Saturday, June 30, 2012

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson

Amped is another book that I won from Goodreads. It is a near future science fiction story. It is a world in which some people have brain implants. Many of these implants are used to fix epilepsy, ADD, or other disabilities. They are even given to poor and disadvantaged students by the government through grants to level the playing field in the school systems.

Owen is a school teacher who has an implant to help with his epilepsy.  His father installed the implant after he suffered a horrible accident due to a seizure. Things begin to go wrong for Owen when the Supreme Court disenfranchises people with implants, also called "Amps". This action was pushed through by a political group called Pure Pride. In the course of a day he loses his job and is thrown out of his apartment with no warning. They can no longer makes contracts with "regular" people as they have an unfair advantage, hence Owen losing his job and home.

The situation escalates. Owen discovers he is wanted for questioning, and that his amp is more than he realized. There are also some violent incidents between amps and regular people. The amps are moved into clusters for their own protection. Owen flees to a cluster called "Eden" to meet with a friend of his dad's named John.

There is action, political intrigue, and social discrimination. Wilson uses his robotic expertise to help explain how the amps work and what they do to the brain. I really enjoyed the descriptions and the characters. It was a very fast paced and easy read, perfect for a summer day.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

This was a case in which I saw the movie long before I read the book. We saw the film in 3D, it was amazing, and I'm usually not a big fan of 3D. The images were striking, riveting, and sometimes upsetting.

I am a fan of Gaiman's work in general, I really enjoyed Coraline. I know that many adults find it much too scary for children because it terrifies them. Children have a different perspective on the story, they see it as an adventure story.

Coraline is the tale of a young girl with rather inattentive parents. They are loving just very busy. The family has recently moved into a new home that is part of a larger house divided into several apartments. There is a pair of sisters who are aging stage actresses with dogs downstairs. Upstairs is a Russian man who is training a mouse circus.

Coraline is unhappy and bored with her life, as many kids get. (Especially when they have moved to a new place and don't have any friends.) She begins exploring the house and the area around it, this includes a strange door that leads to a brick wall. Well, it leads to a brick wall some of the time. One day while her mother is out shopping, she opens the door and there is a tunnel. Being a curious child, she follows it. 
On the other side of the tunnel, she discovers a world much like her own yet full of disturbing differences.  The "other mother" is awaiting on the other side of the door. She wishes Coraline to stay with her forever, but Coraline senses that something is wrong. She challenges the "other mother".

I really enjoyed the book, and the movie was an absolutely fabulous adaptation. Sadly, my imagination couldn't live up to the visuals provided by the movie. This is a great book for boys and girls of all ages.