Life, the Universe, and Everything
Adult / April 22, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #3. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads–so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation. They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vice president of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-president of the galazy; and Trillian, the space cadet torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox. How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert “universal” Armageddon and save life as we know it–and don’t know it! (Summary from Goodreads) My Thoughts: It’s like a popular television show that just can’t stop. New things happen every time, old plot lines may even be accidentally advanced, but nothing really…

The Unwanteds
Middle Grade / Juvenile / April 22, 2016

Unwanteds #1. Author: Lisa McMann. Summary: Every Year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their graves. On the day of the Purge, identical twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt – and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence. But when Alex and the other Unwanteds face the Eliminators, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artime is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is considered a gift… and a weapon. My Thoughts: The writing is clearly directed to a middle-grade level, but I still enjoyed the story for myself. By the end many characters were well-filled out and interesting conflict set in place for later. The world was interesting, although without much background – no doubt more of that will come in later books. There was no romance among the teenagers except for one…

Animal Farm
Adult / April 22, 2016

Author: George Orwell. Summary: Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union. My Thoughts: A brilliant, scathing book. I cannot honestly say I have ever liked it – by the end it always brings me close to tears – but I admire it for the writing power, and for how well Orwell demonstrates the principles he wants to while keeping it fast-paced and interesting. There’s a good reason it’s on so many high school lists. This brutal fable starts off like an interesting animal story – the animals have revolted, freedom is theirs, hurrah! Almost imperceptibly at first, but with gathering momentum and speed ominous signs overtake it as the pigs quietly gather power to themselves. Everything has a meaning to be analyzed later, but within the story everything is woven together so smoothly nothing jolts you out of the action. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Various animals are…

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature
Young Adult / April 22, 2016

Author: Robin Brande. Summary: Mena’s starting highschool at the worst time of her life. Her old friends all hate her and even her parents are distant and cold – she tried to do the right thing, but everything went wrong and she doesn’t know how to recover from the effects. Things begin looking up in biology class, when she is assigned to a completely capable and rather engaging partner, but some of her old friends from church are in the same class – and when the syllabus moves onto evolution, they’re not going to stand for it. Caught up in her partner’s enthusiasm for their science project, Mena is dragged into an ever deepening whirlpool of lies with her parents so that she can go to his house and work on their project. She must struggle to balance all her old beliefs and the new teaching that sounds so convincing, separate her life cleanly between home and school without slipping up, and walk the gauntlet of her classmates’ hate. My Thoughts: Written in the first-person voice of a teenage girl journaling, the writing was convincing and realistic, if occasionally grating. Mena as a character was also believable and relatable, a…

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Adult / April 22, 2016

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #2. Author: Douglas Adams. Summary: Arthur Dent and his comrades are facing death at the hands of the Vogons, and their only help right now is a grumpy old ghost. On the plus side, there’s a good chance of tea later. As usual, the motley band of space-travelers are riding the flow, trying to stay ahead of annihilation, with a few extra efforts at figuring out what’s going on in Zaphod’s dual-brain. By this time, of course, they’ve given up on understanding what’s happening. The best thing you can do, really, is hold on until you can find a really good eating place and take a break. One apocalyptic dining experience, coming right up. My Thoughts: If you enjoyed the first, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one. More of the same wit, clever plays on tropes, random happenings, and disregard for plot. My only advice is not to read the Hitchhiker’s Guide books too close together – they’re funniest when you’re fresh. Content Review: Sexual content: Character says when he was born there was an accident with a time-machine and contraceptives. The “triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six” is mentioned again. A disembodied voice…