After teens have devoured the final volumes in the popular fantasy series by Leigh Bardugo, Kiera Cass, and Laini Taylor out this spring, offer the following hot picks in fiction, graphic novels, and nonfiction. Whether a fantasy die-hard or a fan of contemporary fiction with diverse characters, readers will find a smorgasbord of engrossing titles in these selections.
Anderson, Jodi Lynn. The Vanishing Season. 272p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062003270; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062239174.
Gr 9 Up–Maggie Larsen is uprooted by her parents from the busy city of Chicago to the remote and quaint town of Gill Creek. She is immediately befriended by her neighbor, the beautiful but eccentric Pauline, and her childhood BFF, the gentle Liam. The three become inseparable—although beneath the surface a simmering romantic tension is clearly brewing. Things come to a head when girls begin to mysteriously disappear and Pauline is sent away. The journey of self-discovery taken by each character tests their true nature and forces decisions that will change their lives forever. Anderson crafts a heartbreaking story full of mystery, love, redemption, and betrayal.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY
Arcos, Carrie. There Will Come a Time. 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442495852; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781442495876.
Gr 9 Up–Mark’s grief after the death of his twin sister, Grace, is so intense that he has trouble functioning. He blames himself for choosing that route to drive, for not being able to avoid the car that hit theirs. When Grace’s best friend, Hanna, suggests that the two of them work together to complete Grace’s list of things to do this year, which includes such terrifying entries as learning to surf and performing spoken word at a club, he agrees as a way to honor his sister. But his growing feelings for Hanna complicate matters, especially since he has a long way to go before he learns to forgive the other driver—or himself. The protagonist is of Filipino descent, though his culture is not a focal point of the narrative. Libraries looking to diversify their collections might want to pick this up, as will those looking for thoughtful, character-driven stories.–Stephanie Klose, School Library Journal
Bardugo, Leigh. Ruin and Rising. 448p. (The Grisha Trilogy: Bk. 3). Holt. Jun. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780805094619; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780805097122.
Gr 8 Up–The Darkling has finally risen, and only Alina Starkov has the power to free Ravka from his evil influence. But with her powers depleted, her best friend injured and broken, and boyfriend Mal at odds with her decisions, Alina knows her odds of finding the elusive firebird are stacked against her. As Alina seeks out the firebird amplifier that will give her the power she needs to defeat The Darkling, she learns that her ties to him may be too great for her to resist. Once again, Bardugo is a master at building an action-packed fantasy with extraordinary world-building and complex characters. Fans of the first two books will not be disappointed, especially with the reappearance of charismatic Nikolai/Sturmhond. Already optioned for a movie, this trilogy is a must for libraries serving teens.–Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Barakiva, Michael. One Man Guy. 272p. Farrar. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374356453; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780374356460.
Gr 6-10–Fourteen-year-old Alek Khederian is horrified when his parents announce that he will be going to summer school in order to get him on the Honors track. This change of plans means no relaxation, no time with friends, no tennis camp, and no family vacation. He starts summer school grudgingly, only to have his spirits lifted when he meets Ethan, who is different from anyone Alek has ever known. Before long, their friendship deepens into a romance Alek definitely didn’t see coming. The story will appeal to both young people who are just discovering their own sexuality and readers who enjoy a good budding romance.–Sarah Allen, Judson High School, Converse, TX
Blackburne, Livia. Midnight Thief. 384p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423176381.
Gr 7 Up–Seventeen and long orphaned, Kyra has grown up using her natural speed and stealth to thieve her way through life on Forge’s streets. James, the Assassins Guild’s attractive and politically minded young leader, recruits Kyra with handsome rewards for herself and her friends, but at what cost? Kyra’s dangerous new job turns deadly, and she finds her mission entangled with that of a Palace knight, Tristam, who seeks vengeance for his friend killed by Demon Riders, barbarians who ride on the backs of vicious wildcats. Third-person alternating narratives between Kyra and Tristam effectively set the pace and tension leading up to their unlikely alliance and thrilling discovery of Kyra’s heritage. This page-turning debut answers immediate questions and provides satisfying character development, while leaving ample room for additional installments.–Hannah Farmer, Austin Public Library, TX
Brown, Jennifer. Torn Away. 288p. Little, Brown. May 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316245531; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316245517.
Gr 8 Up–Jersey’s entire life falls apart in a matter of minutes: a tornado kills her mother and her half-sister Marin and destroys their house. Though Jersey’s stepfather, Ronnie, survives, he’s too shocked to think about parenting, and so the teen is dispatched to live with the extended paternal family she’s never met. Her biological father abandoned her years ago and shows no sign of wanting to mend their relationship, and the rest of the family—her stepmother, stepsisters, and paternal grandparents—either ignore or belittle her. Brown depicts Jersey’s reaction to a frightening, life-altering situation expertly, and the protagonist’s voice is authentic. Overall, this is a wrenching story of the will to survive at any cost.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Cass, Kiera. The One. 336p. (Selection). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062059994; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9780062060013. LC 2013021356.
Gr 9 Up–Who will become the future queen of Illea and Prince Maxon’s wife? The final book in Cass’s “Selection” series begins in the midst of a rebel attack on the palace. The heroine, America, is one of four remaining ladies competing in the selection process in this dystopian saga. Through bravery and a strong character, America has won the people’s hearts. However, the king continues doing everything in his power to undermine her opportunities to succeed. Fans of this series will not be disappointed by the ending. The star-crossed duo’s relationship has its many ups and downs, but their love for each other remains. For devotees of beauty pageants, dystopians, and drama-filled romances.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA
Conaghan, Brian. When Mr. Dog Bites. 320p. Bloomsbury. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633469; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781619633476.
