Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver August 26, 2013

Filed under: Dystopian,Fiction — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:53 am
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Delirium cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Basics

441 pages; published February 2011

The Basics

Lena is eager to turn 18. She is thrilled that she is nearly old enough to undergo the procedure that will free her from the threat of the worst disease of all – love. But before she can be cured of amor deliria nervosa, she will live one last summer as an uncured. And she will meet Alex, who has hair the color of autumn leaves. And what she learns from him and about him changes everything.

Review

Lauren Oliver has built an amazing world around the idea that love – with it’s ability to take over mind and body, to interfere with rational thought – is a terrible disease which can now be “cured” by a simple procedure which has become mandatory for all citizens age 18 and older. Oliver’s textured writing pulls the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of a Lena’s existence. Quotes from the new society’s bible, the book of SHHH (Safety, Health, and Happiness Handbook) add memorably amusing twists on current Biblical wisdom, folklore, and culture.

Spirited and bright, Lena nonetheless craves the cure because it will save her from the humiliating fate suffered by her mother – someone for whom the cure failed three times before her mother restored to suicide rather than be “cured” again. She is fully prepared to move forward on her birthday, 95 days in the future, until she meets Alex. Their explosive romance is so fervently written, it is impossible not to hope that love will find a way.

Wait! There’s more …

Delirium is just the first in a delicious and exciting trilogy which finishes with Pandemonium (February 2012) and Requiem (March 2013). Other companion stories have been e-published for devoted fans.

Awards & Honors (source: www.laurenoliverbooks.com):

  • New York Times bestseller
  • New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association bestseller
  • #2 Spring Indie Children’s Pick
  • Amazon’s Best Teen Book of the Month for February 2011
  • YAReads.com Book of the Month for March 2011
  • Nominee for Best Fiction for Young Adults discussion by the ALA BFYA
  • Amazon’s 2011 Summer Reading List
  • Amazon’s Best YA Novel of 2011 so far
  • Nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012

I’ll Recommend this to …

  • Fans of dystopia who like elements of adventure and/or romance
  • Anyone looking for strong female characters
  • Readers who value excellent writing
  • Audiobook fans – I listened to the series on audio. The reader, Sarah Drew, was amazing.
 

“Starglass” by Phoebe North August 18, 2013

Starglass cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

448 pages; published July 2013

The Basics

Born on the spaceship Asherah, Terra will soon be part of the first generation to arrive at Zehava and populate a new world. But Terra and others chafe under the totalitarian rule of The Council which guides them. Forced toward a career in botany and a loveless marriage, Terra’s rebellious spirit grows after she witnesses the murder of an innocent man by the Captain’s Guard.

Booktalk

Terra is a lot like the characters in other stories, maybe even like people you know. She is mourning the death of her mother. Her father is a drunk who embarrasses her on a regular basis. She feels awkward in school and around boys. She’s jealous of her much-prettier best friend. But Terra’s life is unique because it has been lived entirely on a spaceship bound to populate a new planet. Launched 500 years before by a group of secular Jews in an effort to preserve Jewish culture, the Asherah will be landing soon on Zehava. This is just as Terra is approaching her 16th birthday – leaving school to start a career chosen for her by The Council and desperately agreeing to marry her father’s talmid (apprentice) so the same Council won’t choose her husband as well.

With all this weighing down on Terra, she takes a wrong turn on the way home one evening and comes face-to-face with a horrifying sight – members of The Captain’s Guard murdering a man in cold blood. The revelations that come next will shake Terra – and all of Asherah – to the core.

 

“The Selection” by Kiera Cass June 14, 2013

The Selection cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

327 pages; published April 2012

The Basics

America Singer lives in a world defined by strict castes and repressive rules, but she has the ultimate opportunity for caste-climbing. She has been chosen to participate in The Selection, in which she is one of 35 girls who compete on TV to be the next queen of Illea.

The Booktalk

Who doesn’t want to be a princess? Well, America Singer doesn’t. Although she is only a Five in a strict caste system that pretty much deprives everyone below a Three, America has a profession that she likes and a boy that she loves (even though it’s in secret.) So, she is very much NOT excited when she is chosen to participate in the ultimate reality TV courting show – The Selection – in which 35 girls compete to be the bride of Illea’s handsome crown prince, Maxon. America is down-to-earth, funny, and temperamental. She even yells at Prince Maxon the first time they meet. She couldn’t be less suited as princess material. So why is she still around in The Selection?

But Wait … There’s More!

The Selection kicks off a fast-moving trilogy. The Elite was released in April 2013 and will be followed by The One in 2014.

Random Thoughts

  • This book is wildly popular at my library. Given the topic, I was hesitant to read it because I thought it might be too ridiculous, but I enjoyed the character and the writing was spot on. I raced through books 1 and 2. Now, I’m quite impatient for the 3rd.
  • One of the blurbs on the back of The Elite describes the series as, “like The Hunger Games (without the blood sport) and like The Bachelor (without the blood sport) …” It is an apt description.
 

“When We Wake” by Karen Healey March 14, 2013

When We Wake cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

296 pages; published March 2013

The Basics

Tegan Oglietti was having a lovely day in 2027 until she was shot and killed on the steps of the Australian Parliament House. The next time she opens her eyes, 100 years have passed. Tegan is the first successful story to come out of an experiment in cryogenics. Quickly dubbed the Living Dead Girl, Tegan has a whole new Australia to get used to and – as far as Tegan is concerned – the government has a lot of explaining to do.

