Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Erebos” by Ursula Poznanski April 22, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,Science Fiction,Thriller — hilariouslibrarian @ 9:01 pm
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Erebos cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

440 pages; January 2012

The Basics

Erebos is a video game.  Players must make a vow of silence about the game to earn the secret disc. Once they enter Erebos, they find a game so amazing, so realistic, and so responsive, it is instantly addictive. But as they go deeper, they find they are not only watching the game on their screen, it is also watching them.

Book Talk

Imagine the very best video game you’ve ever played – great graphics, big adventure, totally cool. Erebos is better. Sure, you have to promise to always play it alone. And you’re never allowed to talk about it outside the game. But it’s worth it. No game has ever seemed so real – or seemed to know so much about you. Yet you can only play once. Ever. If you die in the game, you’re out.

Nick and his classmates are desperate to stay in the game, desperate to survive – so desperate that they accept the help of the yellow-eyed Messenger who controls the game and controls their fate. He has tasks for the players to perform to earn new life when their characters are almost out. When the tasks move from the game to the real world, Nick starts to suspect there is something more to Erebos – something that may be dark and dangerous.

Random Thought

Skillfully translated from German, this book is beyond exciting. I read the final 150 pages in a single sitting because I was so desperate to know what was really going on. I would never have imagined what it was.

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“Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow November 25, 2011

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. New York: Tor, 2008. 365 pp. ISBN: 0765319853

Little Brother cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

Seventeen-year-old Marcus Yallow is accused, tortured, and targeted by the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack rips throughSan Francisco. Innocent and angry, he finds his techno-geek hacker skills and personal convictions lead him into a showdown in the name of freedom he never could have imagined.

Booktalk:

I have a question for you – what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

We all have moments when we’re brave, but I’m here to say that none of you has ever been as brave as Marcus Yallow is about to be.

Five days ago, Marcus’ city was attacked by terrorists. Thousands died. Marcus – a techno-geek hacker who was skipping school to play an Internet game – was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was arrested. He was tortured. Now, he has been returned home and they’re tracking his every move.

They’re tracking everyone’s every move. The Department of Homeland Security is tapping phones, filming, and listening in every way they can. They’re pulling people over. Shaking people down. Making some disappear. Marcus finds himself driven by the words of the Declaration of Independence.

“Government are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

A solemn vow drives Marcus to declare a war of his own – on invasion of privacy, on intimidation, and on threats to freedom. Ignoring his fears about being tortured again – or worse – Marcus tunes up his tech tools and takes action.

Can you imagine it? What would it be like to fight against your own government to save the country you love?

Awards/Honors (source: http://us.macmillan.com/littlebrother/CoryDoctorow):

  •  Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
  • Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008)
  • John W. Campbell Memorial Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel (2009)
  • Emperor Norton Award (2008)
  • Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2009)
  • Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010)
  • Florida Teen Read Nominee (2009)
 

“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

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

Annotation:

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.”

Booktalk:

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: http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=1083):

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