Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Thirteen Days to Midnight” by Patrick Carman February 6, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:03 am
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Thirteen Days to Midnight cover

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The Facts

304 pages; published April 2010

The Basics

Jacob is grieving for his adoptive father, who died when their car crashed into a tree. But he also has other things on his mind – a beautiful new girl at school, his best friend, the future – and the very odd fact that nothing seems to be able to cause him any physical harm since his father, just before the crash, whispered, “You are indestructible.”

Booktalk

It’s a simple question: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

But there are downsides to every superpower, aren’t there? If you could fly, would you be able to learn to control your ability before smashing yourself into a building? If you could read minds, what would you do when you heard things you didn’t want to know? If you had invisibility, would you have to be naked all the time for it to work?

What if you were indestructible? What if nothing could hurt you and you simply couldn’t die? Is there a downside to that? Jacob Fielding is about to find out. It would seem his adoptive father has given him this power – passed it along just before his own death. But cheating death is a tricky thing and not without consequence. With no one to help him understand how the power works, what will Jacob do and who will it put in harm’s way?

Random Thoughts

This book was exciting and interesting, made more so for me because it was set in the author’s hometown, which made it local for me. It’s not a common setting, so it was a nice touch.

 

 

“Matched” by Ally Condie November 23, 2012

Matched cover

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The Facts

369 pages; published November 2010

The Basics

Everything in Cassia’s world is controlled by The Society and Cassia is a model citizen, living by the rules. She is excited to find out who has been chosen as her Match. But she’s not ready for what happens. Her microchip shows her not one, but two boys. The Society never makes mistakes, but they have this time – and it is a mistake that throws Cassia into a wild tailspin.

Booktalk

Cassia lives in a world where everything is decided by The Society – what she reads, the art she sees, the music she listens to, what she does at school, what she eats, how she exercises, where she will work. They even monitor her dreams. Now, on her 16th birthday, The Society has used carefully statistical analysis to determine who Cassia should marry – which boy is her Match. But when she is shown not one, but two options, Cassia’s clear, simple life path becomes jumbled and confused. Although she is told sweet, safe Xander is the one she is really meant to Match with, she finds herself drawn to Ky, whose dark and mysterious past is the source of much intrigue. The pot is stirred further when her grandfather encourages mild subversion, sneaking her a copy of a poem not in the approved 100. Cassia finds herself wondering – for the first time in her life – whether The Society really knows best.

Random Thought

I’m not the biggest fan of romance and page after page of girls mooning over boys, but I was riveted by many of the ideas of The Society. In order to combat all the chaos and noise of life in the “old world” (ours), The Society chose 100 songs, 100 books, 100 poems, 100 pieces of art and they have become what is. Nothing new is created or permitted. Also, everyone in The Society dies at 80 and the discussion of that dictum was though-provoking to say the least.

Wait! There’s More

This is the first in a trilogy that is now complete with Crossed (2011) and Reached (2012).

Awards/Honors (source: GoodReads.com)

  • Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
  • Teen Buckeye Book Award Nominee (2012)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)
 

“Girl, Stolen” by April Henry November 4, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:00 am
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Girl, Stolen cover

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The Facts

213 pages; published December 2010

The Basics

It’s a fast-paced thriller about a blind girl accidentally kidnapped when her step-mother’s car is stolen. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she’s just been diagnosed with pneumonia. There is a lot going on in this short, exciting tale as Cheyenne develops an interesting relationship with the trying-to-be-a-tough-guy boy who stole her away.

The Booktalk

It’s a cold night. Cheyenne – sick and feverish from pneumonia – begs her step-mother to leave the car on with the heat running. Her step-mother will only be away for a minute to get medicine inside the pharmacy. But it’s a terrible minute for Cheyenne when a man steals and drives away with her inside. He doesn’t even see her there until Cheyenne starts screaming. And she can’t see him because Cheyenne is blind.

As both become panicked and confused, the thief, Griffin, – a teen little older than Cheyenne – drives her to his remote home. When Griffin’s brutal father and his henchmen make a key discovery about Cheyenne, the situation goes from bad to worse forcing Griffin the kidnapper into the role of Cheyenne’s only hope for survival.

Awards/Honors

YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)

Fan Trailer – the end is awesome – wait for it!

