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348 Bibliotheken, 3 Leser, 2 Gruppen, 12 Rezensionen

kinderbuch, zauberer, silvester, fantasy, rabe

Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch

Michael Ende
Flexibler Einband: 235 Seiten
Erschienen bei Carlsen, 16.10.2008
ISBN 9783551358301
Genre: Fantasy


As a kid, I read the (English translated version of) The Neverending Story, and it stuck with me, in the way that only a handful of children's novels did--it was different from others I had read, with a straightforward yet surreal strangeness, a sense of loss. The scene in the memory mine, and the idea of losing oneself piece-by-piece and then having to work in anonymity, even to oneself, to find oneself again, haunted me.

Der Wunschpunsch is a different sort of story, though it still has some of that sadness. A cynical, world-weary old raven and a trusting young cat with illusions of greatness must work together to stop two evil magic-users from destroying the world on New Year's Eve. From an American perspective, the emphasis on New Year's (and on figures like St. Silvester) is new; New Year's isn't as big a thing in the U.S., where we reserve most of the fireworks for Independence Day. (If you read this to an American child, be ready to (perhaps) add some new traditions to your holiday regimen!) The concern about the environment is also, if not new, more pronounced than in much American children's fiction. But the goofy warmheartedness of the story, and the sense of the cat and the raven first losing and then regaining old dreams, come across without any cultural confusion. I felt for the cat in particular; he's young, has lost a lot, and has his trust stomped on very hard in the course of the novel!

From my perspective, where I've been trained by my culture's stories to expect redemption and forgiveness if bad characters have moments of coming around, half of the ending is a surprise! And all in all, the story never really works up to many tense moments, with the resolution feeling somewhat deus ex machina-ish. But, still, if you're looking for a read-aloud to a child, Der Wunschpunsch would fit the bill. There's a lot of rhyme and wordplay here that's hard not to get stuck in your head.




105 Bibliotheken, 2 Leser, 0 Gruppen, 15 Rezensionen

familie, liebe, natur, kindheit, schicksale

Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen

Katharina Hagena
E-Buch Text: 336 Seiten
Erschienen bei eBook by Kiepenheuer&Witsch, 14.09.2010
Genre: Sonstiges


This book wears its heart on its sleeve: It wants to be a literary novel of gentle magical realism dwelling with misty nostalgia on life's regrets and the tangles of love and family duty. It manages to top out as a slight novel of puzzling perhaps-magical realism clubbing you over the head with misty nostalgia over a series of very unpleasant events happening to a circle of dull, unpleasant people.

I don't get the point of this novel. It bobs from piece of pat symbolism to piece of pat symbolism--a window fogged by spider webs, two characters in conflict identified with the colors black and white, a bookshelf that seems to rearrange itself when no one's looking, lightning and static electricity, mysteriously-blooming and -ripening apple trees--without ever tying those symbols together into a meaning as a whole, and without ever introducing a plot. Sure, there's the thinnest of romances surrounding the descriptions of plants, clothes, and surreal memory-fictions that the narrator dwells on--but it's the least-convincing of love stories, about a bored young man falling in love with a woman he only seems to see when she's doing spectacularly stupid things (like trying to ride a bike while wearing a long golden formal dress and carrying several bags and a can of paint). It reads like "The Early Days of a Horribly Dull Marriage."

Meanwhile, the flashbacks only succeeded in making me think that all of the characters, not just the narrator, were self-obsessed, inward-turning to the point of neurosis, overly dramatic, and poisonous to be around. Of course a family like this would produce septic regrets and the inability to do anything except dwell on oneself! Instead of managing its attempt at a universal peek into the poignancy of loss, love, family, and memory, Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen ends up as more an apathetic horror story that not even its narrator seems to really care about or believe in.