Gr 10 Up–Dylan Mint suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. He also just found out he has only eight months to live. He decides the only thing to do is come up with a list of “Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It.” The list includes having sex for the first time, finding a new best friend for his best friend Amir, and convincing the army to allow his dad to come home from the war. It’s obvious to readers from early on that Dylan is not actually going to die—this belief stems from a misunderstanding at the doctor’s office. It is also clear his dad is not actually in the army or at war. This first person account is insightful, engaging, and immerses teens into the world of Tourette’s. Readers will be rewarded with a relatable character who has many of the same problems they do.–Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX
Crandell, Bethany. Summer on the Short Bus. 256p. Running Pr. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762449514; ebk. $9.95. ISBN 9780762451982.
Gr 8 Up–Rich, spoiled, and entitled, the last thing 17-year-old Constance, aka Cricket, wants to do is work as a counselor at a special needs summer camp. She had been planning on spending her vacation in Maui with best friend Katie, but after the ill-advised party she hosted at the riding stables, her furious dad ships her off to Camp I Can for a two-week stint as a counselor. Cricket spends the first part of her stay scheming escape routes while trying to have as little to do as possible with the campers, who, for the most part, have Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. On the bright side, there is fellow counselor Quinn, a Zac Efron doppelgänger, who is as nice as he is cute. Over the course of two very bumpy weeks, Cricket develops an appreciation for the camp and its denizens and matures a great deal—largely due to Quinn’s positive influence. The novel is heartwarming and funny, mainly because of Cricket’s scathingly honest politically incorrect internal and external dialogue.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY
Davies, Anna. Followers. 224p. Scholastic/Point. Jun. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780545511964; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780545584388.
Gr 6-10–Briana, a legacy student at the prestigious MacHale School, is finally finding her niche. Returning to school for the winter mini-mester, she has a group of friends and a real shot at winning a lead role in Hamlet. Her Twitter account, @alleyesonbree, is also gaining followers, including the mysterious Hamlet’s Ghost. When the brand new Head of the Drama department casts someone else as Ophelia, Briana reluctantly accepts the backstage job as the show’s social media director. As she tweets show rehearsal updates, Hamlet’s Ghost begins to tweet more sinister things, like “something’s rotten in the state of Denmark…and a body’s rotting in theater.” Suddenly, there is a real dead body on stage. As the Twitter war rages on, it’s up to Briana to find the campus killer. Davies offers great build-up and tension right through until the final pages.–Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta
Dawn, Sasha. Oblivion. 400p. Egmont USA. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606844762; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781606844779. LC 2013018267.
Gr 10 Up–“I killed him, I killed him, I killed him, I killed him.” A year ago Calliope Knowles was found writing these words over and over on the wall of a bathroom in an abandoned apartment—she’d been there for a day and a half. Her abusive preacher father had disappeared along with a little girl from the community. Calliope has no memory of what happened that day, but she believes that she killed her dad. The only clues to the truth are in her sudden onset of graphomania: compulsive—seemingly nonsensical—writing. The more she writes, the more she seems to remember about the night her father and Hannah vanished. The story is told in first person, and the protagonist is a poet afflicted with an obsessive need to write. The mystery in the story is compelling, and the final revelatory scene is horrifying. An exciting page-turner.–Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Despain, Bree. The Shadow Prince. 481p. (Into the Dark: Bk. 1). Egmont USA. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781606842478; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9781606844069. LC 2013033192.
Gr 9 Up–Haden is a disgraced prince of the Underworld, who is given the opportunity to win back the court’s favor when the Oracle chooses him as the Champion who will travel to the human world to lure a girl who may be the key to saving their dying kingdom. Daphne, an aspiring musician, is whisked away from her small Utah town by her negligent rock star father to attend an elite music-focused high school in California. The destinies of Haden and Daphne are bound together, and while they initially clash, their relationship slowly blossoms amid car chases, near-death experiences, and concert duets. Daphne’s refusal to be a maid in distress is refreshing. The author also deftly handles family dynamics, and Haden’s education on the human world will elicit chuckles. For fans of Sarah McCarry’s All Our Pretty Songs (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013), Meg Cabot’s Abandon (Scholastic, 2011), and Brodi Ashton’s Everneath (HarperCollins, 2012).–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Dunbar, Helene. These Gentle Wounds. 336p. Flux. May 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738740270.
Gr 9 Up–Gordie has spent his formative years in an abusive home. One morning while his half-brother, Kevin, is away visiting his own father, Gordie’s mother drugs him and his other two siblings and drives into a river. He is the only one who escapes. The story begins five years after the incident, and the protagonist now lives with Kevin and Kevin’s father. Gordie suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles to live one day at a time. With the loving support of Kevin, he manages to keep his grades up, play on the school’s hockey team, and meet a girl. While Gordie is trying to determine what “normal” is, his biological father comes back into his life—this time toting a younger son who shows all the signs of being abused. This rocks Gordie’s world and brings him to the edge of reality where he has to decide to fight or flee. Dunbar’s debut novel is a contemporary piece of fiction that realistically depicts PTSD from the perspective of a teenage boy.–Jeni Tahaney, Duncanville High School Library, TX
Ellis, Deborah. Moon at Nine. 240p. Pajama Pr. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781927485576. LC 20139073000.
Gr 9 Up–The daughter of wealthy Iranian parents, 15-year-old Farrin earns top scores at a prestigious school in 1988 Tehran. Her parents remain loyal to the ousted Shah, so Farrin knows the importance of keeping a low profile. One day, Farrin meets a new classmate, Sadira, who plays forbidden music on a prohibited instrument in a closet at school. Farrin and Sadira become fast friends who enjoy subversive literature and music despite the tough restrictions imposed by the Iranian government. Before long, Farrin and Sadira’s friendship morphs into a romantic relationship, for which both girls could face death. Set during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini, this title is based on real women who fell in love in a country where homosexuality is still against the law. Sparse and eloquently written, this short historical novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking.–Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Emerson, Kevin. Exile. 320p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062133953; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062133977.
