Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Vivian Apple at the End of the World” by Katie Coyle May 26, 2015

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:40 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Facts

Vivan Apple at the End of the World cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

262 pages; published January 2015

The Basics

Vivian Apple’s parents are gone, apparently taken up by the rapture predicted by the oddly powerful Church of America. Those left behind are facing an increasingly dysfunctional society and devastating natural disasters. But Vivian isn’t content to just wait for the end of the world. She sets out to do something about it.

The Booktalk

When an evangelical doomsday cult won the hearts and minds of her parents, neighbors, and most of America, Vivian Apple didn’t believe. When the Church of America declared the date on which the rapture would take place, Vivian Apple didn’t believe and went to a party instead. Now that her parents are gone, leaving behind only two holes in the roof, and all the non-Raptured are running scared as they await the apocalypse, Vivian Apple still isn’t buying it. With the thinnest of justifications – a strange late-night phone call, a feeling, and a rumor – she persuades her best friend and a complete stranger to join her on a wild road trip across what is left of America in search of the truth.

Random Thoughts …

  • I can’t say the book is funny, because the circumstances are really horrific, but it is amusing and weirdly light-hearted.
  • I dare you not to fall in love with Vivian and her friends, despite their many flaws.
  • The amusing romp is good cover for a lot of biting social commentary – about people’s gullibility, marketing, desperation, and hypocrisy. It would make an interesting teen book club selection.

But Wait, There’s More!

  • A sequel, Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle, will be released in the U.S. in September 2015. I will be first in line to enjoy it!

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Readers fascinated by cults, particularly quasi-Christian doomsday cults
  • Teens with sophisticated senses of humor
  • Fans of apocalyptic fiction
  • People who enjoy quirky characters and fast action
 

“Man Made Boy” by Jon Skovron December 29, 2013

Man Made Boy cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

368 pages; published October 2013

The Basics

Boy – the stitched-together son of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride – has grown up in isolation and is aching to see the real world. When he makes a break for it, he finds the outside world is both complicated and offers untold adventures.

Booktalk

Boy is basically a typical modern teen growing up in New York City. He feels a bit resentful of his parents. He’s rebellious and feels trapped by his life. He’s got a crush on a pretty girl. He’s into computers. Except that the parents Boy is resenting are Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride, who built their son from body parts stolen from area morgues. And he really is trapped – living underground and backstage in The Show, a theater company for magical creatures. And the pretty girl he’s crushing on is a green-skinned, silver-eyed troll. And he has just used his computer to create an advanced artificial intelligence with disturbing powers.

When Boy strikes out to try to make it on his own in the real world, he finds life on the outside offers him both more – and less – than he bargained for. His unique situation leads to a wild cross-country adventure filled with mythology and magic, intense danger, pretty girls, and more drama than ever graced the stage of The Show.

Random Thoughts

This book was a clever and fun romp. Boy won my heart almost immediately. The world might see him as a monster, but we know he’s just plain good people.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Boys who think they know everything about computers and gaming
  • Readers who are intrigued by mythology
  • Adventure and action fans
  • Teens who are interested in something a little quirky

 

 

“Are You Experienced?” by Jordan Sonnenblick September 17, 2013

Are You Experienced? cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

304 pages; published September 2013

The Basics

Frustrated high school student Rich learns more than he bargained for about his old, fuddy-duddy father when a magical electric guitar sends him back in time to attend Woodstock alongside his then-teen-aged father.

The Booktalk

Rich has some special talents. He’s a great guitar player. He’s learning to maneuver around his over-protective parents. And he’s really, really good at getting in trouble with his father.

After the biggest blow-up yet, Rich breaks into his father’s study to play a single chord on an electric guitar hidden there – a chord which transports him through time and space to spend three days at the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, the 1969 weekend of music and hippie love now famously known just as Woodstock. Stranger still, Rich will attend with his then-15-year-old father and his doomed 18-year-old uncle, desperate to forge a crucial connection between them and the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

I’ll Recommend This Book To …

  • Fans of Jordan Sonnenblick because I’m a fan and that’s why I gobbled it up as soon as it was published. He delivered again!
  • Older middle and younger high school-aged readers (particularly boys) looking for an interesting adventure story
  • Musicians and rock-n-roll history enthusiasts
  • Kids who think their parents were always as old as they are now

 

 

“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.

