Friday, November 23, 2012

Silent Spring

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Houghton Mifflin - September 27, 1962
367 pages (approx.)

I apologize for the "approximate" page numbers. I could not get a specific number for the first edition, so I relied on the number that was in the copy I got from the library. I'm also going to apologize for the picture, another issue I had with first editions. This is what happens when I review an older book. Anyway, let's get right to the plot. Carson believes that uncontrolled and unexamined pesticide use is killing and harming much more than the intended targets of weeds and insects, going so far as to damage whole ecosystems. The title is suggesting a spring when so many birds have died that there is no singing.

Let me get straight to the point: this book was absolutely wonderful. Even when we are coming into the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring and the pesticides mentioned have long been stopped in the United States, the book is filled with insight and information. Carson does not simply wag her finger at those who use DDT, dieldrin, aldrin, endrin, toxaphene, and heptachlor. She instead suggests better methods that I found extremely interesting, from introducing natural predators of invasive species to the sterilization of pests. Stories of birds, cats, and small children dying as a result of these chemicals the government brushed off as "harmless" are like a car crash: horrifying and yet terribly intoxifying. Rachel Carson is not a hysterical woman; she set out to make the world a better place.

Grade: A

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
Putnam Juvenile - July 8, 2010
325 pages

After writing a paper about the Brothers Grimm for her social studies teacher, Elizabeth is offered a job at the New York Circulating Materials Repository, which is sort of like a library for objects. Inside the repository there is a section known as the Grimm Collection, which is home to objects straight from the fairy tales. The magical objects soon begin to disappear, and so Elizabeth and her newfound friends must go on a quest to find the thief before they become the accused.

Let me begin with the obvious; yes, there is romance in this between the characters. The author intended it to be a twist with which characters ended up with the others, but I saw it a million miles away. In fact, as soon as the main four characters were introduced I knew what was going to happen in terms of love. I had a major issue with Shulman telling as opposed to showing things such as magic and the characters. The ending was thoroughly anticlimactic, and the romance that I was referring to earlier takes up the majority of the last two chapters for no other reason than to go deeper into a relationship that I simply did not care about. The protagonist's voice was that of a whiny teenage girl. She refuses to believe that she's in love because it's not with the guy she expected, and she says that dreams she has where she's with this boy are "nightmares". With a stronger, more independent protagonist at the reins and less "mystery" about the romance, The Grimm Legacy could have been good.

Grade: C