Why I bought it? I actually didn't buy this. I won it in a contest. Yay me! I'm so glad I did. I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise. I thought I wasn't a fan of necromancers and that sort of thing, but the blogger giving it away raved about how great it was, so I entered.
Synopsis/Set up: When goofing around at work gets out of hand and a taillight gets busted on the WRONG car, a new world opens up for Sam (full name: Samhain Corvus LaCroix--it's something, eh? and there's meaning in them there names). A world that may end up killing him. He's been an unmotivated average guy, but he discovers that he is actually a necromancer. Can he discover why his powers have taken so long to surface? Or save himself and his friends from the impending doom?
What I thought? With the title's spin on Elton John's Tiny Dancer* I figured I was in for a fun ride, but I had no idea how entertaining it would be. It ended up as one of my top 10 favorites of 2010 (a stiff (no pun intended) competition). Sam's voice and personality carry the day: witty and sarcastic but also lovable. He is trying to do the right thing. He is just as shocked at the events unfolding around him (death, mayhem, impending death, undead pandas, a talking head, etc.) as I was, even though others take them in stride. The big strength for me in this book was the humor. It kept me laughing all the way through. I love that it's a great book for guys. There are not near enough of these out there. If you like dark humor, do yourself a favor and read this. I seriously had a hard time putting it down.
*All the chapters, as a matter of fact, are headed with song titles (or variations on them) and very clever. I laughed out loud at some of them and chuckled later about points in the chapter that applied. Most teen readers won't recognize them all though as many of the songs are older ones. (Not even my daughter, who's a classic rock aficionado, recognized them all.)
My Rating: ****1/2
My Daughter's Rating: ****3/4, She said, "I really loved the book. There were parts that could have been written better, but it was still very, very good. The humor was pretty dark most of the time, but it was a good fit for me."
Cleanness Score: 6 out of 10, This is for your older teens. There is some language, violence, and a sort of skipped-over sex scene. I did let my 16 year old daughter read it.
It was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award that honors debut YAs. A seriously amazing debut novel.
A recap of how I rate books for anyone new:
* = Complete drivel. Not worth the paper it's printed on.
** = So, so. Has some redeeming qualities but is, essentially, a disappointment.
*** = An enjoyable read but nothing too terribly earth shattering
**** = Very enjoyable. This is where I'd recommend for others to read. I'd consider buying it.
***** = So much fun reading that I can't put it down or so compelling that I can't stop thinking about it. I HAVE to own this book.
*****+ = One of my all time favorite books. I know some people would think this is over the top, but then again sometimes I am that kind of person. I won't give many books this rating though.
The cleanness score (CS) is because I have young family members that will read these reviews, and so I want them and their moms to know what they will get with the books I review, and I think that others of you out there picking books for your kids might like to know. (Is that enough ands?) That said--my scale is going to be from 0 to 10. 0 has absolutely nothing the least bit offensive in it and 10 is for those books that have very offensive material. (I think I can guarantee that there will be no 10s in any of my book reviews, but it will still be on the scale for gauging purposes.)