Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cycles by Lois Brown

The author of Cycles, Lois Brown, sent Teen Text Talk, her book to review. There was a contest for however many reviews she received by a certain date. There was no way that I was going to get this book read in such a short amount of time, so I didn't bother with the contest, but told her that when I got to the book I'd give it an honest review. A month later, on my birthday no less, I read it in one sitting...seriously, it's that entertaining.

Renee Beaumont is a typical 13 year-old girl, she loves horses, her best friend who is an older boy science genius, Sam, and her neighbor, Dr. Dawson, a man who let's her come over whenever she wants and who takes care of her when her rich overly busy parents aren't around, which is a lot. One day Renee gallops away trying to save the doctor's prized horse from thieves, the horse trips and down goes Renee on a rock. At the hospital they can't figure out what is wrong, she's losing loads of blood, but they can't find out her blood-type. In walks her neighbor to save the day, he has some of her blood saved from a time he helped her with a science fair project...the only thing is this is all a lie and things only get weirder for Renee and her Sam as they try to find out the truth.

At first, this book seemed a bit confusing, it intersperses Renee stories with that of an older woman who is telling the story of her daughter's disappearance through diary entries. I spent the first 40 or so pages trying to figure out what exactly was going on, which I think will compel curious readers forward. And, although I know a bit about science and love science fiction, I did not see where this book was going. I'm guessing it's because this book begins so easily and subtly. The ending, WOW, so looking forward to the 2nd book!

Frankly, I need someone else to read this book so I can talk about it with them. I've never read a book like this before.

4 Stars   
While this book is fast-paced, I could definitely tell it was for younger YA readers as some of the descriptions, explanations and events truly drive the story not the characters, although Sam, Renee and the other characters fun to read about.

Teacher Advisories 
Sex 1/5
I think one time Sam may hold Renee's hand for comfort. A girl kisses Sam and Renee secretly spies it, Sam doesn't tell her, she has to confront him.
Language 0/5
No cussing.
Substance Abuses 2/5
Gamma, an Ohlone Indian writer and neighbor to the kids, uses all sorts of medicines and refers to drinking rattlesnake juice.
Violence 5/5
The only entire climax is pretty violent and I'll be giving it away now. Every 14 years Renee reverts back to a baby, it has to do with the Saros Cycle...she reverts back and it's plenty bloody and all sorts of gross and that's why one mother is accused of murder. There's a fight with two people who want the horse, Mercury, and one of them is shot and killed. Dr. Dawson disappears trying to make sure that the cycle is broken and Renee can live a normal life.

Touchy Subjects
Science and Religion
The more a SF book uses either one of these to give its plot a foundation the more that scientist and religious people seem to have a problem with it. Throw in a 'mystic' healer like Gamma, who uses herbs and words to help, and you've got so much for both communities to argue about and take offense to.
All the grown-ups know what Renee is and what powers she possesses. I don't think they were ever going to tell her had Sam not been eavesdropping. They were looking for a cure without consulting her. And, then there's that whole "I didn't murder my daughter" thing from the past.
While Sam likes Renee he does kiss another girl...what's up with that?!

How this book is used in the classroom
1] Independent Read option
2] Definitely buying a hardcover for my classroom!

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