Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
The Bunker Diary
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
All American Boys

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ship Breaker vs. The Perfect Shot

Ship Breaker
This is a post-apocalyptic story with your quintessentially grubby, untrustworthy people living in shanty towns. It centers around the life of a kid who works on a slave-type salvage team digging through old ships. He is a dreamer who frequently looks off to the horizon watching boats sailing free; meanwhile he digs through small spaces on beached, derelict steel vessels pulling out valuable scrap wire for his boss. Always at the back of his mind is the hope that he may come across something that will make him rich and get him out of this life before it's too late. At home in his shabby shack he is constantly on edge as he deals with the fluctuating tempers of his drugged up, boozed out papa.

The story is well told and hooks readers by creating a sympathetic protagonist. We want things to work out for this young guy and if we can get past the slightly predictable and contrived sci-fi scenery and lingo, it's an intriguing story. Who do you trust and how can people stick together in such a rough life? Kids will like this book for its constant danger and its underdog paradigm in a tough world. It is a quick read and worth a look.

The Perfect Shot
This story is about a kid who loves basketball. But that's not all. Brian is also involved in figuring out.... a MURDER! A horrible tragedy hits his neighborhood as his girlfriend, her mother, and her brother are victims of a terrible crime. What's worse is Amanda' s father may be wrongly accused. Brian is also working on a school project that touches too close to home and ups the tension as he tries to balance basketball expectations, philosophical questions about doing what is right, and possibly life and death. Our protagonist, full of guilt and who's-got-game angst, has to do his part to see justice reign.

Kids will like this book once they get into it. The beginning is a little confusing as it seems there are pieces of information missing. Clues are given that make sense later, so if kids can plow through the opening without giving up, they'll love the rest as the mystery unfolds. Some parts are quite repetitive but there are also some really good twists that kids will like.

Our Pick for the Next Round
In the end, we were split on the two books as a group, each having its fans of the genre more than anything. Neither book stood out, either as weak writing or as brilliant storytelling, but after final votes were in, THE PERFECT SHOT, moves on to the next round.

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