Gr 9 Up–Summer Carlson enters her senior year of high school still reeling from the pain of losing the band she managed to a major record label. Finding a new band is easy at Mount Hope High, though. The school’s PopArts program, which attracts teen music prodigies, offers lunchtime concerts, professional-grade practice studios, and a full espresso bar—it’s the high school of every rocker’s dreams. Summer connects with Caleb Daniels, who recently ditched his group without explanation. The teen reveals that his father was legendary rocker Eli White, who tragically drowned before finishing his band’s much-anticipated second album. When Caleb discovers a letter his father wrote him, the teens embark on a wild goose chase to find tapes with three songs secretly recorded by White. Narrated by Summer, this novel will appeal to musicians and music lovers. Emerson keeps a solid balance of romance, fast-paced mystery, and coming-of-age strife. A worthwhile read.–Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT
Eulburg, Elizabeth. Better Off Friends. 276p. ebook available. Scholastic/Point. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545551458. LC 2013019024.
Gr 6-10–Levi and Macallan meet the first day of seventh grade and quickly become devoted friends. Told in chapters that alternate between their voices, this contemporary novel follows the teens for five years. During that time, Macallan grieves over her mother’s recent death, Levi strives to fit in with the athletes, and they both struggle to figure out romantic relationships while keeping their friendship intact. The protagonists are interesting characters, facing the usual barrage of middle- and high-school challenges in inventive ways, as when Macallan teaches herself to be an expert chef. When Macallan and Levi begin to realize they are in love, the awareness triggers one misunderstanding and romantic misfire after another. With the premise of friends becoming something more, the innocence of the romance, and the age of the protagonists over the course of the narrative, this will be appeal to younger teen readers.–Martha Baden, Prescott Public Library, AZ
Fichera, Liz. Played. 352p. Harlequin Teen. Jun. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780373210947; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781460326688.
Gr 9 Up–Riley Berenger and Sam Tracy could not be more different. Sam is a brooding Native American teen from the rez, while Riley is a rich girl whose biggest concern is getting asked to prom. They cannot stand each other—until one weekend retreat changes everything. When Riley falls off a mountain, Sam is the one who rescues her. After a night spent stranded in the wilderness, Riley makes up her mind about two things: she is going to live life by her own rules and she is going to help Sam get the girl of his dreams. So what if that girl is her brother’s girlfriend, right? The novel has all the ingredients of a typical romance: star-crossed lovers, an anti-hero, a dash of danger, and a cute boy on a motorcycle. The plot is a perfect mix of real-life scenarios and swoon-worthy romance, while the issues of race and class that Fichera interweaves into Sam and Riley’s story add substance.–Sarah Lorraine, Nazareth Academy, LaGrange Park , IL
Heasley, Gwendolyn. Don’t Call Me Baby. 272p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062208521; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062208538.
Gr 7-10–At 15, Imogene is exasperated for being known as “Babylicious,” the subject of her mother’s popular blog since before she was even born. She’s tired of posing for pictures, tired of reviewing products sent by sponsors, and, above all, tired of having every detail of her life shared with her mother’s readers. While she has an entire speech about her desire for privacy planned out, she’s never been able to confront her about the blog. Imogene’s best friend, Sage, is the only person who really understands, as her mother is also a blogger, focusing on the vegan lifestyle that Sage rebels against. A yearlong English assignment requiring each student to keep their own blog is the last thing either girl wants, but they soon realize it might be the opportunity they need to make their positions clear to their moms once and for all. There is plenty of humor and heart to be found in this tale as Imogene navigates the peaks and pitfalls of ninth grade and tries, for the first time, to “narrate her own life.”–Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Hubbard, Mandy. Fool Me Twice. 256p. (If Only). Bloomsbury. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619632295; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781619632301.
Gr 9 Up–It’s another summer of lesson coordinators and tending to horses at the Serenity Ranch and Spa for Mackenzie, Bailey, and Landon before they head off to college in Washington State. The previous summer, Landon and Mackenzie were the perfect couple until he dumped her for another girl. Now Mackenzie has plans to hang out with Bailey, go shopping, and play the field. However, that changes when Landon bumps his head and loses his memory. He thinks that he is 17 again and he and Mackenzie are still dating. Bailey convinces Mackenzie to take advantage of his accident and get back at Landon for dumping her by pretending they are back together for the summer. After several pranks and lots of deception, the protagonist finds herself falling for Landon all over again, making this a great summer read for teens looking for a love story.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI
Jocelyn, Marthe. What We Hide. 288p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385738477; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385907323; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375894657.
Gr 9 Up–As Jenny’s brother is off to university in England to avoid the U.S. Vietnam War draft, she spends a semester at an English boarding school. Seizing the chance to reinvent herself, the teen lies about having a boyfriend. This is just one of the many secrets spilling off the pages in this multiple-perspective historical fiction novel, and teens will want to keep turning the pages to see how Jenny’s lie plays out. The narrative jumps between characters, revealing everyone’s backstory—made-up boyfriends, a mentally ill parent, and a mother famous for documenting her sex life in memoir—and is told through various formats, including letters and movie screenplays. Particularly compelling is the back and forth romance between two young men, set in a time when such a relationship was not just scandalous, but dangerous. Pair this with James Klise’s Art of Secrets (Algonquin, 2014), another book about secrets told from multiple points of view and narrative styles.–Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
Kirkpatrick, Katherine. Between Two Worlds. 304p. notes. photos. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385740470; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375989476; ebk. $10.99.
Gr 9 Up–Based on a true story, this gripping novel set in 1900 Greenland is narrated by a 16-year-old married Inuit woman. Billy Bah’s life has been intertwined (rather tragically) with that of Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary since childhood, when she spent a year in America with his family. When Peary’s wife and daughter arrive in her village on a supply ship, Billy Bah is one of the few who can translate and organize an expedition of native men and American sailors to find Peary, who has gone further north to the “Musk Ox Land.” The journey proves harrowing as the ship becomes icebound for the winter and everyone is stranded for nine months in a remote Arctic outpost. As much a story of survival as it is a coming-of-age tale, the strength here lies in the fascinating details of daily native life (hunting, cooking, igloo building) and cultural customs (birth and death rites, marital and divorce practices). While never explicitly graphic, themes of love, sex, and racism are for mature teen readers.–Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library
Kuehn, Stephanie. Complicit. 224p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jun. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250044594; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466843059.
