See our complete list of
February 2015 SLJ Stars.
Beaufrand, M.J. The Rise and Fall of the Gallivanters. 304p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419714955. LC 2014013556.
Gr 9 Up–It’s the early 1980s in Portland, OR, and girls are disappearing without a trace. Punk protagonist Noah believes that he knows who’s to blame. In what seems to be threads of magical realism, he discovers a mysterious David Bowie look-alike, Ziggie, who helps him uncover and work to defeat the Marr, a “toxic darkness” that threatens the girls in the city as well as his best friend Evan. Only music seems to stop the Marr, and Noah hopes that by playing at the battle of the bands being held in the sinister PfefferBrau Haus, he may be able to save his friend. As Noah delves deeper into his memories of his abusive father, his friendship with Evan, and his relationship with the girls in his band, the Gallivanters, he uncovers answers he wasn’t expecting. These answers include the location of the missing girls, the secret to his own psychological mysteries, what is really wrong with Evan, and maybe the key that will help him deal with it all. This engaging story of friendship, mystery, music, and romance illuminates the vivid life of a complex teen. Noah’s voice is authentic and draws readers into the narrative and its specific time and place as he copes with abuse, mental illness, and the loss of a close friend. Readers experience and discover along with Noah, and, after a roller coaster of emotions, are ultimately left with hope. VERDICT A sound addition to any YA collection.
Buckley, Michael. Undertow. 384p. Houghton Harcourt. May 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544348257; ebk. ISBN 9780544348622.
Gr 8 Up–In his first YA novel, Buckley delivers a solidly entertaining adventure with the perfect amount of romance and danger. Lyric Walker used to be a “wild thing.” At 14, she and her friends ruled the dilapidated beach community of Coney Island in Brooklyn, NY. Then one night, Lyric witnesses the arrival of the Alpha, strange creatures from the depths of the ocean, and learns a terrible secret her family has been keeping from her. Three years later, Coney Island is a police state, with the Alpha living in a containment camp on the beach, and furious protestors roam the streets. When six Alpha teenagers are forcibly integrated into the public high school, Lyric’s complicated web of hidden truths threatens to unravel. In Lyric, Buckley has created a phenomenal new heroine. Smart and snarky, with rough edges and killer fashion sense, Lyric is a girl to be celebrated. Sharp political commentary and strong parallels to the treatment of minorities in the U.S. ground the world in reality, while the well-rounded and ethnically diverse supporting cast will cause readers to root for them. The climax feels a bit rushed, as revelations and plot developments quickly pile up, but the breathtaking action and cliff-hanger conclusion will leave teens desperate for more. VERDICT Give this one to fans of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” trilogy (Scholastic) searching for the next big thing.
Hautman, Pete. Eden West. 320p. Candlewick. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763674182; ebk. ISBN 9780763676902.
Gr 10 Up–Since he was five years old, Jacob has lived inside the Nodd, 12 square miles of Montana land that he works on along with other members of the Grace. Jacob has been taught that the world is wicked and that the Grace will return to Heaven on an ark that the Prophet Zerachiel will be sending shortly—it is The Truth. Jacob’s world begins to turn upside down with the arrival of several beings. Tobias’s family travels from Colorado to join the Grace—and yet Tobias won’t stop questioning and pushing against The Truth. During his patrols along the Grace’s border, Jacob meets Lynna, a worldly girl with whom he should not interact—but he cannot help but be attracted to her. The third newcomer, a lone wolf, begins to slowly kill off the sheep and threaten the well-being of all the Grace. Jacob’s faith is tested as he struggles to reconcile what he knows to be The Truth and what is happening around him. Hautman delivers a captivating character study, studiously demonstrating the reasons why some people are drawn into cults and quietly revealing how unquestioned power turns rotten. Jacob is a realistic and relatable protagonist and his complex relationships with those around him—and himself—ring true. Eden West is both quiet and loud, understanding and judging, and absolutely engrossing. Readers will be quick to judge the Grace but may find themselves looking inward to their own beliefs as they move through the story. VERDICT A heartbreaking, uplifting, and fantastic read.
Hogan, Edward. The Messengers. 224p. Candlewick. May 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763671129; ebk. ISBN 9780763676988. LC 2014939364.
