Tuesday, February 25, 2014

War Brothers

Today I'm going to be reviewing a very sad book about the child soldiers in Uganda. The name of this book is War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel Lafrance. It's about a Ugandan boy named Jacob who is abducted by the LRA, aka the Lord's Resistance Army, and forced to become a child soldier. The rest of the book is about the horrors that he sees and how he escapes. There are very depressing parts as well as very touching parts. It's one of those books that makes you feel really grateful that you live where you live.

The art in this book looks something like the art style in The Walking Dead but with color. Whenever Jacob is at home, the pages around the panels are white. Whenever Jacob is in the LRA camp, the pages around the panels are black. This really helps to convey the level of danger the characters are in. When they're at home they're relatively safe, but when they're with the LRA they have so many dangers to face. I also really like how well the art conveys emotion. When characters are scared, they're really scared, when characters are happy, they're really happy, and when they're guilty, you can feel their regret.

A scene I really like is a scene where Jacob is at his home talking to his friend, Tony, about how their boarding school is getting a lot more guards because the school board had heard that the LRA had been abducting children and turning them into soldiers. It's clear that Jacob and Tony don't know the full story, but also that they know more than the adults tell them. It really explains how dire the situation is and how much fear it brings them. What really makes this scene work is how the previous scene takes place with the LRA attacking a truck full of schoolchildren.

This book is most certainly not appropriate for all ages. It is extremely violent. It has scenes of soldiers killing children and parents. The violence is more implied than explicit but it is is still very much there. If it was a movie it would definitely get a PG-13  rating, maybe even an R. I would suggest this book for ages 13 and up. Even though it is very violent, it's also very good and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would give War Brothers 8 stars out of 10. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Monster on The Hill

Today I'm going to review a book called Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell. It takes place in a world where all the towns have monsters that attack regularly. Instead of the monsters being a bad thing, they're more like tourist attractions, but in one town the monster hasn't attacked in seven years. So the town sends a professor named Dr. Wilkie to "fix" the monster. It turns out that the monster, Rayburn, is severely depressed and unconfident. Rayburn says that he used to know a monster named Tentaculor who might be able to help him with his self esteem. They travel to the town that Tentaculor has terrorized for years. Rayburn tells him how long it's been since he attacked. Tentacular explains to them that there is a monster called The Murk who destroys towns without a monster, and since Rayburn hasn't terrorized his town, The Murk will think the town has no monster. So the race is on to get Rayburn's confidence back so that he can save the town.

I really like a scene where Dr. Wilkie first finds Rayburn. You're expecting
a horrible monster to come out of the cave and attack the professor, but what does come out is this puny, skinny, sleepy, pathetic excuse for a monster. I really like how this scene really establishes the main character in such a simple way. You know what they say, one picture tells a thousand words.

The art in this book is phenomenal. It looks like a modern adaptation of Dr. Seuss. It's very colorful and inventive. I love how Tentaculor looks. Half the time I don't even know if his eyes are eyes. Sometimes I think they're his nostrils. I don't know if this was deliberate or not, but I love it. The humans really look like Dr. Seuss characters, with big eyes and no lips.

Monster on the Hill feels like a children's book to me. Monster on the Hill is perfectly appropriate for all audiences. There are no really controversial scenes in it and I think it can be enjoyed by all. If you feel too mature to read a little kiddie's book every once in a while, then this one's not for you. But if you're actually mature and you know a good book when you see one, then this is definitely for you. I would give Monster on the Hill four and a half monster souvenirs out of five.