Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky [Mirror's Edge soundtrack].
The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.
What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.
Across the Universe/A Million Suns/Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.
An unforgettable opening scene, in which Amy watches her parents climb into glass boxes to be agonizingly frozen alive and then submits to being frozen herself, launches this riveting thriller about space travel, secrets, murder and Realpolitik. Amy's family chooses cryogenics so they can be defrosted when the spaceship Godspeed completes its 300-year journey to a new planet. But en route, in space, Amy's cryo-wires are unplugged early—almost lethally. She wakes to meet Elder, another teen, named for his leader-in-training position. Ironhanded commander Eldest refuses to teach Elder the critical details for running Godspeed, and in scrutinizing the deadly mystery of who's unplugging the frozens, Elder and Amy uncover generations of devastating lies underpinning Godspeed's on-board society. From the ship's windowless metal walls and recycled-air full-farming ecosystem to the people's carnal and oddly synchronized breeding Season, Revis' extraordinary setting is credible and palpably claustrophobic. The two teens' alternating viewpoints, both in first person, divulge information to readers bit by tension-filled bit. Wherever the series goes from here, this opener leaves an indelible imprint.--Kirkus (December 1, 2010).
This is an amazing read guys. Phenomenal. Do not pass it up.
Serenity vol. 1 Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon.
With the war between the Alliance and the independent Browncoats over, Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, and his crew of misfits, fugitives, and would-be outlaws work the frontier. Defeated and directionless, their goal has become simply to keep flying, and Mal is willing to take any job, in- or outside the law, to achieve it. Although their willingness to flout rules has occasionally played to their favor, they may be in over their heads in taking aboard Simon and his damaged sister, River, secretive fugitives from the Alliance. Mal and his crew may not know it, but the hunt is on, and the Alliance is right behind them. Whedon elaborates on his Firefly universe in this small prequel to the movie Serenity. If this story doesn't have much in the way of plot or background, an aura of character study suffuses it, enlightening Serenity newcomers while warming the hearts of fans. Will Conrad's slick and fluid artwork captures the essence of how the film actors realized the characters without losing comic-book feel. --Tina Coleman, Booklist (Feb 1, 2006 vol 102, number 11, pg. 41).
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card.
A brain-bending bildungsroman kicks off a promising science-fiction series. Rigg has spent all his 13 years trapping in the wild, aided by his peculiar ability to trace the past of any living being, until his enigmatic father's death thrusts Rigg into a wider world to search for his previously unknown sister. His friend Umbo (whose own special talent is slowing down time) tags along when they discover that their gifts can combine in unexpected ways. Rigg, Umbo and their various allies and enemies are likable characters (if preternaturally clever, witty and self-aware), and their interactions believable and charming. Their planet proves fascinating to explore, despite the highly implausible juxtaposition of advanced theoretical science with pre-industrial technology. The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly (if with interminable analytic dithering), feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax. Casual sexist references, a weird fascination with excretory functions and a baffling authorial afterword explaining "what 'really' happened" may put some readers off; still, Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots.--Kirkus (October 15, 2010).
Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn.
Zahn (Angelmass, 2001, etc.) goes after YA readers with the tale of a space-going orphan and his alien companion. Fourteen-year-old Jack Morgan lives on a small cargo spaceship with Uncle Virge—actually a computer simulation of his now-dead uncle. Jack is on the run from the authorities, accused of stealing cargo he had contracted to deliver for Braxton Universis, a powerful mega-corporation. Proving his innocence is not an attractive option because Uncle Virge was one of the most accomplished burglars and con men in the galaxy—crafts he was training Jack for until his death. Jack's consequent flight takes him to a supposedly uninhabited world where he sees the arrival of three spaceships, all immediately attacked by unknown fighters. One of the ships crash-lands on the planet, and, at Uncle Virge's urging, Jack goes to see what he can salvage from it and encounters Draycos, a surviving crewmember. Draycos, a warrior-poet, is a member of a symbiotic race and exists either as a two-dimensional "tattoo" on the skin of his hosts or as a three-dimensional dragon. Since his host was killed in the attack, he persuades Jack to become his new one so that he can live and avenge the attack. This sets the two on a string of adventures culminating in Jack's accepting an assignment to burgle the safe on a luxury spaceliner. The task makes use both of Jack's burglar skills and Drayco's assorted alien talents. As things progress, Jack and Draycos learn to trust each other—and discover that they have enemies in common. The conclusion leaves the door open for a sequel.A palatable adventure for a young audience, well paced and smoothly narrated.--Kirkus (January 1, 2003).
Trigun vol. 1 by Yasuhiro Nightow.
American readers may be familiar with the version of Trigun seen in the popular anime series Daffy Duck, directed by Sergio Leone. However, the story first appeared as a manga serial, the first 12 installments of which are gathered here in the right to left format. Readers must absorb several installments before figuring out the basic setup: colonizing starships dropped groups of people on a desert planet. Survival is difficult for their descendants, since their original high-tech machinery has either stopped working or is dangerously erratic. A version of Old West society has evolved, enlivened by the presence of wacky outlaws with huge weapons. One of the most notorious gunslingers is Vash the Stampede, a skinny, spiky-haired geek wearing a long, bullet-shredded duster. Vash manages to avoid killing anyone while he dodges the hail of lead everyone aims at him, but that doesn't stop two cute but clueless insurance-company representatives from tagging along to record the massive damage that occurs wherever Vash goes. Just when readers have decided this all must be an elaborate farce, though, flashbacks occur, suggesting Vash may not be the wild and crazy guy he seems. It's too early to tell how much of a serious side the story might reveal. What is beyond doubt is the artwork's uncommon vigor, which fills each page with exploding, overlapping panels of the rootin'-tootin', Wild West, sci-fi space action. It's energetic to the point of being delirious (maybe even demented) but still entertaining.--Publisher's Weekly (January 26, 2004 vol 251, issue 4, pg. 233).
The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa.
The first in a projected series of six, this book has already won an award in its prior incarnation as a self-published book. Deservedly so, as it grabs readers' attention with the very first page and never lets go. The Earth has been contaminated by a passing comet's tail. No one is immune to the ravaging disease left behind, except for children, but this reprieve is temporary—they face imminent death when they reach adulthood. As some scientists rush to find a cure, others devise a daring scheme: to launch a spaceship filled with the best and the brightest of the world's teens, who will take with them the hope to re-establish humankind on a distant new world. Testa's narrative jumps back and forth chronologically, keeping tension high as some plot to abort the mission and doom humanity once and for all. Both a mystery and an adventure, combining a solid cast of characters with humor, pathos, growing pains and just a hint of romance, this opener bodes well for the remainder of the series.--Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2008).
Break Out by Nina Croft.
Ricardo Sanchez, vampire and space pilot, is hired by the beautiful Skylar Rossaria to break a prisoner out of one of the Collective's maximum security prisons.