Friday, August 12, 2011

Enclave

By Reviewer: Nadine
Title: Enclave
Author: Ann Aguirre
Primary Audience/Age Group: Ages 12-17 (Young Adult)
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy (Dystopian)
# of Pages: 272
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Year of Release: 2011
Part of a Series? Yes (final # unknown; book 2 to be released 2012)
Rating: 3 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes with Reservations

Description: Main character, Deuce, is part of College Enclave—an underground city of people who eat rats, follow rules to the T, and die at (or before) the age of 25. Since Deuce survived to age 15, she’s given a name and a job—a Huntress. As long as she’s remembered, she’s wanted to be a Huntress, which means finding meat, setting traps, and killing Freaks—a feral race of humans with endless appetites for the dead or the living…raw. When she’s paired with Fade—a boy who came from the outside and frightens everyone else with his strange ways—her ideas of grandeur and honor are dashed thanks to his habits of rule breaking and knack for entering unusual situations.

Fade and Deuce are sent on a death-mission as punishment for a particularly unusual stretching of the enclave’s rules. What they discover on this mission is enough to cause Deuce to question the elders of her enclave, the purpose of her life, and the limited knowledge of her world. She and Fade fight starving, manic Freaks, discover hidden tribes, and ultimately face the mysteries and danger of Topside if they don’t keep their acts together in front of the elders.

Review: I found the book well written, enticing, and finished it in a single day. The futuristic America with underground tribes is fascinating and spellbinding. I enjoyed the interaction between Deuce and Fade. It was realistic and remained appropriate (even when a little love interest started to form). The characters were believable, though there were still a few cookie-cutter bad-guys (with no hearts and only want to show all those under them “who’s boss”). The book really pulls you into

Deuce’s mindset and why she is set on following rules and why honor as a Huntress is so important to her. You understand why she believes what she does, which makes it easier to understand her reactions when her world starts to crumble as Freaks grow more cunning and the naivety of the elders becomes more evident.

A few setbacks in this novel include violence and adult sexual issues. The violence is fairly graphic during fights with Freaks, there are injuries and several instances of bloodshed. The enclave consists of Breeders, Builders, and Hunters. The description of the Breeders certainly brings the human race down to an animal level with “breeding” and having “mates”. There’s no love (or mention of marriage) involved with breeding, it’s solely for the preservation of the dwindling population.

Rating: 3 for violence and mature topics

Positive: Deuce has a desire to know and seek out the truth, not just about her world, but about what’s right. It’s nice to see this genuine pursuit of understanding instead of a mindless acceptance of whatever she is told (though that threat is there). Both Fade and Deuce also cling to a hope of something better—that life isn’t just meant to be short and filled with fighting for their lives. They spend the last half of the book seeking this and never giving up on that hope.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: The violence is fairly graphic during fights, entering detail of what and where Deuce stabs, the sounds of fighting, and other details. A character dies with slit wrists, alluding to suicide (though in the end, it was caused by an outside source).

Language: None

Sexual Content: Some kissing. There is excessive mention of “breeding” among humans, but it’s seen as a practical way of managing the population of the enclave. There is some mention of the “sounds” of breeding one night as Deuce tries to sleep. Later in the book, when Deuce is in a different environment where gangs are present, there is constant threat of rape and comments by the characters concerning the topic. No mention is explicit and, for the world that Deuce lives in, it’s just a dangerous factor that she learns to be wary of. But some gang members joke about it and fight over “who gets the girl”.

Other: None

Recommendation: Some parents may be concerned with the violence. Though the book is meant for 13 and up, I think it’s more appropriate for 16 and up due to the violence and mature themes. There are no spiritual elements to these books and the benefit of the read would solely be a sense of adventure and entering the mindset of a different (albeit fictional) culture.

