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I read the manga Battle Royale last summer, and now that I’ve read the first novel in the hit trilogy The Hunger Games, I can’t resist making a bit of a compare-and-contrast review.

Synopsis for both: A cruel government keeps its citizens in check by having a yearly “game” pitting dozens of teens against each other in a battle to the death.  This brutal game is shown on live TV.  There can be only one victor.

Statistics
Checkouts: 10
Series checkouts (trilogy): 22
Typical reader: This ranges from older elementary boys, to high school girls, to classroom aides. There is no typical reader.
Source: Follett for the school, gift for my copy
Statistics
Checkouts: Rated M, this does not belong in a school library.
Series checkouts (15 manga): Seriously. This puts “graphic” in graphic novels.
Typical reader: Fans of Japanese gore fests
Source: Local public library
My Goodreads rating: 5 stars My Goodreads rating: N/A

While reading Battle Royale, I realized that what I’d heard about The Hunger Games sounded a lot like this manga.  That’s absolutely true, at least on the surface.  The plot, as shown in the synopsis above, is interchangeable.  What’s different, besides the medium used to tell the story and the language/country of origin?


The main characters: Katniss of The Hunger Games is one of those YA heroines that I can really get behind.  She’s a survivor, strong and tough.  When her little sister’s name is drawn to participate in the Hunger Games, she refuses to let that happen and volunteers in her stead.  She is a skilled huntress and keeps her wits about her throughout the ordeal.  And she remains true to herself!  I don’t want to give anything away, but I was proud of how she handled things at the end of the book.

Shuuya of Battle Royale is a student in an ill-fated class that’s drugged on a field trip and sent to a deserted island for this story’s battle to the death.  He is a musician – which is rebellious in this dystopian Japan – and quite nonviolent; he would prefer to avoid killing his classmates at all costs.  Joined by a female classmate, Noriko, whose wound he dresses after she is shot before the game even begins, Shuuya tries to recruit and save other classmates in an alliance.  Only the transfer student, Shogo, joins them for long.

Perspective and style: The Hunger Games is a novel written in limited third-person, focusing on Katniss.  Most of the deaths occur “off-screen,” except for the battle near the end of the Games.  Battle Royale covers every one of the 42 students in the game, including offering back-stories on several of the contestants.  It is one of the most graphic, explicit sequential art pieces I’ve ever seen.  Most of that is violence, but there’s also some nudity and sexual situations.

This is one of the less gory death scenes.

Outside aid and restrictions: The students in Battle Royale each start with a backpack of supplies and one random weapon.  They are equipped with collars that track their movements and transmit their vital statistics to those who run the show.  If no one dies in a 24-hour period, someone’s tracking collar will detonate; this will also happen if a student strays into an area announced as being off-limits.

The competitors in The Hunger Games have it easier by far – if they survive the initial rush for supplies, and the bloodbath that ensues.  Katniss grabbed a bag and ran, narrowly escaping death.  After that, those who impressed the audiences in the Capital may be sent gifts via their sponsors.  These can really come in handy.

Movies: Battle Royale was made into a movie before it became a manga; both are based on a novel of the same name.  The movie was released in Japan in 2000.  The Hunger Games movie will be in theaters next month.

Sequels: The Hunger Games is part of a trilogy; I look forward to reading the next two books.  Battle Royale has a sequel manga series, Blitz Royale.  I’ve seen some art from it, and it’s not as good or realistic.

Who I would give the book to: As I said in the statistics, there are older elementary students who read The Hunger Games.  That’s pretty acceptable.  Battle Royale, on the other hand, fits well into my “Guilty Pleasures” category and would best go to mature adults who like manga filled with violence and social commentary, and Quentin Tarantino’s films.

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Internet blackout day

Imagine an Internet where you can’t read book reviews or see images of covers because of a law written so broadly that these things fall under copyright infringement.

Stop SOPA and PIPA.  Go to http://americancensorship.org/ and send your Senator a note asking him or her to vote “no” on January 24.  The site also has a way for those not living in the U.S. to petition the State Department.

Here’s my review of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff.

