Title: The Panopticon
Author: Jenni Fagan
Genre: Commercial Fiction, Sci-Fi, we don’t really have a good answer for this one.
Readers: Policy wonk BakingSuit, copyeditor Lori, librarian Pam, day care teacher EMarie and nonprofit director Kimberly.
Summary: Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car, headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can’t remember the events that led her here, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and there is blood on Anais’s school uniform. Smart, funny and fierce, Anais is a counter-culture outlaw, a bohemian philosopher in sailor shorts and a pillbox hat. She is also a child who has been let down, or worse, by just about every adult she has ever met. The residents of the Panopticon form intense bonds, heightened by their place on the periphery, and Anais finds herself part of an ad hoc family there. Much more suspicious are the social workers, especially Helen, who is about to leave her job for an elephant sanctuary in India but is determined to force Anais to confront the circumstances of her birth before she goes. Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate: she is part of an experiment, she always was, it’s a given, a liberty – a fact. And the experiment is closing in.
Our Take: A split decision. Everyone found it challenging and thought-provoking. Very dark and troubling. Lori and EMarie thought it worked while Pam, Kimberly and BakingSuit thought it didn’t quite come together. Definitely not light reading, but perhaps a good pick for those who like a challenge.
Title: Dreams and Shadows
Author: C. Robert Cargill. He spent years as a film writer on the web and is the co-screenwriter for the recent horror film Sinister.
Readers: Bookseller Pam, professors Michal and JoLee, victim advocate MJ and Gigi in publishing.
Summary: There is another world than our own—one no closer than a kiss and one no further than our nightmares—where all the stuff of which dreams are made is real and magic is just a step away. But once you see that world, you will never be the same.
Dreams and Shadows takes us beyond this veil. Once bold explorers and youthful denizens of this magical realm, Ewan is now an Austin musician who just met his dream girl, and Colby, meanwhile, cannot escape the consequences of an innocent wish. But while Ewan and Colby left the Limestone Kingdom as children, it has never forgotten them. And in a world where angels relax on rooftops, whiskey-swilling genies argue metaphysics with foul-mouthed wizards, and monsters in the shadows feed on fear, you can never outrun your fate.
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell. She’s the author of a previous adult novel, Attachments.
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Readers: Stay at home mom Shawna, bookseller Pam, freelance editor Allison and art history professor JoLee.
Summary: TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE.
It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love–and just how hard it pulled you under.
A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.
Author: Ellen Hopkins, New York Times bestselling author of Triangles and the Crank trilogy. She writes both Adult and Young Adult fiction.
Reviewers: Bookseller Pam, day care teacher EMarie, accountant Gina aka Slappy, professor Michal and teacher Ninian.
Publisher’s Summary: Meet Ashley, a graduate student at San Diego State University. She was raised in northern California reading poetry and singing backupin her best friend’s band. The last thing she ever expected was to end up a military wife. But one night, she meets a handsome Marine named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man she’d always presumed to be true; he’s passionate and romantic, and he even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a deeply felt, sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole desperately wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a college professor, with similar professional pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.
Written in Ellen Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateralcaptures the hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield and the minds of the friends, family, and lovers they leave behind. While those at home may be far from the relentless, sand-choked skies of the Middle East and the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, they, too, sacrifice their lives and happiness for their country at war. And all must eventually ask themselves if the collateral damage it causes is worth the fight.
Book: The Other (This is a re-release of the novel, originally written in 1971.)
Author: Thomas Tryon, former actor. Author of other novels including Lady and Night Magic, mostly out-of-print. New Afterword by Dan Chaon.
Genre: Horror, Literary Fiction.
Reviewers: Administrator Cyn, bookseller Pam, writer & editor Kristina, stay-at-home mom Shawna and prosecutor Rochelle.
Publisher Summary: Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each other’s thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at its ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on, though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions.
Thomas Tryon’s best-selling novel about a homegrown monster is an eerie examination of the darkness that dwells within everyone. It is a landmark of psychological horror that is a worthy descendent of the books of James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.