Gr 9 Up–Fifteen-year-old Jamie Henry is haunted by muddled memories of his childhood and by a tragic fire at a neighborhood horse barn. Everyone in their upscale suburban town, including Jamie, believes that the fire was started by his damaged and wild older sister, Cate, who has a reputation for drinking and stealing. But at the opening of Kuehn’s intense novel, Cate returns from a juvenile detention center, and it becomes clear that the truth is far more complicated. From the first day of his sister’s dramatic arrival, Jamie’s life begins to spiral out of control. Following clues to an increasingly complex puzzle, the protagonist slowly begins to piece his past together. Alternating between past and present, Kuehn sustains the tension through first-person narration and revealing flashbacks. Complicit ensnares readers from the first page with its surprising twists and revelations. Recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers.–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA
LaCour, Nina. Everything Leads to You. 320p. Dutton. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525425885; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101593509.
Gr 9 Up–Eighteen-year-old production design intern Emi is getting over her first love and trying to establish her place in the Los Angeles film industry. Set primarily during the summer before her freshman year of college, Emi spends days designing sets for a blockbuster, and, later, a low-budget indie film (complicated by the presence of her ex, also working on both films). When she and her best friend Charlotte find a letter hidden in the possessions of a recently deceased Hollywood film legend at an estate sale, they begin searching for its intended recipient. Eventually that leads to Ava, a beautiful teen to whom Emi is immediately attracted. Emi and Ava grow closer; their relationship proves to be a slow build, but teens will root for its success and relate to the novel’s universal themes of love and loss. Readers interested in film production will likely enjoy this one, and though set in L.A., it provides a more realistic depiction of the gap between the city’s rich and poor rather than focusing on the extravagant glamour of Hollywood.–Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal
McGovern, Cammie. Say What You Will. 352p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062271105; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062271129.
Gr 9 Up–Amy has cerebral palsy, and has spent the past 17 years with walkers, voice boxes, and adults. She’s gone through school at the same pace as her peers but without friends or socializing. When one of her classmates, Matthew, challenges her cheerful facade, Amy realizes she’s missed out on developing true peer relationships. So for their senior year, Amy asks her parents to pay classmates to be her companions instead of her usual adult aids. She begs Matthew to apply, and the two embark on a friendship that addresses Amy’s limitations, Matthew’s own disorder, and all their secrets—all except the one they really need to share. Both teens struggle with their realities and limitations, and a love soon develops between them. The harsh reality of high school social dynamics are authentically portrayed. Recommend to fans of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars (Dutton, 2012) and realistic fiction with a love story angle.–Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL
Matson, Lynne. Nil. 384p. Holt. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805097719.
Gr 9 Up–When you wake up on the Island of Nil, the rules are simple: you have exactly one year to get off, or you die. That is the predicament that 17-year-old Charley finds herself in when she awakens, naked and alone, plucked from the parking lot of the local Target by a random Nil gate. Eventually, she meets a group of fellow refugees and discovers that teens have been sent here for dozens, possibly, hundreds, of years. When she meets Thad, one of the leaders of the Nil community, she finds the boy of her dreams, and suddenly Charley is determined that she and Thad will get off the island so they can have a life together back home. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Charley and Thad, this story adequately captures their growing love and desperate need to save each other as the clock continues to tick. The concept of Nil is very interesting and well-constructed. Overall, this book hits its mark.–Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX
May, Elizabeth. The Falconer. 384p. Chronicle. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452114231.
Gr 8 Up–In this debut novel set in an alternate 19th-century Scotland, Aileana, daughter of the Marques, has a secret: she is a faerie hunter. Aileana’s world changed when she witnessed her mother violently killed by an evil faerie. Since then, the teen has been secretly training with the extremely powerful, mysterious, and good-looking Kiaran, a Daoine Sith who has given up his violent, human-killing past. Her killing routine gets more complicated when the fae realize that she is a Falconer, a sacred fae-killing assassin. War is coming, and Aileana is humanity’s only hope, aided by Kiaran; Gavin, a Seer and future love triangle interest; and Derrick, her hysterical pixie companion. May’s writing is exquisite and demands a close reading to take everything in. The story ends on a cliff-hanger and readers will be anxious for the next installment in this planned trilogy.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ
Nelson, Blake. The Prince of Venice Beach. 240p. Little, Brown. Jun. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316230483; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316230476. LC 2013012248.
Gr 7 Up–Robert Callahan is a 17-year-old runaway. After his father’s abandonment and his mother’s accidental death early on, he has experienced life as a foster child, being shuttled from one family to the next. Robert finally takes control of his destiny and escapes the harshness of Omaha, Nebraska’s social service system by running away to the streets of Venice Beach, California. Robert’s cop friend, Detective Mitchell, refers him to a private investigator trying to locate a wealthy young San Francisco runaway. After Robert helps in a successful rescue, more referrals begin to come his way, but all of them are not from the friendly detective, and all of them do not necessarily end as happily. With each new investigation Robert takes on, he is faced with new life experiences and eye-opening self-evaluations, which have him pondering the future for the first time in his life. Readers will anxiously follow Robert’s growth in this coming-of-age novel filled with exhilarating chases and heart pounding moments.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
Rose, Kathryn. Camelot Burning. 408p. (A Metal & Lace Novel: Bk. 1). Flux. May 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738739670.
