Andy Mulligan’s Trash is a YA book about three scavenger kids living in a junkyard who find something extremely valuable in the trash that launches a big, but personal mystery. I liked it a lot.
It had shifting viewpoint characters who were expressly telling the reader the story. Usually it stuck with the main three boys, but we also got to see bits of the story from the priest’s perspective and that of the British girl who was volunteering in the unnamed country (while reading I was picturing Mexico, but the afterword indicates it was based on a place in Manila).
Things I really liked about the book: the boys were clever and tough, but didn’t feel superhuman. The authorities also weren’t stupid, which made the boys’ victories against the police well-earned. It was a connect-the-dots kind of mystery plot, but my favourite part of that was a throwaway line about how they never did manage to decipher part of the code. The whole thing felt much more personal than a story about government corruption had any real right to be, so kudos to Mulligan.
The only thing that I wish it had was a stronger female character. The women in the story either get duped or get rescued or get the boys into the whole mess, which is a bit of a shame.
I found a manga I really like! Planetes is a science fiction story about three astronauts who work on the trash detail, cleaning debris out of Earth’s orbit. Hachimaki wants to be an exploration type astronaut with his own ship some day, Yuri lost his wife on his first trip up to space and Fee is the working stiff who pilots the ship and keeps them safe.
There are five stories in this first volume and they cover a good range, from the romance of junk-collecting (complete with last second rescue) to the psychological trauma of surviving an EVA accident. The stories have enough giant-mouth screaming to still feel like a manga book, but it’s all in the service of really solid science fiction. I don’t think there are as many volumes of this at the library as Death Note (which I tried reading but it didn’t do anything for me – consider that my review) but I’m going to grab what there is and keep reading.