September 21, 2017

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Fabulous Debuts, Dark Fantasies, and Haunting Tales | What’s Hot in YA

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Annie Cardi and Dawn O’Porter’s debut novels deal with tough stuff and Brenna Yovanoff and Cat Winters return with spooky works that are sure to give teens nightmares. Long anticipated books by A. S. King, Marie Lu, Meg Wolitzer, Frank Portman, and Jandy Nelson are just some of this month’s hot titles for teens. From surreal fiction to pulled-from-the-headlines nonfiction, the following titles will hook young adults and have them asking for more.

FICTION

Bacigalupi_DoubtBacigalupi, Paolo. The Doubt Factory. 486p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.ISBN 9780316220750; ebk. ISBN 9780316220743.

Gr 9 Up–Alix Banks lives a cushy life in a rich, mostly white, Connecticut suburb. She attends a prestigious private high school, is loved by her parents, and gets along with her ADHD younger brother. Her privileged world is shattered when her school is attacked by the enigmatic renegade 2.0, who appears to be stalking her. Alix’s father is well connected, and soon the house is swarming with security professionals, including Alix’s own personal bodyguard. But that doesn’t protect her from a terrifying encounter with 2.0, whose real name is Moses Cruz. Moses tells Alix that her father’s company, Banks Strategy Partners—otherwise known as the Doubt Factory—was the lead defense consultant for several major corporations that produced faulty drugs and other products that caused countless people to die. Is her devoted dad really a killer? Bacigalupi’s characters are clearly drawn and believable. This gripping, outstanding contemporary story cites actual cases of corporate greed, which adds realism to the plot. Suspense builds at a steady pace, leading to increasingly dramatic plot twists and a climax that will leave readers’ hearts pounding.–Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT

Bergin, Virginia. H2O. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492606543.

Gr 6 Up–How hard could it possibly be to avoid the rain? According to the account of Ruby Morris, it’s a lot harder than one might think: Ruby hails from the wet and dreary United Kingdom. After an imminent meteor strike is avoided, events lead to an alien bacterium-laced rain that is fatal and contagious. Stranded and devoid of any parental guidance, Ruby must cross vast distances and make choices even when no right answer exists.The story and language will provide readers with an international scope and convey the tragic impact of the apocalyptic events. Young teens will find the protagonist entertaining and relatable.  Attention to detail, coupled with a very strong main character, will draw readers in and make them think twice about leaving the house—at least not before checking the sky for signs of rain.—Chad Lane, Easton Elementary, Wye Mills, MD

SLJ1409-BK-Fic5-8_BlackBlack, Holly & Cassandra Clare. The Iron Trial. 304p. (Magisterium: Bk. 1). ebook available. Scholastic. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545522250; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545522274.

Gr 5-8–All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence, the only certain way to make sure he doesn’t reach his 18th birthday. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call’s blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other “Iron Years” to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus. Black and Clare have created a unique world in The Magisterium, adroitly sidestepping reader fatigue with the many post-Harry Potter “magical academy” fiction series. The diverse main trio’s multidimensional portrayals leave aside easy characterizations in favor of complex motivations which add depth to each character. Best of all, a late-stage reveal of the novel’s true hero and villain neatly turn fantasy tropes on their heads.–Elisabeth Gattullo Marrocolla, Darien Library, CT

Blair, Kelsey. Pick and Roll. ISBN 9781459406025; ISBN 9781459406018; ISBN 9781459406032.

Boateng, Johnny. Hustle. ISBN 9781459406056; ISBN 9781459406049; ISBN 9781459406063.

Forsyth, Christine A. Power Hitter. ISBN 9781459405905; ISBN 9781459405929.

ea vol: 136p. (Lorimer Sports Stories). Lorimer. Sept. 2014. $16.95. pap. $9.95. ebk.

Gr 6-10–In Hustle, Johnny Huttle is a promisingly skilled point guard. He works hard and he plays hard, but he just can’t seem to overcome the natural ability of Rex. The two friends have been playing street ball and school basketball since they were little, and basketball is their ticket out of their dangerous Vancouver, British Columbia neighborhood. The problem is that Rex is being offered all the temptations that high school celebrity can bring. In Pick and Roll, Jazz is a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court. Her confidence is shaken when her well-placed screen leaves a member of a rival team with a concussion. Blair captures the intensity of women’s basketball with an otherwise authentic description of the plays and emotions experienced by true competitors. In Power Hitter, 13-year-old Connor Wells’s dad is in Orlando, and his mother is undergoing a mysterious treatment that necessitates a trip for Connor from Ontario to Winnipeg to stay with relatives he hardly knows. The Campbells are gracious people who are willing to take Connor into their home and lives and make Connor their baseball project. Power Hitter is a pleasant enough fantasy for those who can appreciate an innocent coming-of-age baseball story. Overall, this series is recommended for struggling readers who crave a sporty literary snack, but who aren’t prepared for the raw prose of Paul Volponi’s Black and White (Viking, 2005).–Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview, WA

jasmineskiesBrahmachari, Sita. Jasmine Skies. 336p. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807537824.

Gr 6-9–Fourteen-year-old Mira Levenson, born and raised in England, is about to meet her mother’s family in India and experience a country very different from the one in which she grew up. She will stay with her mum’s first cousin, Anjali, who has a daughter about the same age. The family lives in Kolkata (Calcutta), where Anjali runs a refuge for homeless children. Though the cousins have chatted via Facebook and Skype, the protagonist wonders if they’ll get on well in person. Mira’s narration successfully introduces the beauty and difficulties of Kolkata, offers glimpses of contemporary life in the subcontinent, and highlights the tension between the traditional and modern. Readers will likely recognize Mira’s own conflicting emotions about love, religion, and loyalty. She struggles with her love for Jide, her best friend in London, and her developing feelings for 16-year-old Janu, a former street orphan who now works at the refuge. Mira also wonders why her mother and Anjali have kept their families apart. The girl’s dreams and reality collide before she returns to London in a fast-paced, satisfying conclusion. An evocative look of living and loving two cultures.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

Cardi, Annie. The Chance You Won’t Return. 352p. ebook available. Candlewick. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763662929. LC 2013946619.

Gr 9 Up–Driver’s Ed is turning junior year into a nightmare for Alex. She keeps having panic attacks when she gets behind the wheel. But that is nothing compared to home, where her mother has had a psychotic break and is convinced that she is Amelia Earhart. Alex is acutely embarrassed and desperate to keep her friends and new boyfriend in the dark about her home life. Her father needs Alex’s help with taking care of her younger siblings while he tries to get his wife the care she needs. Alex often sneaks downstairs in the middle of the night to have heartfelt talks with “Amelia,” in whom she can confide more easily than when she was “mom.” The novel’s central theme is a clever, deft twist on the idea of leaving home. At a time of life when teenagers should be the ones departing, even just by learning to drive or going to dances, the author has Alex’s mother threatening to abandon the family without ever saying it. As Amelia, she is looking over charts and maps, preparing for a final flight, and Alex fears that her mother may disappear and like Earhart, never return. A novelist to watch.–Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT

SLJ1409-BK-Fic5-8_CerraCerra, Kerry O’Malley. Just a Drop of Water. 320p. Sky Pony. Sept. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781629146133.

Gr 5-8–This historical novel takes place in Coral Springs, Florida in the days leading up to and after September 11, 2001. Jake Green struggles with the knowledge that one of the hijackers was living in his town prior to the attacks. His best friend and neighbor, Sam Medina, an Arab Muslim, is targeted by boys in their class whose actions and behavior toward persons of Arab descent is disrespectful and volatile. Sam’s father is taken into FBI custody after the discovery that he serviced the hijacker at the bank he worked at prior to the attacks. Jake soon finds himself at odds with his immediate family as he defends his best friend’s honor and tries to help bring Mr. Medina home. Tensions run high at Jake’s house as he tries to make sense of his mother’s prejudices. His interest in history and war leads him to develop a relationship with a mysterious neighbor who lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath. Historical fact and realistic fiction elements are woven together with an expert hand, making readers care about this moment in history and giving educators an excellent book sure to spur thoughtful discussion.–Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

Clare, Cassandra & others. The Bane Chronicles. 528p. illus. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Nov. 2014. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781442495999; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781442495661.

