This week, I’ve been re-reading something old, enjoying something new, and exloring something not-yet-published!
Sci-fi, Monty Python-style–as West England villager Arthur Dent becomes the only survivor of Earth, rescued by Ford Prefect of Betelgeuse, a roving researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide: when Earth is destroyed (demolished by the Vogons to make way for a hyperspatial express route), the two of them escape into a Vogon spaceship.
The hideous Vogons torture our heroes by reading poetry to them, but then they’re miraculously picked up by the Starship Heart of Gold–which is powered by “the Infinite Improbability Drive,” commanded by Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox, and staffed by an epically depressed robot named Marvin with a smart-aleck computer that sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” They’re all headed for the legendary planet Magrathea, where roaming Arthur discovers Slartibartfast, the guy who originally made Earth (“Norway. . . that was one of mine. Won an award, you know. Lovely crinkly edges”) and is now working on Earth Mark Two. And finally there’s a confrontation with the Magrathea rulers–Benjy mouse and Frankie mouse–who want to mince Arthur’s Earthling brain.
Lots of pure silliness, too many English references for U.S. readers, but–like moviegoers who sat through Life of Brian for the sake of a few good chuckles–fans of absurd deadpan parody will happily flip through this likable send-up in order to extract a couple of dozen fine giggles. (review via Kirkus
Mila, 12, a keen observer of people and events, accompanies her translator father, Gil, on a journey from London to upstate New York in search of Gil’s lifelong friend, who’s disappeared.
Mila applies her puzzle-solving skills to the mystery of why Matthew would abandon his wife and baby, not to mention his dog. On a road trip to Matthew’s cabin in the woods, she mulls over the possibilities while Gil keeps his thoughts to himself. Mila, who finds strength in her multinational pedigree and her ability to read people, is the one who eventually puts the pieces of the story together. Rosoff respects her young character, portraying her as a complete person capable of recognizing that there are things she may not yet know but aware that life is a sometimes-painful sequence of clues to be put together, leading to adulthood. The author skillfully turns to a variety of literary devices to convey this transition: the absence of quotation marks blurs the line between thoughts spoken and unspoken; past, present, and future merge in Mila’s telling just as they do in the lives of the characters as truths come to light and Mila is able to translate Matthew’s darkest secrets.
A brilliant depiction of the complexity of human relationships in a story that’s at once contemplative and suspenseful. (review via Kirkus)
Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 689 688), is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.
Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary, sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer. (description via HarperCollins)