Gr 9 Up–By day, 17-year-old Vivienne is the lady-in-waiting to the future queen Guinevere; at night, she is an apprentice to Merlin. The famed wizard has given up magic and is teaching her the secrets of alchemical machines. Guinevere and Arthur are to be married soon, and Vivienne is kept busy during the preparation for the wedding. Her feelings for Marcus, a knight in training, are a welcome distraction to her double life. Suddenly, Morgan Le Fay returns to attack Camelot and claim the throne. Vivienne soon learns that magic always comes with a price. At the exact moment she begins her attack, Merlin’s protection spell begins to expire, and he must be careful not to resort to magic. The novel has the perfect blend of romance and action. This book would be a natural pick for fans of BBC’s Merlin and the steampunk genre. This debut fantasy novel will have readers clamoring to find out what happens next.–Patrick Tierney, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School, RI
Santopolo, Jill. Summer Love. 224p. (Follow Your Heart: Bk. 1). Penguin/Speak. May 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780147510921.
Gr 7-10–This light-hearted romance combines elements from the Bachelorette television show with the essence of the vintage “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. The first several pages set up the story: “you” have just had your 16th birthday but have yet to have your first kiss. You set off on a train with your older sister to stay with family friends for the weekend at the beach. From that point on, readers must make the decision on what their course of action will be and, based on their decisions, they will either reach the pivotal first-kiss moment or will backtrack to another path. The book is well written and fast-paced—teens could finish one pathway in 10 pages or take hours if they backtrack to other paths.–Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
Schumacher, Anna. End Times. illus. by Rohan Eason. 320p. Penguin/Razorbill. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595147486.
Gr 10 Up–After Daphne kills her abusive stepfather in self-defense, she hopes she can escape her past by moving in with relatives in Carbon County, Wyoming. When her arrival is literally heralded by trumpets, and then she discovers oil on her uncle’s land, county residents aren’t sure if she’s the best good luck charm ever, or someone to be feared. Her dippy 17-year-old cousin Janie is pregnant, and Doug, the biggest jerk in town, is the reluctant daddy. He makes it his personal mission to torture Daphne after she rejects his advances. Smoking hot newcomer Owen starts to work on the oil rig with Daphne, and as more and more strange events plague the small town, pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place for the two of them. A promising start to what is clearly a planned series. Cousin Janie provides much needed comic relief to the overall dark feel, and the story moves along at a relentless pace.–Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX
Sedgwick, Marcus. She Is Not Invisible. 224p. ebook available. Roaring Brook. 2014. RTE $16.99. ISBN 9781596438019.
Gr 8 Up–Laureth Peak, 16, has just kidnapped her seven-year-old brother and negotiated her way through two major airports on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and is on her way to meet up with someone she’s only met via email. The reason for her drastic and dangerous actions? Her author father, who is supposed to be in Switzerland on a research assignment for his esoteric novel on coincidences, is not answering her phone calls and his precious notebook is currently in the possession of a stranger in Queens, NY. The teen sets out on this quest to find her missing father, with a niggling premonition that something sinister has befallen him. However, Laureth is blind, and she needs the aid of her little brother to maneuver through the streets of New York City, fancy hotels, taxis, and subways. Sedgwick’s intricately plotted tale would be right at home as an episode of J. J. Abrams’s Lost. Laureth’s ability to string together connections while under duress and her sibling’s inability to handle devices without circuit breaking them seem quite preternatural and add an air of otherworldliness. Readers will feel a creepy sensation on the backs of their necks long after the last page.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Smith, Lindsay. Sekret. 352p. Roaring Brook. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596438927.
Gr 9 Up–Set in the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, this bildungsroman follows Yulia Andreevna Chernina, 17, as she discovers a secret her parents have kept hidden her entire life: she is psychic. Yulia can soak up memories and emotions of anything or anyone she touches. Her journey to realizing her abilities and discovering love is told through dazzling first-person narration, thought-provoking flashbacks, and vivid memories. Yulia’s father had left in search of help and a better life, but before he could return, his family is captured by the KaGeBezniks (KGB). Yulia is terrified to find herself locked in a warehouse with other psychics and a monstrous “scrubber” who can scrub away memories and control thoughts. With the fates of her brother and her mother hanging over her head, Yulia agrees to develop her powers in the psychic school while biding her time to snatch her freedom. Smith mesmerizes readers with sprints and twists in the plot while revealing the incredible level of abuse doled out by the Russian government. Readers will be begging for Yulia and Valentin to make their escape into the sunset.–Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City
Smith-Ready, Jeri. This Side of Salvation. 368p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442439481; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781442439504.
Gr 9 Up–David’s family is still reeling from his military brother’s death three years ago, and all but older sister Mara have embraced God as a way to cope. A former alcoholic, David’s dad has abandoned his addiction to the bottle for an all-consuming and unhealthy relationship with religion, talking only through Bible verses and aligning himself with a fundamentalist preacher that promises the Rapture (or Rush) will occur in just a few months. All David wants is to get a baseball college scholarship and possibly lose his virginity to new girl Bailey. Told in alternating Then (leading up the Rush) and Now (after the Rush) chapters, the narrative frankly depicts a teen struggling with finding a balance between religion and his own desires. Smith-Ready respectfully gives voice to those who question their beliefs, while providing teens a fascinating look into Doomsday cults. The ending will ring true for those rooting for this family’s redemption.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Sullivan, Laura L. Love by the Morning Star. 320p. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547689517; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780547689586.
Gr 8 Up–It’s 1938 in rural England, and Anna Morgan is desperate to find a way out of her life as the working-class daughter of a grocer. When she’s given an opportunity to live at a grand country estate called Starkers, she believes that her chance has finally come to marry well and fulfill her destiny of becoming a lady, despite the fact that she’s supposed to be there working as a kitchen maid in order to spy for a group of Nazi sympathizers. In Berlin, Hannah Morganstern is happy with her life as a singer in her father’s cabaret, and confident that she’ll soon find a place as an opera singer in Vienna. Her dreams are dashed, however, when the German government begins shutting down Jewish businesses and threatening to send Jews to prison camps. Hannah is half-Jewish, and her parents believe the best way to keep her safe is to send her to live with distant relatives, who she has never met, at a grand estate in England. When the two girls arrive at Starkers on the same afternoon, one is welcomed as a member of the family and a companion to the lady of the house, while the other is sent to work in the kitchen. What follows is a delightful comedy of errors, full of near misses, misunderstandings, and double entendres.–Liz Overberg, Darlington School, Rome, GA
Swain, H. A. Hungry. 320p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Jun. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250028297.
