Review: Stung by Bethany Wiggins


Stung by Bethany Wiggins

When Fiona wakes up in her bedroom, something is very wrong.  All of her clothes are faded and there is dust and trash everywhere.  The house has obviously been abandoned for some time.  When Fiona looks in the bathroom mirror, she is not looking into her own face.  Yes, those are her eyes, but she suddenly has breasts and hips, not the flat thirteen-year-old body she had been expecting to see.  She also has a strange tattoo on one hand, a black oval with ten marks around it.  Monsters are walking the city, attacking people and others have banded together to fight them off.  Fiona recognizes people she knows, but they are not friendly.  Chased through the ruined city, Fiona takes shelter in the sewers where she discovers help that comes with a price. 

Wiggins has created such a compelling scenario here.  It is a story of human hubris, the death of the honeybees, human intervention and eventually the fall of society itself.  The details of society’s collapse is told tantalizingly slowly in the novel.  Readers learn of things as Fiona’s memories return, and the pieces click into a whole background that is believable and impressive. 

Fiona herself is a heroine who will appear immensely to teen readers.  She is completely out of place in the world, but through it all shows tremendous grit and determination.  The characters around her are equally fully depicted: her romantic interest, younger brother, and various villainous characters.  They are complicated enough that it is difficult to tell hero from villain at times, adding to the thrill of the read.

The writing is solidly done with a brisk if not breakneck pacing.  This book does not slow down, it simply moves forward from one evil to the next, slowing only for romantic moments that are natural and fully developed. 

Get this into the hands of Hunger Games fans who will find the same mix of romance, horror and action here.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Review: Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd

inside outside

Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd

This lovely wordless book explores the changing seasons in a subtle and engaging way.  The book starts on the inside of a house with a young boy and a little black dog.  The boy is planting seeds in pots while the dog watches and two white mice play.  Through the die cut windows, you can see the snowmen in the yard.  Turn the page and you are outside with those snowmen, the birds eating the seeds.  Turn again and you are inside once more, this time able to glimpse flowering trees out the window.  The plants in the pots are green and growing too.  The boy is hanging pictures on the walls about birds and snowmen melting.  Keep turning and the seasons change, marked by activities, the pictures on the walls, and what you can see through the windows. 

There is a wonderful organic feel to this book, partly thanks to the textured brown paper that serves as the background for all of the images.  That feel is also helped by the color scheme of greens, blues and terra cotta.  The die cuts are used very skillfully throughout, offering glimpses from inside to outside and back again.  The wordless nature of the book makes it a universal story, ideal for being shared with families who may use another language at home. 

Filled with small details that will have children looking back at previous pages when they discover something new, this book is perfect for lingering over on long trips or snuggled in someone’s lap.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.