Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

In the Order in Which I Read Them:

(I tried to make this into a list of ten books, but I failed miserably. Instead, it's a list of twenty two, because I turned that age this year. Thanks to my best friend for helping make this slightly cutesy.)

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Steampunk  shadowhunters in Victorian London. The beginning of the prequel series to the Mortal Instruments series. Enough said.

2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Pure awesomeness. I still have to see both movies.

3. Boy Toy by Barry Lyga
Don't let the name fool you--this book was serious and brilliant. Lyga tells the story of a relationship between a teacher and her 12-year-old student and how that relationship affected his teen years. Well-written and not at all like the teen drama rose-colored student-teacher relationship stories that have been done on nearly every contemporary teen show (i.e., Dawson's Creek, Pretty Little Liars, Life Unexpected, Gilmore Girls, etc.)

4. Be My Baby: How I Survived Mascara, Miniskirts, and Madness, Or, My Life as a Fabulous Ronette by Ronnie Spector
I make no apologies for how much I enjoyed Ronnie Spector's autobiography. I have a strong desire to know a lot about music icons from the 1950s and 1960s. Next up, Darlene Love.

5. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Part of the reason I loved this book so much is I read it right after I took my own cross country road trip, but it doesn't mean it's not awesome. Great contemporary read that takes place in various locations across America.

6. Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Beautifully written book about a connection between a middle aged woman and an aging rock icon. Probably my favorite Nick Hornby read so far.

7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I loved the multiple points of view and the relationships between all of the women. Hilly Holbrook is a scary beast.

8. Red Glove by Holly Black
The second installment in the Curse Workers series. May have surpassed its predecessor, White Cat. Cassel Sharpe is one of my favorite narrators and I am constantly impressed by Holly Black's ability to write the inside of a boy's mind so that he doesn't sound like a teenage girl. I'm looking so forward to rereading the series in anticipation of Black Heart next year.

9. Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
Paranormal historical fiction about Violet, a girl that has the ability to talk to ghosts while her mother pretends to have the same ability to con people out of their money. Great historical read and different than the normal paranormal romance nonsense.

10. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Right after I read this one, I was confused about how I felt for it. I didn't speed through it, but I realized later that you need to take your time with this book. The descriptions are beautiful but not overly flowery. And Karou is a great heroine, a badass that isn't afraid to admit that she just wants people to want her, as Cheap Trick says.

11. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
I was wary of this one because of the amount of religion in it, but Walker was able to demonstrate the internal struggles of a girl growing up in an evangelical community without being overly religious or painting religious beliefs in a bad light. Impressively difficult balance to strike.

12. Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
I liked this one even more than The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Told from two different parts in time, one in words and one strictly in pictures, Wonderstruck merges the two stories when the characters cross each other's paths in the present time.

13. Between by Jessica Warman
The book that proved to me that I could read books about girls that have already died and are watching the lives of their loved ones continue on without them. Plus, two mysteries! I loved it. And I still dislike The Lovely Bones.

14. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
These books never cease to amaze me. Brilliant and they just don't stop with the action. Time travel, 18th century Scotland, and a smartass heroine make this book brilliant. You won't even realize how long the book is (I certainly didn't, since I read them on the kindle).

15. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I recommend this book to anyone that has the remote chance of enjoying it. Perkins is a brilliant writer that creates fun, deep characters that aren't overly quirky, just entirely loveable.

16. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
See above. The companion book to Anna, Lola and the French Kiss brought back old characters to meet new ones. Lola and Cricket are adorable and transcend their cutesy names to be entirely fantastic.

17. Going Underground by Susan Vaught
Probably the saddest book I read this year, Going Underground tells the story of Del, a boy who gets a sexual predator label for sexting with his girlfriend during the summer before they go to high school. I felt unbelievably bad for Del, whose life was ripped away from him for what he thought was safer than the two of them having sex.

18. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
This is the first young adult magical realist book I've seen in a very long time. I loved the narration and was able to totally get over the fact that the Vietnam War doesn't interest me in the slightest. The story is about bullying and self esteem, but is entirely different than anything I've ever seen before.

19. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Told in the perspectives of a small town pregnant girl and the daughter of the woman adopting her baby, How to Save a Life was probably my favorite young adult book that I read this year. I loved Jill's voice and watching her cope with her father's death and having a pregnant stranger in the house. Such a great book.

20. Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman
Creepy. Wildly creepy. This one is about the dangers of internet predators that prey on lonely teenagers feeling lost. Littman certainly was not afraid to show some very negative consequences for the victim in her book and I commend her for not holding back.

21. Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle
I just really liked this one. Three shorter stories that all connect to a train stopping due to weather on Christmas Eve. Best holiday-related book I read this year.

22. Shine by Lauren Myracle
A book about hate crimes, molestation, and drugs, all wrapped up into one backwoods town in which a girl tries to solve the mystery of who almost killed her former best friend. Very well-written. Also, taught me a surprising amount about crystal meth.

Hopefully I read just as many, if not more, brilliant books next year. I'm shooting for a list of twenty three.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Publisher: Poppy (Little, Brown)

Pages: 273

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Summary: Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.
Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Shut Out is Kody Keplinger's young adult modern-day retelling of the Aristophanes play, Lysistrata. I was happy to see a modern day retelling that had absolutely nothing to do with Jane Austen, Shakespeare, or one of the Bronte sisters. I find the number of existing Pride and Prejudice retellings frankly revolting. I had never heard of Lysistrata before reading this book, which made me even happier. That meant that I couldn't have read retellings of it before. Also, I've wanted to read Keplinger's The Duff for a little while but hadn't gotten to it. I figured I should just take the opportunity to read her sophomore novel while it was there. Good news! After reading Shut Out I still want to read The Duff.
Going in the same direction as Lysistrata, Shut Out opens with a "war" (well--technically it opens with Lissa being left behind in a slightly compromising position while her boyfriend goes off in vengeance after a soccer player egged his car) between the football team and the soccer team at Lissa's high school. The football team was pissed off years ago because the addition of a soccer team meant that they had to split funding, sparking a rivalry between the two that resulted in a prank war. The girlfriends of various athletes in the school are tired of being ignored in favor of this prank war. Lissa comes up with the idea of a sex strike--the girls will hold whatever degree of sexual activity they usually partake in over the heads of their boyfriends/hookups in an attempt to halt the football/soccer rivalry. Through the sleepovers and meetings intended to keep the girls strong in their quest, they develop friendships in which they can openly discuss their concerns about sex and love. Lissa learns a few things through these new friendships and the sex strike--including some of the less than pleasant traits of her boyfriend, Randy, and how deep her feelings go for Cash Sterling, a one-that-could-have-been sort of love interest.
This book certainly ran deeper than I thought it was going to. Keplinger managed to create a story that conveys a deep message without beating you over the head with the preachystick. Through the very real discussions the girls have about their sex lives or lack thereof, Keplinger throws out the idea that there is no "normal" when it comes to sex and relationships. There is no standard that girls (and boys) should adhere to. One of the girls wasn't ready to have sex. Lissa's best friend Chloe had sex with some of her friends, but didn't want to be in a relationship. The important thing was that they were involved in whatever they were comfortable in--and not what someone else was comfortable with them doing. I'm going to reiterate the fact that Keplinger adeptly expressed this without beating everyone over the head with it. If there's anything I hate more than preaching not-so-cleverly disguised by entertainment (the entire second season of Glee, I'm looking at you. Hate on me, I don't even care.) I don't know what it is.
I found that the development of Cash and Lissa's attraction and ensuing friendship/eventual relationship to be believable and entertaining. Many times I'm disappointed by the development of a romantic relationship, but Keplinger managed to create a very real situation. After Lissa and Randy broke up the first time, she and Cash spent a party together, talking and eventually kissing. He asked for her number but never called, assuming that she wouldn't want to hear from him. She assumed that he didn't care about her at all, and they created a giant misunderstanding for themselves, as is the entirety of life. Communication, people. Come on now. After Lissa and Randy get back together, Cash's very presence annoys Lissa. They manage to become friends again while working at the library and eventually "enemies" as the heads of the girls' side and the boys' side in the strike. Through lack of communication (again), they each assume that the other is only "interested" in them for the sake of winning the strike, causing Lissa to become manipulative and Cash to become angry. The lack of communication rings entirely true to life, so much that in my head I was telling Lissa to just TALK TO HIM in my head, much like I do with my real people friends. At least with fictional characters it's not as frustrating when they entirely ignore the subtle advice, as they cannot actually hear me being all sage in my own head.
Two small things that I liked: I liked that a copy of Lysistrata made its way into the story of Shut Out. I feel like retellings don't usually shove their source material directly inside the story, so it was cool that Keplinger thrust a copy of Lysistrata right in the pages of Shut Out. Cash Sterling, the true love interest in the tale, gives Lissa a copy after he hears about what she has planned for the school. The other tiny thing I liked is that Lissa and Cash worked after school jobs at a public library. I feel like not enough characters work in libraries, it's always coffee shops and restaurants. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I've worked in a library for several years...
Kody Keplinger created a thoroughly entertaining modern retelling of Lysistrata with the novel Shut Out. The characters were both likable and relatable (except for Randy, who was NOT likable because he was an jackhole, but he was supposed to be that way) and conveyed a message through their very teenage conversations rather than through preachy speeches (or songs--wait, that's just Glee. Sorry, couldn't resist.) Recommended, and I'm definitely going to be reading Keplinger's first novel, The Duff, and whatever else she writes in the future.