Gr 9 Up–Swain’s near-futuristic dystopia explodes onto this well-trod genre with a fresh idea, tense plotting, and relatable characters. Earth’s resources, ostensibly decimated by wars and superstorms, have vanished, along with any flora and fauna. Mega-corporation One World swoops in to salvage the remaining humans from starvation by altering their DNA so that they no longer experience any pesky hunger pangs. One World also supplies all nutrition through a formulalike substance called Synthamil. In this world in which any type of food is illegal, Thalia, 17, begins to suffer unexplainable spasms in her abdomen. Instead of being shipped off to a “specialist” to eradicate her natural hunger pangs, as was wont to happen, she seeks out the truth behind the hunger and One World’s monopoly on food. She teams up with a non-“privy,” Basil, who leads her further into the resistance movement than she would have thought possible. Swain completes a unique tour de force with Hungry, one that requires readers to examine current society, their place within invisible and sometimes all-too-visible hierarchies, and the consequences of genetic engineering.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX
Tamaki, Mariko. This One Summer. illus. by Jillian Tamaki. 320p. First Second. May 2014. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781626720947; pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781596437746.
Gr 8 Up–Every summer, Rose and her parents vacation at a lakeside cottage. The rest of the world fades away as Rose reunites with her friend Windy and delves into leisurely games of MASH, swimming, and the joy of digging giant holes in the sand—but this summer is different. Rose is on the cusp of adolescence; she’s not ready to leave childhood behind but is fascinated by the drama of the local teens who are only a few years older, yet a universe apart in terms of experience. Layers of story unfurl gradually as the narrative falls into the dreamlike rhythm of summer. Slice-of-life scenes are gracefully juxtaposed with a complex exploration of the fragile family dynamic after loss and Rose’s ambivalence toward growing up. The muted tones of the monochromatic blue-on-white illustrations are perfectly suited to the contemplative timbre, and the writing and images deserve multiple reads to absorb their subtleties. This captivating graphic novel presents a fully realized picture of a particular time in a young girl’s life, an in-between summer filled with yearning and a sense of ephemerality.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
Taylor, Laini. Dreams of Gods & Monsters. 528p. Little, Brown. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316134071.
Gr 9 Up–Eliza Jones, a research fellow at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, wakes from a recurring nightmare to the discovery that angels have appeared in the sky above Uzbekistan. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is the linchpin upon which the salvation of worlds depends. The battle is well and truly on in this finale to the “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” trilogy (Little, Brown). Star-crossed lovers Karou and Akiva have fleeting moments together as their worlds threaten to implode in a power struggle hemmed by uneasy alliances and surprise players. Jael, the psychopathic emperor, has made good on his threat to invade the human world, and human authorities, ecclesiastical and political, struggle to make sense of the shining angels negotiating for human weapons of mass destruction. With the soul of Karou’s friend Siri sealed into the body of chimaera leader Thiago, the slim possibility of alliance and survival exists. Revelations and betrayals, multitudinous characters and fulfilled prophecies speed past in a blur of action and intensity. The conclusion promises resurrection, renewal, and long-postponed love happily resolved, and that should satisfy even the most meticulous fans.–Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL
Wesselhoeft, Conrad. Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly. 352p. ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544232693.
Gr 9 Up–Arlo Santiago, 17, is a lover of all things extreme, from racing his dirt bike through the New Mexican landscape to competing for the highest score on the video game Drone Pilot. However, it may all be just a cover for dealing with the darkness in his life: his mother’s death was all-too sudden, his father drinks too much, and his sister is slowly deteriorating from Huntington’s disease. In a plot point that borders a bit on the unbelievable, Arlo’s life takes a sudden turn when he is recruited by the United States Air Force to fly a real military drone in an effort to catch the leader of a terrorist group hiding in the mountains of Pakistan. On top of that, his talent for dirt bike racing fuels various dangerous stunts throughout the novel. Arlo is a lyrical wordsmith, and at times, readers can feel transported right into his struggle to deal with his emotions. A moving story about loss, love, and learning to let go. Give this to fans of similarly amped-up fiction by Chris Lynch and Carl Deuker.–Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Hudson Library & Historical Society, OH
Wettersten, Laura. My Faire Lady. 352p. S. & S. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442489332; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442489356. LC 2013021542.
Gr 8 Up–Rowena Duncan has plans for the summer before her junior year, but then her longtime boyfriend cheats on her, and she makes an impulsive decision: to take a job as a face painter/serving wench at an out-of-town Renaissance Faire. She jumps at the chance to be elsewhere, even if it means leaving her friends behind to live in a tent and wear corsets. She quickly settles in to life at the Faire, making friends with her tent-mate Suze and Will the whip-cracker, and pining after Christian, an actual knight in shining armor. As the summer progresses, she comes to realize how art is changing her view of the world. She gains the courage to challenge her practical parents’ expectations of her, and she learns to look beyond others’ exteriors to see who her true friends are. Wettersten offers a whimsical setting, engaging characters, and plenty of summer romance, making this an easy sell for teens.–Laurie Slagenwhite Walters, Brighton District Library, Brighton, MI
White, Kiersten. In the Shadows. illus. by Jim Di Bartolo. 384p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780545561440; ebk. $21.99. ISBN 9780545561457.
