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abookaweek 2012: week thirty-five

2012 September 2

(I’ll be reviewing 4 YA books in 2 weeks, bear with me.)

The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers

Category: Young adult

Story: Optimus Yarnspinner, a young Zamonian writer, inherits very little from his beloved godfather apart from an unpublished short story by an unknown author. The manuscript proves to be such a superb piece of writing that he can’t resist the temptation to investigate the mystery surrounding the author’s identity. The trail takes him to the City of Dreaming Books.

After falling under the spell of this book-obsessed metropolis, Yarnspinner also falls into the clutches of its evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the city’s labyrinthine catacombs. He find himself on a subterranean world where reading books can be genuinely dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death for literary gems and the mysterious Shadow King rules a murky realm populated by Booklings, one-eyed beings whose vast library includes live books equipped with teeth and claws. (I obviously copied this blurb.)

Opinion: Obviously, this is a book for book-lovers. More specifically, this is a book for book-lovers with a very rich imagination. Unfortunately for me, I only have a rich imagination when it comes to dreaming up explanations for why eating a bar of chocolate instead of going to the gym is going to melt the fat off my body.

But really, Walter Moers does all the work for you in this book; his vivid descriptions of the catacombs and the creatures that live there require no effort on the reader’s part. That’s probably why the first time I read this I could not put it down. You’re taken on a rollercoaster adventure with beautiful images being flashed at you left and right.

The second time I read it I was still delighted by all the references to books and writing (in particular the scene where Yarnspinner eats in a book-themed cafe, which serves Printer’s Ink Wine and a Syllabic Salad), but this time I found it a bit tiresome to have every single creature or setting described to me in minute detail. Despite that, I will forever and ever love this book and its wonderful characters.


I Am the Cheese, by Robert Cormier

Category: Young adult

Story: Armed with nothing but his bike, 12-year-old Adam sets out on a trip to deliver a package to his dad. The problem is that his dad is in Vermont, while Adam is in Massachusetts. It’s hard to say more than that without giving anything away, but Ben Marcus has a good write-up over on NPR.

Opinion: Again, I can’t say too much without giving away the plot, but this story was a breeze to read through (in large part because I didn’t want to take a break from it) and it hit all the right spots for me.

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