While the young adult genre has exploded in the last few years and broken boundaries regarding the intended readership, it’s still a rarity to find a young adult novel that appeals equally as well to teens and adults. Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games have all successfully made this “leap,” and now a new competitor has entered the field in the form of author Ned Vizzini’s (Be More Chill, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) The Other Normals.
Kids today have it all: being a geek is chic and comic books are widely accepted as quality source material for major motion pictures. As if that were not enough, comic books and comic book characters have made their way into the classroom in growing numbers. As a shining example, students of all ages will have the opportunity to learn the rules of grammar with the help of fun and colorful superheroes and supervillains straight out of the funny pages in Scholastic’s recently released book, Super Grammar. With the Super Grammar team as their guide, readers will join the mission to fight the “never-ending battle between good and bad grammar.”
While the book is yet another addition to the long-running series of military science fiction staring Honor Harrington and other principle characters of the same universe, it’s the first novel that was actually too long to be published in its original form. Publishing company Baen made the decision that the book would be split into two installments, with A Rising Thunder being the first. As such, while the book is long in its own right, it’s not as long as it could have been, and ends with a cliffhanger that seems a bit sloppy for my tastes. It’s also not a book that I would recommend to someone first starting out in the series, but rather as a compliment to the rest of the series that have already been established in the “Honorverse.”
It’s been several years since there was a novel in the X-Wing series, the last taking place well before the introduction of the Yuuzhan Vong or peace with the Galactic Empire. Now, more than 35 years after their last adventure (in an X-Wing novel, that is), the members of Wraith Squadron return to the pages of Aaron Allston in this brand new, and enjoyable, read.
Within the first page of the book, I was immediately captivated by author Brit Sigh's use of the English language to describe a scene. In Torn in Two, he has crafted a psychological thriller full of twists and turns.
In my experience, there’s a strange phenomenon surrounding official movie novelizations. If they’re well written, they can actually exceed the quality of the film itself. (Don’t believe me? Check out the official movie novelizations of the Star Wars prequels!) This usually has to do with the talent of the writer and their ability to enhance characters and a story that comes attached to numerous limitations. Novelist Greg Cox may be slightly hampered by some of the unrepairable plot holes in his official adaption of The Dark Knight Rises, he but still manages to enhance the plot of Nolan’s final Batman chapter to a level that is sure to thrill and satisfy fans of the recently released film.
It’s been a long time since a book covering the Wing Commander franchise has been released, and, in fact, this one still hasn’t really been released. Pilgrim Truth is the conclusion to a trilogy of books by Peter Telep that are based off of the Wing Commander film from 1999 and was denied release on its original date of 2000. Because of license agreements and the publishing contracts, the novel maintained a limbo status for over a decade until the author finally got permission in late 2011 to release it (and his manuscript notes) to the official fan website, Wing Commander CIC (www.wcnews.com). Because I’m a bit of a “wingnut,” and having waited a significant amount of time to read this piece, I delved right into it . . . and really wish I hadn’t.
With the The Dark Knight Rises now in theaters, Batman is, once again, nearly unescapable, whether via television promos, billboards, or movie tie-ins. Obviously, this also means that the brooding Christian Bale, this generation's Bruce Wayne, is just as present and may have many geeks out there wondering what it takes to portray Wayne, what Bale is like in person, and how he rose to the level where he was chosen to play one of the most iconic and recognized superheroes of all time. If you find yourself wondering about the Bale behind the Batman, I suggest you check out BenBella Books’ Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by Harrison Cheung and Nicola Pittam, which tells the story of Cheung’s exciting and disturbing adventure during the years he spent as Bale’s publicist, marketer, and personal assistant. While Cheung’s account may leave Bale fans (the proper term is “Baleheads” - thanks, Harrison!) unsure how they feel about their beloved movie star, I can assure you that this book will shock you, make you laugh out loud, and forever change the way you view Hollywood, celebrities, and Mr. Bale himself.
There are several Expanded Universe books available for reading, and I—being the rather large Star Wars fan that I am—enjoy reading many of them. I’m actually way behind in my book list, but I wanted to read Darth Plagueis (by James Luceno), an early 2012 release, because of its information concerning Bane’s Sith Order and the Rule of Two, and especially because of how it directly relates to the Sith most responsible for the galaxy’s woes and well-known to even the most casual of Star Wars fans: Darth Sidious, better known as Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine.
For those in Geekdom who are not familiar with Smart Pop Books, I want you to know that you’ve been missing out - big time! Fortunately, I’m here to save your geek cred! Smart Pop Books is the pop culture imprint of independent publisher BenBella Books and offers a variety of engaging and thought-provoking, non-fiction titles focused on the discussion and exploration of the best of pop culture TV, books, and film. I was introduced to Smart Pop Books years ago when they stepped into the Whedon world with two must-read titles: Seven Seasons of Buffy and Five Seasons of Angel.