Gr 7 Up–In an inspired collaboration, White, author of urban fantasies and all things paranormal, pairs up with artist Di Bartolo to create a dark, moody, and mysterious hybrid novel. The story consists of alternating narratives, one in prose and one in vividly colored, sometimes horrific wordless graphic novel panels. It isn’t immediately apparent if or how the two narrative threads are related. That fact alone might keep readers turning pages. White’s story is about two sisters, Cora and Minnie, who live with their mother in a boardinghouse in Maine. After spying on the town witch and getting caught, Cora blames herself for the death of her father the next day. When a mysterious stranger, Arthur, comes to board, along with two brothers from New York, Minnie involves them in the folklore of their sleepy Maine resort town, only to discover that they are in an evil place, surrounded by watchers, and in more danger than she could have ever thought possible. Di Bartolo’s stunning artwork takes readers across the globe and spans from the turn of the 20th century to the present. This absorbing tale will reward patient readers with a thrill of an adventure. Upon completion, teens will find themselves thumbing through it all over again, if only to put together the pieces of the puzzle that Di Bartolo keeps in the shadows throughout this eerie volume.–Meg Allison, The Moretown School, VT
Wooding, Chris. Silver. 313p. ebook available. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545603928.
Gr 7 Up–Orphaned when his parents die in a plane crash, Paul Camber opts to go to Mortingham Academy, rather than live with his childless aunt and uncle. Arriving midyear, he keeps to himself, until the boarding school finds itself in a science-fiction nightmare that begins with an unusual find during a biology-lab outing. Andrew and Graham become ill after being bitten by two unusually large silvery beetles covered with circuitlike lines. The school nurse asks Paul to go for help when a storm causes a power outage, and he soon realizes that the beetles aren’t the only creatures on campus morphing into aggressive, silver nano-machines. Under the direction of a favorite teacher, Paul and a loner named Mark herd healthy students into the science block, boarding up windows and doors to keep out the Infected. In a fast-paced series of battles, Mr. Sutton is killed and the students, who once disliked each other, must find common ground in order to survive. Individual strengths, such as leadership skills and science knowledge, are utilized to produce weapons, such as molotov cocktails, to stall off the rabid attackers. The imaginative details of a virus that turns organic matter into circuitry will appeal to science-fiction and horror fans as well as reluctant readers.–Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland
For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings from creators with proven track records; titles commemorating important historical events, such as D-Day and Freedom Summer; and intriguing graphic novel biographies.
Atkinson, Rick. D-Day. 224p. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. Holt. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627791113; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781627791120.
Gr 9 Up–This fine adaptation of Atkinson’s adult The Guns at Last Light is a readable, and even suspenseful, account of the final preparations for and successful execution of the D-Day invasion. The author gives readers a comprehensive overview of the operation, using primary-source excerpts to personalize the action, from the planning of the highest commanders, to the bravery shown by individual men who went ashore on June 6, 1944. He describes the stages of the invasion, including the transport of troops, air support and airborne operations, and ground operations conducted under withering German resistance. The author separates the five Allied landing forces into individual chapters, which allows for plenty of detail and continuity of narrative about their missions, and the varying amounts of German defenses and resistance they encountered. An excellent choice for high school World War II buffs and report writers.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
Brown, Box. Andre the Giant. illus. by Box Brown. 240p. bibliog. ebook available. glossary. notes. First Second. May 2014. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781596438514.
Gr 9 Up–Students may never have heard of Andre Roussimoff, a man born in France in the late 1950s, who would go on to become one of the first stars in the early modern era of professional wrestling. Born with a rare syndrome known as acromegaly, he produced too much growth hormone in his body. This rendered him so gigantic that as a child, he was unable to fit on the bus to go to school. Eventually finding his calling on the stage, Roussimoff eventually became a chronic drinker and smoker as he became more and more successful. He took frequent trips to Japan where he was regarded as an international celebrity. But his life was not devoid of conflict and strife. He was in constant pain as a result of his condition. He also had a daughter he barely ever saw. This in-depth and well-researched look into the life of the memorable actor from The Princess Bride is interesting and complex. While some of the language and situations in this graphic novel biography are definitely for older audiences, high school wrestling fans can nonetheless enjoy this intimate look into the life of an industry legend.–Ryan P. Donovan, New York Public Library
Hollihan, Kerrie Logan. Reporting Under Fire: 16 Daring War Correspondents and Photojournalists. 240p. bibliog. notes. photos. reprods. Chicago Review. Jun. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781613747100.
Gr 8 Up–Hollihan profiles the lives of 16 trailblazing war correspondents in this well-researched and riveting book. Pioneers in the field of journalism, these little-known women come to life as the author illuminates not only the professional dangers they faced but also the cultural assumptions made about their abilities based solely on their gender. Whether facing bias and discrimination in their assignments—early reporters were tasked with writing about war from a woman’s angle—or denied credentials their male counterparts were easily granted, these women found ways to circumvent obstacles to provide readers around the world with gritty, eyewitness accounts from countless battle zones. Filled with black-and-white photos, newspaper clippings, and personal anecdotes from the women themselves, the text is chock-full of their daring exploits—such as Sigrid Schultz cohosting an engagement party for top Nazi Hermann Göring—all in the name of landing their stories. As such, the book reads like a narrative time line of world history, women’s rights, and the field of journalism as a whole.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH
Montgomery, Sy. Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa’s Cat. photos by Nic Bishop. 80p. bibliog. further reading. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. (Scientists in the Field). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780547815497.
Gr 6-8–Cheetahs, the smallest of the big cats, are superbly adapted to their habitat and to running down their prey with blinding bursts of speed. Here Montgomery focuses her scientific attention and literary craft on the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and its efforts to save the cheetah from threatened extinction. Quartered in Namibia, CCF director Laurie Marker and her team analyze scat, measure trees where cheetahs congregate, collect DNA to follow genetic lines, breed cheetahs for ultimate release in the wild, and rescue these animals from captivity when possible. Another major thrust is educating farmers, herders, and future farmers/herders (children) in how to coexist with a large predator that often prefers wild meat to domestic animals. Montgomery’s lucid prose flows smoothly, and Bishop’s elegant color photos bring it all into crystal focus. Interspersed with the narrative are information pages on specific topics, such as “Secrets of DNA” and “Taking the Measure of a Tree.” A readable, informative, and elegant book on an equally elegant feline.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Prins, Marcel & Peter Henk Steenhuis. Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival. tr. from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. 240p. glossary. maps. photos. reprods. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545543620; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545543637.
