Lyga, Barry (2009) Boy Toy Boston: HMH Books for Young Readers
Now eighteen years old and still dealing with the aftermath from his child molestation suit involving his teacher–Eve–five years ago, Josh Mendel spends his senior year of high-school grappling with thoughts that he caused his own molestation. Written in present tense and flashbacks, Boy Toy is a moving piece that presents itself in a most didactic way, teaching young adults that even if their problems are not similar to that of Josh’s, there are other ways to cope with various difficulties. Pushing the limits on the themes of sexual assault, this novel was not written just for shock-value. Books of the past that have skimmed the topic of molestation, have not only been challenged by concerned and outraged member of society, but have been banned from libraries–deemed as “crude” and “vulgar”. However, Boy Toy is a novel so eloquently written, that we find ourselves not only being shown a sexual assault victim who overcomes his past, but we take a journey that results in the main character taking the first step to realizing it was not his fault. With this, Barry Lyga’s Boy Toy is a story that extends young adults understanding of the world, and is not just sensationalism
Velde, Vivian (2002) Heir Apparent Boston: HMH Books for Young Readers A sequel in the Rasmussem Corporation series, Heir Apparent is a novel about a young girl named Giannine who finds herself in a roundabout within a medieval themed, virtual reality game. While playing at the virtual reality gaming center with the gift certificate she received for her birthday, the center is then bombarded by an anti-fantasy fundamentalist group who destroys a great deal of gaming paraphernalia–resulting in Giannine being trapped in the game until she wins or time runs out, resulting in her death. Making various blunders throughout the course of the game–in which the game starts over at the beginning, and so on and so forth–Giannine finally finds herself making daring and brave choices that result in her winning the game. In regards to the exploration of science fiction, Heir Apparent challenges the young adult reader to expand their imagination–so as to think about the world that is presented in the novel in comparison to the world they live in now. What is interesting about Heir Apparent is that at the time that it was written, it took a greater deal of thought and creative vision when reading, since it did not seem as plausible that technology could advance to producing virtual reality role-playing games such as this one. When reading any type of fiction, one does have to rely on their imagination and how much they believe in the possibility of something so that they may understand concepts of external objects that are not exactly present to the senses. What this novel does is, yields a way for a young reader to broaden their sense of possibility to future worlds, and analyze the extent to which science and technology are accurately reflected in comparison to the present day.
First off, I would like to say that I haven’t read a book within the fantasy genre in SO LONG. I think if I were to check my Goodreads TBR list it would be maybe anywhere between six months to a year since I’ve read something of the sort. That being said, I was super excited to read this novel as the cover and summary were giving me vibes reminiscent of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern–which you should totally also read by the way. So, here’s the breakdown:
Jules Maroni, a sixteen year old high-wire walker, and her family have been known for their dazzling acts within the circus community–so much so they have earned the name of the Amazing Maronis. However, when her father turns down their opportunity to work the Cirque American–a new touring production aimed at vintage glamour and dangerous feats–Jules runs away to Florida in an attempt to force her family’s hand in accepting the offer.
While she is successful in this endeavor, there are other forces at play that despite her focus on following in her father’s footsteps as an illustrious high-wire walker, Jules cannot possibly ignore: talismans of bad luck placed strategically on her costume, her Nan’s ominous silence as to what has caused the decades of family rival between the Maronis and their traveling trapeze companions the Flying Garcias, and the forbidden budding romance between her and Remy Garcia, who she enlists to help her discover the meaning behind it all.
I honestly really liked this book. Usually the amount I love a book goes in tandem with how fast the storyline has me turning the pages, which for this novel, was rather quickly. This shocked me because while I am a fan of fantasy novels, I’m not too big on mystery because I can usually guess “who done it” early on in the novel and the rest of the set up is all just fluff to me. (This is due in part to the excessive amount of reading I do and television I watch). With Girl on a Wire however, I relished every magical aspect of this story while enjoying the process it took to get to the stunning finale.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. I’m very curious to know if circus culture is actually like this in terms of competitions between families. Side note: I’ve never been to a circus show, vintage glamour or not, which may be why I like stories such as these. Fortunately for me, this is the first in Gwenda Bond’s Cirque Americain series, which I am excited to continue reading.