ago. His writing talent and desire has been past down to the children and thus begun our discussions of how to enhance our children's experience in the writing world. He will be on the look out for a few of his favorites this year including Ransom Riggs (@ransomriggs), Marie Lu (@Marie_Lu), and Paolo Bacigalupi (@paolobacigalupi).
As for me, Stacy (the Mom, the teacher, the programmer) I'm on the look out to see for the first time Sarah J. Maas (@SJMaas), Lauren Oliver (@OliverBooks), and Leslye Walton (@leslyewalton).
There will be many other talented writers in attendance and it will be a day to remember. If you are in the area I highly recommend popping over to St. Edward's University in Austin, TX to join us for the amazingly fun and free family event. Doors open at 8:30 and parking is free. Remember to follow us throughout the day; we will posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.