 

“Etiquette and Espionage” by Gail Carriger May 11, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fantasy,Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:50 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Etiquette and Espionage cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

307 pages; published February 2013

The Basics

Sophronia has a special talent for getting herself into undignified situations and causing trouble. After her latest mishap  Sophoronia’s quite proper mother has had enough. It’s off to finishing school with her wayward daughter. Sophoronia’s horror at the thought of being “finished” into a proper lady is soon replaced with delight as she discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is as likely to teach you how to poison your tablemate as to do a proper curtsy.

The Booktalk

Sophronia is not like other girls. She likes to climb and sneak and invent and take things apart and generally cause trouble. Exciting? Yes, but not a great fit for her proper Victorian household. After she manages to hit a guest with a flying trifle as part of a “modification” to the household dumbwaiter, she is unceremoniously shipped off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Horror of horrors for Sophronia, who has no interest in being a lady.

But she soon discovers not all is as it seems in the string of dirigibles that make up Mademoiselle Geraldine’s. After she is brought aboard by a werewolf and greeted by a vampire, Sophronia discovers that her lessons in eye fluttering and proper curtsies will be coupled with knife-throwing and the subtle art of poisons. And there’s a ready-made mystery to unravel. Sophronia is going to have an exciting year indeed.

 

“When We Wake” by Karen Healey March 14, 2013

When We Wake cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

296 pages; published March 2013

The Basics

Tegan Oglietti was having a lovely day in 2027 until she was shot and killed on the steps of the Australian Parliament House. The next time she opens her eyes, 100 years have passed. Tegan is the first successful story to come out of an experiment in cryogenics. Quickly dubbed the Living Dead Girl, Tegan has a whole new Australia to get used to and – as far as Tegan is concerned – the government has a lot of explaining to do.

Booktalk

Imagine what it would be like to blink and wake up 100 years from now. Think about what would have changed. Fashion – people would dress differently. Maybe whole new fabrics would have been invented. Speech – slang would be different, maybe other ways of talking. Technology, certainly. Social issues. The environment.

That’s what Tegan Oglietti is dealing with. Back in 2027, she was having a nearly perfect day – headed to a protest with her new boyfriend and her best friend. She doesn’t even remember the fatal shot that tore through her.

But now, she’s awake – the first person to be fully revived by Australian doctors working to perfect the science of cryogenics. Tegan has a lot more to deal with that just getting used to a world with no blue jeans, no red meat,  weird new slang words, and disturbingly racist No Immigration policies. Tegan soon realizes there’s more to her revival than her doctors and military handlers are willing to say. The Living Dead Girl has made a discovery nearly as chilling as being frozen in the first place.

Random Thoughts

It is interesting how things collide. The cryogenics in this story depend on “something” derived from tardigrades aka water bears aka moss piglets. The day after I read the chapter that introduces the tardigrades, I had a family walk into the library and ask for help finding information about “a microscopic creature whose name sounds kind of like the Tardis from Dr. Who.” What are the odd of encountering the same microscopic creature in two days??

 

“Level 2” by Lenore Appelhans February 20, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Thriller — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:26 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Level 2 cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

288 pages; published January 2013

The Basics

Felicia West, after a brief life and a tragic death, contentedly spends her days reliving memories of her happier times on earth and making new friends in the high-tech “hive” that has become her world. When an outsider steps from her past and through the wall of her hive, she finds herself on the run and wrapped up in a wild plot that may have her knocking on heaven’s door.

Booktalk

Felicia West, age 17, now dead, has landed in what is essentially purgatory – suspended between heaven and earth in a high-tech world where memories are relived, shared, and traded through a sort of purgatory intranet. Enclosed in a smooth, white hive with several other dead teens, Felicia passes her time making new friends and “plugging in” to the network to drift through the key moments of her own life. A blast from her past – in the form of an old boyfriend who suddenly breaks into the hive – turns her placid afterlife into a wild adventure as she is pulled into a rebel network challenging the practices of the half-fallen angels who run Level 2.

Because of the access to earth-bound memories, the book is a sci-fi adventure interlaced with realistic fiction. As Felicia re-plays select scenes from her short life, we slowly piece together the mystery of why she died, why she might not be heaven-worthy, and why she is so important to the rebel cause.

Random Thoughts

There were parts of this book that made very little sense to me, but it was an intriguing premise. I felt a stronger affinity for Felicia’s “real” life, which is doled out in little bites with some heavy foreshadowing. I was heavily engaged in the struggle to find out what she had done in life that was so, so terrible. My mind wasn’t exactly blown by the answer, but it was a satisfying conclusion.

But Wait! There’s More …

This is Book 1 of  The Memory Chronicles. Level 3 is expected out in 2014.