Gr 9 Up–While he does not have a starring role, Magnus Bane, Warlock extraordinaire, is one of the most popular characters in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments” and “Infernal Devices” series (both S. & S.). Fans of Clare’s books will eagerly devour the 10 short stories, which were previously only available as individual ebooks. The tales are organized chronologically, with the majority of them taking place during the Victorian-era Infernal Devicesseries; two feature Bane and Alec, including their hilarious first date. Every story is preceded by a quotation and a one-page comic, drawn in manga-style, highlighting an important scene. Clare has teamed up with authors Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan to flesh out the lengthy life of Bane, giving readers a unique insight into the characters and events they know from Clare’s other books. At the same time, readers unfamiliar with the “Shadow Hunters” series will easily be able to pick up this book and enjoy it without much confusion. The stories are equally engaging and are organized well, seamlessly building on one another. An essential purchase for any library that has a Cassandra Clare following.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Demas, Corinne. Returning to Shore. 208p. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467713283; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467724036. LC 2013018618.

Gr 6-9–While her mother goes off for her honeymoon with her third husband, Clare is shipped off to spend the summer with her father, a man she hasn’t seen since she was three. There’s barely a road and no cell reception on the tiny island off Martha’s Vineyard where he lives, and the summer residents know him simply as an eccentric whose obsession with turtles stands in the way of their grand houses. Clare wonders if she’ll be able to connect with this man with whom she shares biology but little else. The book’s themes—environmental destruction and sexual acceptance—[are] aimed squarely at younger teens. A good title to bridge middle grade readers to slightly more mature stories and narratives.–L. Lee Butler, Stoughton High School, MA

catatthewallEllis, Deborah. The Cat at the Wall. 144p. House of Anansi/Groundwood. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554984916.

Gr 5 Up–Clare was a girl from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At 13, she dies and finds herself transformed into a cat, living in Bethlehem, Israel. As a girl, she always wanted to be the center of attention, so being an ignored stray seems cruel. She follows two Israeli soldiers into a seemingly empty house on the West Bank. As the situation escalates with the discovery of a young Palestinian boy, Clare reflects on her actions during her last year of life as a human. Set on Israel’s West Bank, the harsh reality of the story is tempered by the first-person narration of a cat who understands all languages. Ellis is neutral; she doesn’t take sides, nor does she attempt to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, the miscommunication and actions of the individual characters are examined. Readers are plunged into the narrative, in the same way Clare must face her new feline life. The narrative alternates between the present on the West Bank and flashbacks to Clare’s life as a human. The pacing is appropriately measured, and the setting is vividly described—concisely but evocatively conveying tension, unease, and instability. It is an excellent choice for book clubs and classroom use, and will easily evoke discussion.–Amy Seto Musser, Denver Public Library

Foley, Jessie Ann. The Carnival at Bray. 224p. Elephant Rock. Oct. 2014. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780989515597. LC 2014937608.

Gr 9 Up–This promising debut, set in the heyday of grunge, tells the story of Maggie Lynch, a displaced Chicagoan and grunge music fan, living in a quiet town (Bray) on the Irish Sea. Maggie was uprooted from her friends, her music scene, and her beloved Uncle Kevin when her romantically fickle mother married her latest boyfriend, resulting in a move to his hometown. During her time of difficult adjustment to Ireland, Maggie falls in love with Eion the very moment a devastating loss hits her family, leading to rebellion and a journey to Rome to see Nirvana and fulfill Uncle Kevin’s wish for her. Foley sets the scene vividly, writing that Bray has a “soggy sort of grandeur” and weaving in the tiny cultural differences that Maggie has to navigate as an American. Foley has also populated Bray with a host of quirky, loving, and memorable background characters, which enriches the story. Recommended for teens who enjoy travelogue romance stories or novels about rock music.–Susannah Goldstein, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

SLJ1409-BK-spot5-8_FontanezFontánez, Edwin. The Illuminated Forest. illus. by Edwin Fontánez. 336p. Exit Studio. 2014. pap. $18. ISBN 9780983189169.

Gr 6-9–Fontánez weaves a tale of loss, anger and hope through the stories of a young boy, a stray cat, an evil and abusive man, a ghost, and the plants and animals of the tropical island. After the death of his beloved young mother, Minerva, 12-year-old Mateo reluctantly returns to his grandparents’ rural Palo Verde home to grieve. Meanwhile, a once-beloved stray cat that was abandoned wanders into Mateo’s yard, looking for safety and rest, but is afraid to trust after enduring abuse and living in the wilderness. Minerva’s ghost wanders the Forest, unsure of where she came from and why she is there, watching over the cat and Mateo, but unable to intervene. Mateo and his friend Sergio have many dramatically dangerous adventures, from which they recover quite extraordinarily. Black-and-white drawings, some covering full pages, give the feeling of a journal in which the author is recording thoughts and impressions. Mateo’s story and the descriptions of Palo Verde’s lush and simple community are quite memorable.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

Gallardo, Adam. Zomburbia. 361p. (Zombie Apocalypse: Bk. 1). Kensington/KTeen. Sept. 2014. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781 617730986; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781 617730993.

Gr 9 Up–Courtney Hart, 16, is a typical teen living after the zombie apocalypse that wiped out the human population in the world’s major cities. Courtney also carries a gun for protection, and her school closely resembles a high-security prison, built to keep humans safe inside and zombies outside. The virus that created flesh-eating zombies pushed survivors to escape to smaller rural areas. However, Courtney starts to notice a horrifying trend: a crop of very humanlike zombies have started to gang up on humans. The heroine suspects it has something to do with a methlike drug called Vitamin Z that is made from actual zombie brains and that she sells. When one of her friends succumbs to zombification after getting high with Courtney on Vitamin Z, the teen starts reevaluating her life and whether the popular crowd and boy she’s been dating are truly her allies. Fans of zombie fiction will devour this book; teens who haven’t made the leap (or shuffle) to the genre will be hooked. A gory, campy read.–Julie Shatterly, W. A. Bess Elementary School, Gastonia, NC

Hastings, Avery. Feuds. 272p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250057716; ebk. ISBN 9781250045706.

Gr 9 Up–In an alternate future that is harshly segregated, Davis, a “Prior,” and Cole, an “Imp” could not be more different. Davis is part of an elite group of humans with enough money to genetically modify themselves into perfection. She gets the best education, goes to the hottest parties, and has the freedom to concentrate on her passion—ballet. Cole lives in the Slants with the other poor, imperfect humans. He is a fierce opponent in the FEUDS, an underground cage-fighting competition run by Priors. When Cole’s FEUDS sponsor, a political rival to Davis’ father, blackmails him into infiltrating a Prior party, everything changes. Cole becomes aware that a deadly virus covered up by the government is killing off Priors. He never meant to become involved, and he certainly never meant to fall in love with his mark. Feuds is fast-paced and plot-driven. Hastings has created a fascinating society where the so-called ideal humans start dying off from a virus that is directly related to the modifications that made them perfect. While the premise is not entirely unique, the story is executed well. Feuds ends with an unexpected cliff-hanger. Readers will eagerly await the sequel.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Hosie, Donna. The Devil’s Intern. 240p. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823431953; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9780823432653. LC 2014002402.

Gr 10 Up–Hosie has written a book that will not only entertain but maybe even enlighten. Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Johnson has spent the last four years in Hell, where he is the Devil’s intern in the accounting office. With the number of new arrivals on the rise, Hell’s finances are strained. Fortunately, the Devil has a plan to use his Viciseometer, a time-travel device, to limit the number of those destined for Hell. Mitchell sees it as an opportunity to change his fate and revisit the day he met his fate with a bus. After stealing the Viciseometer, he travels back to the past with three of his friends (a Viking prince, a 17th-century peasant, and a wild-haired gal from the 1960s) and attempts to alter history, only to learn that life and death are complicated and unpredictable. Interesting characters, nonstop adventure, and humor with a touch of heart will not disappoint teens looking for a dark comedy.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Jacobs, Evan. Self. Destructed. 254p. (Gravel Road). Saddleback. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781622507221.