5.971 Bibliotheken, 63 Leser, 38 Gruppen, 627 Rezensionen

liebe, zeitreise, london, zeitreisen, fantasy


Kerstin Gier
Fester Einband: 345 Seiten
Erschienen bei Arena, 01.01.2009
ISBN 9783401063348
Genre: Jugendbuch


I was hoping for more from Rubinrot, seeing as it's one of the few works of German SF/F that American publishers have bothered to pick up for distribution. Maybe something that set it apart from the usual YA crowd, that gave it a little more depth--or at least novelty.

No such luck! I should have guessed that what would interest American publishers would be just more of the same--a generic London setting, a quirky teenaged hero who discovers she's the surprise heir to mysterious powers and a secret mission, a love interest who's stunningly handsome but also a dismissive jerk, and a ton of English-speaking pop culture references (not that German media exposure, especially for youth, isn't dominated by English-speaker-created media--and not that German-speakers shouldn't own whatever they consume, English-original or not! But there was only one pop culture reference in the whole book that was new to me; it felt like the setting and the references were picked largely to give the book appeal to an international audience--or to an audience reared on English-language-nation-set novels. Again, not this this is a bad thing, but as a foreign reader, I would have loved reading about somewhere that wasn't London. London is such a common setting!).

There's not much to be had here that you couldn't get from any number of other YA novels. While the writing is lively and easy to read, it doesn't cover for the fact that there's all of two (maybe three, if you squint) action scenes in 350-ish pages. Most of the book is spent in talking or infodumps about the secret society and time-traveling powers.

Maybe this is all preparation for nonstop plot action in the next two books, but I'm 40 pages into Saphirblau, and so far, it's been all talking as well.




171 Bibliotheken, 1 Leser, 2 Gruppen, 14 Rezensionen

klonen, klavier, klon, hamburg, pianistin

Blueprint Blaupause

Charlotte Kerner , Charlotte Kerner , Cornelia Niere
Flexibler Einband: 208 Seiten
Erschienen bei Beltz, J, 29.05.2015
ISBN 9783407741028
Genre: Jugendbuch


Iris Sellin, a brilliant composer and pianist discovers she has multiple sclerosis. Driven by her art and with no time in her life for the uncertainty of love, she contacts an expert in artificial reproduction and becomes the mother of the world’s first viable human clone, Siri Sellin. Siri tells the story of how her Iris raised her as both daughter, twin sister, and extension of her self—a way to have her artistic skills live on after her own death.

More an extended philosophical essay than a gripping narrative story, Blaupause does take a long, hard look at the identity problems a human clone might struggle with. Many of Siri’s observations could also hold for any mother/daughter relationship—the sense of how different am I from my parent and how different can I ever be? Can I ever fully escape my parent’s influence and be a true individual?

Short, but complex for a beginning German reader. Still worth the read if cloning, identity issues, or parent/child relationships interest you.

I get the impression this one gets inflicted on kids at school a lot. I think only readers already interested in identity issues and in the science of cloning will have the patience for this one. If I were to bring it out over here, I would slot it into adult literary fiction.

It was also made into a film, which stars the seems-to-be-in-everything Franka Potente. Now out of print and out of my price range, so, hey, I have no idea it if was any good! From reading the summary, it sounds like they drastically changed the last third of the story and threw in a love story. As films feel obligated to do.




810 Bibliotheken, 5 Leser, 3 Gruppen, 45 Rezensionen

katastrophe, atomkraftwerk, jugendbuch, tod, atomkraft

Die Wolke

Gudrun Pausewang , Jens Schmidt
Flexibler Einband: 222 Seiten
Erschienen bei Ravensburger Buchverlag, 01.01.2016
ISBN 9783473580149
Genre: Jugendbuch


A crushing YA SF novel by the prolific, award-winning author Gudrun Pausewang, Die Wolke does not mess around. It is an anti-nuclear-power narrative, and it never pretends it isn’t.

