August 20, 2017

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High Marks from Teens for Medieval Magic and McCloud’s “The Sculptor”

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Science continues to surface in contemporary fiction, and titles with magical settings still hold their edge. Scott McCloud’s impactful graphic novel The Sculptor examines one man’s countdown through his last 200 days alive. Readers must sort out if The Third Twin in CJ Omololu’s part-thriller, part-mystery novel is real or imagined..

InfectedLITTLEFIELD, Sophie. Infected. Delacorte. 256p. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385741064.

Gr 8 Up—Carina is a high school track star and the niece of a scientist whose research deadly agents will do anything to obtain. She is injected with a performance-enhancing drug that will kill her unless she can find the antidote in 24 hours. Also, she accidentally infected Tanner, her boyfriend, so now she has to save him too. And if she fails? They both may die.

With the tension of Carina and Tanner’s romance, the suspense of finding the antidote, and the mystery/action of keeping the research away from the agents, this story is amazing. If I told you more it would spoil the whole book—and that wouldn’t be very nice. I liked the way that the book left me thinking at the end.

I would recommend this book for mature kids. Also, people who like Littlefield’s other books—Banished (2010), Unforsaken (2011), and Hanging by a Thread (2012, all Delacorte) might like to read this.—Drew L., age 12

MCCLOUD, Scott. The Sculptor. First Second. 496p. Feb. 2015. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9781596435735.

Gr 9 Up—David Smith is one of many “David Smiths” and he doesn’t think he has much to show for it. As part of an otherworldly deal, he gives up his life to be able to sculpt anything and everything. He has 200 days left to live as he tries to sort everything out in his life.

SculptorThis book was utterly brilliant. Even though it’s about two inches think, I finished it in a couple hours. I could tell that the author put so much of his mind and soul behind each word and line. His drawings were sort of simplistic, but they show a lot of character. I loved watching David’s external and internal struggles as he tried to define his meaning and purpose. I will definitely be reading this book over and over again.

For the longest time, David was a static character. Until he saw a point, a purpose. And then you saw the change, and reason, and emotions from him, and that really kept him alive. It made me really wish I could just hug David and tell him “everything will be okay.”

This book is great for anyone who has read Doug TenNapel’s work (Cardboard; Scholastic, 2012). I’d say I would also recommend this to fans of The Complete Persepolis (Pantheon, 2007) by Marjane Satrapi. This is definitely pushed towards more mature ages.—Kim, age 15

OMOLULU, CJ. The Third Twin. Delacorte. Feb. 2015. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744522.

Third TwinGr 8 Up—Twins Lexi and Ava make up a third sister named Alicia when they are little, blaming all of their mistakes on her. Now that they are seniors, they haven’t given Alicia up; instead, they use her persona whenever they go out with boys their real selves wouldn’t be caught dead with. But things go awry; Alicia’s dates start getting murdered, and all of the clues point towards the imaginary girl. Lexi struggles to find the killer before someone else gets hurt, but the clues all say the same thing: either Ava is a murderer, or Alicia is real.

The back flap of this book got me excited, because it seemed like Caroline Cooney’s Three Black Swans (Delacorte, 2010) meets Stephen King, but the novel itself was mediocre. The plot, characters, and writing weren’t bad, but they weren’t excellent, either. Worse, halfway through, I could completely see the outcome. I knew who the killer was and who “Alicia” was before the second murder even occurred. The writing style was also rather bland.

One thing Omololu nailed was Zane and Lexi’s relationship; the two are adorable, and I enjoyed watching their best friend status evolve into something more. Overall, though, there wasn’t anything particularly illuminating in the novel.

I, for one, am a sucker for stories involving mistaken identities and classic thrillers. So a book combining both sounded excellent to me. Fans of Cooney’s work will like this, because it has both the twins/triplets drama as well as an element of classic mystery novels: murder. However, it is terribly predictable, so if you prefer having your mind bent in pretzels over a mystery, go read Liz Coley’s Pretty Girl-13 (HarperCollins, 2013) instead.— Aroog K., age 15

SALISBURY, Melinda. The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Scholastic. Mar. 2015. 320p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545810623.

Gr 7 Up—Twylla takes a poison, Morningsbane, each moon to prove her worthiness to the Gods. With it, she touches the skin of men who have committed crimes against the kingdom, and it carries the poison that runs through her veins. She is forced to choose to save her kingdom, or be with the one she loves.

Sin Eaters DaughterThis book was beautifully written. It has joined my top five list of books. Even though there wasn’t much action in the first part of the book, I still wanted to read. I meant to read for “just 10 more minutes” and ended up reading for another hour. With each page the plot slowly grows, and I loved it. The end leaves me wanting more of Salisbury’s unique work.

I loved hearing Twylla, in her own mind, choosing things when she doesn’t even realize she’s doing so. I’d say this book would be best for anyone who enjoys magic books or medieval times.—Kim, age 15

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Coinciding with Brooklyn Book Festival, this special-engagement event on September 15 will feature both Festival and metropolitan-area authors with panels modeled on Library Journal and School Library Journal’s long-running and annually sold-out Day of Dialog events. Get the inside scoop on the hottest new books—plus book giveaways and author signings!