November 18, 2017

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Teens Review A.S. King’s Latest; Books with Physics, Ghosts, and Hollywood

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A.S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future has been getting rave reviews in professional and popular media, but I really like how our teen reader nails it—”This book destroyed me in the best possible way.” We have reviews of two debut novels, from Lindsey Lane and Hillary Monahan, and a twist on the ‘famous overnight’ tale from Rebecca Serle, Famous in Love. From feminism to physics and horror to Hollywood, there’s no lack of variety in YA publishing these days.
King, A.S. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. Little, Brown. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780316222723.
Glory O'Brien's History of the FutureGr 8 Up—Glory O’Brien is graduating high school with no idea of where her life is going to go because she’s afraid she’ll follow in her mother’s steps and commit suicide. One night, Glory drinks a petrified bat and begins to see things—horrible visions of a future in which America is torn in two, and women’s rights are shattered to bits. As Glory races to record her visions, she ends up uncovering secrets of her family’s past and finding her own (albeit twisted) purpose. This book destroyed me in the best possible way. A.S. King is a brilliant author and she manages to weave minor characters into a gorgeous tapestry of a story. I really appreciate that King isn’t afraid to explore darker themes in her work as well as discuss the dreaded F word—feminism. This book resonated with me greatly because it brought everything I’d ever wanted in a book together. I had Glory, a well-written female protagonist who wasn’t sure about what she wanted to accomplish, racing to stop a terrible future that loomed ahead, all the while finding out who she really was. Hats off to King, because this book is a masterpiece.The idea that someone can see the future and is racing to stop it is always interesting, but King put a brilliant spin on it—there is no traveling repeatedly to the future to put an end to terrible regimes; instead, Glory is forced to work around the constraints of the present. This idea, for me, is what really set the novel apart from others in the sci-fi subgenre of YA. Also, the book addresses the problems young adults have with coping with loss, deciding where they want to take their future, and dealing with unhealthy relationships. King manages to encompass and address all of these issues without drawing readers’ attention away from Glory’s race to document the future. Anyone who enjoys a darker story line still set in the YA genre will devour this book, as well as girls (and boys, and those who aren’t either) who are starting to explore feminism. This book will definitely resonate with high school students who don’t know where they’re going to steer their life, because it gives them a strong, realistic role model to look up to. Glory doesn’t have all the answers, but she is preparing herself for them, and readers will definitely appreciate that.—Aroog K., age 15
Lane, Lindsey. Evidence of Things Not Seen. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780374300609.
Gr 8 Up—A geeky, eccentric kid named Tommy goes missing. His interest in physics and multiple universe theories have people wondering if he actually was kidnapped or died, or whether he went into another universe. The story follows many different viewpoints and stories of people who were touched by Tommy’s disappearance. I found this book to be very interesting. It quickly caught my attention and was a very straightforward story. Not very long, not very difficult, it was a great leisure book to pick up when class ended early or to read before bed. It ends with no real resolution, but it didn’t seem unfinished.
Evidence of things not seenOverall, it was very enjoyable; each character was unique and had a different way of thinking. My personal favorites were Dwight and Alvin, and how the story followed seemingly unrelated characters (i.e. the prostitute, the couple who drove off, Dwight and his mother) and tied those interesting stories into the main course of events. Very well written! Evidence of Things Not Seen does a good job of shrouding Tommy’s disappearance, but it wasn’t what compelled me to read on. Each character was unique and made me curious to see if they would return in another chapter or what other personalities the author was capable of. Tommy’s story was a pushing theme for everything that occurred in the novel, and he was masked as an ultimate goal, but it wasn’t what kept me coming back.
This book was enjoyable and I look forward to reading more from Lane. I would recommend it to students around late middle school to early high school and fans of Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” books (Tor), James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series (Little, Brown), and similar sci-fi series.—Rhiannon, age 15
Monahan, Hillary. Mary: The Summoning. Disney-Hyperion. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1423185192.
Gr 7 Up—A girl named Jess forces her three friends to summon Bloody Mary with her. One time isn’t enough for Jess, and she continues berating her friends to meet the ghost. When the sacred bond to keep Mary in the mirror is broken, one of Jess’s friends is haunted and mauled by her several times. There is only one way to stop Mary from hurting you, and that is to get her to hurt someone else.
mary summoningI thought it was an incredible book; probably one of the best things I have read in a long time. Each character had their own personality; Jess is a manipulative bully, Shauna is a calm, independent person (when not being haunted by Mary, of course), Anna is motherly and tends to her friends in their times of need, and Kitty is a shy, bashful teen who acts like a frightened mouse. Each person had their own type of relationship with each other and it was exciting to watch them battle together when Mary was attacking. The events played out perfectly; one detail wasn’t more significantly important than another and all of the details had a part in the story fairly evenly.
I really liked how there were sections in the book that had letters which Mary wrote to her sister Constance, so we could get more of a feel as to why she is what she is. We get to see the fear of the girls, and we also sense the helplessness and the anger coming from Mary’s side. Because of the way she was treated as a child, she finds it is impossible to forgive anyone, which is why she lashes out at any girl who attempts to summon her. People who love horror stories would absolutely love this book, as are people who are heavy Supernatural (the TV show) fans.—Sophie, age 14

Serle, Rebecca, Famous In Love. Little, Brown/Poppy. Oct. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780316366328.

Famous in loveGr 8 Up—Famous in Love is a fun story about a girl who learns that living your dream can be more difficult than expected. When she gets the chance to become a famous actress, she is overwhelmed by the dynamic of the cast and crew and trying to maintain her old friendships, while navigating possible romance with her sexy costars. Famous in Love is ultimately a fun, addicting and relatable read. Although not many of us are budding stars like Paige, readers immediately connect to her as she struggles to adjust to her new Hollywood lifestyle. Like Paige, we have all been in situations where we feel out of place and confused and wonder how the heck we got there. She misses her friends from home and can’t seem to do anything right.
As time goes on, Paige begins to feel more comfortable with her surroundings and begins to fall for her costar, the Hollywood heartthrob Rainer Devon. Suspense grows as she moves closer to what seems to be the perfect relationship, but everything is more complicated than she ever expected. Especially when Rainer’s long time enemy Jordan arrives on set. Although Jordan is very cold towards Paige, they have a chemistry together that can’t be denied. Paige has always known what she wants, until now, when it seems the stakes are higher than ever before.
When I pick a book, I am often looking for romance, so for me, the anticipation of Paige’s possible relationships with her costars was the most compelling aspect. I wanted to read on to discover what decisions she would make and how they would affect her life and public image. It added a lot of suspense to the book and I wondered until the very end what her decision would be. I couldn’t put it down! Preteen and teenage girls of all ages will love this book, as it so perfectly captures the desire to be noticed and admired.—Annie D., age 16

 

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