Thursday, August 4, 2016

What Are You Reading? July 2016 Edition

July Total: 11
Year to date: 163

The Sandwich Thief     Marois, André
The Man in the High Castle       Dick, Philip K.
Thief! (The Queen's Thief, #0.5)       Turner, Megan Whalen
Fake Mustache   Angleberger, Tom

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls Snyder, Scott
Lumberjanes #3                           Stevenson, Noelle
We Stand On Guard     Vaughan, Brian K.
Democracy     Kawa, Αbraham
Jerusalem: A Family Portrait     Yakin, Boaz
The Dark Island             Chantler, Scott

Picture Book
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons   Levine, Sara C.

"Fake Mustache" by Tom Angleberger is one of those junior fiction books that's nearly impossible to categorize. It's not science fiction, it's not fantasy, but for all that it's about seventh graders in small-town America, it's definitely not realistic fiction. "Fake Mustache" comes to us from a zany alternate reality where although there is a United States with Democrats, Republicans, Hollywood and Burger King, there is also a state capital called Hairsprinkle, where the legislature meets in a buffet and a novelty company produces both hypnotically convincing fake mustaches and the majority of America's electronic voting machines. The combination of these two Hairsprinkle exports is a recipe for disaster, and it's up to a self-described nerdy 7th grader and a thinly-veiled, but well-developed Hannah Montana parody (Jodie O'Rodeo) to save the US of A from a pint-sized criminal mastermind. Given current events, the idea that a large number of well-meaning Americans could be hypnotized into voting for a compulsive liar by the power of a well-placed hairpiece is a little bit more hair-raising than hilarious, but this book is still a great read.

Looking towards another alternate North America, I was disappointed by Brian K. Vaughan's "We Stand on Guard", a speculative tale of a future war between a drought-stricken USA and its friendly Northern neighbor, Canada, which seems to think that thinly-veiled War on Terror metaphors (the US invades Canada following a terrorist strike on Washington, D.C. but most Canadians believe the real reason is their water reserves) and gritty violence can take the place of genuine character development or plot.  Vaughan is a great writer with some excellent work, but this one fell flat for me.

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