Reviewer Bio: Nadine is a graduate student in Speech Therapy with a passion for writing and reading all things adventure and fantasy. Her favorite atmosphere in which to read and/or write is a snowy day next to the fireplace with a hot chai latte and fuzzy socks. Adventurers-at-heart, Nadine and her husband-to-be are trekking faithfully behind God into the many daring and exciting escapades He's planned for them.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage

Reviewed by: Shawna
Title: Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage
Author: Ted Cunningham
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult, 18+
Genre: Christian Non-fiction, Marriage
# of pages 222
Publisher: David C Cook
Year of Release: 2011
Part of a series No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Descritption/Review: In his book Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage Pastor Ted Cunningham writes, “While I am an advocate for marrying young, I’m an even bigger advocate for helping you grow up. …And the Young and in Love message screams, ‘Take personal responsibility for your life.’” Yes, this book promotes marrying at a young age, but does not promote marrying in high school or right thereafter when most lack the maturity to marry. I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure if I agreed with Mr. Cunningham’s ideals, but once taking in the entire book, I found myself agreeing with many of his points.

Cunningham explains that as the Baby Boomer generation reached age 17 or 18, they were expected to leave home, get married and work, all usually within a short period of time. While the Boomers parents, raised during the Great Depression and WWII, valued and taught survival to their children, Generation X, the Boomers felt success should be the main importance for their children and put a high price on getting an education and high-paying job before getting married. This cultural shift in values has caused many, young men in particular, to continue their adolescence into their twenties and beyond. Therefore, a good portion of the book is devoted to encouraging young people to grow-up and not prolong adolescence any longer than necessary. In short, he encourages taking responsibility for one’s own actions and thus becoming a responsible adult. Having a higher priority on marriage, may play a role in helping young people do just that.

Is Cunningham’s message for everyone? No. He explains that those who are intentionally single or single and waiting on the right person will not get much benefit from the book. Nor is his book a how-to on dating. It is for the young couple who wants to marry but feels opposition from those around them. He details reasons to marry and not to marry young. He looks more at the maturity level of a young couple and not necessarily their age. He covers many other points including the current statistics and reasons for many divorces today. Even though the book expresses a different way than what is considered a cultural norm nowadays, I would encourage you to read the book in its entirety. You never know, God may change your opinion on marrying young.

Rating: 4 for mature themes dealing with sex in a Christian perspective

Positive: The author discusses the negatives of delaying marriage such as delaying adulthood. Marriage causes you to look at someone else besides yourself and encourages responsibility. Delaying marriage may cause self-centeredness and increase the likelihood of sex outside of marriage. He does not encourage teens to marry in high school or even right after. He goes on to explain that only 2 percent of individuals marry their high school sweetheart. For the few couples that believe they have found the “one” in high school, he recommends proving their readiness to marry through taking on responsibility, having a mature attitude, not “We’re getting married, and no one’s going to stop us” mentality, and proving their ability to provide for a family by getting jobs.

Cunningham also addresses reasons not to marry. Don’t rush into marriage just to save on expenses, escape a bad home life, or just to have sex. He states the importance of not marrying an unbeliever. He encourages young couples to always include parents in decisions to marry. He gives good advice on building your own character and honoring authority, especially if parents want couples to wait. He explains how to respectfully show parents that you are ready to marry.

The author even encourages parents to teach their children responsibility at a young age and challenges young people to have integrity and look for a mate who has it as well. He details specific character qualities that need to be present in a person before even considering marriage.

In the later chapters, he details the importance of marriage in building character. “Marriage is the best tool I know of for making us more like Jesus because marriage builds character through patience and endurance.” He gives advice to young couples on building a lasting marriage and encourages them to work on their character, not their spouses. He encourages them to “resolve to stay” in a marriage through the ups and downs, to find support and accountability through getting involved in a church, and to always have respect for authority and be willing to listen when rebuked.

Spiritual Elements: The author goes through the book of Song of Songs explaining verses one-by-one and how they encourage young love.

Using Song of Songs 2:25, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom,” throughout the text to encourage young couples to be on the lookout for those people and things that can tear down their desire to marry.

The book is filled with Scripture supporting the authors many points.

Violence: none

Language: none

Sexual Content: Even though the author explains that his book is not another purity talk, one of the reasons he encourages couples to go ahead and marry is to prevent pre-marital sex. He values having a pure marriage. He encourages families to avoid giving the type of purity talk that deems sex as a bad thing but to teach that God created sex as good and to instill in our children that we as believers in Christ should honor marriage.

He encourages young men to guard themselves against pornography and strongly cautions young women against marrying someone that is addicted to it.

Other: none

Recommendation: I think the book is most appropriate for ages 18 and up. I also recommend the book to parents because it does offer some timely advice on preparing young couples for marriage.