A Review of Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

Little Brother, by Cory DoctorowIf You’re Not Doing Anything Wrong…

Book Review by Melanie Lamaga

Marcus Yallow is a 17-year old geek genius living in a near-future San Francisco where kids are monitored constantly by cyber-security on their school-issued laptops, radio frequency ID chips in their library books, and gait recognition software in the halls.

Marcus delights in getting around the system with harmless hacks aimed eluding scrutiny so that he can use his laptop to chat with friends, monitor the site of his favorite game, and skip out during the boring parts of school.

All of that changes after a terrorist attack destroys the Bay Bridge. In the ensuing panic, Marcus and his best friends Darryl, Vanessa and Jolu seek shelter in an underground BART station, and Darryl gets stabbed in the crush. *spoiler alert next 4 paragraphs*

Seeking help, Marcus flags down an unmarked military vehicle. Instead of getting help, the four friends are hooded, cuffed and stuck in a trailer. Marcus suspects that the terrorists have kidnapped them but when the interview starts he learns it’s the Department of Homeland Security. Read more »

A Review of Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson

Brown Girl in the Ring,  by Nalo HopkinsonServing the Spirits

In this near future, post-apocalyptic Toronto, the wealthy live in the suburbs. In the inner city, government and social structures have disintegrated after a series of riots. “The ones who couldn’t or wouldn’t get out,” use a system of barter, and live under the shadow of crime-lord Rudy and his posse.

Ti-Jeanne, a young mother, has begun having visions of the violent deaths of people she encounters, accompanied by childhood songs in her head, and visitations from disturbing creatures like the Jab-Jab, a red stick figure with legs on backward and a face like a grinning African mask.

It all ties into the religious rites performed by Ti-Jeanne’s grandmother, Gros-Jeanne, (Mami), a traditional healer who may or may not be an Obeah woman. She claims not to be, but Ti-Jeanne knows she practices rituals that involve slaughtering chickens and a lot of screaming and falling down. Read more »

A Review of the Short Stories of Kelly Link

Magic for Beginners by Kelly LinkNobody writes cooler stories than Kelly Link.

Link’s stories draw from fairy tales, myth, pop culture, experimental, horror, gothic, and detective fiction, the tabloids, dreams, nightmares, and half a dozen other things. But this is not merely pulp fiction—wham, bam, thrill and chill.

Link uses the tools of pulp fiction to deal with literary concerns: sex, death, love, loneliness, identity, and other existential issues. Despite these angsty undercurrents, her stories have a wry and often raunchy sense of humor.

Written in a lean, stylish prose Link’s stories charm and engage. You feel like you know her narrators, or you want to. As the mundane mingles with fantastic, ease back in your chair and let the stories work their magic. She’s taking you places you’ve never been before. It’s going to be strange; it’s going to be fun; and it’s definitely going to be cool. Read more »

A Review of Waking the Moon, by Elizabeth Hand

Waking the Moon, by Elizabeth HandThe Moon with a Knife-Sharp Edge

Three unwitting college students stand between the reawakening of a dark goddess and the Benandanti, a secret society of magicians who have been running the world for thousands of years.

Waking the Moon, which won a Mythopoeic Award and a James Tiptree, Jr. Award, is part horror, part coming of age story, and part romance. Chock full of arcane lore that draws from prehistoric matriarchal cultures, the aspect of the goddess portrayed is more akin to Yeats’ rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem than Quan Yin or Mother Mary.

The novel centers on Catherine Sweeney Cassidy, just entering college in Washington D.C. at the University of the Archangels and St. John the Divine. Attending her first class (Magic, Witchcraft & Religion), Sweeney is gob smacked by the stunning Angelica di Rienza, and the brilliant and bizarre Oliver Crawford. To Sweeney’s surprise, these two charismatic creatures seem drawn to her, as well. Read more »