Statistics
Checkouts: None, but it was recently added to the collection
Typical reader: Teens involved in theater – there’s not really anything at the school, but the community has a vivacious youth theater program
Source: Superiorland Preview Center

Synopsis: High school sophomore Adam Zeigler is a member of his high school’s theater crew, and loves working lights behind (or rather, above) the scenes.  During the production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, however, he receives more attention than he ever wanted, and must learn to be courageous enough to face his fears, stand up to peer pressure, and talk to girls.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

This is a really good coming-of-age novel.  It’s very much a “slice of life,” realistic fiction piece, almost falling into my palate cleansing “gentle reads” category.  There’s some language though, and teen relationship situations. Adam Zeigler is a complex teen with plenty of problems, ranging from acne to mourning his father, who was killed in a car accident two years prior.

I enjoyed the cast of characters in this book.  The protagonist narrator is complex, like I said, and so are the people he interacts with.  There’s diversity – his best friend “Reach” is Indian, and Mr. Apple, the drama teacher, is gay – but no one is stereotypical.  Mr. Apple was interesting, and his character was as round as his figure.  Adam’s nemesis of sorts, Derek, is a rich kid who is directing the play and takes credit for Adam’s great ideas while blaming him for mishaps such as when a fuse blows.  This guy needs to be a politician when he grows up, he’s such a charismatic player.  (That’s not a compliment.)

This is definitely a character-based story.  There is a plot; it’s Adam’s life and how he needs to “grow a pair,” to quote Reach.  He starts out as a bit of a doormat, honestly – afraid of the dark, afraid to talk to girls, and totally willing to bow to both the societal norms of the theater crowd and to the whims of Derek.

A driving force in this novel is the social environment of high school.  Cliques and peer pressure play major roles in the story.  In Adam’s school, there’s some old rivalry between the theater crew and the actors; the two groups are not supposed to talk to each other beyond what’s necessary, and each looks down upon the other.  So of course Adam takes a liking to a beautiful actress he sees dancing in the hallway one afternoon after practice.  He also breaks more societal rules by talking to Grace, a crew member on the outs because she dated Derek.  A lot of the pressure comes not only from Derek, the wannabe ruler of the theater, but also from Reach.

Changes may come.

Google has been making some interesting choices lately.  They’ve been deleting accounts, turning off services, and so on.  After rumblings of this started on the book blogging grapevine, a couple of things happened.

  1. My boyfriend’s blog, Tarnished Reviews, lost its Google AdSense.  On New Year’s Eve.  They were quick to say “Ha ha, no,” to his appeal when they canceled the account for receiving too many clicks.  How many clicks are too many?  Who knows.  They don’t specify.  It could have been as simple as a click or two a day from me, at my home IP address.
  2. Today a major book reviewer, the Bookish Brunette, was completely deleted for some violation of terms of service.  What did she do?  Who knows!  Google isn’t saying.  When I go on Twitter and watch drama unfold, I much prefer it to be about some news event (I had popcorn with the Iowa caucuses) or something, not a book blogger trying to figure out where best to move her blog.  Which, by the way, was followed by hundreds of readers.  And had a domain she was paying for.  Google doesn’t discriminate between free services and pay.  When they arbitrarily decide to cut you out, it doesn’t matter.

I want to redesign my blog anyway, make it more unique.  So with Google’s shenanigans and my desire for change, stay tuned for where the Moonlit Librarian will go next.  I’m thinking WordPress, but I do have a local web designer that still owes me a paycheck from this summer that I might be able to work a deal with for web services.

Changes are coming!  (And if Google decides I’m next, I’ll let you know through social networking where I am!)

A funny thing happened on Goodreads a couple weeks ago.  I often enter the giveaways on the site in hopes of getting free books.  Thus far, I’ve never won.  But then, I got a message on Goodreads.  From an author.  Saying that his giveaway is overbooked and, “Since you are a librarian and review and blog about YA books regularly I would be happy to send you a review copy outside of the giveaway if you provide an address where I can send the book.”  Epic squeal.

So I am happy to bring to you a review of the middle-grade mystery, The Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake by Steven L. Zeichner.

Statistics
Checkouts: Coming soon to the library
Typical reader: Aimed at children age 11-13; I think the seventh grade science teacher will love it.
Source: From the author! Signed!!