Rating: 4 - good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Summary: When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole -- a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her -- she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.
At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats.
As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose -- between her "true love" and herself.

I've had the galley of this one kicking around forever. I finally got around to reading Jennifer Brown's first book, Hate List, awhile ago and really liked it. Instead of simply telling the story of a school shooting, she told the story of what happened to the people after the shooting. Her main character was the girlfriend of the shooter and had to deal with the aftermath of her boyfriend's actions. The shooting was explained in alternating flashbacks, so the main focus was on how the main character attempted to move on with her life after such a horrific event. Since Jennifer Brown did something so different with the school shooting issue, I decided to check out how she dealt with the issue of abuse in teenage relationships.
Jennifer Brown's Bitter End explores the psychological impact an abusive relationship makes on a teenage girl. Alex had a fairly normal life--she had two best friends, she worked a job at the local bread/soup place, and she did well in school. She was trying to save money to go on a trip to Colorado with her friends after graduation in order to find out why her mother, who died when she was a child, left in the first place for the same state. She meets Cole through tutoring and he immediately charms her. He's a football player that knows how to make a girl feel special and loved. At first, he just makes comments, calling Alex a "slut" and telling her that she's stupid. He's ridiculously jealous of her friend Zack and makes prickish comments about him and her friend Bethany to their faces. Eventually, he starts hurting Alex--little pinches and bruise-inducing wrist grabs, later full blown punches and shoving. Alex knows that his behavior is not okay, but she loves him too much to let other people know about his negative side (not that he hides it well). Not to mention her own embarrassment that something like this is actually happening to her. She hides the abuse, driving her friends and family away in the process. Ultimately, Zack makes it so she cannot hide what's going on anymore.
One of the strongest aspects of this novel was the portrayals of the relationships between Alex and the characters other than Cole. I'm not saying that Brown did a poor job of depicting the relationship between Alex and Cole, I'm saying that I found the other relationships to be more important in the purpose of the story. Alex lacked in what she considered a "proper" family: her mother was dead, missing for most of her life; her father was mentally absent, having never gotten over the loss of Alex's mother; and there was a great distance between her and her siblings. Alex relied on her two best friends, Zack and Bethany, to be her family instead. This is why Alex's relationship with Cole proved to be so devastating to those friendships. Zach and Bethany did not sit idly by when they saw their friend becoming involved in such a negative relationship; they attempted to convince her that Cole was dangerous and Zack even fought him a few times. Ultimately, Zack and Bethany are unable to pull Alex away from Cole, even when he starts to physically abuse her. Alex needed to remove herself from the situation. She did not listen to her friends, understandably causing a rift between them. Brown does not have the friends stand by Alex and watch her get hurt day after day; while they always support her, they must move away from her. After Alex finally gets herself away from Cole, it takes about a year for her friends to start to forgive her for getting herself into such a painful situation and ignoring their correct judgments while she was with Cole. I thought that was very well executed on Brown's part. Things could not have just gone back to normal because Alex was in the hospital; her friends were upset with her and a healing process was necessary.
Brown paced the relationship between Cole and Alex believably. At first, their relationship was normal, if a little codependent. Cole's jealousy of Zack grew, beginning his verbal abuse of Alex. He began physically abusing her slowly, grabbing her wrist too hard or pinching her whenever he felt that she was out of line. Finally he began all out abusing her, causing her to stay home to hide the bruises from her family and loved ones. I thought the psychological portrayal was well-rounded. Brown did not only use the idea that Alex loved Cole, she made it about Alex as well. Alex did not want to abandon Cole, knowing that he too had a less than pleasant family situation. She also loved him and wanted to protect him from the judgments of others, including her best friends. However, this was not all. Alex thought she was also protecting herself from the judgments of others, that if she didn't tell anyone, she wouldn't be known as "that girl that let her boyfriend abuse her." In wanting to not be labeled a victim, Alex pretty much made herself one.
The ending was a bit rushed for my taste, but it was satisfactory. I'm not a big fan of epilogues, but when time needs to pass like it did to show Alex with Bethany and Zack in Colorado, it can work. Brown pointed out the strain that their relationships underwent and how it took a long time for them to be okay again, which helped. I wished she had made the epilogue slightly longer, maybe taking the time to explain more of Alex's current life, including her talks with high school students about abuse in teen relationships.
This book told me that I should keep reading whatever Jennifer Brown writes. Jennifer Brown's Bitter End provided a well executed look at the psychological strain an abusive relationship can take on a teenage girl. Brown provided for complex relationships and friendships for this purpose, not shuffling people around in relationships because she could. I especially liked the characters of Zack and WHAT WAS HER NAME, who seemed like completely real people. I'm looking forward to Jennifer Brown's next release, Perfect Escape, which comes out Summer 2012.

