Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“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

 

 

“Bad Taste in Boys” by Carrie Harris May 4, 2013

The Facts

201 pages; published July 2011

Bad Taste in Boys cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Basics

Kate Grable is a science nerd and volunteer medic for the tragically bad high school football team. When the desperate Coach starts injecting the players with a new kind of steroid, instead of improving their win record, he turns them into flesh-loving zombies. Kate is either going to save the day or have her lips chewed off.

The Booktalk

I think the really important lesson of Bad Taste in Boys is that it’s very stupid to inject yourself or others with something when you don’t really know what the something will do.

Here’s the truth of the matter. This is a very silly book. But it is also just plain funny. And it has zombies.

The zombies are created right under the nose of Kate Grable, a wannabe doctor who manages the Ace bandages and EpiPens for the totally awful football team at her high school. The job also gives her important proximity to Aaron, the untalented the totally adorable quarterback. After Kate says heck no to injecting players with some mysterious vials of liquid, the Coach does it himself and – boom – zombie football players.

The change comes on kind of gradually and in some cases, it’s hard to notice. Until fingers come loose and feet start flying. Oh, and until the newly minted zombies start supping on human flesh. But Kate does notice and – having lost part of a lip to a linebacker – she plunges in to unravel the medical mystery and try to save the day.

Random Thoughts

This is far more of a campy, fun read than a hard-hitting, award-winning novel. However, I absolutely give it my personal award for Awesome Cover Art on a YA Book. I mean come on, look at those lips!

 

“Zom-B” by Darren Shan November 19, 2012

Zom-B cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

174 pages; published September 2012

The Basics

B is a street-wise bully being raised by a violent, white supremacist father in London. Amid growing reports of zombie attacks in a small Irish village, B is backed into several situations where it is called into question of how deep B’s personal racist sensibilities run. And then, the zombies attack.

Review

This book was quite a surprise. Written by a master of young adult horror, it’s remarkably light on the spurting blood and the brain eating … until it’s not.

Although the zombies are milling around the edges from the beginning, but meat of the book is spent on B and B’s response (or lack thereof) to a father who spews disgusting racial hatred at every turn and beats on B and B’s mother if they mount the slightest challenge. B wanders between mirroring the father’s nastiness and being sheepish about it and wondering if – perhaps – dear old Dad isn’t pretty reprehensible. B’s thoughts get really stirred up after visiting a Holocaust exhibit and getting a talking-to from a respected teacher.

“I know Dad’s no saint but I’ever never thought of him as a monster. But if Burke’s right, and I take Dad’s side, the way I’ve gone along with him for all these years, won’t that make me a monster too?”

And speaking of monsters, the zombies continue to close in as Dad pooh-poohs the gruesome footage of an attack in Pallaskenry, Ireland until the zombies – as the reader knows they will – finally descend on B’s school and the nightmare-inducing grossology lesson begins.

While not at all likeable, B is an compelling character and “Zom-B” is an exciting set-up for a new series.

 

 

That book is awesome! May 26, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult,Zombies/Undead — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:38 pm
Tags: ,

Yesterday, I booktalked “Rot & Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry to seven groups of middle school students. Although I’ve already blogged about that book, it seem worth noting that each time I picked up the book, at least one student in the room raised their hand and said, “That book is awesome.”

So, if you don’t believe me, believe a parade of Claggett Creek Middle School students – “Rot & Ruin” is amazing!

https://myssr.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/rot-ruin-by-jonathan-maberry/

 

“The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead” by Max Brooks December 10, 2011

Filed under: Non-Fiction,Young Adult,Zombies/Undead — hilariouslibrarian @ 1:11 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Brooks, Max. The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003. 247 pages. ISBN: 9781400049622

Zombie Survival Guide cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

This guide covers all aspects of preparation for zombie attack. A thorough discussion of the zombie virus and its physical effects sets the stage for choosing weapons, selecting and outfitting a survival team, and poring over insights gleaned from earlier attacks.

Booktalk:

Advertised as a guide to complete protection, this book lives up to its name. It leaves no stone unturned, no eventuality ignored as Brooks pushes forward with his personal mission of preparing every man, woman, and child for zombie attack which will – sooner or later – come.

Brooks focuses on total preparation – pulling together supplies, arming the team, pre-selecting battle locations, and more. He asks the tough questions, such as these regarding hand weapons:

“1. Can it crush a skull in one blow?

2. If not, can it decapitate in said blow?”

Readers will be riveted – and grateful later – to learn about the finer qualities of the trench spike (“without a doubt the best compact anti-zombie weapon on earth”) and to have some help thinking through whether a bank or a cemetery is the best public place to take a stand against the zombies. (Surprise! It’s the cemetery.) This information will be invaluable when you hear the moans of the hungry undead coming from the other side of your front door.

Wait! There’s More:

To be completely prepared for zombie attack, you should also be sure to read Max Brooks’ other amazing works, “The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks” (graphic novel) and “World War Z” (fiction).

