Hardcover collection of the first 12 issues of the series. Professor X is out. Kitty Pryde is back. Between classes at the mansion, it’s time for the X-men to look and act like the heroes they are. That means tights, because that’s what super heroes wear. (The black leather “costumes” of recent years were giving everyone the wrong idea). Which is good, because a scientist has developed a cure to turn mutants into regular humans. She had help from a brutal alien on a mission and a secret government organization charged with keeping the earth safe. And the X-Men knew some of the test subjects she used for genetic material.
Why I picked it up: It’s part of my permanent collection, and I needed to read a fantastic superhero story.
Why I finished it: It holds up on a 3rd (4th?) reading. The dialogue is snarky, the art and layouts are gorgeous and completely serve the story, and Laura Martin’s colors make the whole book sing. Anyone who doesn’t like this book will likely never like a superhero book.
I'd give it to: My wife Silver, who was good enough to sit through the third X-men movie and the Wolverine movie, too. She probably didn’t mind (thanks, Hugh Jackman!), but I think I can get her to read this because she’s a Joss Whedon fan from his Buffy days. (Bill adds: I left X-Men and vowed never to return. My love of all things Whedon pulled me back in. There are a lot of people who read X-Men back in the day but don't even read comics any more. This one's for them.)
Oliver appears to be a normal seventh grader. Okay, he actually appears to be fairly overweight and stupid. But he is in fact a genius who operates a shell corporation to make huge amounts of money and control everything around him. What else could he possibly want? To become class president.
Why I picked it up: Epic title. Cover blurbs from Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow didn't hurt.
Why I finished it: Oliver fills the evil genius shoes well while keeping me rooting for him (but wondering why). Like Rocky and Bullwinkle and SCTV, the book was funny for grown-up-me, but has lots to enjoy for middle school readers, too.
I'd give it to: My parents, who will like the Captain Beefheart shout-outs. Mark, because of its comedic use of footnotes. Kim, who enjoys fart jokes.
Yuki Tachibana, a first grader, can see the other side. He draws creatures on his desk, and plays the harmonica for them on his school’s roof. His only friends are the boss of the other side, Super Star, and the school’s elderly caretaker.
But more of the others have come. They’re not considerate. And the fourth floor, declared off-limits by the teachers, is becoming more dangerous.
Why I picked it up: Great book design! A glossy hardcover featuring multicolored creatures, black endpapers, and red printing on the paper’s edges.
Why I finished it: The story’s sustained “I can’t quite tell what’s really happening” creepiness is very compelling. I kept waiting for it to turn into a full blown horror story.
I'd give it to: Ashley, my friend who I bet liked Calvin and Hobbes as a kid but prefers darker stories these days.
Dana Dickerson and Ruth Plank were born in the same town on the same day. In alternating chapters they tell us about themselves, from their childhood in the 50's up to modern day. Their lives are vastly different but surprisingly intertwined.
Why I picked it up: I really enjoyed Maynard's previous book, Labor Day.
Why I finished it: I confess I harbored a negative opinion for most of the book. I thought I had it figured out. I thought it was heading toward an obvious and disappointing conclusion. The only thing that kept me going was my loyalty to the author. Turns out I was dead wrong. She surprised the heck out of me, with an ending that made me rethink the entire book.
I'd give it to: J.T., who comes from a family of brothers. She might learn something from Ruth, who is the youngest of five sisters.
John Smith is the alias of a fifteen-year-old alien, Number Four. He’s on the run with his guardian, Henri. The bestial Mogadorians are hunting him and the other eight children that escaped from the planet Lorien. They have already eliminated numbers One through Three, and John is next.
John and Henri are currently hiding in Paradise, Ohio. Given a chance to stay for a few months, John makes friends with a conspiracy theorist and lands his first girlfriend. He’s tired of running and wants to stay. He is faster and stronger than a human, and is also beginning to develop other powers. But they probably won’t be enough when the Mogadorians catch up with him.
Why I picked it up: Best book jacket copy this year. “They caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all. I am Number Four. I am next.”
Why I finished it: Nonstop action, intelligent character development, the promise of an entire series based on Number Four and the other Lorien children as they hone their fighting skills in an effort to take back their home planet. I read it all in one sitting.
I'd give it to: Nick G, who enjoys the pace of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series. And Amber F, who will love when the school suffers extraordinary damage in the huge fight.
Joon (13) is a quiet Korean girl living on streets of New York City. Her mother lost her mind after her father left, and Joon couldn't live at home alone with a mother who didn't love her. Joon knows no way to express the pain in her heart. She becomes friends with Knowledge & Wink, who are about her age. They escape from a homeless shelter together. To survive, they turn to using drugs and selling their bodies.
Why I picked it up: My husband Gene got this book for me. I thought he got it for me only because I’m Korean. For a moment, I doubted his librarian super powers. (Gene: I read a review of the book that compared Joon to the character Bubbles in The Wire, which Silver loved.)
Why I finished it: As I got to know Joon, she reminded me of my mother, who, until recently, never expressed how she felt because she thought it wasn't relevant or important. I hoped Joon would meet an adult who would help her and whose help she would accept. I needed to know if there was any light at the end of the tunnel.
I'd give it to: My friend D.J., who made a tough decision to spend more time with his family instead of putting 100% of himself into his job. To my husband so that he understands me better when I tell him I love my father for having been such a responsible person, even though he wasn’t always pleasant to be around.
Massive electrical highstorms repeatedly scour the world. Kingdoms battle on the Shattered Plains for glory, power, and the heart gems of the massive, chitinous creatures that spawn there. Unbeatable Brightlords wear magical armor and wield rock shearing Shardblades. They politic and fight amongst one another even as their war against the bestial Parshendi continues. Brightlord Kholinar reads The Way of Kings, an ancient text about honor. His visions push him to try to change society, but his ideas are shouted down and insulted. On the plains, Kaladin, a soldier and healer, tries to improve the system of portable bridges used to span canyons in an attempt to save lives. A would-be scholar, Shallan, must deceive her mentor to steal a necklace and save her bankrupt family. An assassin uses his lashing skills to alter gravity and take out a panoply of rulers, sowing chaos.
Why I picked it up: Sanderson is THE pre-eminent fantasy author right now in terms of prolific output, buzz, and content. He was chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World series after Jordan’s death, and his Elantris and Mistborn series books have been highly praised. What kind of epic fantasy reader would I be if I didn’t try this 1,008 page behemoth?
Why I finished it: The clever illustrations and historical clippings about past events that are included between chapters. This is a fully realized world, thought out at every level and to a degree seen only in the strongest fantasy novels. I continued to visualize the stunning, gravity defying fight scenes even after I put down the book.
I'd give it to: This series promises to be every bit as all-encompassing and engrossing as A Song of Ice and Fire, so I’d give it to my friends Gene and Bill, who are both (like many of us) waiting for George R.R. Martin’s next book.