Because time isn’t always kind: economic reviews in a world full of waste!
Deceptive is how to best describe Sigmund Brouwer’s BROKEN ANGEL, since it seems like some sort of near-future mystery, only to reveal itself as nothing more than Christian fiction. For some, that would appeal greatly, but the problem is that Brouwer liberally takes plot devices from some very well-known stories and books, lifting ideas from “The Lottery,” FAHRENHEIT 451 and LOGAN’S RUN of all things. It follows the adventures of a girl named Caitlin who is hiding a deep secret that, once made public, had me asking myself, “Am I reading the same book?” I’m not in the market for its message, and what starts out interesting just gets muddled in all the rhetoric. —Bruce Grossman
Here’s the skinny on something we all just take for granted: HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES by Mark Stein. State by state (plus the District of Columbia), border by border, the screenwriter (HOUSESITTER, but we won’t hold that against him) gives the full details on how the lines were drawn. For those of us who grew up learning the states via wooden jigsaw puzzles, it’s interesting to read how these came to be. Even Hawaii has its own unique story, which you wouldn’t expect. HOW THE STATES can get repetitive, so it’s not one I’d digest in one sitting, but the map whore in me appreciates all the clean, nicely drawn illustrations that pepper the pages. Special kudos to XNR Productions for that, because they’re a necessity to show what Stein can only tell.
For more “huh, who’d a’thunk?” niche history lessons, a good companion piece to HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES would be Jim Noles’ A POCKETFUL OF HISTORY: FOUR HUNDRED YEARS OF AMERICA — ONE STATE QUARTER AT A TIME. I think you’d have to be a true coin enthusiast — make that die-hard — to want to devour this whole, but at the very least, you’ll want to look up the story behind the silver of your home turf, following the U.S. Mint “50 State Quarters” Initiative. For instance, Oklahoma’s quarter — voted on by residents — finally recognizes the state’s Native American heritage; Noles then goes on to explain a brief history of tribal settlement.
I really wanted to like 100 GIRLS, a young-adult graphic novel written by Adam Gallardo and illustrated by Todd Demong. Its story settles on Sylvia, a cute, headstrong teenager with loving adoptive parents and MATRIX-like nightmares that may explain the source of her super-strength. Yes, she’s different from her classmates, because her peers aren’t readily tracked by shadowy goons or attacked by werewolf-like creatures. There’s a lot of action in this digest-sized adventure; but its plot points are not delineated clearly to hold our attention, but worse, Demong can’t draw faces. Every single person looks very, very ugly, yet he’s perfectly adept at penciling everything else. —Rod Lott
Buy it at Amazon.