Gr 7 Up–Michael is a high school junior who likes to run and dreams of one day becoming a pediatrician. When Ashley, a beautiful girl from an affluent family, falls for Michael, he can hardly believe his luck. Life is grand until the couple have an argument that leads to their breakup. Unable to move on from the relationship, Michael becomes dangerously drawn to his father’s gun case. He takes a gun to school with an intention that is not fully clear until the end of the book, but the weapon is never fired. Michael ends up in prison and eventually on parole. Can he change his life around, or is he on a path to his own self-destruction? Much of the story takes place within the landscape of Michael’s mind. Readers become well-acquainted with the teen’s internal healing process. Ultimately, the book’s appealing design will help it find readership, and Michael’s likability will have teens pulling for the troubled young man.–Alison O’Reilly Poage, formerly at Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library, NY

SLJ1409-BK-Fic9up_TalonKagawa, Julie. Talon. 416p. ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211395.

Gr 9 Up–In this fantasy set in present-day California, Ember and her twin, Dante, are sent to live with guardians in a beach town for the summer. It’s supposed to be their last period of free time before they start training for their life’s work. Ember and Dante are dragons, and Talon is the government agency that assigns their work, educates them, and makes sure they blend in well with their surroundings and fellow humans. Talon has an ancient enemy in St. George, a militia whose sole purpose is to seek and destroy all dragons. When Garrett, one of St. George’s most promising soldiers, is sent to find a sleeper dragon in the same small beach town, he and Ember cross paths. With a rogue dragon as a catalyst, the two must sort through the truths they thought they knew about each other’s sides—their lives depend on it. Ember is a strong-willed heroine who isn’t afraid to take risks and questions the motives of those who run Talon. This modern-day fantasy with a splash of romance is an entertaining read. Kagawa weaves an evenly paced narrative with a strong theme of loyalty. Readers who have outgrown Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (Knopf, 2003) and those who appreciate a good old-fashioned love triangle will enjoy this first installment of the saga.–Stephanie DeVincentis, Downers Grove North High School, IL

King, A. S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. 308p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316222723.

Gr 9 Up–King returns with another wholly original work of magical realism. This eerie, provocative title centers on Glory O’Brien, on the verge of graduating high school. Though talented and whip-smart, Glory is an outsider whose social interactions are largely limited to her only friend, Ellie, who lives across the street in a commune, and her father, a one-time painter who’s been floundering since the suicide of Glory’s mother 12 years earlier. Both girls realize they have the power to see the past—and future—of strangers around them, and Glory slowly understands that an incredibly disturbing, Handmaid’s Tale–esque future lies in store, with the rights of women and girls being eroded and a second civil war breaking out. King has developed an unusual protagonist, yet one with a distinct and authentic voice. Elevating herself above the pack and imbuing her novel with incredible nuance, King artfully laces themes of disintegrating friendship, feminism, and sexuality into the narrative, as well as some provocative yet subtle commentary on the male gaze and the portrayal of women in our culture. This beautifully strange, entirely memorable book will stay with readers.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

mortal-heart-by-robin-lafevers-rLaFevers, Robin. Mortal Heart. 464p. (His Fair Assassin: Bk. 3). ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547628400. LC 2014001877.

Gr 9 Up–This thrilling series conclusion narrates the fate of 17-year-old convent-raised Annith who impatiently awaits her assignment to serve as the god Mortain’s Handmaiden of Death. When the Abbess appoints her as Seeress, Annith is even more distraught, knowing that the position will condemn her to a life of celibacy and isolation. Vowing to confront her superior and aided by both the Helloquins (damned souls seeking redemption) and the Arduinnites (protectors of women and innocents), the teen escapes to the Breton court, where Duchess Anne and her followers are strategizing against the invading French. Distressed over her true parentage, Annith finds comfort in the Helloquins leader Balthazar, who has secrets of his own. LaFevers again mesmerizes her readers through the political struggles of 15th-century Brittany and the intrigues of the followers of Mortain. Clear, fast-paced, dramatic prose reveals the story via short, action-packed chapters, and the expert craftsmanship of the writing is worth savoring. A plethora of strong females and their romantic relationships will have wide appeal for teens, making this a definite purchase where Grave Mercy (2012) and Dark Triumph (2013, both Houghton Harcourt) are popular and a strong story that can stand on its own.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI

Legrand, Claire. Winterspell. 464p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442465985; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442466005. LC 2013019385.

Gr 9 Up–Legrand’s YA debut is set in two worlds in 1899: New York City and the magical world of Cane, a country of humans, mages, and faeries. Seventeen-year-old Clara Stole’s mother, Hope, dies a gruesome death, leaving Clara and her family grief-stricken and at a loss. The teen is determined to uncover who was responsible for her mother’s murder. Clara uncovers photos of her mother’s body with markings on it matching those on the statue in her godfather’s shop. Does he know who killed Hope? There was a curse placed on the statue that Godfather breaks, and the statue becomes human. Godfather and Clara fight the magical creatures that come for Nicholas, the former statue, but they take Clara’s father instead. She and Nicholas enter a magical door into Cane and the quest to find him begins. Readers will appreciate the in-depth character development and the action-packed pace in this stand-alone novel. In this unique retelling of The Nutcracker, the author weaves the original story and characters together seamlessly with a rich setting and spins a romantic and dark new tale.–Jesten Ray, Seattle Public Library, WA

Link, Kelly & Gavin J. Grant, eds. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales. 480p. ebook available. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. RTE $22.99. ISBN 9780763664732.

Gr 9 Up–Between these pages readers will find entries by literary greats as well as new authors. Some of these tales are moving, others terrifying, but they all have one thing in common: monsters. In Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Moriabe’s Children,” a girl hears the kraken that drowned her father calling her to come to them. A disobedient teen discovers that interstellar space pirates are more monstrous than the creatures she’s been taught to fear in the amusing “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)” by Holly Black. In “This Whole Demoning Thing” by Patrick Ness, a young demon discovers how to be true to herself through music. And “Left Foot, Right” by Nalo Hopkinson is an eerily touching story about one girl’s crippling grief and the monsters that guide her through to the other side. From vampires to ghosts and from strange creatures made of mercury to half-harpies, these beasts will broaden readers’ perspectives. Long after the last page is turned, these tales will linger in readers’ brains, in their closets, under their beds, and in the shadows.–Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO

SLJ1409-BK-Fic9up_LuLU, Marie. The Young Elites. 368p. Putnam. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399167836; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698171725.

Gr 8 Up–A rollicking series opener from the author of the “Legend” series (Putnam). Imagine surviving a plague of fever, only to be marked as an abomination by your countrymen. Most survivors of the sickness that vanquished thousands in this alternative medieval world possess a strange and unique marking, whether it be a facial coloring, oddly tinged hair, or, in Adelina’s case, a missing eye. Called malfettos, some are endowed with magical gifts that enable them to control wind, fire, earth, and even humans. All Adelina has ever wanted is to feel accepted and loved, but she’s ignored by her father, and her sister doesn’t have the power to save her. She becomes a member of the Dagger Society, an Elite group of malfettos bent on using their supernatural abilities to escape the Inquisition’s genocide and place their leader, Enzo, on the throne of Kenettra. Adelina struggles with an increasing distrust of Enzo, her fellow Elites, and herself, all while learning how to control her powers of illusion and disillusion. Lu seamlessly melds an unforgettable and intoxicating historical fantasy narrative with a strong female protagonist that grapples with an issue experienced by all young adults—acceptance of one’s self. Brimming with engaging battles—physical and emotional—and meticulous backdrops, Lu’s new series will be a surefire hit with old and new fans alike.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

McCowan, Patricia. Honeycomb. ISBN 9781459805798. LC 2014935397.

Thomas, Erin. Forcing the Ace. ISBN 9781459806450. LC 2014935378.

ea vol: 144p. (Orca Limelights). ebook available. Orca Book. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.95.