Gr 9 Up–After her older brother almost kills someone in a bar fight and disappears, Frances, a promising young artist, starts seeing strange things in her drawings. They materialize out of nowhere after she blacks out. She can’t figure out why these images are hazy and imprecise—until she puts one of them under a scanner, and learns with the help of her mentor Peter, another “messenger,” that each one reveals where and when someone is going to die. Peter’s convinced that they’re just a couple of killers, but Frances might have a plan to change all that, using their premonitions to save lives rather than end them, and maybe find her brother, presumed dead, in the process. But do they have the power, or the right, to change fate? That’s only one of the weighty questions explored in this clever page-turner. VERDICT A mash-up of philosophy, mystery, and horror, this haunting YA novel takes on all of these subjects with satisfying results.
McCarthy, Cori. Breaking Sky. 416p. Sourcebooks Fire. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492601418; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781492601425.
Gr 9 Up–The year is 2048. Teenager Chase, better known by her call sign, Nyx, is a pilot in training for the American military’s topmost secret project. Back in 2020, American pilots were massacred in an airfight by drones—dictator Ri Xiong Di’s most effective weapon. The entire world has endured a second Cold War ever since. No other countries are allowed to aid the U.S. at all, and the people are suffering. The military is secretly testing two new plane prototypes that might outrun the drones. However, their pilots must be young and strong enough to withstand the tremendous force on the human body that occurs when traveling at high speeds. In order to get funding for more prototypes, Nyx and her comrades must prove the worth of the project. On a training mission, Nyx spots a third prototype that she didn’t know existed. In her haste to discover the identity of its pilot and country, Nyx endangers the entire project and many lives as well. But, if she can start dismantling the wall she’s built around herself since her difficult childhood, she might be able to trust someone, fall in love, and save the day. Similar to the S.J. Kincaid’s “Insignia” series (HarperCollins), this novel distinguishes itself. The dialogue is authentic, and the characters are nuanced. Chase has determination and resolve, even in the face of her fears. The description of her flights is breathtakingly realistic. VERDICT Strong characterizations, action, adventure, and emotion combine to produce a sci-fi novel that is more than just the sum of its parts.
Shusterman, Neal. Challenger Deep. illus. by Brendan Shusterman. 320p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780061134111.
Gr 9 Up–Caden Bosch lives in two worlds. One is his real life with his family, his friends, and high school. There he is paranoid for no reason, thinks people are trying to kill him, and demonstrates obsessive compulsive behaviors. In his other world, he’s part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean’s deepest trench. There he’s paranoid, wary of the mercurial captain and his mutinous parrot, and tries hard to interpret the mutterings of his fellow shipmates as they sail uncharted waters toward unknown dangers. Slowly, Caden’s fantasy and paranoia begin to take over, until his parents have only one choice left. Shusterman’s latest novel gives readers a look at teen mental illness from inside the mind of Caden Bosch. He is a credible and sympathetic character, and his retreat into his own flawed mind is fascinating, full of riddles and surrealism. Shusterman based the novel on his son’s mental illness, and Brendan’s input regarding his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and psychiatric care makes the novel ring true. Teens, especially fans of the author’s other novels, will enjoy this book. VERDICT This affecting deep dive into the mind of a schizophrenic will captivate readers, engender empathy for those with mental illnesses, and offer much fodder for discussion.
Wilde, Lisa. Yo Miss: A Graphic Look at High School. illus. by Lisa Wilde. 160p. Microcosm. Mar. 2015. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781621069874.
Gr 8 Up–This is a selection of semi-autobiographical vignettes in the life of Ms. Wilde—teacher of seniors in John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy—and her students. The black-and-white artwork, while lacking the sophisticated shading of many slicker graphic novels, plays a supporting role and moves readers through scenes of heartbreak and triumph. Whether it is William and his myriad attempts to escape the call of a gang and the street; Natalie, who is struggling to be a student even as she is becoming a mother; or Danny, who insists on calling Ms. Wilde “Snowflake” and masks his fear of failure with bravado and bullying; each of the characters ring true. This work is a visual take on such books as LouAnne Johnson’s My Posse Don’t Do Homework (St. Martin’s, 1992; later adapted into the film Dangerous Minds) and Muchacho (Knopf, 2009) or Erin Gruwell’s The Freedom Writers Diary (Broadway, 1999). Struggling students will recognize the scenarios, burned out teachers will find their passion rekindled for trying just one more time with that difficult student, and both sets of readers will be refreshed by Wilde’s conclusion to the story with a graduation ceremony that is filled with hope that realistically transcends the grim reality her characters must overcome. VERDICT When it comes to portraying life in an alternative high school setting, Yo Miss is a direct hit.
