Book Review: Boo by Neil Smith

Boo by Neil SmithBoo: What it is about

From the publishers: “It is the first week of school in 1979, and Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple—ghostly pale eighth grader; aspiring scientist; social pariah—is standing next to his locker, reciting the periodic table. The next thing he knows, he finds himself lying in a strange bed in a strange land. He is a new resident of a place called Town—an afterlife exclusively for thirteen-year-olds. Soon Boo is joined by Johnny Henzel, a fellow classmate, who brings with him a piece of surprising news about the circumstances of the boys’ deaths.

In Town, there are no trees or animals, just endless rows of redbrick dormitories surrounded by unscalable walls. No one grows or ages, but everyone arrives just slightly altered from who he or she was before. To Boo’s great surprise, the qualities that made him an outcast at home win him friends; and he finds himself capable of a joy he has never experienced. But there is a darker side to life after death—and as Boo and Johnny attempt to learn what happened that fateful day, they discover a disturbing truth that will have profound repercussions for both of them.

Hilarious and heartwarming, poignant and profound, Boo is a unique look at the bonds of friendship in what is, ultimately, a book about finding your place in the world—be it this one, or the next.

Boo: What I thought

This book is narrated by a 13-year-old, but it’s very much a book for young adults and adults. This heaven is a very original heaven. It’s far from perfect. The children fight and quarrel, just like they did before. Also, the items around them, such as furniture, utensils, etc. are all clearly second or third hand. Food and goods arrive as if by magic once everything in the warehouse has been used up.

Boo isn’t finding life there all that bad, but when his friend Johnny starts an investigation of what happened to them, he joins in and the adventure starts. Unfortunately, things don’t go well for Johnny, and the story shows what may happen if a large group of 13-year-olds turns against you. It’s not pretty!

A quick and fun read and highly original. For anyone who wants a change of reading scenery.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 310

First published: 2015

I got this: from my local Random House representative

Genre: Fantasy, YA


Book Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Dark Eden by Chris BeckettDark Eden: What it is about

From the publishers: “On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it.

The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return.

But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world.”

Dark Eden: What I thought

I love this book! For 160 years, the people of Eden are waiting for the star ship from Earth to pick them up, after a crash landing left their ancestors stranded. Their world is dark as there is no sun. Light comes from the trees. Really, not much progress has been made since the first people learned how to live on the planet. They are stuck in a kind of Neanderthal way of living.

John Redlantern sees possibilities further afield, but the majority of people think they should stay near the Circle, the place where the crash landing was, or else the astronauts from Earth won’t know where to find them when they return.

Soon, the community is split, and their peaceful existence is over. The group dynamics are very believable. Yes, as soon as a group becomes two groups, there are Us and Them, and everything that comes with that way of thinking. The exploration of (some of) the planet was interesting. I found the description of the planet and its animals fun, but not 100% believable. That didn’t matter: this was a great read. Only towards the very end did I get an idea of how the book might end. I was right. It certainly didn’t mean that it was predictable!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)

Number of pages: 400

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Blogging for Books (ebook)

Genre: Dystopia, YA


Quick Book Review: Gone: Light by Michael Grant

Light by Michael GrantRating: 4/5
Number of pages: 368 (my Dutch copy)
First published: 2013 (Dutch edition, 2013, Gone: Licht)
Genre: science fiction, YA
I got this book: from the library
Extra: Also see my reviews of Book 3 (in English), Book 4 (in Dutch), and Book 5 (in English)

This is the sixt and final book in the Gone series, a series about a large group of children who are locked inside a very large dome, spanning many miles. They cannot get out and food and water are running low. There are opposing factions that all want to control or sabotage the town they live in. There is also a dark force that is persuading some of the children to work for it.

Some children have special powers, such as being very strong, able to make light, run very fast, etc. They use these powers in their struggle to survive but also against each other.

In this final installment, the dome is see-through and the children can see their parents inside the dome. This causes a problem: many children stay near the dome perimeter to see their parents, rather than working on the fields and gathering food. Also, the dark force has started on its big plans to conquer all.

I liked this book better than some of the others, because it really had the feel that something finally was happening. Some of the other books seemed like “place holders” for the story to continue without there being a clear end in sight. So, I liked this, and I also liked how we get some of the story past the grand finale so we have some idea what happens to the children next.

A fun series, that could have been one or two books shorter. Worth a read, though.

Quick Book Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Starters by Lissa PriceThis book has appeared on several book blogs that I read. Dystopia always sounds good to me, and so I recommended this book to my son (15) first, then when he enjoyed it, read it myself.

The story is told by the 16 year old Callie. She and her brother live in derelict houses with a friend, Michael. They are on the run from the police, who round up “unattached minors”. After a virus attack, only minors (Starters) and the elderly (Enders) are left alive, as they were the first to be vaccinated. Starters that have no Ender to look after them, roam the streets.

Callie decides to rent out her body, to make enough money to get her own home. At the Body Bank, she is connected up such that an elderly can use her body for the day (or longer) and have fun like she used to when young. When she is rented out for the third time something goes wrong and she discovers there is a plan that will endanger many teenagers. She and the elderly lady that rents her body work together to try and change the plans.

This was a fun story. The idea of someone inhabiting another person’s body was an interesting idea that worked well in the book. The story as such was reasonably well developed but it missed a certain wider story: the virus attack came from another country but there is no ongoing war or occupation by foreign soldiers. There also wasn’t a clear explanation as to why people could live up to 150 years and how long this had been the case.

This is a YA story that will also be fun for adults that enjoy dystopian novels.

Rating: 4 / 5

Number of pages: 352 (My Dutch edition)

First published: 2012

I got this book: from the library

Genre: dytopian fiction, Young Adult fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

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