Gr 6-10Honeycomb follows the efforts of 15-year-old Nat as she and two other girls enter a Young Performers contest at the fictional Tall Grass Music Festival in Manitoba, Canada. Jess, her best friend, plays the guitar and sings, while the slightly older Harper thinks she’s in charge. Harper tries to assert her supremacy because her parents are professional musicians, while at the same time driving a wedge between Nat and Jess, who have been friends since elementary school. In Forcing the Ace, readers are not told Alex’s age. An aspiring magician, much to the disappointment of his surgeon father, he enters a contest for teens and finds himself paired with a girl who is a novice. Both novels emphasize the necessity of cooperation and persistence, as well as the importance of education and family. These high-interest, low-vocabulary stories will appeal to reluctant readers, especially those with an interest in the performing arts.–Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, Los Alamitos, CA

Martinez, Claudia Guadalupe. Pig Park. 248p. ebook available. Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781935955764; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781935955771. LC 2013040645.

Gr 7 Up–Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga is facing a summer of uncertainties as her fictitious Chicago neighborhood, Pig Park, sits in the shadow of an abandoned lard company that moved its plant to China. The subsequent decline in population and economic downturn causes local businesses to flounder and Masi’s school closes. In desperation, struggling community members agree to build a huge pyramid in their central park to attract tourists. The youth are pressed into heavy labor and clerical work to prepare for its grand opening. An unseen university professor also funds the project, sending his student Felix to help organize community efforts. Later, his colleague Belinda wants them to wear brightly colored, traditional Mexican clothing and sprinkle Spanish in their speech—whether they are of Mexican descent or not. The summer is filled with a first crush, an absent parent, fear of losing home and friends, and community engagement. Readers will appreciate the strong characters and identify with the protagonist’s teen angst.–Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

Mary The SummoningMonahan, Hillary. Mary: The Summoning. 240p. (Bloody Mary). ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423185192. LC 2014004254.

Gr 7-10–Shauna, Jess, Kitty, and Anna all gather in the bathroom in Anna’s house, ready to summon Bloody Mary. Jess, the leader of the group, starts chanting while the other three girls are anxious to be done with the ritual. None of them really expects anything to happen, until a hand appears in the mirror. Elated, Jess cannot wait to try again, but this time, she changes things around. Mary appears in the mirror, but instead of being contained, she starts to come out. She grabs Shauna, cutting her skin and trying to pull her back into the mirror with her. Soon, Mary appears in any shiny surface, and the girls’ lives are in danger—Shauna most of all. Descriptions are vivid, especially details about Mary and her hauntings. The story has enough creepy elements that will linger with readers. This modern take on the popular urban legend is definitely not for the faint of heart.–Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

Morgan, G. A. The Fog of Forgetting. 303p. (The Five Stones Trilogy: Bk. 1). Islandport Pr. 2014. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781939017239. LC 2013901201.

Gr 5 Up–An exciting blend of fantasy and adventure. Chase, Knox, and Teddy are on their way to begin their summer vacation with a trip to Fells Harbor. Things are going fine until they meet Evelyn and Frankie, who convince them to take a boat ride around the harbor. Suddenly, they arrive in a strange new world called Ayda, a land of magic, where destiny is controlled by the “daylights,” a power that acts differently in each person. Ayda is a land filled with danger, allies, and enemies where nothing is what it seems. Each country in Ayda has a magic stone and a stone keeper, a powerful person tasked with keeping the stone safe. However, there are dark forces trying to take control of all five stones. When Frankie is kidnapped, the children set out on a rescue mission. They must do all they can to stop the enemy from gaining control of all the magic stones before they can return home. Morgan excels at world-building; Ayda and each of the countries are unique and have their own characteristics. Filled with the type of danger and magic that will please fans of Brandon Mull’s “Beyonders” series (Aladdin) and C. S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.”–Patrick Tierney, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School, RI

Myracle, Lauren. yolo. 240p. Abrams/Amulet. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419708718.

Gr 9 Up–Maddie, Angela, and Zoe are beginning their biggest adventure yet—college. They encounter many challenges—failure, drunkenness, heartbreak, and successes— and ultimately discover their true friends. Maddie embraces the California lifestyle and is assigned to a suite with three other girls referred to as the “Esbees” because they are from Santa Barbara. In the first few months of college, Maddie is almost unable to continue with the yolo (you only live once) mission especially when her parents can’t afford to fly her home for Thanksgiving break. Angela enters college drawn to the Greek lifestyle of partying, fraternity socials, and the appeal of belonging but sees that she may not agree with all of the initiation rituals and the unwritten rules. Zoe decides to attend a liberal college and try a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Doug but realizes that they have both moved on. After overcoming her depression, she also learns that she loves to run to release stress, and she experiments with her sexuality. Zoe faces failure in a creative writing class when a professor does not recommend her to keep moving through the program, but she is not discouraged. Told in Internet-age style of text messages and tweets first seen in Myracle’s ttyl (Abrams, 2004), the girls try to embrace the free-spirited yolo philosopy as they grow into their young adulthood.–Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

i'll give you the sunNELSON, Jandy. I’ll Give You the Sun. 384p. ebook available. Dial. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803734968.

Gr 9 Up–A resplendent novel from the author of The Sky Is Everywhere (Dial, 2010). Fraternal twins and burgeoning artists Jude and Noah are inseparable until puberty hits and they find themselves competing for boys, a spot at an exclusive art school, and their parents’ affections. Told in alternating perspectives and time lines, with Noah’s chapters taking place when they are 13 and Jude’s when they are 16, Jude’s takes are peppered with entries from her bible of superstitions and conversations with her grandmother’s ghost, and Noah continuously imagines portraits (complete with appropriately artsy titles) to cope with his emotions. In the intervening years, a terrible tragedy has torn their family apart, and the chasm between the siblings grows ever wider. Vibrant imagery and lyrical prose propel readers forward as the twins experience first love, loss, betrayal, acceptance, and forgiveness. Readers will forgive convenient coincidences because of the characters’ in-depth development and the swoon-worthy romances. The novel’s evocative exploration of sexuality, grief, and sibling relationships will ring true with teens. For fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (St. Martin’s, 2013) and Melina Marchetta’s realistic fiction.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

SLJ1409-BK-Fic9up_OPorterO’Porter, Dawn. Paper Airplanes. 272p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419711848.

Gr 10 Up–In this captivating and at times gritty debut, O’Porter presents a funny and poignant coming-of-age friendship of Flo and Renée. It’s 1994, and the 15-year-olds are each facing their share of troubles on the small British island of Guernsey. Flo’s parents have split up, and she’s dealing with a critical mother at home and an incredibly domineering best friend at school. Renée is an extroverted troublemaker at school, but feels like a stranger in the home she shares with her bulimic younger sister and emotionally unavailable grandparents. The girls bond over the shared experience of familial tragedy and become close friends, exchanging notes on paper airplanes and finding in each other the support they crave. Readers will be drawn into the story, which moves quickly through alternating first-person narrations. By the end, each girl comes to learn the importance of friendship and forgiveness and that the past, while not forgotten, doesn’t have to define you. Though their behavior can be frustrating at times, readers will root for the pair and will also eagerly await the sequel.–Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal

O’Rourke, Erica. Dissonance. 496p. ebook available. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442460263. LC 2013033578.

Gr 9 Up–Delancy Sullivan is a Walker, someone with the genetic ability to travel to parallel worlds. When choices are made in the “Key World,” an alternate reality is established where an echo follows a different path. Walkers maintain order and balance between these multiple universes and the Key World to ensure harmony for all. On a routine training mission things go terrible wrong, and if not for Del’s unconventional thinking, she and her sister Addison would have been lost. As a result the Consort, the governing council for Walkers, suspends Del from Walking, determining that her reckless ways need proper supervision. Headstrong and determined, Del questions the Consort’s motives as well as her parents’ secret involvement in a mysterious multiverse anomaly. O’Rourke brilliantly builds an intricate and complex alternate science-fiction universe that contains beautiful imagery and visualization. The pacing and attention to detail drive the plot forward, while the link between Walking and music is fascinating. The well-defined characters deal with important themes such as family, loyalty, romance, and betrayal. Throw in a pseudo love triangle, forbidden romance, sibling rivalry, a witty grandpa, and a cliff-hanger ending, and fans will be longing for the next installment.–Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Parker, Natalie C. Beware the Wild. 336p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062241528.

