Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry November 30, 2011

Maberry, Jonathan. Rot & Ruin. New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2010. 458 pages. ISBN: 9781442402324

Rot & Ruin cover

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Unsuited for any other kind of work, Benny Imura reluctantly agrees to become apprenticed to his zombie hunter brother. For the first time in his life, Benny leaves the safety of his gated community and heads out into Rot & Ruin, coming face-to-face with the realities of this zombie-ridden, shattered shell of what was America.


Welcome to Mountainside, an exclusive gated community guarded 24/7 for the benefit of the elite population permitted inside. Benny Imura, almost 15, is one of these elite – one of the last humans surviving after a zombie virus swept across the United States, leaving a teeming mass of hungry undead behind.

Now that he’s turning 15, Benny will be expected to take a job and contribute in his small community, working for rations. But where? He’s a disaster as a fence tester, pit thrower, carpet coat salesman, and erosion artist. Finally, he is left with nowhere to turn except the brother he hates. Tom Imura is supposed to be some hotshot zombie hunter – he’s even on one of the Zombie Cards that the kids in the village collect and trade. But Benny knows better. Benny knows his brother is the same coward who ran when their father turned, leaving their mother to a terrible fate.

But because he has no choice, Benny attaches himself to Tom, following him for the first time into the Rot & Ruin beyond the village gates. What he finds there – what he learns about himself, his brother, his zombie hunting idols, and the zombies themselves – will turn his world upside down and test him seemingly beyond his own very human limits.

Wait! There’s more:

The next book in this series, Dust & Decay, was released in summer 2011. Flesh & Bone due out September 2012!

Awards/Honors (source:

  • 2010 Cybils Awards (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • 2010 Bram Stoker Award nominee (Superior Achievement in a Novel)

“How to be a Zombie: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Craves Brains” by Serena Valentino November 27, 2011

Filed under: Non-Fiction,Young Adult,Zombies/Undead — hilariouslibrarian @ 11:01 pm
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Valentino, Serena. How to be a Zombie: The  Essential Guide for Anyone Who Craves Brains. San Francisco, Calif.: Weldon Owen Inc., 2010. 136 pp. ISBN: 9780763649340

How to be a Zombie cover

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Thoughtful and well-researched, this book is essential for any zombie just starting out. It covers all the big topics – finding the right style, food, lodging, travel, and how to throw a killer party.


There’s more to being a zombie than just eating a few brains. To really enjoy life as undead to the fullest, a new zombie might need a little help choosing the right clothes, the right car, finding a place to live, and understanding how to care for the heap of rotting flesh that is all they have left for a body.

Luckily, Serena Valentino has pulled together everything a new zombie needs to know into one handy guide. If you’re starting to shamble a bit, crave you some flesh, and carry an undead stank with you, it’s time to open this book. Valentino jumps right in with a quiz to help you figure out your zombie archetype. Once you have that locked down, you’re ready to learn more about zombie history, the science behind zombification, zombie anatomy, and meal planning.

Above all, Valentino wants to send a message that you don’t have to live like a one-dimensional movie character just because you’re now among the ranks of the undead.

“It’s fun to be a Zombie!” she proclaims. “Even though attitidues toward zombies are changing in both the living and undead communities, it’s a general misconception that being a zombie isn’t fun. Aside from the wounds, missing limbs, stench, and general mess, this simply isn’t true. Being a zombie can be tremendously fun …”

Teen View (thoughts about zombies):

“Zombies are my least favorite mythical creature. They just stumble around and try to eat brains. They’re not very interesting.” – Kayla, 16

“Zombies are cool. They run around saying, ‘Aaaah! I want to eat your brains.’ But I don’t really like zombie books.” – Sabrina, 14


  • None noted

“Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow November 25, 2011

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. New York: Tor, 2008. 365 pp. ISBN: 0765319853

Little Brother cover

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Seventeen-year-old Marcus Yallow is accused, tortured, and targeted by the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack rips throughSan Francisco. Innocent and angry, he finds his techno-geek hacker skills and personal convictions lead him into a showdown in the name of freedom he never could have imagined.


I have a question for you – what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

We all have moments when we’re brave, but I’m here to say that none of you has ever been as brave as Marcus Yallow is about to be.

Five days ago, Marcus’ city was attacked by terrorists. Thousands died. Marcus – a techno-geek hacker who was skipping school to play an Internet game – was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was arrested. He was tortured. Now, he has been returned home and they’re tracking his every move.