Synopsis: Joe and Debbie Jinson decide to start a business during their summer vacation.  They are hired by the eccentric Mrs. Gray to help clean out her basement.  While doing so, Mrs. Gray mentions that her late husband was a sea captain who went down with his ship, but had apparently left her a treasure which she has not found.  The twins find a map, and with the help of Mr. Benjamin, the owner of the local junkyard (excuse me, Resource Recovery and Recycling Center), they use scientific principles to solve riddles and try to find the treasure.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars (rounded up)

Let me be forthcoming in saying that mystery novels are not my cup of tea.  This took me about a week to read, which is a bit more than normal, because mysteries just don’t hold my interest very well.  However, I’m a librarian, and I need to be able to tell my students – and the readers of this blog – about all sorts of books.  If you like mysteries, you’ll probably get more excited over this book than I did (beyond the extreme happiness of getting a signed, free book from an author).

This novel has a great premise.  Using science to figure out a mystery appeals to educators, and a lot of kids like conducting science experiments.  There’s one provided in the back of the book, somewhat similar to what the Jinson twins did in their quest to find the treasure.  Mr. Benjamin encourages the protagonists to form hypotheses when they start investigating the map and riddle, and helps them with research and studying data they collect.

There are some seriously quirky characters.  Mrs. Gray is one odd duck, and her African gray parrot, the Captain, adds both levity and unexpected insight.  There are villains quite suitable for this story – a trio of slightly older teen boys who feel that the twins are encroaching on their summer job “turf.”  This certainly isn’t an adult murder mystery; if not for the advanced reading level, it would be suitable for the elementary crowd.  Searching for treasure while on summer vacation is probably something many kids would be thrilled to do.  (See also, the movie “The Goonies.”)

At times this book feels like it was originally written in third-person, and was changed to a first-person from the point of view of Debbie, the female twin, late in the game.  There are a few pronoun errors – not enough to throw off the flow of the story, though – and something just seems a little “off” in Debbie’s narration.  Perhaps this was done to attract female readers to a science-based story.

Fun fact: The author is a pediatrician and works at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, D. C., where he is Senior Investigator in the Children’s Research Institute.  His previous publications are the Handbook of Pediatric HIV Care (first and second editions) and Textbook of Pediatric HIV Care, both of which he edited.

I had the pleasure of finding a first edition, signed, copy of this at my local bookstore.  I debated about getting it so close to Christmas, but it was the last one in stock.  (My boyfriend can attest, I danced around with it in the aisle before buying it.)  So, thanks to this little splurge, I actually read this in a somewhat timely manner and you get a review in the month the book came out.

Statistics
Checkouts: Coming soon to the library
Typical reader: Late elementary/middle school boys and girls alike should be able to pick up this thriller
Source: Personally purchased from Snowbound Books

Synopsis: In Los Angeles, two lives collide after a heinous crime.  Day is at 15 years old the Republic’s most wanted criminal, and has been accused of murder.  June is the Republic’s groomed prodigy who must track down Day, who allegedly killed her brother.  This is the story of a game of cat and mouse, told from the perspective of both.  And after a shocking turn of events, it is the story of uncovering the truth of what really happened, and what is really going on in the city.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

This has a great cover that has appealed to me since I first saw it on other bloggers’ reviews.  It’s shiny!  It’s also very gender-neutral, which is perfect for a book told from the perspectives of a young man and a young woman.  Anyone can pick it up and not be ashamed to be seen with it.

Day and June were destined for their lives by standardized testing, we learn early in the story.  While each has family history that plays into their status in life, the main determinant is the Trial that all children must take on their tenth birthdays.  Day flunked his, and escaped with his life to become a criminal.  June scored a perfect 1500 and is the darling of the Republic, head of her classes in university and destined for greatness.  But Day is certainly smarter and more physically fit than his Trial score indicated.  There’s perhaps a bit of social commentary here.

