Say hello to the newest of my teen reviewers, Lillian Fisher-Yan! Lillian is a senior at the Dana Hall School and WOW. She’s a reader. To put it mildly.
I met Lillian last Friday, a few hours after I’d crossed paths with her and a couple hundred other girls at Dana Hall during a school visit with John Green. I knew I liked her when she approached me at the store to find out the exact cost (with tax) of a copy of Graceling. I raved about the book, she bought it, and we began to talk about other fantasy books. I quickly discovered that Lillian had good taste, good reader instincts AND a knowledge of existing books in the fantasy genre that truly put mine to shame. She had so greatly outread me in this one area that I found our conversation almost embarrassing. But where others see humiliation, I see opportunity! How would you like to read galleys and review them for me, I asked. Lillian’s response was something along the lines of, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THIS IS LIKE MY DREAM COME TRUE!!!" (Throughout the exchange that followed I felt like the driver of the Prize Patrol Van. Making connections like this are what I love most about my job.)
Both of us all smiles, I sent Lillian off late Friday afternoon with about 10 ARCs of forthcoming novels, most of them fantasy. She said she’d probably have them all read by Halloween, certainly by Thanksgiving at the latest. Nevertheless it came as a surprise to receive my first review from her before noon the following day!!
I don’t know if Lillian actually sleeps, but I am certainly glad she reads, as I think you will be too as I introduce you to her reviews.
Heroes of the Valley
by Jonathan Stroud (Disney-Hyperion, January 2009)
Reviewed by Lillian Yan-Fisher
At first you want to bang your head against the wall, and then all of a sudden you want to cheer and run around the room! After closing the back cover of this fun, thought-provoking, and clever book, all I want to do is think about the society that we live in. Heroes of the Valley makes you stop and really digest the world.
Stroud creates a world of close-minded, bigoted people, one of whom is an irksome trickster named Halli Stevinsson, who is constantly getting into trouble and who sometimes made me want to throttle a kitten. Like others in his world, Halli is ignorant, annoying, and completely biased to his personal views. By following this want-to-beat-your-head-against-the-wall-as-you-read-about-him character we see a closed-minded society from one who lives within the ignorance. But when Halli’s actions set off a chain of events that will alter his life as he knows it, his journey teaches him about himself. We see him change from an ignorant nincompoop who is blindly intolerant of any change to a free-thinking, caring young man.
I freely admit that, at the beginning of the book, I literally wanted to/maybe did a little, bang my head against a wall, or at least bury my head in the pillow I was laying on. I also admit that I wanted to put the book down in the middle several times to check my email. Yet at the end, I could not stop turning the pages. It took me about 200 pages to get to that point, but I think it was worth it.