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

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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.


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:

  • 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
  • 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.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green January 15, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:20 am
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The Fault in Our Stars cover

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The Facts

313 pages; published January 2012

The Basics

Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters first connect when they both find the humor in their cancer support group meeting in a church basement. Together, they irreverently explore the impact of cancer, pursue big answers from the author of Hazel’s favorite book, and find humor and even beauty in the darkest of moments.


I came late to this book and I’m so sorry it took me so long to open it an fall head over heels in love with terminally ill Hazel Grace Lancaster and Cancer Kids friends. Hazel is hilariously irreverent from the first page – about her own crap lungs that force her to drag an oxygen tank everywhere, about the cancer support group that only makes it all worse, about the friend whose cancer leaves him blind, and about the wonderful, hot, one-legged cancer survivor Augustus Waters who seeks to woo her.

I was all in on this one by the end of the first paragraph because Hazel’s voice is so honest and so wry and so, so funny about things that ought not to be funny. Dark is my favorite kind of humor. But who could resist observations like this from the middle of a Cancer Support Group Meeting, “Like, I realize this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent change of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five … so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.”

Hazel is also obsessed with a book about a cancer kid – a pretentious-sounding novel called A Imperial Affliction, the only novel of a now-complete hermit living in Amsterdam which ends in the middle of a sentence with all plot points dangling. Her desire to know what happens next elevates to near obsession and spurs a epic quest.

The book, like life, is not orderly, tidy, or predictable, but it is wonderful.

Random Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to read this book since it came out, but life is messy, right? Then, “they” all started saying this was the best YA book of 2012. I haven’t read them all, but I do think “they” are right – for once. I would even be so bold as to predict that The Fault in Our Stars will be one of those books that endure and find a place on YA shelves for enough years to be elevated to the status of “classic.”

Awards/Honors (so far …)

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • #9 The Bookseller (UK) bestseller
  • #1 Indiebound bestseller
  • New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
  • Starred reviews from Booklist, SLJ, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn Book, and Kirkus
  • Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction (2012)
  • ALA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee (2012)

“Across the Universe” by Beth Revis October 6, 2012

Across the Universe

Images courtesy of

The Facts

416 pages; published January 2011.

The Basics

Amy is frozen cargo on a spaceship, taking a 300-year journey from our tattered earth to a potential new world. When she is awakened 50 years too soon, she finds herself trapped and alone in heavily controlled society where the people don’t seem quite right. Her only hope seems to be Elder, the leader-in-training of the ship, and Harley, who is considered crazy because he is an artist, not a drone.


Amy wasn’t even sure, not really, that she even wanted to go on this trip. But her parents were going and she couldn’t consider a life without them. So she took off her clothes and stepped into the glass box and let them do that they had to do – push blue goo into her veins, drown her in sparkly blue water – to freeze her for the 300-year journey that would take her family away from an earth where everything is falling apart to the promise of a new planet, a new earth where she and her parents will help rebuild a new, better world. But now, she’s waking up and she doesn’t know why and she’s drowning and can’t breathe and even though she’s rescued, she finds that it’s just her. Only she has been unfrozen. It’s 50 years too soon and there’s something wrong on this ship.

Elder is just a boy, the youngest in his generation and the man destined to lead the people who live on this spaceship. Elder is to learn what he will need to know to be a good leader from Eldest, the current leader, but Eldest is holding back. Eldest is keeping secrets and just wants everyone to obey him.

When Elder meets Amy, his assumptions about how things should work on the ship are challenged as Amy sees the society that has developed on board through the eyes of one who lived life free, under the true sun and in the fresh air.

Wait! There’s more:

The next book in this series, A Million Suns, was released in early 2011Shades of Earth is due out January 2013!

Awards/Honors (source:

  • New Yorks Times Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #7!
  • Indie Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #15!
  • Selected as an Amazon Book of the Month: January 2011
  • Featured on the Indie Next List: January 2011
  • Featured as a GoodReads Mover & Shaker
  • Recipient of the Romantic Times Seal of Excellence
  • Long-listed for the prestigious Carnegie Medal (UK)
  • Nominated for Book of the Year and Best YA Futuristic title from Romantic Times
  • Selected as a Texas Libraries (TAYSHAS) reading list
  • YALSA Reader’s Choice nomination

“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
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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

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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.


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.


  • None noted

“The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan December 7, 2011

Ryan, Carrie. The Forest of Hands and Teeth. New York: Delacorte Press, 2009. 310 pages. ISBN: 9780385736817

The Forest of Hands and Teeth cover

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Mary lives in a village totally controlled by the Sisterhood, a religious order, and trapped by the thousands of hungry undead who live in the forest surrounding the community. Yet, she longs for the ocean she learned of in stories from her mother during her childhood and can’t give up the notion that there may be something out there for her beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth.


Even as her world is coming apart, Mary cannot resist the pull of the forbidden.

Her father is already gone, bitten and pulled away into the vast sea of the moaning, hungry, living dead Unconsecrated who surround her village. Her mother, distraught with grief and love, soon follows, leaving Mary with the stories she has told about a mythical ocean and world beyond the village.

Mary’s brother, in anger, abandons her, leaving her with no choice but to join the Sisterhood that controls all life in the village. There, Mary finds herself assigned to help with the care of a childhood friend who has been badly injured. Even as she knows he is promised to another, she falls deeply and desperately in love. Then she too is chosen for marriage – by her beloved’s brother and finds herself cornered by tradition and expectations and other people’s desires.

Just as she is feeling most trapped, the Unconsecrated break through the fences protecting the village and she escapes with her betrothed, her beloved, her best friend, and her brother as everything they have ever known disintegrates behind them.

Driven by her dreams and hopes about the ocean, Mary drives herself and her companions through an ancient protected path to face what is to come from The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Wait! There’s More:

This is only the first book in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series. Also look for The Dead-Tossed Waves (2010) and The Dark and Hollow Places (2011).

Teen View (courtesy of YouTube):

Awards/Honors (source:

  • A New York Times Best Seller
  • A Junior Library Guild selection
  • An ALA Best Books for Young Adults selection
  • Named to the 2010 New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age List
  • A Borders Original Voices finalist
  • #4 on the IndieBound Kids’ Indie Next List for Spring 2009
  • A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
  • Selected for the 2010-2011 Texas Library Association TAYSHAS High School Reading list
  • A Denver Public Library Best Teen Books of 2009 selection
  • Nominated for the North Carolina School Library Media Association Young Adult Book Award
  • Nominated for the 2010-2011 Georgia Peach Book Award