Gr 7 Up–While Anne Frank may have been the most famous of those who went into hiding during World War II, there were hundreds of others who did just about anything they could to escape the Nazis. Though most did not survive, this compilation of 14 stories describes those who did live to tell their tale. Inspired by his mother’s account of hiding when she was just six years old, Prins interviewed other survivors. The tales are all horrifying and harrowing in their own ways yet are marked by an unvarnished tone that conveys an immediacy that sweeps readers into the narrative, making this tragic episode of history real and dramatic. One survivor had as many as 42 different addresses, while another describes hiding under floorboards for hours while German officers walked overhead. The threat of exposure by collaborators was ever present, and the trauma didn’t end after the war, as most lost many family members or had their homes given away and all traces of their former lives were gone. This moving and powerful title is an important addition to any history collection.–Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. 128p. appendix. bibliog. chron. ebook available. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. websites. Holiday House. May 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780823429202. LC 2013020208.
Gr 9 Up–Fifty years after the Freedom Summer murders, this meticulously researched, compellingly told account covers an incredible moment in history. Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney were three young civil rights workers who decided to work for the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) to confront bigotry in Mississippi and register African Americans to vote. They left for Meridian, accompanied by student volunteers from across the United States, (where only 6.4 percent of eligible African American voters were registered.) Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were killed by Klansmen after being arrested. Their deaths deepened the conviction of the others and served to engender incredible strides in the forward momentum of the civil rights movement. This work gives a real sense of the time and place, the issues and the opposing sides, and the impact on the nation. Including myriad period photos and drawings, facsimiles of reports and records, meticulous source notes, an extensive bibliography, picture credits, and an extensive index, this title is the epitome of excellent historical reporting, with the human element never forgotten.–Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA
And from SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens blog, the following titles are perfect for teens looking to cross over to adult books.
Glancy, Robert. Terms & Conditions. 272p. Bloomsbury USA. Apr. 2014. Tr $26. ISBN 9781620406434; ebk. ISBN 9781620406441.
Glancy takes a relatively standard-issue amnesia story–a man loses his memory; he begins to regain memory; he realizes he doesn’t like the person he was before he lost his memory; and he takes the opportunity of his amnesia to become a better person, usually through a relationship with a woman. Glancy brings his story crackling to life with his quirky sense of humor and an ingeniously designed metaphor embodied in the novel’s title. The amnesiac is Frank, a contract lawyer who specialized in making contracts unbreakable (or breakable, depending on the client) through fine print—-those “terms and conditions” that no one reads. Much of Glancy’s humor resides in his own version of terms and conditions–hilarious footnotes, many of which go on for well over a page and often directly contradict the main text. Meanwhile, Frank’s slow path back to memory revolves around the mystery of what caused the “little episode” he had just before his car accident. The solution to that mystery brings to the fore the novel’s central theme: what is it that makes a man—his actions or his intentions? Frank’s answer to that question and his path to full personhood should resonate well with teens on their path to adulthood.–Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA
Lee, Chang-rae. On Such a Full Sea. 368p. Riverhead. Jan. 2014. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781594486104.
Sixteen-year-old Fan lives in harmony with the close-knit residents of B-More, a labor enclave that produces fish for wealthy consumers. She cares for the fish in her large tank with elegance, capable of staying underwater for seemingly impossible lengths of time, sensitive to the tiniest changes in their environment. She is in love with Reg, a tall boy who tends vegetables near her tank. Their love story is woven into the fabric of B-More as if it were shared by all—until the day that Reg disappears. This is when Fan becomes the heroine of B-More, the adventurer whose story is known and told again and again, by leaving their cloistered world and venturing into the unknown chaos beyond. No one has ever walked out before. But she must find Reg, for she is pregnant with his child. Her long journey is told by the collective residents of B-More in an eerily omniscient voice. Their love and admiration for Fan gives the tale a resonance of legend, how she walked away from their predictable world and experienced the unknown. The dystopian setting, an America many years into the future, populated with colonists who have long forgotten their Chinese ancestry, works well to grant Fan access to all the possible fates of a wanderer. Recommend this to teens who appreciate literary, nuanced work such as that of Cormac McCarthy or Margaret Atwood.–Diane Colson, Nashville Public Library, TN
Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. 272p. Algonquin. Apr. 2014. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781616203214.
Fans of Zevin’s YA books may be drawn to this charming story about all things bookish. A. J. Fikry, a man in his 40s, lives above his bookstore on a tourist island (think Martha’s Vineyard). Island Books is unabashedly literary, despite the tourist trade, and A. J. himself is a big fan of the short story. As the novel begins, he is mourning the death of his wife, who was his partner in the bookstore. He makes friends with the local police chief, Lambiase, who gradually moves from reading only the occasional Jeffrey Deaver novel to leading the Chief’s Choice bookgroup. A. J. also develops a friendship with one of the publishers’ reps. Most surprising of all, he becomes the accidental father of an abandoned child, Maya, and raises her to become—surprise, surprise—a reader and a writer. The short stories that A. J. discusses briefly at the beginning of each chapter, in notes to Maya, will likely be familiar to teens—“The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” among others. Each one sets the tone, in an odd way, for the chapter that follows. Readers who like slightly old-fashioned books and who are literary minded will settle into this book with a happy sigh and revel in the references to books they have read—or will want to read.—Sarah Flowers, formerly of Santa Clara County Library, CA
The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s May print magazine.
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