Rick’s recent reads

I’ve been on the road the last two weeks, doing school visits and other book events. One thing about traveling — it’s not so great for my writing schedule, but I get a lot of reading done. Among my recent reads:

Elsewhere, Gabrielle Zevin. Fascinating, a well-imagined, well-written YA novel. A fifteen-year-old girl dies and finds herself in Elsewhere, where the deceased age backwards until they become babies and return to the Earth for their next lives. It’s a quick read, but wow — it made me appreciate my life, my family, and love. The potentially heavy subject matter is counterbalanced with some great humor. Highly recommended.

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. I’m a sucker for a good vampire story, so I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. The story was a page-turner: regular teenage girl falls in love with a guy who turns out to be a vampire. I thought the writing needed some editing. If the girl’s heart skipped a beat one more time or the vampire smiled his “perfect crooked smile” I was going to fling the book across the room. But hey, I kept reading to see what would happen next. I’m sure the book will be popular. It would make a good movie.

Mistmantle Chronicles: Urchin of the Riding Stars, M.I. McAllister. The publisher described this to me as “Shakespeare with squirrels,” and that’s about right. It has elements of Hamlet and MacBeth with the same kind of fantasy world that made Redwall popular. I enjoyed it very much. The book worked so well as a standalone it will be interesting to see what the author does for the next book in the series.

The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova. The latest adult novel I’ve read, a modern take on the Dracula story. This reminded me of The Da Vinci Code in some ways. The story was a pageturner with lots of atmosphere and exotic settings, danger and romance mixed with the secrets of history. But at the end, I found myself thinking, “What a minute. That plot made no sense.” Dracula’s motivation is sketchy at best, and the choices the characters make just don’t ring true, in my opinion. That’s all I can say without giving away the plot. Read it and see what you think. I was willing to suspend belief for the whole length of the book. Only afterwards did I feel somewhat cheated. My advice: enjoy it, and don’t think about the inconsistencies once you’re done.

Rick Riordan