Monday, September 25, 2017

Recommended Read

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Several years ago I read a book that changed my perception of civilization. That book was One Second After by William Forstchen. I know what you're going to ask (I'm good like that), "With such an extended passage of time, why go about writing a review now?" Let me start by complimenting the relevancy of this query; here, have a cookie. Now comes the backstory.

A few days ago I was browsing the BPL collection in search of a novel to satisfy my literary appetite. A couple of titles actually made their way in to my hands, but a further browsing of our catalog was necessary before hitting the checkout desk. Low and behold, it was at this point that a great discovery occurred. Somehow, without my knowledge, a sequel to One Second After had been written (One Year After). I feel a bit embarrassed in this admission. After all, as a librarian, shouldn't I be more aware of the latest and greatest titles? While I could offer up a myriad of excuses, some better than others, it would still leave me having to admit that a third book has been released in the series (The Final Day).

One Second After gives the fictitious, yet plausibly real, account of an Electromagnetic Pulse which is unleashed by terrorists above the United States. Transported to the region of Black Mountain, North Carolina, we bear witness to events as they transpire over the duration of 1 year. A crippling act which disables nearly every electrical device in this great country yields devastating consequences. Life is reduced beyond merely adapting in order to survive. It’s as if society is transported two hundred years in to the past. Now multiply the situation to the nth degree. Looting, gangs, cults, starvation, disease, all become the norm. Neighbors become adversaries, protective boundary lines are drawn between towns to protect precious resources. A new world order is established.

An apocalyptic tale, One Second After is a terrifying window to glance through. Yet with all its potential realities, the book is highly entertaining. Rather odd, I realize, considering the dark themes of subject matter. Perhaps because in some fashion the story is used as a makeshift wakeup call. We’re allowed a futuristic glimpse of ‘what could be’ before such a scenario actually transpires. To prepare, as much as one can feasibly do so. Of course, there is much that remains out of our hands as individuals. Citizens must unite and to continue encouraging our leaders to work towards the greater good. The merits of a quality story aren’t necessarily veiled in warm-fuzzy-feelings, but in thought-provoking lessons learned.

Rating: 4.8 out of 5
This readers advisory brought to you by YA Librarian, Chris. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Recommended Read

Aqua by Tracy Korn

The Earth’s atmosphere, economy, and air quality are all failing, so government personnel and the highest echelons of civilization have moved under the sea to a society of biodomes called Gaia Sur. Each year, after months of preparation, the top students of the graduating class are sent to continue training, develop special skills, and to serve in government forces. For everyone left behind, time is coming to an end. This year, Jazz, her brother Jax, Arco, and 12 other students descend into the depths only to discover that something isn’t quite right.

Great world building, fun characters (even the annoying ones!), good dialogue and editing. This is a fast-paced story that gets right to the action. If you enjoy sci-fi or dystopians, you’ll love the series!

Rating:  3.75 out of 5

This book review brought to you by Adult Department Assistant, Melissa.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recommended Read

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

A personal appreciation for books extends back to childhood (no old jokes), as much a part of my youth as watching He-Man on television and playing with G.I. Joe action figures. Many a memory of traveling to the River Park branch library in South Bend, two sisters in tow, and emerging from the stacks with a smile and collection of the latest Garfield comics. It really wasn’t until the high school era, however, that an affinity for specific authors emerged; in particular, Stephen King. The influence of Mr. King, in fact, is what had me daydreaming of becoming a bestselling author someday. It’s also what kick-started my college career as an English major. While that particular road in life hasn’t come to fruition (yet), my fondness for the written word and SK remains unmatched.

Over the course of many years (again, no jokes about being old), I’ve done an adequate job in covering the ground of his extensive literary works; perhaps in the ballpark of 20 novels read. Nominating a favorite, without a doubt would be The Stand. When it comes to tales of Good vs. Evil, few writers can hold a candle. Trying to rank his other stories, that’s where it becomes increasingly difficult, and this isn’t the blog for attempting such a task. This week’s entry is to tout King’s latest release (co-authored with Richard Chizmar), Gwendy’s Button Box.

Gwendy Peterson is a 12-year-old girl growing up in the town of Castle Rock (that idyllic town which will ring a familiar bell for loyal readers). A life of relative normalcy is about to change, which is the crux of this narrative, when mysterious Mr. Farris appears (and disappears) from her life. Though Gwendy is familiar with the well-intentioned parental lecture about speaking with, much less accepting gifts from strangers, Farris and his shadowy persona yield a magnetic draw. A simple box is presented to her, an irony in that rarely is anything ‘simple’ in King’s world. A container that possesses little in the way of explanation, slightly more in terms of instruction, and a great magnitude when it comes to consequences. Gwendy’s bestowed upon task: protect the box and make good choices.

Gwendy’s Button Box is a quick-paced and enthralling read. At a mere 164 pages, I had half the book completed in a single afternoon. Notoriously a slow reader (pausing regularly for thought and consideration), this is one instance where I ravenously moved through the (brief) chapters. While it won’t require you to have all the lights on, or hide under covers, it fits King’s regular mantra of characters facing something much bigger than themselves. In previous incarnations, the monster is recognizable (think It or Pet Sematary). In others, lines become blurred when some of that darkness is what resides within (The Shining). The themes in Gwendy highlight familiar lessons that’re easily relatable. From the trials and tribulations of teenage years, falling in love, making and losing friends. Of course, there’s a twist to be had. There’s always a twist.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

This review is brought to you courtesy of YA Librarian, Chris.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Getting to Know ... Jabari

Introducing another valuable member of our YA Volunteer Team, Jabari Hochstetler! A 14-year-old eighth grader, Jabari joined the team in December 2016 and has completed 22 hours to date.

Jabari studies Tae Kwon Do and enjoys reading and watching movies.

FAVORITE BOOK GENRES:  Fiction, graphic novels and comics
FAVORITE TV SHOWS:  NFL, college football and basketball
ROLE MODEL: Mr. Larry Maxson from Bremen Family Martial Arts
HAPPY PLACE: Any type of library
FAVORITE QUOTE:  "With great power comes great responsibility."