The narrative style is excellent.  Day and June alternate chapters, each with a different font style and color in the physical copy of the book.  It’s very easy to always know who you’re reading!  I love how the two stories came together.  The scene where they met was great – as was the scene where she finally figures out who, in fact, she’s been hanging out with on the streets.  As the story progresses past a certain turning point, the action really heats up, and you get so much more with both narratives than you would from a single point-of-view.

I felt that the first half was paced well, but things got so intense halfway through the book that I could hardly put it down after that.  The first half of the novel sets the characters, setting, and mood, and gives us an interesting game of cat and mouse.  But the second half!  That really is a suspenseful thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

This is pretty lightly dystopian, very slightly science fiction.  It’s set in the future, but feels like it isn’t that far off.  The technology is somewhat advanced but very recognizable.  LA has a lake and a lot of flooding issues, and a lot more slums.  There’s also not much in the way of gory violence or adult themes.  If you’re not terribly into dystopias, this can still appeal to you.

Five Best Blogging Experiences of 2011

  1. Finding this blog’s niche in life.  I’d originally started this blog to document putting together a library from scratch, but got so busy with actually doing that, that the writing never happened.  Then last summer, I started writing reviews of what my students enjoyed reading.  This endeavor blossomed from there.
  2. Finding a use for Twitter.  This amuses me.  I’ve actually been on Twitter for several years, but completely forgot about it, including the fact that it was connected to my Goodreads account.  Then my email notified me that I had a new follower.  Confused, since I hadn’t posted to Twitter in ages, I logged in … and found that Goodreads updates my Twitter feed when I note what page I’m on, or rate a book.  The proverbial light bulb when on above my head, and I realized that Twitter is an awesome way to do social media advertising for this blog.  It also leads to …
  3. Connecting with authors.  This is pure awesome-sauce.  Authors are the biggest celebrities to librarians, and that some have sought me out through Twitter is simply amazing.  With some, it’s as simple as hoping that I like their book that I’ve marked “to-read” on Goodreads, or re-tweeting my links to reviews of their books.  Others follow my blog.  And some offer my really cool things, like free Skype visits to my school library (I should think about scheduling that – my sixth graders suddenly took an interest in the books by the author that offered this), to links to free prequel/sequel scenes, to free review copies of books.
  4. Getting free review copies of books.  This is pretty epic.  I was already able to get free uncorrected proofs from Snowbound Books when I’d stop by.  And as a librarian with a meager book budget, I could get some new books for free from the Superiorland Preview Center, many of which have been reviewed here.  But lately authors have begun to contact me.  I was offered a PDF copy of Ugly to Start With in exchange for a review, which was posted last week Monday.  Yesterday I received in the mail a copy of The Jinson Twins, Science Detectives, and the Mystery of Echo Lake from the author, who had contacted me through Goodreads due to an overbooked giveaway he was hosting.  (Here’s a link to the Goodreads description, until I review the book.)  In 2012, I’m hoping to start contacting publishing companies for advanced reading copies; that will probably be in this item’s place this time next year.
  5. Connecting with other bloggers.  No man (or woman) is an island when it comes to blogging, especially when writing book reviews.  A librarian also relies on book reviews to know what to select for the library collection; we cannot read every book under the sun (nor do we want to, believe it or not).  There’s no reason to stick to the “expert” opinions of the New York Times Book Reviews, or Publishers Weekly, or the School Library Journal.  Book bloggers could well be our patrons.  Often, they are other librarians.  Beyond the practicality, though, there’s quite the community out there.  I haven’t featured any memes on my blog (yet), but there’s a ton available to help bloggers to connect with each other.
    Besides, I wouldn’t have started blogging book reviews if not for my friend Michelle over at Never Gonna Grow Up!  Happy birthday, by the way.  😉

Happy New Year!  I should have at least one more review up before the end of 2011.

Life’s too short to read bad books.  They’re sometimes unavoidable; we’ve all had to read a book for a class at some point that we absolutely couldn’t stand.  But once you get past the requirements, there’s no reason to waste your time on books that aren’t worth reading.

Here are the books I simply could not finish in 2011.

It’s Elementary: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This book won the Newbery Medal in 2010.  Normally, that’s a sure sign of quality.  You can typically rely on books that win the medal, or honor (runners-up), to be excellent.  When You Reach Me just bored me, though.  I put it down at about page 39.