They’re tracking everyone’s every move. The Department of Homeland Security is tapping phones, filming, and listening in every way they can. They’re pulling people over. Shaking people down. Making some disappear. Marcus finds himself driven by the words of the Declaration of Independence.

“Government are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

A solemn vow drives Marcus to declare a war of his own – on invasion of privacy, on intimidation, and on threats to freedom. Ignoring his fears about being tortured again – or worse – Marcus tunes up his tech tools and takes action.

Can you imagine it? What would it be like to fight against your own government to save the country you love?

Awards/Honors (source:

  •  Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
  • Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008)
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel (2009)
  • Emperor Norton Award (2008)
  • Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2009)
  • Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010)
  • Florida Teen Read Nominee (2009)

“Hikaru No Go” (Volume 1) by Yumi Hotta November 23, 2011

Hotta, Yumi (author). Obata, Takeshi (artist). Hikaru No Go, Volume 1. San Francisco: Shonen Jump, 2006. 187 pages. ISBN: 159116222x.

Hikaru No Go Vol 1 cover

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Hikaru is an average kind of 12-year-old boy, more interested in sports than in school and not interested at all in ancient Chinese history. His life changes when he finds a blood-stained Go board and becomes inhabited by the spirit of a long-ago Go master who is still seeking a way to play his beloved game and – someday perhaps – the “Divine Move.”


Does anyone here care about Go? Do you even know what Go is?

Well, it’s an ancient Chinese game that is like chess – played with black and white pieces on a square grid. If you don’t know anything about it, you’re a lot like Hikaru. He’s a 12-year-old Chinese boy who just found an old, old Go board with blood on it. He doesn’t even know what the board is for. But he’s the only one who can see the blood, so he has some kind of connection with what’s inside.

Can you image what is inside this old block of wood? Only the spirit of Sai, a Go master from the Heian Period (that’s 794-1185 in China). When Hikaru sees the blood, that’s the signal for Sai to come out of the Go board and take over part of Hikaru’s consciousness. Soon, Hikaru find himself spending time in Go parlors and playing against master Go players, with Sai telling him how. He friends start to think he’s crazy. The Go players can’t figure him out.

Hikaru hates Go, but there is something about the intensity of these players that makes him think. Maybe he can understand why Sai would wait even beyond death, hoping for a chance to experience the ultimate moment in Go – the play of the “Divine Move.”

Wait! There’s More:

If you get hooked on this fast and funny story, good news! There are a total of 23 volumes to enjoy.

Teen View:

“I love this series. Even though I didn’t understand it at first because I don’t know anything about Go, I totally realized, ‘This is amazing.’ It really explains what’s important in the game and I love the characters, especially Sai because he gets really involved and yells at Hikaru and he’s so into it. It’s amazing.” – Catrina, age 15, major Manga enthusiast

Awards/Honors (source:

  • Shogakukan Manga Award in 2000
  • Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2003 (series)

“Rooftop” by Paul Volponi November 18, 2011

Volponi, Paul. Rooftop. New York: Viking, 2006. 199 pp. ISBN: 0670060690

Rooftop cover

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Estranged cousins Clay and Addison reconnect when they both land in the same day treatment rehabilitation center. As they struggle to manage the program against the pull of the streets, life changes in an horrible instant that leaves Addison dead on a rooftop and Clay unsure how to handle the political circus that overtakes him.


They were already supposed to be at the family night potluck over at Daytop, their day treatment rehabilitation center. But cousins Clay and Addison ran off, chasing that punk Clorox who still owed Addison the money, even though the cops broke up the dice game.

They ran up.

Chasing Clorox to the rooftop.

A wild search.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs.

They turned.

A blaze of gunfire.

A cop’s startled face.

Addison dead at Clay’s feet.

An unarmed black boy shot by a white cop.

Clay is swept into a media and political circus. He is cornered into a lie that leaves him breathless and unsure how to end this thing, how to keep himself going, and how to face what really happened that night in the New York City projects on a lonely Rooftop.

Random thought:

I should recommend this book to Travis, 16. Travis is currently enjoying the books of Laurie Halse Anderson, including Twist, Prom, and Speak. He likes that they talk about high school life and how sometimes people get caught in a situation or make some really bad decisions, but they can still change and get back on the right path. This would be a good fit!

Awards/Honors (source:

  • ALA Best Book Young Adult
  • ALA Quick Pick
  • New York City Library Book for the Teen Age
  • Tayshas List (Texas Library Association)

“A Step from Heaven” by An Na November 14, 2011

Na, An. A Step from Heaven.Asheville, N.C.: Front Street., 2001. 156 pp. ISBN: 1886910588

A Step from Heaven cover

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Young Ju does not really understand where she is going when her parents decide to emigrate from Korea to America when she is four. As life in America unfolds and proves deeply disappointing, it is clear that her parents also did not fully understand this decision or the depths of anger and despair it would cause in their family.