Gr 8 Up–In Sticks, Louisiana, Phineas Saucier had just fought with his sister, Sterling, when he jumped the fence and ran into the swamp. Sterling anxiously awaits Phin’s return, but it’s not Phin who emerges from the swamp hours later. Instead, a girl named Lenora May appears and somehow slips into Sterling’s family, erasing and replacing Phin’s very existence. Sterling is positive she isn’t crazy, but no one, not even her oldest friends, seems to remember Phin. The only person who believes her is a troubled boy named Heath. The two of them band together to send Lenora May back to the dangerous place she came from and rescue her brother. The swamp, however, has power of its own and Lenora May isn’t about to return willingly. This is a creepy, atmospheric book that will draw readers in. Parker has created a supernatural setting that manages to feel new and yet strangely familiar, reminiscent of Brenna Yovanoff’s work. Beware the Wild breathes new life into the teen supernatural genre.–Heather Webb, Worthington Libraries, OH

Perry, Jolene. Stronger Than You Know. 243p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807531556.

Gr 9 Up–Joy is a 15-year-old who has been removed from her mother’s care and placed in the home of her aunt and uncle after suffering years of abuse and neglect by her mother and her mother’s “friends.” The novel flashes back to Joy’s terrible moments of imprisonment in her mother’s trailer, but the story’s strength lies in the protagonist’s recovery process and how she learns to trust and become part of a family. The teen’s phobias and difficulties are depicted with honesty and sympathy, and readers will struggle along with her as she begins to interact with her new family and her peers. While the subject matter is tough, this realistic title will draw teens in with its believable characters, including the well-written portrayal of the adult protagonists.–Sarah Wilsman, Kent Free Library, Kent, OH

SLJ1409-BK-Fic9up_PortmanPortman, Frank. King Dork Approximately. 368p. Delacorte. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385736183; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385905916; ebk. ISBN 9780375985676.

Gr 10 Up–High school sophomore, aspiring rock star, and self-proclaimed outsider Tom Henderson is back in the sidesplitting follow-up to Portman’s acclaimed King Dork (Random, 2006). The book opens with Tom being sent to a new school in the wake of the shutdown of his old school—this time without Sam Hellerman. New horizons provide more humorous opportunities for Tom to cast a snarky eye over all he sees, from Little Big Tom, the teen’s hapless and deeply uncool stepfather, to Clearview High, where school spirit reigns supreme. Portman has crafted a perceptive protagonist, whose brilliantly wry observations will keep readers laughing and whose voice is infused with an all-too-believable mix of innocence and cynicism. An typical adolescent boy despite his intelligence and depth, Tom is realistically frank, dropping in sexual jokes and thoughts, along with the references to rock artists and musicians. The author excels at description and tone. Tom is a winsome character who rings true and whose escapades will keep readers engaged.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Reed, Amy. Damaged. 384p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2014. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781442456990.

Gr 9 Up–Eighteen-year-old Kinsey Cole knows people can only bear so much bad fortune. That’s why everyone knows Kinsey’s best friend Camille died in a car accident when Kinsey was driving. It’s also why Kinsey hasn’t cried since the accident and is trying to avoid Camille’s boyfriend, Hunter. Even without her friend, the protagonist is still struggling to stick to her plan to go to college and get away from the small town of Wellspring, Michigan, and her mentally unstable mother once and for all. The only problem is that Kinsey is quietly falling apart. When Hunter invites her on a road trip to San Francisco, she jumps at the chance to get away from all the memories and start her real life. Nightmares that may or may not be Camille haunting the heroine add a surreal element to this contemporary story as Kinsey and Hunter travel across a largely barren landscape on their way to California. Reed offers a well-plotted and excellently written meditation on grief, loss, and the power of new beginnings in this striking novel about two wretched characters trying to make themselves whole.–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

Hoop Dreamsschultz Nicholson, Lorna. Hoop Dreams. 136p. (Podium Sports Academy). Lorimer. Sept. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781459405875.

Gr 8 Up–Allie McLean, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a senior basketball player at the Podium Sports Academy in Calgary, Canada. Captain of the team, she already has a full scholarship to Duke University. Her parents are divorced, and Allie is increasingly frustrated that her mother spends so much time with a revolving door of boyfriends rather than taking care of her two younger siblings or attending Parent’s Weekend at Podium. As a result, the teen immerses herself into school, her new boyfriend Jonathon, and basketball, the one activity in which she feels she has the most control. When her basketball coach asks if she is interested in coaching at a sports camp, she eagerly accepts and anticipates a summer that will not involve her family or going home. Soon, those plans begin to unravel. The protagonist learns an important lesson about who she can really count on during bad times. Schultz Nicholson is a former athlete with an excellent knowledge of basketball and other sports, and that is reflected in the details of on the court play-by-play that she provides. This hi-lo book’s evenly paced plot and familiar high school situations will resonate with readers, especially teen athletes.–Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH

Summer, Mary Elizabeth. Trust Me, I’m Lying. 336p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744065.

Gr 8 Up–Julep Dupree is a liar. Trained by her father in the family grifting business, she is adept at trading lies for money to pay the bills. Good thing, too, because the tuition for St. Agatha’s High School is high. Julep isn’t alarmed when she returns home one evening to find that her father missing, but the tousled state of the apartment leaves her with a hollow feeling and sets her on a chase to find him and the “mark” that perpetrated the ransacking. Best friend Sam is worried for her, but the teen pushes off his concern, even as she begins to get unusual and convenient attention from the class heartthrob, Tyler Richland. Together, the three high school students work to discover answers to all of Julep’s questions, a mission that will prove deadly for one of them. Summer has penned a debut novel chronicling the life of a teenage grifter that is outrageous and believable. The characters are well developed and leave readers looking forward to the next installment in this series.–Colleen S. Banick, Westport Public Schools, CT

Sussman, Elissa. Stray. 384p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062274557; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062274588.

Gr 7 Up–Sixteen-year-old princess-in-training Aislynn attends classes to hone vital skills like sewing and flirting—but her most important endeavor at the academy is to learn how to contain her “curse,” magical abilities that must be squashed in order to be deemed “safe” and marry a rich male heir. Aislynn is not doing a great job in keeping her powers under wraps and gets reassigned to fairy godmother classes. A demotion of this magnitude is a fate almost as horrible as any young royal could imagine—but the worst of all would be to “stray” from the right path and leave society. She studies how to use her magic in a controlled way and care for her charge. Sweet young Linnea has lost her parents and is associated with a bad family (her maternal aunt is an infamous stray known as the Wicked Queen). The heroine soon discovers that the world she believed in is built upon lies and manipulations designed to keep those in power at the top. This fun tale will appeal to reluctant readers. Sussman explores some unique themes, including a LGBTQ relationship, and even a yummy recipe in this fantasy with supernatural and romantic elements.–Tara Kehoe, New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Trenton

Tabak, Lawrence. In Real Life. 256p. Tuttle. Nov. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780804844789.

Gr 9 Up–Seth Gordon, or ActionSeth, obsesses over two things: Brit Leigh’s Facebook page and becoming a Starfare pro-gamer in Korea. When he earns a free spot at Nationals through a gaming tournament, convincing his parents to allow him to go requires a bargain with his dad: Seth must bring home money or quit gaming. Luckily, Seth wins $2000, but his mom jeopardizes his gaming career when she moves to an Institute in California—a yoga-heavy, technology-light community. His mom thinks it’s the ideal solution to his gaming problem and would prefer that he focus on his mathematical talents and getting into college. Seth convinces his dad to allow him to stay in Kansas with him. His dad agrees, with a caveat: Seth must get a job. The teen gamer begins working at a restaurant, where he meets Hannah. Seth’s placement in Nationals and his U.S. rankings draw the attention of Team Anaconda in Korea, and he convinces his parents to allow him to go. This book will appeal to gamers (especially those interested in learning about the Korean gaming scene) and teens looking for a light read.–Adrienne L. Strock, Nashville Public Library

Accidental HighwaymanTripp, Ben. The Accidental Highwayman. illus. by Ben Tripp. 304p. Tor Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765335494; ebk. ISBN 9781466822634.

