“The boy on the bridge” M.R. Carey

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. Orbit (Hachette Book Group). 2017.

The boy on the bridgeA group of 12 scientists and soldiers set out from the last city left in Great Britain in an armored research vehicle, nicknamed Rosie, tasked with searching for specimens that had been left behind a year earlier by another group of scientists. They’re hopeful that also sampling “hungries” on the journey will help them find a cure for Cordyceps, a disease that has turned almost everyone on earth into “hungries,” zombies who seek anything alive. Time is of the essence or mankind, as they know it, will disappear.

Stephen Greaves is a fifteen-year-old genius autistic brought onto the trip by his mentor. On one of Rosie’s stops he notices a child who eats like a hungry but acts and thinks like a human. He slips out to look for her in the nearest town, and finds a band of them. The next day his plan to study them is interrupted when a child is killed by one of Rosie’s soldiers, who is also killed. Stephen takes the body and hides it aboard Rosie. Soon Stephen makes an incredible discovery, but the band of hungry children start tracking Rosie through the wilderness. He knows they want the body and will do anything for its return.

This book was written after “The girl with all the gifts,” and is supposed to be its predecessor. There are a few things explained from “The girl” that were a little questionable, but “The boy” left its own set of unanswered questions. I’m wondering if the author is planning on doing a part 3. I liked “The boy” more than “The girl” because Stephen was a strong character and made me feel more involved in the storyline. However I still have questions about the time span between the two books, and what happened in those years to make Dr. Caldwell decide to study the children.

Despite this, I will go ahead and recommend it for Adults.

“The girl with all the gifts” M.R. Carey

Rated 3 stars *** 2015. Orbit (Hatchette). 431 p. (Includes “Interview [with the author],” “Reading group guide,” and a chapter from an upcoming book.)

The girl with all the giftsA strange type of spore has invaded the world, changing most of the population into zombies. Mindless “hungries” are left to wander the ruined land seeking blood. There are just a few pockets of normal civilizations, who shut themselves behind barricaded walls guarded by soldiers. Ten-year-old Melanie has grown up in such a place with other children, strapped into wheelchairs by soldiers for school, and kept in cells at all other times. Her mind is eager for knowledge, and she longs for the times when Miss Justineau, her favorite teacher, visits the classroom.

After hungries attack her secure area, Melanie, Miss Justineau, an evil doctor and two soldiers are left to make their way South towards one of the only remaining civilizations left in Great Britain knowing that hungries lie in wait on every crumbled street in every forsaken city. It is the ingenuity of little Melanie, and the love she has for her teacher, which powers the book towards its inevitable ending. I wasn’t a fan of that ending, but it seemed to make the most sense given everything else that happened in the book.

At first I was bored, and couldn’t get into the book. It wasn’t until the hungries invaded that I became more invested. Though it had a slow start it raised a lot of thinking about what happens when an Apocalypse occurs, but it also left quite a few unanswered questions. The Q & A with the author at the end was very enlightening.

I recommend this book for Adults.

“The here and now” by Ann Brashares

Rated 4 stars **** 2014. Delacourt Press. 242 p.

The here and nowIn 2098, due to global warming, the world was becoming uninhabitable. The intense heat caused mosquitoes infected with a deadly virus to multiply. Their bite caused death across the planet and, with no hope left, Prenna, her mother and a group of others travelled to 2010. There they planned to work to save the future.

Prenna has lived with members of her colony in her new time period for 4 years. Forced to live by a strict set of rules to maintain secrecy, she was mostly obedient. Though handsome Ethan was always trying to talk to her in class, Prenna knew she wasn’t allowed to spend quality time with him. However, things changed the day a strange old man told her she had to keep a murder from happening on May 14th, a few weeks away. He insisted if it happened it would forever change the future.

When the leaders began to suspect Prenna was being disobedient, they kidnapped her. Ethan came to her rescue, and they went on the run as they made plans to stop the upcoming murder. Though Prenna knew May 14th held a big significance to the old man, she didn’t realize it also held the possibility of breaking her heart.

This book about time travel, forbidden love, and pondering the “what if’s?” of the future had many twists and turns. At times very romantic, it also broke my heart. Though written in 2014, it’s scary how global warming has gotten worse in just 5 years. There’s an interesting passage on p. 166 that still holds true today “There is Earth Day and all kinds of green products that make people feel good…. but nobody does the hard things. Not if it costs them anything. Nobody calls for any real sacrifices…. eventually they will demand sacrifices…but by then it will be too late.” We need to make sure it doesn’t become too late.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“More deadly than war: The hidden history of the Spanish Flu and the First World War” by Kenneth C. Davis

5 stars ***** 2018. Henry Holt & Company (Macmillan). 291 p. (Includes Appendices, a Bibliography, Notes and an Index.)

