Peregrine Harker and the Black Death by Luke Hollands follows the adventures of young Peregrine Harker as he becomes involved in a conspiracy that he doesn't quite understand. Lots of action, less character development.
I think young readers would enjoy it, but unlike some books that appeal to both young and mature readers, this one depends too much on jumping from one action-packed adventure to the next.
It would make a good serial with all of the different adventures allowing for great cliffhangers. Characters are definitely one-dimensional, and Peregrine something like a young superhero in the making, cartoonish. If the author had taken advantage of opportunities to create more life-like characters and not skimmed so quickly over each adventure, I might have liked it better. Peregrine Harker has great potential as a series for middle schoolers, and I hope Luke Holland will give the characters a chance to become more rounded, complex personalities.
Oh, you do have to get past the awful daydream that opens the book.
Net Galley and Sparkling Books. ISBN-10: 1907230440
YA/Adventure. release date June 3, 2013. print version 192 pages.
Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells is a Steampunk YA novel and while sheer fantasy, a lot of fun. Every bit as unrealistic as Peregrine Harker (see above), but this one worked better.
Emilie is escaping from her aunt and uncle, planning to catch a ship to take her to her cousin's boarding school. But naturally, things go wrong, and Emilie ends up on a ship specially designed to take them to the center of the earth. Now, here we have all that aether stuff that tends to annoy me in steampunk novels, but if you can "suspend disbelief" then you will enjoy the journey that Emily and her fellow passengers make into a strange world at the center of the earth, the hollow world. Echoes of Jules Vern.
Characters are well-drawn and the relationships between characters develop throughout the novel. A fast, easy read that allows you to relate to the characters and enjoy this fantastic voyage to a world both strange and fascinating. Young readers should enjoy this one; I did.
Net Galley and Strange Chemistry, an imprint of Angry Robot.
Steampunk/YA/MG. Release date April 2, 2013. print version 304 pages.