Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“The Story of Owen” by E.K. Johnston September 22, 2014

The Story of Owen cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

312 pages; published March 2014

The Basics

Siobhan is a gifted musician. Owen is the youngest in a line of famous Canadian dragon slayers. Siobhan enters his life as his algebra tutor, but soon finds she had really be recruited as his bard, charged with the task of helping change the way the small community of Trondheim and the world behind see the work of the dragon slayers who labor to save humanity from carbon-emission-and-people-eating dragons.

Booktalk

It’s not easy being a dragon slayer. Dragons are ruthless in their pursuit of carbon emissions and people are idiots about not only making the emissions, but about the dragon slayers during a battle. Lottie Thorskard–once the most famous dragon slayer in Canada and maybe the world–paid a terrible price for the shortcomings of others. Now, she is determined the things will be different for her nephew, Owen, dragon slayer-in-training and high school students struggling in algebra. Using algebra as a cover, Lottie arranges for Owen to take on a bard, Siobhan, with the idea that she will use her considerable musical talents to shine a positive light on the world of the dragon slayer. Siobhan, Owen, Lottie, and the entire community of Trondheim are in for more danger and excitement that any of them could have imagined.

Random Thoughts

  • This book is droll and clever, but not quite as action-filled as I thought it might be for a book about humans battling dragons. On the other hand, the characters are completely charming and the social commentary is pointed and biting. It is more of a thinking person’s action/adventure.
  • Owen’s aunts, Lottie and Hannah, may be my favorite literary couple this year so far. I simply adored them both.

But Wait, There’s More!

The Story of Owen is book 1 in The Dragon Slayer of Trondheim series. Prairie Fire is due out sometime in 2015.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Smart readers with sophisticated senses of humor
  • Teens who want a little climate change allegory mixed into their adventure stories
  • People who want a teen book with no romance, but a true¬†mixed-gender friendship
  • Aspiring writers who want to read something deliciously crafted
 

“Strange Sweet Song” by Adi Rule September 21, 2014

Strange Sweet Song cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

336 pages; published March 2014

The Basics

Promising soprano Sing de Navelli follows the footsteps of her famous parents to the remote Dunhammond Conservatory and finds herself nearly undone by the gothic atmosphere and dark mysteries that surround her.

Booktalk

For soprano Sing da Navelli, every corner of Dunhammond Conservatory contains a challenge: the legacy of her famous dead mother; the demands of her famous live father; the fury of her rival; and the mystery of her dark and moody vocal coach. Overshadowing all is the legend of the Felix, a great cat-like beast lurking in the woods beyond the conservatory ready to alternately tear out the throat or grant the deepest wish of any who approach. Doubting her own talent and struggling to find her place in the musical landscape, Sing is pulled ever deeper into timeless secrets.

Random Thoughts

  • This is a quite odd mixture of contemporary fiction blended with gothic, magical, and paranormal elements. The result is unusual, but so enjoyable.
  • It is always unwise to compete with your own dead mother.

I’ll Recommend This to …

  • Fans of fantasy and paranormal stories who want more than just a romance
  • Teen writers who are looking for examples of beautiful prose
  • Readers who are also musicians
 

“Are You Experienced?” by Jordan Sonnenblick September 17, 2013

Are You Experienced? cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

304 pages; published September 2013

The Basics

Frustrated high school student Rich learns more than he bargained for about his old, fuddy-duddy father when a magical electric guitar sends him back in time to attend Woodstock alongside his then-teen-aged father.

The Booktalk

Rich has some special talents. He’s a great guitar player. He’s learning to maneuver around his over-protective parents. And he’s really, really good at getting in trouble with his father.

After the biggest blow-up yet, Rich breaks into his father’s study to play a single chord on an electric guitar hidden there – a chord which transports him through time and space to spend three days at the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, the 1969 weekend of music and hippie love now famously known just as Woodstock. Stranger still, Rich will attend with his then-15-year-old father and his doomed 18-year-old uncle, desperate to forge a crucial connection between them and the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

I’ll Recommend This Book To …

  • Fans of Jordan Sonnenblick because I’m a fan and that’s why I gobbled it up as soon as it was published. He delivered again!
  • Older middle and younger high school-aged readers (particularly boys) looking for an interesting adventure story
  • Musicians and rock-n-roll history enthusiasts
  • Kids who think their parents were always as old as they are now

 

 

“Chopsticks” by Jessica Anthony, illustrated by Rodrigo Corral May 19, 2012

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Graphic Novel,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 7:25 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Chopsticks book cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

272 pages; published February 2012

The Basics

Told in the format of an extraordinarily detailed scrapbook, Chopsticks explores the mental deterioration of Glory, a teen-aged piano prodigy who has lost touch with her life and her gift in the wake of her mother’s death.

Booktalk

Glory is a piano prodigy, pushed relentlessly onto the world stage by her father. Glory is a grieving teen, missing her mother. Glory is in love, with Frank, the rebellious boy who moves in next door. Glory is lost in her mind, stuck in the repeating pattern of playing Chopsticks over and over and over. Now, Glory has disappeared.

This is a beautiful story and a beautiful book. Absent any traditional text, Glory’s story is laid out in photos, pictures, letters, news clippings, screen shots of texts, graffiti, postcards, grade reports, letters and more. The reader is pulled into the heart of the story, leafing through Glory’s family albums, reading her most heartfelt letters, viewing Frank’s dark, angry artwork. The experience is both lovely and sad.