“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Books From Andrea Cremer & Maggie Stiefvater

I Want To Howl At The Moon...



With October on the horizon, I’ve been catching up on my monster lore.  Rather than feeding my vampire fetish, I’ve been sticking with wolves lately.  I finally finished up the Maggie Stiefvater trilogy about wolves and bit into Andrea Cremer’s second book in the Nightshade series, Wolfsbane.  Both were excellent and completely different takes on the werewolf myth

In Andrea Cremer’s world of wolves, evil and good spring from legends, myths, and magic deigned from messing with nature.  Calla is an alpha wolf born into her right to lead as a part of a natural world filled with magic and legend.  She struggles between her feelings for Ren and her old life and the choices she's made in following her heart.  She's faced with new facts and must decipher what is true -- the evidence before her or what she has been brought up to believe.  Quotes about virtue and vice and uncertainty are used to reflect Calla’s own turmoil in trying to decide who she is and what is the right path for her and her pack.  In this second book about the Nightshade wolves, more is revealed about the nature of Cremer’s breed of werewolves and the line between good and evil becomes even more confusing.  It is filled with adventure, romance, and promises of a very exciting conclusion in Bloodrose, the third book still to come.

Maggie Stiefvater delivers a completely different world of wolves in her trilogy starting with Shiver, moving on to Linger, and ending with Forever.  Sam and Grace have one of the most beautiful and poetic teen romances of all time.  Stiefvater writes of shy Sam sitting in the woods waiting for Grace and romantics weep at the image.  We all know a Grace who has been left to raise herself and is in essence 25-years-old by the time she is physically 15.  Sam and Grace are those old souls we know brought together and romantically linked.  Do we want every teen to be a Sam and Grace?  No.  But we cheer for Sam and Grace.  They are a modern day Romeo and Juliette, Katherine and Heathcliff, Harry and Sally… 

The wolves in Stiefvater’s story have contracted a virus that causes them to turn into wolves every winter and humans as the weather warms into spring.  Eventually they stay wolf.  As the story progresses, Sam finds a cure by contracting meningitis and is able to stay human.  Alas, Grace, who was bitten by a wolf as a child begins to bleed uncontrollably and the only way to stop it is a wolf bite thus turning her into a wolf.  Stiefvater’s theory is an interesting one, although at one point she compares it to malaria, something I found a bit dodgy.  Otherwise, I thought it was reasonably interesting.  I’d love to have my brother’s take on it since he is much better at finding fault in diseases than I am, him being an aficionado of picking apart House episodes for faulty science.  

Stiefvater has another wonderful book coming out on October 18th.  It’s called The Scorpio Races and is about waterhorses.  I picked up and advanced reader copy at ALA and once I started reading it, couldn’t put it down.  This one may very well be a contender for an award this year.  It is a wonderful story and incredibly well written.  It’s told from various characters’ points of view, the main ones being Puck and Sean.  They are on a very small island off the Irish coast and both of them have been left orphaned because their parents were killed by a capall uisce – water horse.  Sean has been left raising horses for a meager wage using his gift with the animals while Puck and her brothers have struggled to maintain the family homestead. Typical of Stiefvater’s style, this tale is almost lyrical in the way that it is told.  Her characters are strong and steadfast and her animals are heady beasts at one with nature.  This is a completely different story than her wolf series, and yet still has that deep connection between animals and humans, nature and descriptive elements that makes you feel a part of the story.  As much as I liked the wolf series, I loved The Scorpio Races.  I don’t usually make a call on Printz contenders this early in the game, but I think The Scorpio Races most definitely has the potential to be a strong Printz contender, in addition to winning other book awards.



Book Trailer:  The Scorpio Races

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