Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The question posed on the back of my galley copy of FLIP by Martyn Bedford asks "What does it mean to have a soul whose will to live knows no limits? "  This question peeked my interest, as well as the personal letter from Wendy Lamb of Wendy Lamb Books, which mentioned how hot this book was at auction and how excited she is to be publishing it.  The book did not disappoint!
As the story begins, Alex Gray wakes up to find himself in another boy's body.  Suddenly, asthmatic, clarinet playing Alex finds himself inhabiting the body of Phillip Garamond or Flip, an athletic girl magnet. Alex says, "Being Flip was like playing the lead in a film about a special agent assigned to work undercover...Except in a movie the agent would be thoroughly prepared for the operation. Provided a dossier of information, told to memorize every detail of the false ID which had been created for him...Only then would he be sent out to the field...ready to handle any tricky situations without blowing his cover."  Needless-to-say, Alex has a lot of trouble negotiating Flip's persona.  He immediately tries to contact his mother who is 200 miles away.  Her co-worker, who answers the call, thinks he's an evil prank caller, as does his best friend David, whom he tries to contact next.  He begins to suspect that Alex is dead.  When he steals money and takes a train back to his own home, he is apprehended by the police, after trying to make contact with his family.  He finds out that Alex is in a persistent vegetative state and returns to Flip's home and parents, who worry that their son is mentally ill.
Alex is heartened by the idea that he might be able to find a way back into his own body, so that Flip can once again inhabit his.  After doing some internet investigation, Alex makes contact with Rob who tells him he is a victim of psychic evacuation. At the moment near death, his soul moved into a new body.  Most psychic evacuees, who inhabit a new body, have died in their previous incarnation.  Alex is one of the few who may have a chance to reverse the process. Rob, also a psychic evacuee, takes Alex under his wing and tries to counsel him to accept his new body and move on.  Alex, however, refuses to lose hope and continues to struggle to reclaim his former life.
Although this book is being billed by some as a new Freaky Friday, it is so much deeper than that.The author explores questions such as What is a soul? What happens to it when the host body dies?  Bedford, who is the author of five novels for adults, also poses a detailed explanation as to how Alex came to inhabit Flip's body. This is his first young adult novel, but I would highly recommend this page turner for young and old alike.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

While researching information for leading a talk back for the film Tiny Furniture at the Boedecker Theater, I found that the film maker, Lena Dunham, has been hired to write and direct Dash and Lily's Book of Dares for Scott Rudin.  Coincidentally, I had just finished the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, who also wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.  Once again the story is told in alternating chapters with Rachel writing Lily's perspective and David voicing Dash's.
The story begins when Lily leaves a red moleskin notebook with a list of literary clues in the stacks of the Strand Bookstore in New York City.  Dash, a bookish sixteen-year-old, finds it and takes the challenge to follow the clues, leaving some of his own.  Both teens are on their own for the Chrismas holidays.  Dash has duped his divorced parents each into thinking he is spending the holiday with the other parent, and Lily has been left in the care of her older brother while their parents take a second honeymoon.  Lily challenges, “Are you going to be playing for the pure thrill of unreluctant desire?" and a bored and lonely Dash responds enthusiastically, following the clues to crowded venues to pick up messages.    As the dares continue, the two teens learn more and more about each other from the pages of the notebook, and they begin to fall in love.  When they finally meet under terrible circumstances, it is not the romantic interlude the reader expects. The rest of the story is spent with the two working toward a second chance at making a first impression. Well-read teens will love the words, thoughts, and emotions that these two unique characters convey.


