Sunday, July 8, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.
Everyone knows the peels are the best part.

The cover of this book pulled me in from the moment I saw it at my bookstore. I read the description over and over, and I teared up every time. When the library acquired the ebook, I absolutely had to read it.

Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a roadside mall, and he is telling us his story. I assume that the book takes place in the 1950s or 1960s, because there don't seem to be very many rules for keeping exotic animals in malls. The whole thing is a bit depressing. There aren't very many visitors to the mall anymore, and the owner has been sad since his wife died. Ivan's closest friends are an old elephant with a bad leg, Stella, and a stray dog, Bob. Ivan loves to draw and paint, he has since he was a baby in the jungle. His paintings are sold in the gift shop, but it's not enough.

In order to drum up business, the mall buys a baby elephant named Ruby. She is cute and inquisitive and absolutely miserable living in a tiny enclosure and learning tricks. Stella's leg gets worse, and she eventually passes away. Her final wish is for Ivan to get Ruby out of the mall, to a zoo where she can be with other elephants. The only question is how one gorilla can accomplish this fairly massive feat.

I'm just a teensy bit older than the intended audience, but I really enjoyed the book. I've always had a soft spot for animals, so I am sure I would have cried as much when I was still a kid as I cried now. It's also interesting how Ivan was based on a real gorilla, also named Ivan. This is the only book I've ever read with a gorilla as the narrator. The story can be heartbreaking, but Ivan adds a lot of humor as well. Ivan's story isn't one you can soon forget.

Here is the fantastic book trailer, featuring a lot of the fantastic illustrations.

Arise by Tara Hudson

I read Hereafter last year. It wasn't awful, just a nice tale of a dead girl and the living boy with whom she falls in love (On the next Maury...sorry, couldn't help myself. Actually, I'd really like to see that show). My review from the first installment is here. I have seen a lot of sequels on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and it bums me out when they are for series that I haven't read (Though even more when I acquire them and then find out that they are part of a series I haven't read). When I saw Arise, I was just excited that I'd read the first one. Happily, I like the second book even better.

In Hereafter, Amelia was a wandering spirit, all alone until the day she saw Joshua fall into the same river in which she died. She helps save him, he can see her, they fall in love. Throughout the book, he helps her to remember who she was, and at the end they figure out the truth about her death, and who killed her. In Arise, Amelia is still spending a lot of time with Joshua, but she is starting to worry. He has been avoiding his living friends and spends all his time with her. As much as she wishes things were different, Amelia knows that they can't have a future. It becomes even more apparent when she finds out that the evil spirits of the bridge (where she died) have been looking for her. They will use Joshua and his family to get Amelia to join the dark side.

All that, plus Amelia has been dematerializing randomly. She cannot control when she leaves or where she goes. Joshua and his family are taking a vacation to New Orleans for the holidays. It looks like Amelia will be able to escape the baddies and maybe find some ghostly answers. Plus she plans on leaving Joshua forever. Let's just say that New Orleans brings some changes. It gets interesting.

I received my copy of Arise from Edelweiss, courtesy of Harper Collins. It's available now.

Legend by Marie Lu

They are practically polar opposites. June was born to a rich family and got the only perfect score ever on her test. Day is a legendary criminal, infamous for his anti-Republic actions. In reality, he is a poor young man trying to care for his family. His younger brother falls ill from the plague, so Day breaks into a hospital for the cure.

By the time the dust settles, June's brother was killed while trying to stop Day. She will do everything in her power to hunt this legend down. She leaves her privileged life and goes undercover on the streets. She soon befriends a young man, a young man who turns out to be Day.

That's when things get complicated. June is only looking to avenge her brother, but Day is only looking to help his family. And, as always, there are yet more secrets and lies hidden underneath the surface. Maybe Day isn't the villain that June should be stopping.

I was really excited to read this book, but I ended up a bit disappointed for two reasons. First, because it's part of a series. Yes, everything is, but I still don't have to like it. I want more story and I want it now. Second, I felt that the Day legend was a little over hyped. I know June is some super soldier genius, but it seemed way to easy for her to find, and then manipulate, Day. Maybe that's less a flaw and more of a statement on how Day is really just a boy and not a legend. Part of me wishes that instead of alternating June/Day narrative, we just got June's point of view. Then we would have heard of this mythic boy, and when we met him, we wouldn't know whether to trust him or not. Both sides is almost revealing too much to make a compelling story. Sorry, just a random thought. I really don't believe that I know better than the actual author. I really did like Legend and I want to continue with the series when the next books finally come out.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

It's not really a new story. The girl falls for the guy. She hangs on his every word, supports him through good times and bad times, all of his relationships and break-ups. She knows that if she just stays by his side, one day he will wake up and see that she is the one, the one true love of his life.

So the story begins with Sadie and her best friend, the titular Garrett Delaney. They both like the same movies (Foreign, art house, Criterion stuff) and laugh at silly peppy people like Sadie's ex-best-friend Kayla. There is nothing that Sadie likes that isn't Garrett-approved.

Over the summer, Garrett is away at writing camp. Sadie hopes that this will be when he realizes that what he's been looking for has been in front of him the whole time. Sure enough, Garrett calls and tells her that he is in love...but, he's not in love with her.

What follows is a girl picking herself up after a breakup that never actually happened. Sadie has been so obsessed with Garrett for so long, that it's hard to tell where he ends and she begins. With the help of Kayla and some new friends from her summer job, Sadie starts to figure out how to be Sadie, and how to finally get over Garrett Delaney.

I wanted to read this book because the Fug Girls really liked it on Go Fug Yourself. At first, I was worried that it would be some communication gaff, that Garrett was in love with Sadie and she assumed otherwise. Then she would spend all that time "getting over" him, but they would end up together in the end. I really loved that they didn't do that. This book is fantastic, a perfect summer read in my book. I love that it combines self actualization with makeovers and teen movie fests. The dialogue is so funny that I actually laughed while reading, out in public and everything.

I received my copy of Getting Over Garrett Delaney from Netgalley, courtesy of Candlewick Press. It has been out for a long time now, but it took me a while to read it and even longer to review it. You can still pick it up before the summer ends, for all your beach reading needs :)