Rating: 4 - good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 304

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Summary: Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.
Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

This is one of those young adult books that everyone but me was reading for awhile. I figured I should give it a try in order to not exist outside of the Jay Asher loop. I knew that back when this one came out there was a lot of buzz about it, so I wanted to see what the deal was.
After reading Thirteen Reasons Why, I can see why there was so much buzz about it when it first came out and why it continues to be such a big book in the young adult community. There have been books about bullying and teen suicide before, but the way Jay Asher chose to reveal Hannah's tale was incredibly unique. Rather than just tell the story of Hannah Baker's depression and suicide, Asher has Hannah explain it in a series of cassette tapes that are to be passed around to a list of certain people one by one. Once each person listens to the tapes, they are supposed to pass them on to the next person or "reason" Hannah committed suicide. Readers hear Hannah's story when Clay Jenkins, one of Hannah's coworkers, listens to the tapes. Clay was never mean to Hannah and actually liked her as more than a friend, so he is understandably confused when he hears why the tapes are being passed around.
I have mixed feelings about Thirteen Reasons Why. On the one hand, the way Asher chose to reveal Hannah's story--through her own voice on tape, rather than from beyond the grave--was unique. The idea behind this book was very good, and I read it in a couple of hours. Asher's writing was good and easy to get through, considering the subject matter in the book is rather difficult. I liked that the story was told by both Clay and Hannah, though I wished different fonts had been used instead of italics to differentiate between the two. I also liked that Clay did not end up being a negative person in Hannah's life, rather he received the tapes because she cared about him and probably knew that he would wonder as to why she would do such a thing. I feel like the story would have been very predictable if Clay had been one of the people that was a jerk to Hannah; it was much better that they were good acquaintances that did not have bad blood between them.
I liked that Hannah was a normal girl. It wasn't like she was overly geeky or weird, she was as normal as can be. I think that was important in order to show that absolutely anyone can be the subject of bullying. Hannah was a normal new kid in town. She made a few friends and didn't really offend anyone. The lies of one boy created a reputation for her that kind of snowballed. It is important to see that everyone could be affected by bullying, not simply those who are "different" or "weird." Also, it was good to demonstrate that it is not only big events that can harm a person, but a buildup of tiny instances can hurt someone as well. Asher demonstrated this idea well, considering many of the thirteen reasons were smaller occurrences that fed into the larger picture of Hannah's misery.
I did not really care for the fact that Hannah blamed so many people for her suicide, or that she chose to explain that fact to so many people through cassette tapes. Suicide is a decision made by a single person. I did not feel that the book properly addressed the idea that ultimately, Hannah is the one Hannah punished with her death. The people the tapes are addressed to will never be the same, but they are still alive. Hannah is not. My question was, if Hannah had all this time to plan out and create seven cassette tapes with thirteen reasons why she should kill herself, why didn't she have the time to get some real help? She says that the guidance counselor was her last chance, but she knew that Clay cared for her. She also could have talked to her parents. I'm a little concerned that this book creates an image of Hannah that should not be given to a character that commits suicide--a martyr for her cause. She teaches people lessons in this book. These people wouldn't think twice about their actions (ranging from selfish to horrifying) if Hannah didn't kill herself and bitch them out after her death. I felt like this put her suicide in too much of a positive perspective--meaning if it weren't for her death, these people would never change rather than their finally thinking about their actions being a side effect of her death.
Also, something smaller than, oh, the entire point of the story: Skye's role in the novel. Some people would probably be all, "Who's Skye? I don't really remember that name." Skye only has two scenes: one where Clay sees her and explains that she's kind of stepped back from life at their high school, and another at the very end where Clay doesn't say anything to her, then runs after her to speak to her. I get what Asher was trying to do there, I really do. I just think it would have made slightly more of an impact if Skye had been a more developed character. For all I know, Skye just doesn't want to speak to people at the high school because she's got these amazing friends outside of school. We have no idea whether or not she's happy. It was a nice thing that Clay went out of his way to speak to her after what happened to Hannah, but it would have been more poignant if we knew more about Skye.
Overall, I still have no idea what to think about Thirteen Reasons Why, but here's a long post about it. I'd advise reading it for yourself and finding your own conclusions, because clearly I'm not much help when it comes to this one. However, I do like Jay Asher's writing style and plan on reading his next book, The Future of Us (written with Carolyn Mackler), very soon.