The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:
Aguirre, Ann. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things. 320p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250047502.
Angel, Ann, ed. Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves. 320p. ebook available. Candlewick. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763673079. LC 2014944916.
Armstrong, Kelley. Empire of Night. 432p. (Age of Legends: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062071279.
Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia. Bloodkin. 288p. (The Maeve’ra: Vol. 2). Delacorte. Apr. 2015. lib. ed. $23.99. ISBN 9780375990922; Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780385743051; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780307980755.
Barnholdt, Lauren. Heat of the Moment. 304p. (The Moment of Truth: Bk. 1). HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062321398.
Bodger, Holly. 5 to 1. 256p. Knopf. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385391535; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385391542; ebk. ISBN 9780385391559.
Bond, Gwenda. Lois Lane: Fallout. 304p. ebook available. Capstone/Switch. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790059.
Brooks, Jen. In a World Just Right. 432p. S. & S. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481416603; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481416627.
Clipston, Amy. Miles From Nowhere. 288p. (Roadside Assistance Trilogy: Bk. 3). ebook available. Zondervan. Apr. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780310736707.
Constantine, Robin. The Secrets of Attraction. 384p. ebook available. Harper Collins/Balzer & Bray. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062279514.
Cotugno, Katie. 99 Days. 384p. Harper Collins/Balzer & Bray. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062216380.
de la Peña, Matt. The Hunted. 384p. Delacorte. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385741224; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375989926; ebk. ISBN 9780375984365. LC 2014036148.
Deen, Natasha. Guardian. 272p. Great Plains. 2014. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781927855096.
Dixon, Heather. Illusionarium. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062001054.
Easton, T.S. Boys Don’t Knit. 272p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250053312.
Easton, Tom. Seven Second Delay. 224p. Holiday House. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823432097; ebk. ISBN 9780823433803. LC 2014007804.
Engel, Amy. The Book of Ivy. 304p. Entangled Teen. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781622664658.
Fixmer, Elizabeth. Down from the Mountain. 276p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807583708. LC 2014027714.
Friesner, Esther. Deception’s Pawn. 336p. (Princesses of Myth). Random. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780449818671; ebk. ISBN 9780449818695. LC 2014010448.
Gaiman, Neil, Michael Reaves, & Mallory Reaves. Eternity’s Wheel. 288p. (InterWorld: Bk. 3). ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062067999.
Green, Sally. Half Wild. 400p. (The Half Bad Trilogy: Bk. 2). ebook available. Viking. Mar. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670017133.
Halbrook, Kristin. Every Last Promise. 288p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Apr. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780 062121288.
Heathfield, Lisa. Seed. 336p. Running Pr. Teen. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762456345. LC 2014949872.
Hesik, Annameekee. Driving Lessons. 264p. (The You Know Who Girls: Bk. 2). Bold Strokes. 2014. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781626392281.
Hoyle, Tom. Thirteen. 240p. Holiday House. May 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823432943; ebk. ISBN 9780823433827. LC 2014028416.
Jacobs, John Hornor. The Conformity. 312p. (The Twelve-Fingered Boy Trilogy: Bk. 3). ebook available. Carolrhoda Lab. Apr. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780761390091. LC 2013028517.
Jarzab, Anna. Tether. 320p. (Many-Worlds Trilogy: Bk. 2). Delacorte. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742795; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375990786; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780307977267. LC 2013048888.
Katcher, Brian. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak. 336p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062272775.
Kirby, Jessi. Things We Know By Heart. 304p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062299437.
Krossing, Karen. Punch Like a Girl. 228p. ebook available. Orca Bks. Apr. 2015. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459808287.
