Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“There is No Dog” by Meg Rosoff May 1, 2012

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:19 am
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There is No Dog cover

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The Basics

256 pages; published January 2012

The Facts

The universal powers made a big mistake when they chose Bob – a lazy, selfish 19-year-old whiner – to be the God of the new planet Earth. He couldn’t be bothered to work more than six days on the creation project, and has since pretty much loafed around leaving all the management and administration to his long-suffering, but steady assistant, Mr. B. After thousands of years of Bob’s increasingly bad behavior, the situation is catastrophic and Mr. B. has had about enough.

Book Talk

It’s going to be a long summer. God, aka truculent, over-sexed 19-year-old Bob, is in love. His outpouring of uncontrolled emotion is affecting the weather in the worst way. Between the wild temperature shifts, the torrential downpours, and flooding, his creations are really suffering. But Bob is using to leaving all that relief of suffering and prayer answering work to his assistant, Mr. B. Meanwhile, Bob is busy pursuing Lucy, a delightful assistant zookeeper who stays just enough out of his grasp to keep him interested. A kindly vicar is pining equally for Lucy’s mother. Mr. B wants out entirely. All the while, Bob’s only pet – the last of the Ecks – is suffering a catastrophe of his own having been gambled away by Bob’s flaky mother who has promised he’ll make good eatin’. And what is to be done about the whales?

Random Thoughts

This book is pretty weird, all in all, but it is entertaining and raises at least a few interesting questions about what kind of God would allow “all this” to happen to Earth.


“Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow November 25, 2011

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

Little Brother cover

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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.


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:

  •  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)

“Airhead” by Meg Cabot November 11, 2011

Filed under: Chick Lit,Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:32 am
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Cabot, Meg. Airhead. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2008. 337 pp. ISBN: 0545040523

Airhead cover

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Emerson Watts, honors student, devoted gamer, and unfashionable as they come, reluctantly agrees to attend the opening of the Stark Megastore where supermodel Nikki Howard will be appearing. A terrible accident involving a falling flat screen and a mysterious brain transplant institute link the two forever, forcing Emerson to step into Nikki Howard’s complex life.


“Well, you’d probably have screamed, too, if the face you saw looking back at you from a mirror belonged to someone else. Not just someone else, but someone whose face happened to be plastered on magazines and the sides of buses and phone booths all over town. Wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of panties.”

In one horrible moment, the tomboyish, college-focused, gaming devotee Emerson Watts figures out what’s been bugging her every since she woke up in a hospital room after the accident. Somehow, Emerson’s brain – her thoughts, memories, personality, and world view – have ended up trapped inside the body of a mega-famous super-model who was walking by back then – when the flat screen TV came off the wall and came crashing down. Like Emerson’s world is crashing down, now that she doesn’t have her own face and has become the very thing, the exact type of girl she most hates. Now what’s she supposed to do? And what’s the deal with all these hot guys wanting to kiss her all of a sudden?

Wait! There’s More:

This is only the beginning of Emerson’s adventure. The story continues in Being Nikki (2009) and Runway (2010).

Awards/Honors (source:

  • A New York Times Children’s Chapter Book Best Seller
  • CosmoGIRL! Magazine’s May Pick for its online book club
  • A Teen Choice Book Award Finalist for the Children’s Book Council
  • A selection on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age, 2009
  • A YALSA nominee for the 2010 Popular Paperback in the “Bodies” category

“The God Box” by Alex Sanchez November 7, 2011

Sanchez, Alex. The God Box. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. 248 pp. ISBN: 1416908994


Paul is already struggling to resolve his growing passion for men with the anti-homosexual teachings of his church. When Manuel moves to town and enrolls in the local high school, Paul is confronted head-on with the idea of someone who is openly gay and a committed Christian.

(Original Animoto created by Sonja Somerville using photos from Microsoft Office.)

The God Box cover

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Paul keeps a God Box on his desk. On the lid is the Serenity Prayer. Inside, he places his most fervent prayers, giving his problems over to the Lord.

“Please help me pass my math test tomorrow.”

“Give me strength for my cross-country race today.”

“Help my Abuelita as she goes into gallstone surgery. Don’t take her from me like you took my Mama.”

“Help my father’s sliced tendon heal. He needs to work and be strong so he won’t back to drinking.”

“Please find a job for my girlfriend’s father close to home. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

But the prayer he has made most often – the prayer that God has never answered – begs God to take away his attraction to boys, to allow his real love for Angie to grow until it includes the kind of passion Paul feels when he kisses a boy in his dreams.

Enter Manuel, new to school in their senior year. He’s a devoted Christian. He’s a nice guy. And handsome. And openly, comfortably, joyfully gay.

Paul knows being gay is wrong. His church has taught him it is unnatural and a guarantee of an eternity in hell. Yet, he can’t stay away from Manuel. Through long talks about the same Bible verses that have always told Paul to run from his feelings, he become more and more confused about what may and may not fit inside “The God Box.”

Awards/Honors (source:

  • New York Public Library 2008 “Book for the Teen Age”

“Forever” by Judy Blume October 2, 2011

Filed under: Classics,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:33 am
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Blume, Judy. Forever. New York: Simon Pulse, 1975. 192 pp. ISBN: 1416934006

Forever cover

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Katherine isn’t the kind of girl who has a boyfriend in high school, until she meets Michael and plunges into a special love she is sure will last forever. Michael is caring and sweet, and very much wants to take this relationship all the way.

This story is beautiful and timeless in its simplicity. A girl meets a boy and loves the boy. He fills her whole world and together, they enter into a sexual relationship. They promise each other that what they have found is forever. However, after some time apart, they both learn what so many have learned before them – forever is a very long time.

Blume’s writing flows easily. Part of the enduring appeal of the book is that Katherine’s first love is a good one. Aside from a few spats and misunderstandings, nothing goes wrong. She is sweet to Michael. He is good to her. It is an accurate portrayal of how love can wash over a person and carry them away. There is a life lesson in the flow of the story, but it is gently rolled out and does not take away from the joy the characters find in their plunge into romance.

Awards/Honors (source:

  • Margaret A. Edwards Award, 1996