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.”


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.



“Far From You” by Lisa Schroeder December 24, 2012

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Poetry,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 11:13 am
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Far From You cover

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The Facts

355 pages; published December 2008

The Basics

Alice misses her mom – who died of cancer a few years ago – and resents the heck out of her new stepmother, the father who has re-focused on his new wife, and now the baby they’ve decided to add to the family. All her emotional turmoil comes to a head when she gets trapped in a snowstorm with her stepmother and half-sister. Suddenly, survival is more important than anything.


Lisa Schroeder tells a riveting, emotion-packed story in simple, pared down concrete poetry. She explores the experience of Alice, who is feeling badly out of sorts. Despite having a new boyfriend, a best friend, and a loving (if distracted) father, she is almost completely overwhelmed by the loss of her mother. Then, things start to go really wrong. Her friend gets tired of her maudlin obsession. Her father and stepmother have a new baby, leaving her feeling like she doesn’t have a place in her own home. And then, on a road trip from California to Seattle, the unthinkable happens. She, her half-sister, and her step mother get stranded in a snow storm. Faced with a true life-or-death situation, Alice finds herself able to see her loved ones – living and dead – in a new way.

Random Thought

I’m not a poetry fan and tend to be leery of stories told in poetic form, but I found this concrete poetic narrative both engaging and memorable.


“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.


YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)

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


“The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys” by Scott William Carter October 31, 2011

Carter, Scott William. The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. 202 pp. ISBN: 9791416971566

Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys cover

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Sucked in by an old friend, nerdy, under-the-radar Charlie Hill suddenly find himself on a wild road trip, trying to reconnect with his absent father and face his own worries about the future.


Charlie Hill is having an epically bad day. Somehow, he doesn’t even know how, he is being called out for inviting the prettiest girl in school to the prom – the prettiest girl who happens to be dating the nastiest bully around. Charlie Hill is a grade-A nerd with no hope of getting that date anyway and he knows it, but that won’t stop Leo Gonzalez from ripping his face off. Just as Leo catches him, just as Charlie realizes he is about to become “human pulp,” he is rescued by an old friend. Charlie hasn’t talked to Jake Tucker since they had a falling out over a broken Game Boy in the 4th grade. Yet, here he is, driving a fancy red Mustang recently stolen from the high school principal and offering Charlie a ride and a way out.

“There are moments when your life spins on a wheel, when the choices you make forever change the person you are and the person you will become. I could stay and get pulverized by Leo and his friends, or I could escape in the Mustang only to meet my certain doom later at the hands of Mr. Harkin. Leo’s fist now, or Harkin’s wrath later – which was worse? Looking back, it seems like there might have been other options available to me, but those were the only two roads I could see.

I got in the car.”

That’s how the Water Balloon Boys begin their last great getaway.

Charlie’s choice takes him father than he could ever have imagined – on a wild road trip from Oregon to Denver, face-to-face with his anger at the father who left him, his rejection of Jake, and his disgust with himself. When the road makes its final turn, Charlie is plunged terror, tragedy, and a terrible choice that makes all the difference – for everyone.

Random thought:

This would be a great book to recommend to Victoria, 13. Victoria looks for high-action books. Her favorite book recently was Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam, which was a really exciting book about a kid who is an escape artist. When his mother goes to jail because they think she killed his father, Max has to run away and follow up on some information he gets that his dad might really be alive. Victoria likes books to be realistic with a lot going on. “If the book is just going along and nothing is really happening, I just stop reading.” I bet she wouldn’t stop reading Scott William Carter’s high-action story!

Awards/Honors (source:

Winner, 2011 OregonBook Award for Young Adult Literature

Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2011