Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Harry and the readers who have been there from the beginning step into young adulthood, and the Goblet of Fire joins them as this is the first book set firmly in the teen side of YA. We have our first death, and Voldemort becomes more than just a looming threat for the first time in the series. If this book had been handled poorly it would have been really damaged the over-all series, but Rowling effortlessly pushes the story forward while also developing characters that--by now-- feel more like old friends.
The Lion,the Witch,and the Wardrobe: A simple tale and a light read. Going in expecting a fantasy classic, I was a little disappointed by just how breezy of a read this was, but with an appreciation for context and audience it is easy to see why this is a childhood classic. Characters are more like caricatures, but there is a charm to the fantastic world and a childhood wonderment to the prose that makes it an endearing story.
No Man’s Land: The medium a story is told in is important, and adapting a story is difficult because the devices used in each medium are different. No Man’s Land is a comic event for the DC universe that was adapted into a novel by Greg Rucka. Rucka uses a daft hand to adapt a story in the best way possible; by staying true to the heart of the novel while also improving on the source material. He does this, first off, by adapting the story to the prose medium, and not the other way around. Secondly, and perhaps, most importantly, he takes an event story full of multiple perspectives and big events and grounds it in the experiences of the characters living through it. This gives the readers a reason to be there, a reason to care, and a reason to want more when it is all over. No Man’s Land rises above a good adaptation and becomes a good piece all on its own.
On, Writing: Part Memoir, part writing how to, this book was as enjoying to read as it was insightful. As a writer, I think it about as good as it gets in terms of advice that matters. There is so much advice floating around on the internet and on book shelves, and so much of it is micromanaging, fill in the blank style advice that, in my somewhat humble opinion, takes all of the heart out of the writing experience. King gives some quick mechanical advice, and offers a few sources for further reading if you’d like, but mostly he speaks to the heart of what it means to be a writer. In doing so, I think he deftly articulates the most important parts of the writing experience without holding your hand or shouting for conformity. Part of the way he does this is by telling his own life story--warts and all-- and examines how his experiences relate to the writing process. King’s prose is elegant, and breezy, and it is an enjoyable read, I think, for anyone, but especially for writers and fans of King’s other works.
The Golden Compass: A book that trusts its readers, even if they are young, and rewards them with unforgettable characters, a world of brilliant imagination, and promises even more in the future.
Looking for Alaska: a book that caught me off guard. It took me a while to take it serious, but it soon became obvious that John Green’s novel had enough teeth to make a shark shut its mouth in embarrassment. This book is a gut punch that will leave you reflecting on heavy themes that you will not see coming.
Fables (Vol. 1): The idea of taking old fairy tales and spinning them into gritty realistic stories that take place in a world similar to our own has pretty much been done to death now, but at the time Fables was created it was a fresh take. I’m not saying the creators invented the idea, but in his first try I am not sure anyone ever did any better. Fans of creative worlds, and detective novels will enjoy this one quite a lot. Additionally, If you just like good storytelling than you won’t be disappointed. Finally, enter generic sentence about the art working well to tell the story.
LA is Editor-in-Chief and Head Writer at Lot 10 Underground. He is an avid Eagles fan and a weary Lakers one. He grew up sneaking through the halls of Hogwarts after dark with Harry and his more talented friends, stumbling along the dark walls of Rock Tunnel in Pokemon Red, storming through flood riddled ships with Master Chief, and questioning Goku's parenting techniques in DBZ. If you'd like to contact him, you can try an owl, but he prefers e-mail: