Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Nine Days” by Fred Hiatt September 22, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Multi-Cultural,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:45 am
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Nine Days cover

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The Facts

256 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

Ethan – a high school student with a lively interest in Chinese culture and politics – befriends Ti-Anna, a fellow student and daughter of a prominent expatriate Chinese dissident. When Ti-Anna’s father first travels to Hong Kong and then goes missing, Ethan and Ti-Anna make the wild decision to run away to Hong Kong to find him.


What would you do if your father was missing? How far would you go to save him?

Ti-Anna, whose father is famous for speaking out against the Chinese government, already has a lot to worry about. She confides in her best friend, Ethan, that she knows the Chinese are watching her father, even though he has moved to the United States. As they become close friends, Ethan’s interest in China and in Ti-Anna grows. Despondent one day, Ti-Anna reveals that her father is missing. He traveled to Hong Kong hoping to advance his anti-government cause and never returned. The family’s few contacts in Hong Kong will not talk by phone or e-mail. The only way to help, Ti-Anna says, would be to go to Hong Kong.

Ethan latches onto her desperation and hatches a plan that takes them halfway around the world and into a situation far more frightening and complex than either is ready for.

Random Thoughts

I very much appreciated that Fred Hiatt doesn’t rely on silly devices like teen characters with near super-powers or access to fantastic resources. The only extraordinary powers Ethan and Ti-Anna have are determination and devotion.

I’ll Recommend This Book To …

  • Adventure and action seekers
  • Youth interested in China and other Asian cultures
  • Parents who are worried about sex and language; this one is squeaky clean

“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer March 20, 2012

Cinder coverThe Facts:

Published January 2012; 387 pages; #1 in the Lunar Chronicles series

The Basics:

Cinder is a cyborg, considered subclass in New Bejing where people are mainly preoccupied with two things – the upcoming Imperial Ball and the plague which is ravaging the population. A talent mechanic, Cinder finds herself face to face with the prince, seeking a fix for his nannybot. She soon finds herself wrapped up in his attempts to avoid being conquered by the moon-based Lunar forces, find a cure for the plague, and find a date for the ball.

The Review:

Cinder packs in a lot of excitement in 387 pages, with friends and family afflicted with the plague, people with secret identities all over the place, all manner of mechanized things to fix, Lunar forces bearing down, and a prince chasing her all over town. Cinder’s prince is allow far more personality than the original Prince Charming and is one of the most pleasing characters in the book. Her wicked stepmother is really awful, even happily selling Cinder to science so they can kill her off as a plague test subject. Cinder is clever and smart, which adds to her appeal. One problem is that the book ends before anything has really happened. A lot of things start to happen, but it’s a long, complicated lead up to the final page and the promise that something will happen in book 2. Still, it’s entertaining and the attempt to re-cast Cinderella is fun and appealing.


“Hikaru No Go” (Volume 1) by Yumi Hotta November 23, 2011

Hotta, Yumi (author). Obata, Takeshi (artist). Hikaru No Go, Volume 1. San Francisco: Shonen Jump, 2006. 187 pages. ISBN: 159116222x.

Hikaru No Go Vol 1 cover

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Hikaru is an average kind of 12-year-old boy, more interested in sports than in school and not interested at all in ancient Chinese history. His life changes when he finds a blood-stained Go board and becomes inhabited by the spirit of a long-ago Go master who is still seeking a way to play his beloved game and – someday perhaps – the “Divine Move.”


Does anyone here care about Go? Do you even know what Go is?

Well, it’s an ancient Chinese game that is like chess – played with black and white pieces on a square grid. If you don’t know anything about it, you’re a lot like Hikaru. He’s a 12-year-old Chinese boy who just found an old, old Go board with blood on it. He doesn’t even know what the board is for. But he’s the only one who can see the blood, so he has some kind of connection with what’s inside.

Can you image what is inside this old block of wood? Only the spirit of Sai, a Go master from the Heian Period (that’s 794-1185 in China). When Hikaru sees the blood, that’s the signal for Sai to come out of the Go board and take over part of Hikaru’s consciousness. Soon, Hikaru find himself spending time in Go parlors and playing against master Go players, with Sai telling him how. He friends start to think he’s crazy. The Go players can’t figure him out.

Hikaru hates Go, but there is something about the intensity of these players that makes him think. Maybe he can understand why Sai would wait even beyond death, hoping for a chance to experience the ultimate moment in Go – the play of the “Divine Move.”

Wait! There’s More:

If you get hooked on this fast and funny story, good news! There are a total of 23 volumes to enjoy.

Teen View:

“I love this series. Even though I didn’t understand it at first because I don’t know anything about Go, I totally realized, ‘This is amazing.’ It really explains what’s important in the game and I love the characters, especially Sai because he gets really involved and yells at Hikaru and he’s so into it. It’s amazing.” – Catrina, age 15, major Manga enthusiast

Awards/Honors (source:

  • Shogakukan Manga Award in 2000
  • Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2003 (series)