No-Nonsense Nonfiction: In the Company of Cheetahs by S. K. Niel

Oh, I wanted to like this book!  I love cheetahs, and practically did a happy dance in the public library when I found this on the shelves.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get even ten pages into this book.  I really wanted to read about the Cheetah Conservation Fund and its work.  This is badly in need of proofreading!  I could not get past the horrible writing or the overuse/misuse of italics.

Guilty Pleasures: Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton

(Sorry, this one gets a little long and rant-y.)

I put up with the Anita Blake series as long as I could.  (Granted, I started reading the series only a couple years ago, but I read 19 and a half books.)  The first several books, written before 2000, were really good.  Anita was an interesting character – a strong heroine that could really kick butt, and had high morals.  Back then, she was a good necromancer who had a lot of plots surrounding her job for a company that helps settles wills and the like by raising zombies to answer questions and such.  She was a love interest to a powerful vampire in her hometown of St. Louis, Jean-Claude, who she inadvertently helped into power in the excellent first book, Guilty Pleasures.  A few books in, a hot new guy by the name of Richard Zeeman entered the picture.  He was not only hot, but also a closeted werewolf who was powerful enough that Anita didn’t realize for most of the book that he was a werewolf.  A love triangle emerges, then a power triangle, bonding the necromancer, werewolf, and vampire together.

Then around 2000, Laurell K. Hamilton went nuts.  There’s an interesting obsession with rape that crops up in both this series (despite the author’s insistence to the contrary, we fans know that when Micah didn’t take “no” for an answer in Narcissus in Chains, it was rape) and in the first book of the Meredith Gentry series.  The series took a turn from good plots and enjoyable writing to erotica with a dash of plot.  One or two books after this were okay to good, such as Skin Trade.

I kept holding out hope for the series because I liked Anita Blake so much as a character, despite how much I hated what the author was doing to her.  After the nineteenth book (Bullet), I was fed up with the lack of plot – or in that book, the recycling of old plot – and the lack of proofreading/fact-checking against previous novels.  But then I read good reviews of this year’s release, Hit List.  It features Edward, the all-human, mostly-psychopath, bounty hunter that trained Anita and would love nothing more than to have a fight to the death with her someday.  I gave it a shot.

Really, I got two-thirds of the way through this before I gave up.  I was probably being far too generous with my time on this one.  But then the book introduces a character for a second time, and when a mixed-color weretiger up and loses one of his established colors, 100 pages after he’s been established, I just can’t take anymore.  Plus, Edward’s been pretty much neutered.  But hey, that’s what this series has gone and done with every flipping male in the series.


Don’t worry.  Laurell K. Hamilton hates her fans as much as we hate her.  I’m glad I never bought one of her books.  She has nothing but contempt for her readers, and there’s proof on her web site.

I’m writing this with a fever and chills, so I may need to revisit this and revise it when I’m feeling better.  Anyway, here’s my review of Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

Statistics
Checkouts: Coming soon to the library
Typical reader: Middle school to teen girls who like paranormal fantasy/romance
Source: personally purchased at the Scholastic Book Fair

Synopsis: Evie can see things no one else can – she sees beneath the glamour of all sorts of paranormals.  She works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, bagging and tagging paranormals around the globe.  Life is good with the IPCA; her best friend is a mermaid, she has a pretty pink taser, and she often makes it home in time to watch her favorite teen soap.  But then two things happen to shake up her life: paranormals are mysteriously dying, and a weird shapeshifter breaks into the IPCA.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

I do have to grumble a little bit over what probably won’t be a concern for the average reader of this book: the binding.  This book is 335 pages in the paperback format, and squished into a width less than two centimeters (at least in the Scholastic edition).  Gah.  Heaven help the librarian that has to rebind this, if it ever has pages come loose.  Also, even if you’re as careful with books as I am, you’ll probably end up creasing the spine somewhat.

But you’re not here to read about the worries of how a book is made, are you?  You’re here to learn about what’s inside, what the author has to offer with her writing.  Overall, what’s available is pretty dang good.