Gr 6 Up–Tripp explains that this story of Kit Bristol, accidental highwayman from the mid-18th century, turned up in his ancestor’s sea chest. Orphan and trick rider, Kit works for James Rattle, whose mysterious nocturnal activities lead to a bloody death. Kit obeys his master’s last instructions, pulling back the curtain on a magical world that lives alongside his own. Kit must help fairy princess Morgana defy her father and escape marriage to King George III of England. As they journey to Ireland’s free Faerie state, they pick up a circus performer, a baboon, and a mildly delusional elderly gentleman to round out their motley crew. Fairy attacks from Morgana’s enemies impede their progress until they decide to form a carnival show to hide in plain sight. Humorous mayhem ensues. Tripp ably conveys the protagonist’s subtle sense of the ridiculous through his many mishaps, and conversations between magical creatures and uninformed mortals add to the book’s humor. Readers will delight in Kit and Morgana’s “opposites attract” romance, drawn onward by a rollicking plot. Tripp’s detailed black-and-white illustrations are worth a second look. Fantasy readers, especially fans of Cathrynne Valente’s work, will enjoy the author’s elegant turns of phrase.–Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

Vail, Rachel. Unfriended. 288p. Viking. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670013074; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698144804. LC 2014006247.

Gr 6-9–When Truly is invited to the popular table by her former best friend, Natasha, she is excited to finally get a chance at the “in” crowd. Unsure if she is really accepted by them, she worries about doing and saying the wrong thing. Popular Natasha is torn between being a good friend to Truly and being jealous of the attention that she gets. Meanwhile, Hazel, Truly’s current best friend, who is decidedly unpopular and anti-popularity, is hurt and angry at being abandoned by her friend. She seeks revenge by hacking into all of Truly’s online accounts. The addition of social media amplifies each snub, misunderstanding, and deliberate meanness. Truly is depicted as a complex young adult, not a single-minded social climber, while Natasha’s mean streak is the obvious product of questionable parenting. As these young people navigate the already awkward world of middle school, the fact that accusations, rumors, and lies are made public for the world to see make adolescent mistakes much more grave. A solid choice that will ignite meaningful discussion.–Patricia Feriano, Our Lady of Mercy School, Potomac, MD

Waters, Tawni. Beauty of the Broken. 368p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481407090; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481407106.

Gr 9 Up–Mara Stonebrook knows she does not belong; she is “different.” Her small town is conservative and strictly religious. She attends a parochial school even though her parents are far from wealthy. Her mother drinks to forget that she is married to an abusive bully who punishes her and Mara’s older brother Iggy, because he is not his biological son. Mara has managed to escape her father’s abuse for 15 years, but she knows that if anyone finds out her deepest secret, that she is a lesbian, she will be punished as an abomination in the eyes of their conservative church. Keeping her secret is easy until Xylia comes to town. A free-spirited transplant from San Francisco, Xylia encourages Mara’s artistic talent and returns her feelings. The reverend’s son takes a picture of them the two girls kissing, and they fear that they will be outed. Shortly after school starts, Mara is raped by the reverend’s son and is told that if she reveals that he is the perpetrator, he will release the photograph of her and Xylia. For months, Mara lives in a fog, but when her friend Henry, a Native American, is mistakenly arrested for the rape, she knows she has to tell the truth, whatever the circumstances. The aftermath is severe but frees Mara. Emotionally wrenching, this novel will resonate with students struggling with their own sexual orientation.–Suanne B. Roush, formerly at Osceola High School, Seminole, FL

winters_cureWinters, Cat. The Cure for Dreaming. 368p. chron. ebook available. further reading. photos. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419712166.

Gr 9 Up–What if you could tell a person’s true nature just by his appearance? Emotional vampires would be represented with fangs and a ghastly pallor; feeble, miserable individuals would flicker in and out of existence. Winters’s latest historical novel, set in Portland, Oregon, in the year 1900, explores this question and others. The daughter of a cruel dentist, Olivia Mead is called onto stage at a show to be hypnotized by the young yet famous Henri Reverie. Her furious father enlists Reverie’s help to browbeat Olivia into her proper role as a woman, forcing her to “see the world the way it truly is.” When Olivia realizes she cannot voice her dissent and that she can truly see peoples’ natures, she must take her future into her own hands with the help of Reverie. Winters combines the history of women’s rights in the early 20th century with a spellbinding story of a young woman caught at a crossroads between family and self. A strong female protagonist, realistic dialogue, and well-written prose allow readers to become immersed in Olivia’s rather unique (and sometimes frightening) world.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Yovanoff, Brenna. Fiendish. 352p. ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146380.

Gr 9 Up–Yovanoff’s writing is as thrilling and uneasy as the tales she spins. In a chilling hook, Fiendish opens with Clementine DeVore, buried in a cellar in New South Bend for 10 years with a hex bag tied to her throat and her eyes sewn shut. Impossibly, her rescuer, Eric Fisher, heard her breathing and dug her out of the ground to return her to her family, only for Clementine to discover that most people had forgotten her existence after “the reckoning.” In a town segregated into fiendish people of the Willows and those who are afraid of them, the protagonist learns the hard way that cruelty is sown when people fear the unknown. Her particular brand of magic being strongest of them all, Clementine’s reappearance means another reckoning is looming, one in which the creepy, frightfully unpredictable Hollow spills over its borders and terrified townspeople reduce the Willows to cinders. Richly detailed with adolescent “firsts,” such as Clementine’s self-consciousness at needing a bra and her first kiss with Fisher, and equally so with grand scenes of the reckoning, this horror tale will give teens goosebumps from start to finish.–Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City

Graphic Novels

AUSTEN, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 376p. illus. by Po Tse. ISBN 9781927925171.

Hugo, Victor. Les Misérables. 336p. illus. by Tszmei Lee. ISBN 9781927925157.

ea vol: Crystal Silvermoon, ed. (Manga Classics). Udon. 2014. Tr $24.99.

Gr 8 Up–Les Misérables relates the tales of those who suffer the injustices and moral qualms of life. The manga primarily focuses on the love and struggles of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, and Marius, before and during the Paris Uprising. While some attractive art nicely expresses their plights and eventual ascent, certain design choices gives the atmosphere too pleasant a feel. A similarly upbeat style works much better for Pride and Prejudice, which takes full advantage of manga’s characteristics. The flowery decorations, screentones, chibi form create a fun and charming tone for this love story and work of social commentary. King successfully refines these hefty texts down to their core elements. Between a quick pace and the use of common English, these adaptations are a much easier format for  reluctant readers to enjoy. Faithful translations of the originals, making both of these titles worthy of their esteemed names.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Review of the Day: El Deafo by Cece BellBell, Cece. El Deafo. illus. by Cece Bell. 248p. Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781419710209; pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781419712173.

Gr 2-6–Cece loses her hearing from spinal meningitis, and takes readers through the arduous journey of learning to lip read and decipher the noise of her hearing aid, with the goal of finding a true friend. This warmly and humorously illustrated full-color graphic novel set in the suburban ‘70s has all the gripping characters and inflated melodrama of late childhood: a crush on a neighborhood boy, the bossy friend, the too-sensitive-to-her-Deafness friend, and the perfect friend, scared away. The characters are all rabbits. The antics of her hearing aid connected to a FM unit (an amplifier the teacher wears) are spectacularly funny. It is her superpower. She deems herself El Deafo! inspired in part by a bullied Deaf child featured in an Afterschool Special. Cece fearlessly fantasizes retaliations. Nevertheless, she rejects ASL because it makes visible what she is trying to hide. She loathes the designation “special,” and wants to pass for hearing. Bell tells it all: the joy of removing her hearing aid in summer, the troubles watching the TV when the actor turns his back, and the agony of slumber party chats in the dark. Included is an honest and revealing afterword.–Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

SLJ1409-BK-FicGN-9up_CraneCrane, Jakob. Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials. illus. by Timothy Decker. 128p. Islandport Pr. Sept. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781939017338. LC 2013958057.