Latham, Jennifer. Scarlett Undercover. 320p. Little, Brown. May 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316283939; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316283892.
Leaver, Trisha & Lindsey Currie. Creed. 288p. Flux. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738740805. LC 2014025039.
Lehrman, Maggie. The Cost of All Things. 416p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062320742.
MacColl, Michaela. The Revelation of Louisa May. 256p. ebook available. further reading. notes. Chronicle. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452133577.
McGann, Oisín. Strangled Silence. 372p. Open Road. Apr. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781497665798; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781497665712.
Mamatas, Nick & Masumi Washington, eds. Phantasm Japan: Fantasies Light and Dark From and About Japan. tr. from Japanese. 300p. Viz Media/Haikasoru. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781421571744. LC 2014024324.
Maysonet, Melody. A Work of Art. 240p. Adams Media/Merit. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440582547.
Moore, Meredith. I Am Her Revenge. 336p. Penguin/Razorbill. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595147820; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698157743.
Morgan, Page. The Wondrous and the Wicked. 352p. (The Dispossessed: Bk. 3). Delacorte. Apr. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780385743150; lib. ed. $21.99. ISBN 9780375990977; ebk. ISBN 9780307980830.
Oakes, Colleen. The Crown. Vol. 1. ISBN 9781940716022.
––––. The Wonder. Vol. 2. ISBN 9781940716213.
ea vol: 222p. (Queen of Hearts). ebook available. BookSparks/SparkPress. 2014. pap. $15.
Saft, Lauren. Those Girls. 336p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Jun. 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316403665; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316403672. LC 2014009416.
Shepherd, Megan. The Cage. 400p. (The Cage: Bk. 1). HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. May 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062243058.
Skrypuch, Marsha Forchuk. Dance of the Banished. 234p. Pajama Pr. Feb. 2015. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9781927485651.
Smith, Andrew. The Alex Crow. 304p. ebook available. Dutton. Mar. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780525426530.
Spalding, Amy. Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys). 312p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Apr. 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316371520; ebk. ISBN 9780316371513; Audio ISBN 9781478903499. LC 2014015563.
Steiger, A.J. Mindwalker. 400p. Knopf. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553497137; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780553497144; ebk. ISBN 9780553497151. LC 2014003541.
Sullivan, Derek E. Biggie. 269p. Albert Whitman. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807507278.
Turner, Henry. Ask the Dark. 256p. Clarion. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544308275.
Van Ark, Katie. The Boy Next Door. 288p. Feiwel & Friends/Swoon Reads. Feb. 2015. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781250061461.
Wallace, Becky. The Storyspinner. 432p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481405652; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481405676.
Wallach, Tommy. We All Looked Up. 384p. S. & S. Mar. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418775. LC 2014004565.
Whiting, Sue. Portraits of Celina. 352p. Capstone/Switch Pr. Apr. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790240.
Wiebe, Joanna. The Wicked Awakening of Anne Merchant. 337p. (V Trilogy: Bk. 2). BenBella. 2015. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781940363295.
Brown, Jeffrey. Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something. illus. by Jeffrey Brown. 224p. Top Shelf. 2014. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9781603093484.
Fiffe, Michel. All-New Ultimates Vol. 1: Power for Power. illus. by Amilcar Pinna. 136p. Marvel. 2014. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9780785154273.
Mulligan, Brennan Lee. Strong Female Protagonist. illus. by Molly Ostertag. 220p. Top Shelf. 2014. pap. $19.95. ISBN 9780692246184.
Sakurazaka, Hiroshi & Ryosuke Takeuchi. All You Need Is Kill: 2-in-1 Edition. illus. by Takeshi Obata. 550p. Viz Media. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781421576015.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. adapted by Gareth Hinds. illus. by Gareth Hinds. 152p. Candlewick. Feb. 2015. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780763669430; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780763678029. LC 2014939338.
Watson, Andi. Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula. illus. by Andi Watson. 176p. First Second. Feb. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626722750; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781626721494.
Wolfman, Marv & Geoff Johns. Teen Titans: A Celebration of 50 Years. illus. by George Perez. 400p. DC Comics. 2014. Tr $39.99. ISBN 9781401251772. LC 2014032614.