Imagine being four years old and leaving the world as you know it.

Were any of you born in another country? Do you speak one language at home and another at school?

Have you known anyone who doesn’t speak English well? What have you tried in order to communicate with them?

An Na’s book “A Step from Heaven” tells a story of one family who leaves Korea, full of hopes and dreams about a better life in America. Instead, it is very frustrating because they don’t always understand what is being said and what is expected. Young Ju goes to school and finds so many things confusing. Her parents work hard – taking two jobs each, but they are always poor and there is a lot of anger in the house.

The difficulties mount as Young Ju’s father begins drinking heavily and lashes out physically at his family. On the very worst night, Young Ju finally calls 9-1-1.

“Please,” I whisper and take a gulp of air. “Send help.”

“Tell me what is going on, miss.”

“My father is killing my mother.”

It is then she understands truly how far they have come from home – much farther than “A Step from Heaven.”

Awards/Honors (source:

  • 2001 National Book Award Finalist
  • 2002 Children’s Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association
  • 2005 CaliforniaCollections Selection
  • 2005 Asian American Booklist, Grades 9 and Up, Read AcrossAmerica, National Education Association
  • 2001 – 2003 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, Text in Children and Young Adult Fiction – Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association
  • 2004 Reading List – Women’s Division Reading Program Committee, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
  • 2003 – 2004 Gateway Readers Award Nominee,MissouriAssociation of School Libraries
  • 2003 – 2004 William Allen White Children’s Book Award master list
  • 2002 Notable Books for a Global Society – International Reading Association
  • 2002 Notable Children’s Book – American Library Association
  • 2002 Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • 2002 Children’s Books of Distinction Award – Riverbank Review
  • 2002 Fanfare Book – The Horn Book Honor List
  • 2002 Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award
  • 2002 CCBC Choices
  • 2002 Children’s Literature Choice List
  • 2002 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Master List
  • 2002 Amelia Bloomer Project List
  • 2002 White Ravens – International Youth Library ofMunich
  • 2002 Notable Books for the Language Arts – NCTE
  • 2002 Notable Books for a Global Society, Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest group of the IRA
  • 2001 Editor’s Choice – Booklist
  • 2001 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • 2001 Best Books – School Library Journal
  • 2001 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Shortlist
  • 2001 Best Children’s Books – Publishers Weekly
  • 2001 Best Book –
  • 2001 Book Links Lasting Connections
  • 2001 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children
  • 2001 Top 10 Youth First Novels – Booklist

“Airhead” by Meg Cabot November 11, 2011

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:32 am
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Cabot, Meg. Airhead. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2008. 337 pp. ISBN: 0545040523

Airhead cover

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Emerson Watts, honors student, devoted gamer, and unfashionable as they come, reluctantly agrees to attend the opening of the Stark Megastore where supermodel Nikki Howard will be appearing. A terrible accident involving a falling flat screen and a mysterious brain transplant institute link the two forever, forcing Emerson to step into Nikki Howard’s complex life.


“Well, you’d probably have screamed, too, if the face you saw looking back at you from a mirror belonged to someone else. Not just someone else, but someone whose face happened to be plastered on magazines and the sides of buses and phone booths all over town. Wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of panties.”

In one horrible moment, the tomboyish, college-focused, gaming devotee Emerson Watts figures out what’s been bugging her every since she woke up in a hospital room after the accident. Somehow, Emerson’s brain – her thoughts, memories, personality, and world view – have ended up trapped inside the body of a mega-famous super-model who was walking by back then – when the flat screen TV came off the wall and came crashing down. Like Emerson’s world is crashing down, now that she doesn’t have her own face and has become the very thing, the exact type of girl she most hates. Now what’s she supposed to do? And what’s the deal with all these hot guys wanting to kiss her all of a sudden?

Wait! There’s More:

This is only the beginning of Emerson’s adventure. The story continues in Being Nikki (2009) and Runway (2010).

Awards/Honors (source:

  • A New York Times Children’s Chapter Book Best Seller
  • CosmoGIRL! Magazine’s May Pick for its online book club
  • A Teen Choice Book Award Finalist for the Children’s Book Council
  • A selection on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age, 2009
  • A YALSA nominee for the 2010 Popular Paperback in the “Bodies” category