Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver August 26, 2013

Filed under: Dystopian,Fiction — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:53 am
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Delirium cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Basics

441 pages; published February 2011

The Basics

Lena is eager to turn 18. She is thrilled that she is nearly old enough to undergo the procedure that will free her from the threat of the worst disease of all – love. But before she can be cured of amor deliria nervosa, she will live one last summer as an uncured. And she will meet Alex, who has hair the color of autumn leaves. And what she learns from him and about him changes everything.

Review

Lauren Oliver has built an amazing world around the idea that love – with it’s ability to take over mind and body, to interfere with rational thought – is a terrible disease which can now be “cured” by a simple procedure which has become mandatory for all citizens age 18 and older. Oliver’s textured writing pulls the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of a Lena’s existence. Quotes from the new society’s bible, the book of SHHH (Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook) add memorably amusing twists on current Biblical wisdom, folklore, and culture.

Spirited and bright, Lena nonetheless craves the cure because it will save her from the humiliating fate suffered by her mother – someone for whom the cure failed three times before her mother restored to suicide rather than be “cured” again. She is fully prepared to move forward on her birthday, 95 days in the future, until she meets Alex. Their explosive romance is so fervently written, it is impossible not to hope that love will find a way.

Wait! There’s more …

Delirium is just the first in a delicious and exciting trilogy which finishes with Pandemonium (February 2012) and Requiem (March 2013). Other companion stories have been e-published for devoted fans.

Awards & Honors (source: www.laurenoliverbooks.com):

  • New York Times bestseller
  • New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association bestseller
  • #2 Spring Indie Children’s Pick
  • Amazon’s Best Teen Book of the Month for February 2011
  • YAReads.com Book of the Month for March 2011
  • Nominee for Best Fiction for Young Adults discussion by the ALA BFYA
  • Amazon’s 2011 Summer Reading List
  • Amazon’s Best YA Novel of 2011 so far
  • Nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012

I’ll Recommend this to …

  • Fans of dystopia who like elements of adventure and/or romance
  • Anyone looking for strong female characters
  • Readers who value excellent writing
  • Audiobook fans – I listened to the series on audio. The reader, Sarah Drew, was amazing.
 

“Revolver” by Marcus Sedgwick August 21, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Historical Fiction,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:59 am
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Revolver cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

224 pages; published July 2009

The Basics

A boy sits in a remote cabin with the frozen body of his dead father, waiting for help to arrive. What arrives instead is his worst nightmare – a huge murderous man who steps out of his father’s past.

Booktalk

Sig Andersson is stuck alone in a cabin north of the Arctic Circle. His only company? His father’s dead, frozen body slowly melting on the kitchen table. Sig waits, hoping his sister and step-mother will bring help from the nearby town. Instead, danger arrives in the form of a mountainous man who insists he is owed part of the bounty stolen by Sig’s father 10 years before in the goldfields of Nome, Alaska. Seeing as Sig’s father is unavailable, the man says, he figures now it is Sig who owes him.

With no idea about stolen gold, but sure the man would not hesitate to use the gun on his hip, Sig is desperate to get his hands on the family treasure he does know about – a revolver hidden in the pantry.

I’ll Recommend this to …

  • Students (particularly boys) who have been assigned to or want to read historical fiction
  • Readers asking for mysteries,  thrillers, or realistic fiction
  • Anyone who wants a story that gets your attention right away

Awards/Honors (source: GoodReads.com):

  • Printz Honor Book (2011)
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
  • ALA’s Top Ten Best books for Young Adults (2011)
  • Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)

 

 

“Starglass” by Phoebe North August 18, 2013

Starglass cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

448 pages; published July 2013

The Basics

Born on the spaceship Asherah, Terra will soon be part of the first generation to arrive at Zehava and populate a new world. But Terra and others chafe under the totalitarian rule of The Council which guides them. Forced toward a career in botany and a loveless marriage, Terra’s rebellious spirit grows after she witnesses the murder of an innocent man by the Captain’s Guard.

Booktalk

Terra is a lot like the characters in other stories, maybe even like people you know. She is mourning the death of her mother. Her father is a drunk who embarrasses her on a regular basis. She feels awkward in school and around boys. She’s jealous of her much-prettier best friend. But Terra’s life is unique because it has been lived entirely on a spaceship bound to populate a new planet. Launched 500 years before by a group of secular Jews in an effort to preserve Jewish culture, the Asherah will be landing soon on Zehava. This is just as Terra is approaching her 16th birthday – leaving school to start a career chosen for her by The Council and desperately agreeing to marry her father’s talmid (apprentice) so the same Council won’t choose her husband as well.

With all this weighing down on Terra, she takes a wrong turn on the way home one evening and comes face-to-face with a horrifying sight – members of The Captain’s Guard murdering a man in cold blood. The revelations that come next will shake Terra – and all of Asherah – to the core.

 

“In the Shadow of Blackbirds” by Cat Winters August 9, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Historical Fiction,Mystery,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:16 am
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In the Shadow of Blackbirds cover

Images courtesy of Goodreads.com

The Facts

387 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

In 1918, Americans were surrounded by death. With loved ones dying far away in World War I and stricken by the Spanish Flu right next door, nearly everyone was raw with grief and fear. So-called “spirit photographers” stepped in, offering to conjure the dead to be photographed with the living. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black’s aunt has fallen into the thrall of spirit photography, seances, and peculiar home remedies meant to protect a body from the influenza germs. A committed scientist and skeptic, Mary finds her own beliefs challenged when she is confronted by the confused, wretched spirit of her first love.

Booktalk

Here’s what you have to understand. Living in 1918 in the United States was terrifying. The Spanish Flu was killing thousands of people. At the same time, soldiers were dying in droves in Europe fighting in World War I. People were desperate – to do something that made them feel safer and to express their sadness about people they had lost. Mary Shelley Black is 16 years old, in the thick of the Spanish Flu outbreak and waiting for her first love who has gone off to war. She’s sensible, smart, and science-minded, but she’s scared too. Still, she knows something is off about her aunt’s obsession with having photos taken by an old family friend who has become a “spirit photographer,” someone who claims to be able to call up the dead to be photographed with the people they left behind.

The situation becomes even more puzzling when Mary Shelley learns that her own young soldier has died and – despite her skepticism – Mary is visited by his frightened and nearly incoherent ghost, drawing her deep into mysteries of the spirit world and questions about his death.

Random Thoughts

One of the many wonderful things about this book is the use of eerie historic photos of people in gauze masks (to protect them from the flu) and examples of spirit photography that are inserted as chapter headers.