 

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan October 1, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,GLBTQ,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:15 pm
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Will Grayson Will Grayson cover

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The Basics

304 pages; published April 2010

The Facts

Written in alternating chapters, two suburban Chicago high schoolers – both named Will Grayson – are just trying to figure things out. Evanston Will Grayson is trying to understand why he has ended up with Tiny Cooper – alarmingly huge and fabulously gay – as a best friend. Naperville Will Grayson is just sort of disgusted with everyone and afraid to admit that he’s gay. When they meet by chance, everyone is surprised at where they’re headed next.

Booktalk

Meet Will Grayson from Evanston, Illinois. He recently went from having a Group of Friends to only 1 real friend after publicly defending his huge, gay (and hugely gay) friend in a letter to the editor. Which he now kind of regrets signing. Meet Will Grayson from Naperville, Illinois. He’s kind of angry and surly and really doesn’t want anyone to know he’s gay. So, he mostly avoids everybody, except Isaac, who he knows only through online chats.

Now – Will Grayson, meet Will Grayson. A series of strange circumstances (none of them what you’d think) have led them to the same adult shop in Chicago where they first encounter one another, then find themselves caught up in parallel quests for love and the production of the biggest, gayest high school musical ever to hit Chicago.

Awards/Honors (source: Goodreads.com)

  • Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel (2010)
  • Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor Book (2011)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010)
  • Children’s Choice Book Award for Teen Choice Book of the Year (2011)
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
  • Stonewall Award Honor Book (2011)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award: Illinois’ High School Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2013)

 

 

“After Ever After” by Jordan Sonnenblick April 3, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:39 am
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After Ever After cover

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The Facts

272 pages; published February 2010; sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

The Basics

Jeffrey is a cancer survivor who will need all his reserves to now survive what middle school is about to toss his way. Along with his best friend, also a cancer survivor, he has to figure out how to get along now that his older brother has gone off to Africa to learn drumming, what to do about the girl he like who kind of might also like him, and how to deal with the new high-stakes test that make might it impossible for him to get past 8th grade.

Book Talk

Middle school sucks. It sucks more when you’re a pudgy cancer survivor with a limp. And you just found out that the brother you worship basically resents you – so much that he went to Africa to get away from you. And you can’t figure out how to behave around a cute girl (who can?). And your best friend is also a cancer survivor who is surly and weird and stuck in a wheelchair. Then school administration wants to give you a really hard test that makes the difference between passing 8th grade and not passing 8th grade, and math doesn’t make sense anymore because of something that changed in your brain during chemotherapy, so you know you’ll fail the test. And now everyone is just acting weird and you don’t know what to do.

Random Thought

Given the premise, I wouldn’t have thought this would be a funny book, but it’s really funny. Jeffrey tells his story in first person and knows how to find macabre humor in his situation. I was completely charmed.

 

 

“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

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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
 

“My So-Called Death” by Stacey Jay December 6, 2011

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Mystery,Young Adult,Zombies/Undead — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:33 am
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Jay, Stacey. My So-Called Death. Woodbury, Minn.: Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Publications, 2010. 229 pages. ISBN: 9780738715438

My So-Called Death cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

A hard fall off the top of a cheer pyramid knocks Karen Vera into another world. Turns out, she’s genetically indisposed toward death. So, instead of planning a funeral, her parents ship her off to DEAD High where a fellow zombie with a taste for other zombie brains is about to make everything very interesting indeed.

Booktalk:

I thought I was on top of the world. After all, I was a 14-year-old cute, blonde cheerleader who out-perkied even the perkiest of other cheerleaders. But it turns out, I was only on top of the cheer pyramid and that pyramid was about to collapse. So, you would think once I fell headfirst from the top of the heap onto the pavement below and most of my brains fell pretty much clean out of my head that that would be the end of my story, right?

Well, you’d be wrong. Apparently, I’m immortal. Not the cool kind of super-power immortal, but the kind that craves brains and has to follow a skin-care regimen to avoid rot. (Ew, gross.) They like to call it death challenged, but basically, I’m a zombie now so I have to ditch my family and go to a special zombie school and if my totally freaky zombie roommate wasn’t bad enough – yikes! Now someone is prying the brains out of other zombie’s heads to make some kind of super-stew. And I’m totally afraid it might be Gavin, the super-cute zombie from the swim team who makes my non-beating heart go pitter-pat.

I have just got to get to the bottom of this. I don’t want someone stealing my brain before I even kiss my first zombie boyfriend and really start to enjoy “My So-Called Death.”

Awards:

None noted