Staff Reviews

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Once again a bestseller much touted by everyone has failed to live up to the praise. There is a trend here that the public should take note of—if a book falls into a genre category, check with those who love the category before buying the book. In this case, The Martian could be called MacGyver Goes to Mars. If you like such things, read it. If, however, you have been reading science fiction for a while, realize that this might not be the best book for you.


First, the money! This has always been one of NASA’s major hurdles, the huge amounts of money involved in space exploration and discovery. The astronomical amounts involved in this book kind of make me want to hurl. How many Star Trek episodes argued about the value of the many vs. the one? This book turns all of that on its head. And then all the blood rushes there and makes the reader pass out. Seriously, the scenario is believable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The marketing angle in this alone is crazy-making.
Second, if you love technical manuals, this is a book for you. Apparently, all the science is accurate. So, yes, it’s all possible. However, that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled to read about it. I don’t read sci-fi for accurate technical details, surprise, sorry! If I wanted that, I would subscribe to Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. (Actually, I like the occasional dip into these, but not many engineering or chemistry books make it to my reading lists.) Science fiction has been aptly called speculative fiction because people speculate what could be someday, not give the steps for what could happen tomorrow.

This will make a great movie—better than Gravity, but only somewhat. The same conundrum exists: it just isn’t believable nor probable that so many things could go right. We get our happily-ever-after, but at what cost? It is a fairy tale! This technical dissertation disguised as science fiction is actually filled with Pollyanna’s special magic for a lovely happily ever after. Just skip it. ~ Tessa March 2015

Hurry Up and Hold: Ms Marvel

kamalaI cannot wait to have Ms Marvel in my library.

For those unfamiliar, Ms Marvel is only the greatest comic ever. And the last year of issues were 100% my gateway into the world of comics.

But backing up to the 70s, Marvel has a pretty great, entwined history with the honorific “Ms” thanks to Wonder Woman and Gloria Steinem. Even if you care nothing at all about comics or feminism, do read Jill Lepore’s phenomenal The Secret History of Wonder Woman because the man who created that series has the soapiest, weirdest life story.

So, Marvel married the terms in 1977 with the creation of Ms Marvel, a series that existed on and off for the next 33 years starring Carol Danvers (the eventual Kamala Khan’s hero and namesake). Promoting Danvers to Captain means Kamala gets to head a reboot and that we’ll get a Captain Marvel movie in 2018. A win for everyone.

So, the new Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan, is a Pakistani American teenaged girl first and foremost. Beyond that, she learns that she is a shapeshifter and must use those powers to save her world. Along the way, she gets to work with Wolverine and a giant teleporting dog (Lockjaw) while trying to balance her exciting new life with the demands of her family.

I started the series not having really read much by way of comics but knowing that Kamala was extraordinary. People love her, people relate to her, and I think just having her as an option for what a hero can look like is so important. I went in with the highest of expectations.

There is no possible way that this series can do anything but exceed even the most astronomical of expectations. It’s funny, exciting, hopeful, and is really compassionate to its characters.

And Henrietta is getting the two most recent volumes starring Kamala (No Normal and Generation Why) as well as about half of the original 1977 Danvers run. I can’t wait to have Kamala in my library and to be able to read where she came from.

But hurry up and hold them because as much as I want to be able to see their beautiful covers everyday, I want even more to be able to share the fun.

New Harper Lee Novel Announced!

Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched clips of people reading aloud from the book To Kill a Mockingbird. The clips were aired with the huge announcement that there is a sequel, with a scheduled release date of July 14th. The sequel, written in the 1950’s, is called Go Set a Watchman. The announcement has taken fans the world over by surprise.


The new book features the main character, Scout, as an adult returning home to Maycomb, Alabama. She must deal with the issues surrounding her father, the community, and her own life. Harper Lee, now 88, was delighted when the manuscript of Watchman turned up last autumn attached to an original copy of Mockingbird. She showed it to a few people and, with their encouragement, arranged for publication.

Almost immediately charges began swirling around the announcement. Many people were suspicious about the timing, since Lee’s lawyer, her older sister, passed away mere months ago. But Lee herself has confirmed multiple times that she is aware and excited about the new release.

The original book Lee submitted for publication was actually Go Set a Watchman, but her editor at the time became more interested in Scout’s childhood backstory. When asked to write about that, Lee put aside Go Set a Watchman and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now we will all find out what happened next. In preparation for this astounding event, Jackson District Libraries have ordered multiple copies of the new novel. Come in, call or go online to place your hold on the waiting list for Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman.

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