Gr 8 Up–Based on historical documents, this somber graphic novel will help readers understand that not all of the accusers had ill intentions during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Ann Putnam Jr. stepped forward 14 years after this period of irrational fear with a letter that was read in front of the church congregation asking for forgiveness. A bit of poetry, dialogue, and the actual letter written by Putnam poignantly express the guilt she felt. Illustrated in pen-and-ink, full-page black-and-white drawings mixed with smaller panels take readers on a trip through Salem. Decker’s attention to detail keeps the story moving forward and draws readers in even when there is no text present. Students who are fans of the witch trials or the European influence on America will appreciate and understand the power of a word such as witch.–Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI

Hatori, Bisco. Millennium Snow. tr. from Japanese by Honyaku Center. illus. by Bisco Hatori. 416p. (Millenium Snow: Vol. 1 & 2). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781421572451.

Gr 7 Up–Chiyuki was fated to die from birth. Despite her condition, she remains optimistic for the sake of others and always strives to see the next snowfall. Fate may have other plans though, when Toya, an anemic vampire whose blood could save her, drops into her life. Only the most powerful of bonds will heal his wounded heart. Even with the possibility of living 1,000 years, Chiyuki never seems self-serving, making her a delightfully conceived counterpart to Toya. The tone never becomes tragic, thanks to some nicely interspersed humor and the addition of the werewolf Satsuki. This title has a tenderness to it that other vampire romances lack; it chooses to focus on the time people share together within their allotted lifespan. It is only by understanding and saving one another that Chiyuki and Toya can build a true bond and find eternal love.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Kagami, Takaya. Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign. tr. from Japanese by Adrienne Beck. illus. by Yamato Yamamoto & Daisuke Furuya. 200p. (Seraph of the End: Vol. 1). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421571508.

Gr 7 Up–A mysterious virus kills adults but spares children, causing human society to collapse. Unfortunately, this makes way for vampires to take over, enslaving the human children and bringing them down to an underground city. Yuichiro is a single-minded protagonist, a boy who yearns to destroy the vampire overlords, but who lacks a plan to achieve that goal. His friend Mikaela acts as though he is a willing victim, but he uses his time with powerful vampire Lord Ferid to get information that will help Yuichiro escape the city and ultimately discover that there is still life in the human world after all. This story is filled with action and conflict, both physical and emotional. Yamamoto’s black-and-white illustrations are eye-catching and powerful, capturing architectural details of crumbling cities, extreme close-ups of conflicted characters, explosions, and fight scenes with equal skill.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Kawahara, Kazune. My Love Story! Vol. 1. adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane. tr. from Japanese by JN Productions. illus. by Aruko. 184p. (My Love Story!!). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421571447.

Gr 7 Up–Takeo is big and manly in a macho kind of way. His best friend, Sunakawa, is handsome in a pretty/pointy-haired way, which means that girls always find him attractive. One day Takeo rescues a girl named Yamato from a groper on the train, and she starts falling in love with him. Unfortunately for Takeo, he is too dense to realize this and spends most of the story convinced that Yamato is really in love with Sunakawa. This event and the subsequent misunderstandings make up about 90 percent of the plot, but then there is a twist at the end that takes the romantic story in a much different direction (avid manga readers won’t be quite so surprised). Aruko’s illustrations capture and heighten the farcical nature of the tale. This is a quick read for manga fans who are looking for a light and simple work.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

SLJ1409-BK-FicGN-9up_TakamiTakami, Koushun. Battle Royale: Angels’ Border. tr. from Japanese by Nathan Collins. illus. by Mioko Ohnishi & Youhei Oguma. 280p. (Battle Royale: Angels’ Border). Viz Media. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781421571683.

Gr 10 Up –Two short stories expand the inner lives and past histories of characters originally appearing in the Japanese novel Battle Royale (Viz, 1999). Haruka, on watch with class representative Yukie, attempts to come to terms with her hidden romantic feelings for her classmate with whom she is supposed to be fighting to the death, and Chisato remembers a past encounter with popular cool kid Shinji that revealed a talent for deception and hidden depths. These short episodes expand upon characters dispatched over a few chapters late in the original source, creating motivation for the actions that ultimately caused their respective deaths in the Program. Initially considered exploitative by critics, Takami’s cult novel spawned manga and film adaptations and is even considered by some to be a thematic prototype for Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series. Despite the work’s controversial violence, these vignettes focus instead on the ties that bind students who are instructed to ignore those human connections. The artwork, appropriately, has an emotive, romantic quality.–Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH

For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as graphic novel memoirs, tragic true crime stories, and science mysteries.

SLJ1409-BK-NFicGN-5up_AndrewsAndrews, Arin. Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen. 288p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481416757; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481416771. LC 2014010948.

Gr 9 Up–In this memoir, a female-born, transgender teenager describes the challenges presented by his transition. Andrews was always pleased to be called a tomboy as a child; in spite of his body, he felt like a boy, and his mother’s insistence that he wear dresses and take part in pageants was painful. Andrews’s relationship with his first girlfriend, a lesbian, helped him become aware of the fluidity of gender and sexuality and realize that it wasn’t so bad to be different. However, his mother saw his girlfriend as a terrible influence and forbade the boy from seeing her. A YouTube video introduced the teen to the idea of being transgender. With the help of a family therapist specializing in gender dysphoria and an adolescent LGBT support group, Andrews began the journey toward transition and taking on his true identity. The teen writes frankly and bravely about his transition and romantic relationships. This nonfiction account from an actual transgender teen author—as opposed to a novel, such as Cris Beam’s I Am J (Little, Brown, 2011)—is enlightening.–Brandy Danner, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Coe, Alexis. Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis. illus. by Sally Klann. 224p. appendix. bibliog. notes. Zest/Pulp. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781936976607.

Gr 9 Up–The year was 1892, and 19-year-old Alice Mitchell was in love with Freda Ward, 17. She determined that if she couldn’t marry Freda, nobody else would, either. The two women devised a plan to marry, with Alice posing as a man. However, their scheme was uncovered, and their families forbade the relationship. Freda moved on with her life and discovered other loves. Alice was unable to accept life without Freda and decided to kill her former lover when she visited Memphis. This true-crime drama uses primary-source documents of letters and transcripts from the trial to provide a rich, detailed description of Alice’s successful murder plot and the events following the verdict that declared Alice insane and sentenced her to an asylum. This is a captivating account, and readers will quickly become absorbed in the suspense surrounding Freda’s murder.–April Sanders, Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

SLJ1409-BK-NFicGN-5up_DenenbergDenenberg, Barry. Ali: An American Champion. 96p. bibliog. chron. photos. reprods. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481401418; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481401432. LC 2013045383.

Gr 4-8–A first-rate biography of an American legend. Starting when Ali (then Cassius Clay) was 12, the book relates his commitment to the sport, describing how after school was over, the boy worked until 6 pm, then trained until midnight. Denenberg also talks about Ali’s endless badgering of his opponents. Interspersed throughout is information about the turmoil of the time period, such as African Americans’ fight for desegregation and equality. There’s also material on the Vietnam War and how Ali reacted by joining the Nation of Islam, changing his name from Cassius Clay; his refusal to enter the army; and his association with civil rights leader Malcolm X. Most of the engaging narrative is done in the format of newspaper articles, man on the street interviews, and breaking news transmissions, all created by the author. Denenberg does an excellent job of capturing the era.–Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd. 50 Body Questions: A Book That Spills Its Guts. illus. by Ross Kinnaird. 108p. chart. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Annick. 2014. lib. ed. $22.95. ISBN 9781554516131; pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781554516124.

Gr 4-6 –A humorous look at the human body. This title provides answers to 50 questions through seven cleverly titled chapters, each dedicated to a different topic, such as “That Takes Guts” for digestion, “Blood Ties” for the brain and lung, and “Gray Matters” for the brain. While answers are brief and succinct, readers will find themselves amused by the witty illustrations and inspired to seek more detailed sources. Text boxes disguised as blood spatter “Body Bytes” and band aid–covered areas expand upon the answers and give information on key people and events. A fun and quirky romp through human anatomy.–Meaghan Darling, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ

Lewis, J. Patrick. Harlem Hellfighters. illus. by Gary Kelley. 32p. Creative Editions. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781568462462. LC 2013041370.