Booktalk

Imagine what it would be like to blink and wake up 100 years from now. Think about what would have changed. Fashion – people would dress differently. Maybe whole new fabrics would have been invented. Speech – slang would be different, maybe other ways of talking. Technology, certainly. Social issues. The environment.

That’s what Tegan Oglietti is dealing with. Back in 2027, she was having a nearly perfect day – headed to a protest with her new boyfriend and her best friend. She doesn’t even remember the fatal shot that tore through her.

But now, she’s awake – the first person to be fully revived by Australian doctors working to perfect the science of cryogenics. Tegan has a lot more to deal with that just getting used to a world with no blue jeans, no red meat,  weird new slang words, and disturbingly racist No Immigration policies. Tegan soon realizes there’s more to her revival than her doctors and military handlers are willing to say. The Living Dead Girl has made a discovery nearly as chilling as being frozen in the first place.

Random Thoughts

It is interesting how things collide. The cryogenics in this story depend on “something” derived from tardigrades aka water bears aka moss piglets. The day after I read the chapter that introduces the tardigrades, I had a family walk into the library and ask for help finding information about “a microscopic creature whose name sounds kind of like the Tardis from Dr. Who.” What are the odd of encountering the same microscopic creature in two days??

 

“Matched” by Ally Condie November 23, 2012

Matched cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

369 pages; published November 2010

The Basics

Everything in Cassia’s world is controlled by The Society and Cassia is a model citizen, living by the rules. She is excited to find out who has been chosen as her Match. But she’s not ready for what happens. Her microchip shows her not one, but two boys. The Society never makes mistakes, but they have this time – and it is a mistake that throws Cassia into a wild tailspin.

Booktalk

Cassia lives in a world where everything is decided by The Society – what she reads, the art she sees, the music she listens to, what she does at school, what she eats, how she exercises, where she will work. They even monitor her dreams. Now, on her 16th birthday, The Society has used carefully statistical analysis to determine who Cassia should marry – which boy is her Match. But when she is shown not one, but two options, Cassia’s clear, simple life path becomes jumbled and confused. Although she is told sweet, safe Xander is the one she is really meant to Match with, she finds herself drawn to Ky, whose dark and mysterious past is the source of much intrigue. The pot is stirred further when her grandfather encourages mild subversion, sneaking her a copy of a poem not in the approved 100. Cassia finds herself wondering – for the first time in her life – whether The Society really knows best.

Random Thought

I’m not the biggest fan of romance and page after page of girls mooning over boys, but I was riveted by many of the ideas of The Society. In order to combat all the chaos and noise of life in the “old world” (ours), The Society chose 100 songs, 100 books, 100 poems, 100 pieces of art and they have become what is. Nothing new is created or permitted. Also, everyone in The Society dies at 80 and the discussion of that dictum was though-provoking to say the least.

Wait! There’s More

This is the first in a trilogy that is now complete with Crossed (2011) and Reached (2012).

Awards/Honors (source: GoodReads.com)

  • Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
  • Teen Buckeye Book Award Nominee (2012)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013)
 

“Across the Universe” by Beth Revis October 6, 2012

Across the Universe

Images courtesy of Goodreads.com

The Facts

416 pages; published January 2011.

The Basics

Amy is frozen cargo on a spaceship, taking a 300-year journey from our tattered earth to a potential new world. When she is awakened 50 years too soon, she finds herself trapped and alone in heavily controlled society where the people don’t seem quite right. Her only hope seems to be Elder, the leader-in-training of the ship, and Harley, who is considered crazy because he is an artist, not a drone.

Booktalk

Amy wasn’t even sure, not really, that she even wanted to go on this trip. But her parents were going and she couldn’t consider a life without them. So she took off her clothes and stepped into the glass box and let them do that they had to do – push blue goo into her veins, drown her in sparkly blue water – to freeze her for the 300-year journey that would take her family away from an earth where everything is falling apart to the promise of a new planet, a new earth where she and her parents will help rebuild a new, better world. But now, she’s waking up and she doesn’t know why and she’s drowning and can’t breathe and even though she’s rescued, she finds that it’s just her. Only she has been unfrozen. It’s 50 years too soon and there’s something wrong on this ship.

Elder is just a boy, the youngest in his generation and the man destined to lead the people who live on this spaceship. Elder is to learn what he will need to know to be a good leader from Eldest, the current leader, but Eldest is holding back. Eldest is keeping secrets and just wants everyone to obey him.

When Elder meets Amy, his assumptions about how things should work on the ship are challenged as Amy sees the society that has developed on board through the eyes of one who lived life free, under the true sun and in the fresh air.

Wait! There’s more:

The next book in this series, A Million Suns, was released in early 2011Shades of Earth is due out January 2013!

Awards/Honors (source: http://www.bethrevis.com/across-the-universe/)

  • New Yorks Times Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #7!
  • Indie Bestseller list! Across the Universe debuted at #15!
  • Selected as an Amazon Book of the Month: January 2011
  • Featured on the Indie Next List: January 2011
  • Featured as a GoodReads Mover & Shaker
  • Recipient of the Romantic Times Seal of Excellence
  • Long-listed for the prestigious Carnegie Medal (UK)
  • Nominated for Book of the Year and Best YA Futuristic title from Romantic Times
  • Selected as a Texas Libraries (TAYSHAS) reading list
  • YALSA Reader’s Choice nomination
 

“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.