Fourteen-year-old Janna-Berta’s parents and youngest brother are out of town, in Schweinfurt, and she’s been left in charge of her younger brother Uli. When alarms interrupt a normal school day and the teachers order everyone to get home as fast as they can, Janna-Berta learns what happened as she makes her way back to her house—there’s been a nuclear meltdown at the power station in far-too-close Grafenrheinfeld. Should she and Uli bunker down in the basement, like the radio and the police say they should? Or should they leave town as fast as they can, as their mother, in one short, broken-off telephone call, orders them to?

They leave town—on their bicycles, fighting through panicked mobs and snarled traffic, cars and trucks full of panicking people and their hastily-packed belongings. Everyone’s watching the sky for “die Wolke"—the cloud of nuclear fallout that will poison anyone and anything caught out in its radioactive rain.

This isn’t a novel where good things happen—at least, not without great struggle. Events crush Janna-Berta’s place in the world, her sense of safety and identity, in the first half to two thirds of the book. As a lost, sick refugee, she must fight against her society’s desire to erase the tragedy and its victims from its collective memory and fight to find a reason to keep living.

This is the sort of book that gets assigned in middle or high school to “start discussion." A teacher would have to be well-equipped with knowledge about nuclear power, the author’s own experiences and viewpoints, and similar narratives about nuclear disasters, both fictional and autobiographical (Pausewang explicitly references the hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) to move a conversation beyond distressed or dismissive silence.

It has been translated into English, as Fall-Out, by Patricia Crampton. The translation is no longer in print. It was also made into a film that absolutely guts the novel. Instead of being a wrenching story of society going mad and those hurt by the madness trying their best to survive in the aftermath, this Die Wolke turns into a pat teen love story. No thanks.

I’m surprised the English translation of the novel hasn’t been reissued. In the wake of the Japanese meltdowns, it seems like it would have re-assumed relevance for an international audience.

Tags: science fiction   (1)



1.248 Bibliotheken, 11 Leser, 12 Gruppen, 89 Rezensionen

insel, jugendbuch, mord, thriller, isabel abedi


Isabel Abedi
Flexibler Einband: 324 Seiten
Erschienen bei Arena, 12.01.2010
ISBN 9783401501987
Genre: Jugendbuch


Joy is a dancer, and the 17-year-old daughter of two German parents. She remembers very little of her past in Brazil, where she lived until her parents adopted her at the age of four, but her lost past and biological family still haunt her. When a famous avant-garde director, Quint Tempelhoff, offers her a role in his new film, set on location on an isolated island off the coast from Rio de Janeiro, she jumps at the chance.

The catch? The film has no script. Joy will join 11 other German young people, all strangers, for three weeks. Alone on the island, their every movement will be watched and recorded by hidden cameras. At the end of the three weeks, Tempelhoff will cut his film, titled Isola, from the captured footage.

As with just about any we're-all-trapped-on-an-isolated-island story, things start out idyllic but rapidly go off the rails. The 12 teenagers discover the rules to a game of deception and betrayal on the island--along with Tempelhoff's ultimatum: If they don't play, the project ends immediately. Of course, what starts as a game becomes dark reality.

Definitely a derivative work, Isola makes explicit internal references to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. With its tropical setting, talented, competitive teens, and who-will-be-left-standing plot, the book will also remind readers of The Hunger Games (particularly Catching Fire) and reality television shows like Survivor and American Idols. The high melodrama and Joy's instant conflicted attraction to fellow player Solo could also hook into the current Twilight-driven fascination with dark and brooding love interests.

I could definitely see this succeeding in the U.S. YA market. Personally, I had no idea why Joy was interested in Solo--he says next to nothing, and they barely interact until the action pushes them to do so. And I found Joy too passive; she spends most of the novel angsting about the situation, about Solo, and about her past. On that note, the best part of the novel is its honest examination of an adoptee's search for identity--though Joy loves her German parents, she cannot avoid wanting to know about and connect to her past.

Abedi has written other YA thrillers, some with paranormal elements. I have no idea why she hasn't been translated.

Tags: isola abedi, suspense, thriller, young adult   (4)
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