Of all the series optioned for film, Catherine Fisher's Incarceron and its sequel Sapphique seem the most cinematically challenging to me. I am really interested to see what the screenwriters, Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, will do with this steam punk story. Taylor Lautner, who plays the werewolf Jacob in the Twilight series,  will play Finn, who has been trapped in Incarceron, a sentient futuristic prison. He finds a crystal key which allows him to communicate with Claudia, the daughter of the Warden, who lives outside Incarceron.  However, Claudia is trapped in her own prison, a world designed to look like the 17th Century. Technology is outlawed and society has returned to a feudal time including arranged marriages.  When the Queen and Claudia's father tell her she has to marry the dolt who is the heir to the throne, Claudia vows to do whatever it takes to avoid her fate. She knows nothing of Incarceron except that it exists, but when she and Finn begin to communicate, she believes he is Giles, her long lost fiance. They hatch a plan for Finn to escape and claim his throne.
 The sequel Sapphique picks up where Incarceron ended with Finn on the Outside with Claudia and her tutor Jared, trying to prove that he is the rightful heir to the throne.  His oathbrother Kiero and friend Attia are still trapped inside the prison, trying to find a way out. Incarceron itself is hunting for an object known as Sapphique's glove that may help it attain a human body so it can escape from the prison. Attia and Kiero meet up with Claudia's father the Warden, and the three attempt to thwart the prison's plans. Meanwhile, on the Outside, a Pretender, hired by the evil Queen, is threatening to usurp the throne and destroy the Kingdom.  While Claudia and Finn are dealing with that intrigue, Jared is still trying to find the Portal between Incarceron and the Outside.  Although the major plot lines are resolved, the possibility of another book to explore the repercussions of what happens has not been ruled out by the author.
Even though the world Catherine Fisher imagines is very creative, I had some problems suspending my disbelief as I was reading.  I'm wondering how film makers are going to portray a living breathing prison which is the size of a watch fob. Watching the MTV movie awards last night and hearing the girls scream every time Taylor Lautner's abs were shown, I'm sure the film makers will come up with something. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

City of Fallen Angels

According to the Entertainmently Weekly article, Find Me a Twilight, some industry insiders think Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series is the most likely to "inherit the Twilight mantle,"  because it has the biggest fan base online.  Lily Collins, a British-American actress and television personality, is cast as Clary Fray, a young girl who learns about the supernatural from Jace, a boy who is characterized as "Edward with attitude." Four books in the projected six book series are currently available.
City of Bones is the first book in the series, which is filled with vampires, werewolves, fairies and demons. When Clary Fray witnesses three tattoo-covered teenagers murder another teen, she is bewildered because the victim disappears and no one else can see the killers. Then she learns that the teens are Shadowhunters, humans who hunt and kill demons, and she can see them because she is a shadowhunter whose skills are just emerging. Shortly after this her mother is kidnapped, and Clary finds out that her mother is also a Shadowhunter and the only one who knows the location of The Mortal Cup, a dangerous magical item that turns humans into Shadowhunters. Clary and her friend Simon are drawn into a world filled with danger and intrigue, where renegade Shadowhunters led by the evil Valentine are trying to kill all non humans.  Romantic tension is created when Simon declares his love for Clary, only to find out Clary is in love with one of the Shadowhunters named Jace.  However, as the first book draws to a close, Clary finds out that not only is she Valentine's daughter but Jace is supposedly Valentine's son. 
The sequel City of Ashes finds Clary’s mother in a magically induced coma.  Clary’s only hope of helping her mother is to hunt down her father, the evil Valentine. To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering vampire, werewolf and faerie children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor suspects Clary’s brother Jace.  Clary wonders if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father? 
In City of Glass, the book which was originally advertised as the final installment of the Mortal Instrument series, Clary goes to the City of Glass in search of a remedy for her dying mother.  There she gets involved in a battle between the Shadow hunters and Valentine’s army of demons in a last ditch effort to save the world.  Romantic issues are resolved and surprising relationships are revealed in what was supposed to be a satisfying ending to the popular series.
After beginning a prequel series with the book Clockwork Angel (see 10/26/10 blog) , the author then announced she would write three more installments of the Mortal instruments series.  In the fourth book, City of Fallen Angels which was released in April, the mortal war is over and Clary is training to be a shadow hunter. However, the peace between the shadow hunters and the downworlders is broken when someone begins murdering shadow hunters. Simon, who is attempting to adjust to life as a vampire, seems to be at the center of the conflict.  Jace and Clary once again are pulled apart when Jace begins having dreams about killing Clary. 
Personally, I thought this terrific series should have ended with City of Glass, which tied up all loose ends and brought the lovers together.  As I was reading City of Fallen Angels, I found myself annoyed with the story line, and not really caring about the characters any more.  However, fans of the series may be thrilled to have three more books, which I consider to be a retread of the original story.