Gr 6 Up –This beautifully illustrated collection of free-verse poems introduces readers to the Harlem Hellfighters, a group of black American soldiers who fought in World War I, impressing the French with their courage and tenacity while also inspiring Europeans with their music, “a mix of primitive jazz, blues, and upbeat ragtime.” Despite the picture book format, the sophisticated writing style will be best understood by older readers. The poems are of varying quality: some read more like expository text with some figurative language thrown in, while others feature strong imagery that will help readers visualize the sights and sounds of war. Kelly’s atmospheric, pastel illustrations in muted tones are a perfect match for the time period, documenting the violence of war in Europe and the horror of lynchings at home. Those who look closely may notice that the illustrator has referenced some other works of art that are detailed in the artist’s note. Refer students who would like to know more about these brave soldiers to Walter Dean Myers’s The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage (HarperCollins, 2006). This title imparts the mood and feeling of the war well and serves as a good jumping-off point.–Jackie Partch, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

genetics_Mooney, Carla. Genetics: Breaking the Code of Your DNA. illus. by Sam Carbaugh. 128p. (Inquire and Investigate). chart. chron. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Nomad. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781619302082; pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781619302129.

Gr 6-10–This exploration of genetics uses the question “How are traits inherited from one generation to the next?” as a jumping-off point. Each chapter explains key discoveries and advances that have led to our current understanding of genetics, starting with Gregor Mendel. The book also examines genetic mutations and scientific advances in the field, such as DNA fingerprinting, genetically modified organisms, and cloning. Written in a conversational style, this text renders complex content comprehensible. Given minimal but generally sufficient instructions, students are asked to recreate a version of Mendel’s experiment, create a Punnett square, extract DNA from fruit, and create a model depicting meiosis, among other tasks. Black-and-white, comic booklike illustrations impart some information but mostly add humor. Sidebars contribute additional facts, including scannable QR codes that link to helpful videos, such as clips on sexual reproduction and mitosis available though YouTube on Hank Green’s Crash Course channel. A solid STEM resource recommended for general interest as well as supplemental curricular use.–Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

Ray, Jane. The Little Mermaid: And Other Fishy Tales. illus. by Jane Ray. 173p. (The Story Collector). notes. Boxer Books. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781907967818.

Gr 4-8 –Ray retells seven stories in her trademark flowing style (“the truly wonderful thing about a story is that you can change it and make it yours”) in this attractive volume. Most of the selections are familiar, originally coming from Japan, Denmark, Germany, East Africa, ancient Greece, and the Orkney Islands, as well as from the Inuit people. All the tales involve some magic: a poor fisherman carried by a turtle to an undersea kingdom to marry the Dragon King’s daughter; a young court musician rescued from drowning by a dolphin that is enchanted by his singing; and Raven the Creator, paddling his kayak into the belly of a whale to find the beautiful dancing girl who is the fish’s “heart and spirit,” among others. There is exceptional technical quality and detail in Ray’s various-sized graphic scratchboard illustrations and artistic sensibility in their placement throughout the volume. Her choice of colors—bright red, orange, golden yellow, turquoise, and muted shades of green, aquamarine, taupe, and even gray and black—result in a visually stunning book. A gorgeous collection.–Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH

Rosen, Michael J. Girls vs. Guys: Surprising Differences Between the Sexes. 64p. ebook available. photos. diags. Twenty-First Century. Nov. 2014. lib. ed. $33.27. ISBN 9781467716109. LC 2013021833.

Gr 6-10–This title provides interesting fodder in the ongoing “battle of the sexes” while citing results from recent experimental research measuring phenomenon such as the amount of sweat each gender produces, the effect each gender’s voice has on plants, and which sex will most likely be the first to recover from a romantic breakup. Deft writing helps relay cutting edge information about the brain’s function and differences between the sexes. Colorful photos captioned with key information give it the feel of a university prospectus, while a graphic diagram of the brain near the back of the book will enable readers to visualize the parts of the brain referenced in earlier pages. This choice may pave the way to further discussion and serve to inspire students to conduct their own social experiments.–Kathryn Diman, Bass Harbor Memorial Library, Bernard, ME

And from SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens blog, the following titles are perfect for teens looking to cross over to adult books.

SLJ1409w_AB4T-Stars

BROCKMEIER, Kevin. A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of the Seventh Grade. 208p. Pantheon. 2014. Tr $24. ISBN 9780307908988. LC 22013031895.
In this masterful memoir, Brockmeier takes three significant narrative risks, any one of which could have opened him up to charges of gimmickry, trivialization, or both, but which together combine to produce a moving portrait of young adolescence. In the realm of gimmickry is Brockmeier’s odd decision to tell his story in the third person—a trick which might have gotten old quickly but for his second strange decision: to limit the scope of his memoir to his year as a seventh-grader. These two narrative tools give the memoir the feel and shape of a novel, but could have resulted in a very trivial book indeed were it not for Brockmeier’s third narrative risk: an incredibly gimmicky break into the realm of metafiction at the book’s midway point, in which contemporary Kevin freezes time to discuss young Kevin’s life, and whether he would have wanted never to have been born. It’s a play straight out of It’s a Wonderful Life, but it works beautifully to give thematic heft to the memoir, showing readers just how crucial this one year in Brockmeier’s life was: his self-consciousness came to a crucial breaking point; almost all of his friends turned on him, bullying him mercilessly; and yet he began to come into his own as a writer. The moment of metafiction represents what truly was a turning point in Brockmeier’s life, and anyone who suffered through middle school in self-doubt or was bullied, will find Brockmeier’s story emotionally resonant and ultimately optimistic.—Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA

GRAEDON, Alena. The Word Exchange. 370p. Doubleday. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9780385537650. LC 2013033165.

Graedon’s debut novel is an SAT-prep dystopian masterpiece. Anana works for her father, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language. But the NADEL is dying, along with the printed word. Americans are so dependent on their memes (wearable smartphones) that they welcome the invention of implants and mind-controlling technology. Unfortunately, corporations (including one helmed by Anana’s ex-boyfriend) misuse the tech, and viral word flu devastates the country. Not only do those affected substitute created words for real words, but they also become nauseous and mentally unstable. Thousands die, riots ensue, and the protagonist must find her missing dad to help solve the mystery of the communication disaster. Anana, her family, and friends speak like a SAT vocabulary prep book, using words like “amanuensis,” “ouroboros,” and “scurf.” That alone makes this book accessible to teens who think the SAT Vocabulary Novels from SparkNotes are an insult. But, Graedon also creates delightful new words, and, though they are slow-going at first, chapters from the point of view of word flu sufferers are stand-outs. Well-read bibliophiles will recognize the literary connections, especially to Lewis Carroll and Samuel Johnson. Give this to teens who don’t mind a slower novel than Max Barry’s Lexicon (Penguin, 2013), and who like to explore dystopian mind games of M.T. Anderson’s Feed (Candlewick, 2004).—Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL

GROSSMAN, Lev. The Magician’s Land. 401p. Viking. 2014. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9780670015672. LC 2014010097.

“Can a man who can cast a spell ever really grow up?” This question is posed in The Magicians (Viking, 2009), the first book in Grossman’s trilogy that concludes with The Magician’s Land. Many coming-of-age stories are about leaving childhood behind but this fantasy series has always presented a more interesting idea; growing up means holding on to a bit of childlike magical thinking to fuel the dreams that will change the world. This is the journey readers have taken with Quentin as he’s aged from a sullen teenager to a prematurely hoary 30-year-old man. Banished from Fillory, with no kingdom to lead and nowhere else to go, Quentin returns to Brakebills in search of a job. After his tenure as a professor at his alma mater is cut short, he takes on the adventure of a magical heist. Meanwhile, Fillory is dying. Eliot and Janet are determined to find a way to save the collapsing magical world, but the end might be inevitable. The parallel narratives move at a slower pace than typical teen readers may expect, but there are numerous plot threads to resolve here, and Grossman does each one justice with satisfyingly loving details. An older reader who has followed the series will relish these moments, especially when the dual narratives converge. Fans won’t be disappointed with this emotional conclusion, full of the author’s wry voice, sharp characterization, and unique ability to blend pop culture with fantasy.—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City

The original reviews of the above works appeared in SLJ’s September print magazine.

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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