Paranormalcy comes across fluffy on the surface, but really has a lot of depth.  Evie is both a lighthearted girlie-girl who loves pink, fashion, and teen soap operas, and a teen searching for herself without knowing the extent of her powers or what she really is.  She also yearns for a normal life with a locker.  The sum of all parts of Evie is a strong, complex heroine that is both delightful and someone readers can relate to.

My favorite character was Alisha, the mermaid.  (Lish the fish?  Really?)  She lives in a tank in the IPCA, in the central processing room, loving her job and being Evie’s best friend.  Since she’s in a tank full of water, she talks through a computer, giving her a mechanical voice that will not translate when she swears.  Her reassuring Evie about how her faerie ex-boyfriend is no good in a series of “bleeping” is funny and endearing.  Indeed, the lack of actual swearing and lack of other “adult themes” make this a YA novel that I could comfortably hand to an older elementary student.

There is romance in this novel.  Just because there’s an ex-boyfriend in the picture as well as a new hottie attracting Evie’s attention doesn’t make for a love triangle, though, thank goodness (there’s something overdone in YA romance these days).  Reth, the faerie ex, was dumped by Evie after a show of scary violence.  And she still wants nothing to do with him, despite his advances and attempts at following whatever his strange agenda is regarding her.  Smart girl!  No, the romance is between Evie and the weird shapeshifter that breaks into the IPCA, whose name is Lend and comes across as a pretty nice guy.  After all heck breaks loose there, the plot focuses on Evie and Lend in a completely different environment.  It starts to reach the point of “blah” but soon gets back into plot and action.

I had a little problem with the writing/plot.  Multiple times, I guessed what was going to happen, and was proven right.  It was a little too predictable for my tastes.  This is a fun novel, but predictable.  The predictability does not hinder the experience enough to lower my rating, or to keep me from wanting to read the next in the series.

It’s time to start winding down the reviews for 2011.  I’ll get at least one, hopefully two, more fresh reviews up before the ball drops on Times Square, but I’m also going to share highlights from the year.

First up, my most ambivalent read of 2011: Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

Statistics
Checkouts: Not owned
Typical reader: Fans of dystopian fiction
Source: Checked out from local public library

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

My Goodreads rating: Unrated, because I have no idea what to give it.


In the future, the Second Civil War is fought between pro-life and pro-choice. The result is a compromise: The Bill of Life, which protects life from conception to age 13, and from age 18 on. Between 13 and adulthood, parents and guardians can choose to retroactively “abort” or “unwind” their child – but the teen stays alive through a sophisticated form of organ donation. Unwound teens live on in recipients’ bodies.

Oh, and if a mother can’t wait that long, she can “stork” the child on someone’s doorstep. If she’s caught in the act, she has to keep it; if the homeowners find the baby, they have to keep it.

The plot focuses on two Unwinds, Connor and Risa, and their unwilling Tithe (parents decided for religious reasons at birth to unwind their child for the greater good) companion, Lev, as they struggle to stay alive in a society that wants 99.44% of their bodies. It’s a good plot, with excellent pacing and some outstanding twists. I honestly did not expect the ending.

This book does get recognition for being one of the most disturbing novels I’ve read. You do get to find out what happens when an Unwind occurs – though it’s all the more powerful because of what’s left to your imagination. I was nauseous afterward and had to put the book down for a while.

On a meta-reading level, this is one that will make you THINK. Is it pro-life or pro-choice? Is it in favor of organ donations or against? What choices would you make in this society – and would you rather die or be unwound?

That said, I did not like several aspects of the book. The present-tense writing style grated on me. I found the main characters to be somewhat flat and couldn’t relate to them; you get more of a feel for the Admiral’s personality, background, what makes him tick than you do for the other characters. Connor and Risa are too intent on survival and immediate problems to introduce themselves to the reader very much. The third-person limited narration may be at fault there, and that sort of point-of-view may really irk some, especially since it changes focus with every chapter.

Five stars for being thought-provoking with some incredible twists. Two stars at most for style, characters, and the plot holes regarding the Bill of Life.  This is what makes it my Most Ambivalent Read of 2011.  I’m not going to pick up the next two books in the trilogy when they come out.  This was good for the shock value; what’s left for the sequels?