MoreDeadlyThanWarUsing period photographs, timelines and quotes from historians and physicians, Davis’ attention to detail puts the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 into its historical time and place. His finely researched book gives background information about the causes of World War I, in easy-to-read chapters, while also thoroughly explaining the pandemic that cost millions of lives around the world.

In a story like, narrative manner, Davis weaves in details of how the flu affected armies and civilians across the world. Readers are introduced to physicians who worked over the centuries to isolate the cause of various illnesses, showing the mindsets of their times. Fascinating facts about the spread of the flu, long hidden to history, are laid out and dissected.

High school and adult lovers of history will find this book to be an important one to add to their collections.

Highly recommended for ages 18 and up.

 

“The sentinels of Andersonville” Tracy Groot

Rated 5 stars ***** Ebook. 2014. Tyndale House Publishers.

TheSentinelsOfAndersonvilleConfederate soldier Emery Jones captures a Union soldier and delivers him to Andersonville prison. Only after arrival does he become aware of the horrors of the place, and realizes he needs to make it right. From the prison’s stockade wall, confederate sentry Dance Pickett has seen thousands of men starving to death within the overcrowded prison. Commanded not to interfere, he wonders how to get the soldiers the help they need. Feeling as if no one wants to help, Dance is at his wit’s end.

Violet Stiles has worked tirelessly to help Confederate soldiers with various causes, and has learned to hate all Yankees. After visiting Andersonville, she is sickened by the horrific conditions. Emery, Dance and Violet are determined to make a difference, feeling they can get their fellow townspeople to band together for the soldiers. Though accused of treason, scorned by others, and facing extreme opposition, the three are committed to loving their enemies.

Before reading this book I had vaguely heard of Andersonville. After reading it I will never forget the prisoners who languished behind its walls. Tracy Groot’s extensive historical research on the appalling conditions tells how and why 13,000 Union soldiers died within its walls in 1864. I found many similarities to those who closed their eyes to evil, justifying their own blindness, during World War II as millions of Jews were killed. This was why townspeople were forced to tour concentration camps, after they were liberated, to look at what they had allowed to happen and see if it made a difference in their souls. I wonder if it did.

Highly recommended for Adults.

 

“Holding up the universe” Jennifer Niven

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published October 4, 2016. Alfred A. Knopf. 391 p.

holdinguptheuniverseAfter her mother died when she was 11-years-old, Libby Strout felt so sad and burdened with grief that only food could lessen her pain. Her father used cooking to assuage his own grief, and the combination soon caused her to balloon to 653 pounds.

Jack Masselin spent his life building things from scraps, but nothing could help him build up his own life as everyone, including his own brothers and parents, were strangers.

Libby and Jack meet under unusual circumstances, gradually learning to depend upon each other for mutual support. As high school life threatens to tear them down, the two of them face their worst fears in order to move forward.

Through alternate chapters Libby and Jack tell their stories of feeling different for circumstances out of their control, while learning the importance of unity in the face of diversity.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Everything, Everything” Nicola Yoon

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Random House). Published September 1, 2015.

EverythingEverythingEighteen-year-old Madeline Whittier has spent her whole life inside her house after being diagnosed with S.C.I.D. (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) when she was an infant. Maddy’s father and older brother were killed in an accident when she was just a baby so her life revolves around her mother and Carla, her full time nurse. Having S.C.I.D. means Maddy has never smelled the outside air, felt grass between her toes or experienced anything outside of the four walls of her home. However, since this life is all Maddy has ever known, she fills her mind with stories from books, learns about life through the internet, and plays games with her mom.

Her world’s axis tilts when a family moves in next door. Handsome Olly wearing all black, with movements as graceful as flowing water, soon becomes part of her every waking thought. Maddy has fallen in love for the first time in her life, but what can a girl with S.C.I.D. do with a love filled heart?

“Everything, Everything” is a wonderful look at the pain of S.C.I.D., which gives a new twist to the angst of teenage romance. I loved how Olly not only loved but also understood Maddy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT ****

I was confused at the end of the book as to how Maddy was able to figure out Olly was in N.Y.C. One minute she was sitting on Olly’s roof, and the next she had bought a plane ticket to meet him. I figured she must have finally sent him an email, but Yoon let readers draw their own conclusions about how they were able to reconnect. However I would have liked to have read more details about their reunion.