Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Talk - Evil Librarian

 ***SPOILER ALERT*** You know me, I always give away some spoilers in my book reviews.  So, as always, if you do not want to know what happens, save this review for later.  If you don't mind knowing a few things that happen in the book, read on!

My most current read, Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen, is something so amazing I can barely put my feelings about it into words.  But I will try.  Written for young adults, I would say the novel is most appropriate for kids age 15 and older.  I will try to keep my giveaways about what happens in this book to a minimum, but as I said above, there will be a few spoilers.

The novel is set in an unidentified city, which I like to imagine is Chicago.  The primary location is the high school that main character Cynthia Rothchild and her friends attend – called Central High School.  The novel opens on Annie and Cyn sitting in Italian class, Cyn staring at the object of her affection, one Ryan Halsey.  After their Italian class ends, Annie, of course, gives Cyn hell for her lust towards Ryan, claiming emphatically that Cyn should basically bite the bullet and talk to him.  Later that day, Annie ends up in the library, where she meets Mr. Gabriel, the new librarian.  She is instantly smitten with him, which Cyn claims to understand but really doesn’t, especially after meeting him. 

Almost immediately, Cyn is aware that Mr. Gabriel has something wrong with him, but she can’t quite figure out what.  It is not until he touches her arm that she begins to suspect that he is a demon and has done something suspicious to Annie.  The next couple chapters bring about some major changes in the lives of Annie, Cyn and Ryan.  For one, Ryan and Cyn actually start talking to each other, regularly and much to the delight of Cyn's two other friends Diane and Leticia.  Also, after a crash collision in the hallway, Cyn assures herself that she is definitely in lust with Ryan.  This is what also solidifies their new friendship.  

Like a day after they start talking, Cyn tells Ryan her thoughts about Mr. Gabriel.  When they go to the library together later to find Annie, Cyn's assumptions are found to be true.  (I won't give away to many details on this aspect - let's just say there are wings involved.)  Once Ryan and Cyn realize they are right about Mr. Gabriel, this leads to a whole lot of planning on their part and murder on Mr. Gabriels' part.  

In order to get rid of Mr. Gabriel and save Annie, Cyn and Ryan visit a shop that specializes in demonic stuff and witch craft.  They get some special lights, a few other magic things and end up in the library on a Sunday.  The trip turns into a disaster because of shop owner Aaron, who is in the know about the demon world (because he has a demon mistress.) 

After the failed attempt at saving Annie, a whole shit storm of stuff is opened up.  There are more demons allowed in the school on a pretty regular basis, some more people die, and Ryan and Cyn and the rest of their theater friends pull of a stellar production of Sweeney Todd all while being threatened by Mr. Gabriel and new principal Mr. Kingston.  

Now, I know I said I didn't want to give too much away in this blog post, so now, instead of talking about what happens in the book, I am going to talk about how much I love this book.  A few things that you should know:

1. None of the characters are described in any way.  It is all very vague.  I know that seems weird, but it totally works.  I love that the author chose to do that because it allows us readers to picture the characters anyway we want.  We can imagine them looking any way, and I think that is really nice.  It totally works in this novel.

2.  There is no indication of where this novel takes place.  All I can assume is that it takes place in a largish city in the USA.  I am pretending that it takes place in Chicago, because that seems like a pretty artsy fun place.

So, some things that I loved about this book:

* Theater - As a theater nerd, I can totally relate to the love for theater that these kids have.  I think it is nice that the author included some theater stuff in her novel.  Especially some Sweeney Todd stuff.  Awesome!

*Libraries - Okay, it's no secret that I love books, libraries and librarians.  That is why the main premise of this book being about an evil librarian is so cool to me.  Michelle Knudsen could not have picked a better subject for the novel.  At all.

* The Cover - I absolutely loved the cover of this book.  I know that sounds cheesy, but I just feel like the cover really fit the story.

* The writing style and speed - I loved the humor in the book and the fact that each character was defined and well rounded.  I think the author did a really good job of fitting everything in well even though the novel only takes place over a matter of like two months.  There is a lot that happens in the novels' time frame and the author does a really great job of getting in what she needed to get in.

* The characters - Like I said, I really loved the characters in this book.  I really got the impression that each character was their own person with a unique personality.  That was fantastic!

* The occasional swearing - Yes, this is a young adult novel written for older teens.  But, unlike so many other young adult authors, Knudsen is aware that teenagers sometimes swear, so she's not afraid to have her characters drop the occasional F-Bomb.  I think that's another thing that makes this novel feel so real and well rounded.

* The romantic angle - I think the interest between Ryan and Cyn was obvious without being overwhelming.  I really like that it was apparent that they were attracted to each other, but that it didn't over power the story.  Sometimes, love can be the underlying theme and still be great, as was the case with this novel.

Overall, I absolutely loved this novel.  *I* would recommend it to teens age 15 and older, but if you are a parent who wants to read it first and determine if it's appropriate for your child, go ahead.   I would give the novel an A all the way.

Now, as I said, the author didn't really describe her characters much.  So, I imagined what they characters would look like if this book were made into a movie.  These are the characters I picked out actors for:

 China Anne McClain – Annie: China's personality and attitude seem like the perfect fit to be Annie.  Spunk, happiness and just the right amount of fuck off to get it right.

Chloe Moretz – Cyn: When I saw Dark Shadows, I fell in love with Chloe Moretz.  She has enough spunk and a ton of talent, and I think that she would make the perfect Cyn!

  Principal Kingston - I really couldn't decide who I thought would make a better Principal Kingston.  Both Jesse L. Martin and Sam Waterston have the ability to pull it off and make the character absolutely amazing.

Logan Lerman – Ryan Halsey
Beyonce – Demoness

Mr. Gabriel - I think with Danny Pino's attitude and youthful face, he is the perfect Mr. Gabriel

Leticia - Selena Gomez: With her perkiness and bubbly attitude, Selena Gomez is the perfect Leticia

 Mr. De Luca - Stanley Tucc: I can literally not think of a better person to be Signor De Luca.  Stanley Tucci is amazing and so talented that he could easily pull it off.

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