Teen View:

“[Brooks] does make some very convincing points, if the world does become overrun by zombies. I’m interested mostly in the survival aspect, but I do find zombies interesting, such as how can zombies differentiate between humans and other zombies. Why don’t they feast on the rest of the zombies? It’s kind of a mindless animal, except that it once was human. There’s just a lot to consider.” – Edward, 18

Random Thought:

I once had the pleasure and honor of hosting an author event with Max Brooks at our library. He is charming, funny, and incredibly generous to his fans. The event was amazingly popular, with people clamoring to get in long after all 285 seats were full. Still, Max took the time to talk with and write a clever, personalize note inside the book of every person who stood in line for the signing. He was “on” until the last person was ushered from the auditorium. I did think he might drop over into a coma, though, before I could drive the two whole blocks back to his hotel. He gave everything he had to make it a wonderful, memorable night.

Awards/Honors:

  • None noted
 

“Zombies vs. Unicorns” compiled and edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black December 9, 2011

Larbalestier, Justine and Black, Holly (editors). Zombies vs. Unicorns. New York: Margaret K. Elderberry Books, 2010. 415 pages. ISBN: 9781416989530

Zombies vs Unicorns cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

Twelve beloved, extraordinary authors face off in alternating stories highlighting the perceived glories of super-cool zombies vs. pathetically perky unicorns. The clash of the mythical creatures is mediated by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black, who duke it out before the stories, each hoping to persuade the reader of the eternal dominance of Team Zombie vs. Team Unicorn.

Booktalk:

Really, half this book just isn’t even necessary. All right. All right. Authors like Garth Nix and Diana Peterfruend and Meg Cabot – I’m sure they’re good people. But the joined the wrong team, plain and simple.

The win clearly goes to Team Zombie, with six stories that really tease out the nuances of the (un)life of the zombie as well as life with zombies, demonstrating the wealth and depth of the contemporary zombie.

In “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Alaya Dawn Johnson shares the beauty of blossoming love between an enchanting living boy and a boy zombie. This love brings the zombie to a higher calling, the strength of their bond lending him a new level of restraint when it comes to flesh eating.

“Bougainvillea” by Carrie Ryan – set in a corner of the same world that shelters the stories of her Forest of Hands and Teeth series – shows how a zombie apocalypse survivor can really learn to rise to the occasion when set upon both by zombies and pirates.

“Children of the Revolution” by Maureen Johnson takes a unique view at zombie life from the inside, while “Inoculata” by Scott Westerfeld blends puberty, stirring sexuality, and teen angst with the continuous creeping pull of the zombie horde to devastating effect.

Cassandra Clare explores mixed living and undead marriage in her breakthrough “Cold Hands,” while a pair of high school student government officers-turned-anti-zombie police force patrol and try to keep up appearances in “Prom Night” by Libba Bray.

After all that, who needs Naomi Novik’s sarcastically incompetent unicorn from “Purity Test” or the creepy beastiality of Margo Lanagan’s “A Thousand Flowers” or Meg Cabot’s flower-smell farting, creeper-boy butt-kicking “Princess Prettypants?” They’re just unicorns, after all.

Zombies rule. Unicorns drool.

Awards/Honors (source: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Zombies-vs-Unicorns/Holly-Black/9781416989530):

  • School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
 

“Ashes” by Ilsa J. Bick December 8, 2011

Bick, Ilsa J. Ashes.New York: Egmont, 2011. 465 pages. ISBN: 9781606841754

Ashes cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

In an instant, the world changes, struck by an electromagnetic pulse that tears through the air, leaving some dead, some seemingly unaffected, and many turned to flesh-craving, wicked fast zombies. Alex, on a lonely hike when “The Zap” hits, must choose carefully who to trust among the survivors as she learns all the ways in which this massive upheaval will bring out the best and very, very worst in those left behind.

Booktalk:

Alex has already been through quite a lot in her short life. Her parents are dead – killed together in a horrible helicopter accident. Now, her own body has turned on her. An inoperable tumor is weaving itself into her brain, taking her memories, her sense of smell, and slowly, her life.

Denying that she has a specific plan, she has taken her parents ashes and a gun into the wilderness to say goodbye. She has just met up with Grandfather Jack and his surly 8-year-old granddaughter when all three, along with passing deer and the flock of crows overhead, are taken over by a strange, head-splitting sensation.

When it’s over, Jack is dead. The ground is littered with dead crows. The surly granddaughter is hysterical. And Alex is … better than she’s been in ages. She can remember her parents. She feels stronger. She can smell – almost too well.

Nothing makes sense since “The Zap,” least of all the others of her own age, who are now wandering the woods stinking of death, and driven by a maniacal hunger for human flesh. It soon becomes clear that nothing will ever be the same, almost no one can be trusted, and the struggle to survive will take everything Alex has got left.

Wait! There’s More:

Ashes is just book 1 of the Ashes trilogy. Shadows (Book 2) and Monsters (Book 3) are forthcoming.

Teen View (thoughts about zombies):

Planning how to survive in case of a zombie apocalypse is how Travis, 16, normally spends 7th period.

“I’m going to go to the mall and get some weapons because they have weapons at most malls. I’d want anything, really, swords, guns, crossbows. I prefer far-range weapons. Then, I’ll start running around to find a car and put some spikes on it and the take the car and start driving toward the most unpopulated area I can find. I’d take some food, but if I needed more food, I could always drive back and find a store.” Travis doesn’t seriously think the zombies will come. “We’re too well defended. I just like making fun of zombies,” he says. “It’s just interesting to consider how to survive.”

Awards:

None yet! This is a September 2011 release.