Rating: Uh, I'm at a this one is going to go without a rating.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books

Pages: 416

Series or Stand Alone: Sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed

Summary: Years later . . . what really happened to Christopher Creed? When Torey Adams posts on his blog that a body has been found in Steepleton—four years after Christopher Creed disappeared—college reporter Mike Mavic sells his laptop and hops a plane to capture the story that will undoubtedly launch his journalistic career. But what Mike finds is a town suffering under a cloud of bad frequency and people with an underlying streak of meanness. To the teens of Steepleton, Chris is nothing more than history—but to Justin Creed, a teen obsessed with his older brother’s memory and balancing on the edge of sanity, discovering what really happened to Chris Creed is a matter of life and death.

I ripped this book off the new shelf when I saw it at the library. Somehow, it had evaded my notice until I saw that shelf, which I find a little odd since I practically stalk books all over the interwebs. I had no idea that there was ever going to be a sequel to The Body of Christopher Creed, a book I read in my freshman year of high school that stuck with me even though I could not remember basically anything about it. The only thing I did remember is that Carol Plum-Ucci did not tie up the ending with a nice little bow--the mystery of Christopher Creed was still unsolved. I took it out immediately, wanting to read it as soon as I could. Then I had to wait for another library to send me a copy of The Body of Christopher Creed so I could know what the hell was going on.
Following Christopher Creed continues the story of the creepy town of Steepleton four years after the disappearance of Christopher Creed. The story is narrated by Mike Mavic, an outsider that is looking to find out about current and past mysteries with his girlfriend, RayAnn, in order to make it as a journalist. He meets Justin Creed, the newly drug addicted younger brother of Christopher, and attempts to help him and garner information about Christopher. Through Justin, Mike makes contact with a myriad of veteran characters from The Body of Christopher Creed, including Torey, Ali, Bo, and even Christopher's mother, the now-creepily-nicknamed Mother Creed.
One of the aspects that made me love The Body of Christopher Creed so much was Torey's narration. This meant that I was not exactly thrilled when I saw that the narration of the second book would be done by a character that was not even in the first book. Mike Mavic was a complete outsider even though he had basically stalked the website Torey created to tell the story of Christopher Creed's disappearance and to post any updates that came through. I suppose that I was more attached to Torey's narrative style than I thought, but after a little while I started to think it might be interesting to see the story continue through the eyes of the legally blind college reporter that was simply searching for his big break. Of course, there's more to Mike that only that. 
I don't want to say too much about this story because I know how intense the mystery of Christopher Creed is. It should be spoiled for no one. I will say that Carol Plum-Ucci continued to demonstrate her skill in creating a creepy, melancholic environment with characters to match. While Torey, Ali, and Bo aren't the ones at the forefront of this novel, they do return towards the middle of the story. They all have grown up and demonstrate changes fitting of twenty-somethings that have moved away from terrible occurrences in their pasts. Any fans of the original story will love the return of these three. Mike proved to be a good narrator, though I will not say that he was able to match Torey in awesomeness. 
The ending was fantastic. That's really all I can say about it without giving anything away. This is probably one of the vaguest posts I've every written about a book.
I wish Carol Plum-Ucci had developed the problems in Steepleton a little bit more. In the beginning there is talk of "bad frequency," something that is causing an increase in suicide, runaways, car accidents, and general "meanness" in the town. I don't remember getting an explanation as to why these things were happening. It seemed that this kind of fell away in order to search for the solution to the Chris Creed mystery. I was a little disappointed to see it fall by the wayside; I thought it added even more of a creep factor to the town. To see that mystery fully realized would have made this a great sequel. While it was still good, it was not quite up to the caliber of its predecessor.
Carol Plum-Ucci brought a satisfying conclusion to the Christopher Creed mystery with Following Christopher Creed. Using new characters and old alongside one another brought in a new perspective on the mystery and on the town in general. Fans of the original story should definitely pick up the sequel in order to have their original questions answered. Anyone who didn't read the original should just go read it now and count yourself lucky that the sequel is already out--the rest of us had to wait seven or eight years!

Rating: 4 - good.