November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review Realistic Fiction Short Story Collection, Richelle Mead’s Latest, and More

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i see reality_The teens of the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group were busy over the long weekend. Check out their reviews of I See Reality, a realistic fiction short story collection edited by Grace Kendall, Richelle Mead’s Soundless, and more.

KENDALL, Grace, ed. I See Reality. Farrar. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374302580.
Gr 9 Up–Twelve different authors come together to create a masterpiece that includes intense, compelling, and very real topics from everyday life.

The cover is beautifully designed. There are twelve photos on the cover, each representing a short story from inside the pages of this thought-provoking book. Each of the photos have their authors name on it, which is also a very nice touch.

My favorite aspect of the book is the fact that it includes very controversial and very real topics that we can experience throughout everyday life. The book has 12 short stories, and it covers a lot more topics in this format. Each short story has a different writing style that fits the topic perfectly. A story that is about a school shooting might have a more solemn feel to the writing style, yet a story about a boy and his crush, that might have a more cheerful writing style. Nothing in this book was bad.

This is a different kind of book than those I have read recently. And I am very glad I picked it up.—Sam B., 14

red ink_MAYHEW, Julie. Red Ink. Candlewick. Feb. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763677312.
Gr 8 Up–
After her mother is struck down and killed by a London bus, Melon is left to uncover the mysteries of her family, journeying through her past and her future to discover the truth everyone has been hiding from her. I really liked the cover, but I think the spine could be a little more fitting to the feeling on the front cover. It just seems really harsh compared to the front.

Everything about this book was seriously amazing. I loved the story itself, and the setting was super interesting and created many great pictures in my mind. The characters were well-rounded and complex, but it was so interesting to find out more about each one the more you read on. The writing style was also amazing, I loved how Mayhew added the rocky English spoken by the Greeks. At first, it was a little confusing, but after reading on in the book, it became clearer to me that this writing was on purpose and not just some major typos. It was an amazing book!—Zoe D., 13

soundlessMEAD, Richelle. Soundless. Penguin/Razorbill. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781595147639.
Gr 7 Up–
In a world without sound, life is a little complicated. Fei is an artist in her village, where the only food they get comes on a line up the mountain. When that food starts to wane, how will they survive in a farm-unfriendly area.

I liked the way the main character Fei looked at the world. I also thought that the Chinese folklore was a compelling aspect because not a lot of teens have read anything like it.

The only thing that was a little disappointing was the ending—I did not want the book to end. The ending was very strong and had a great conclusion.—Matty D., 14

MILLER, Barnabas. The Girl with the Wrong Name. Soho. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616951948.
Gr 9 Up
–Initially, I thought that this book, with its thin spine and the back view of a girl staring at blurry city lights would be a lighthearted “chick flick” of a book I could put down at will to do things like homework or laundry. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I discovered at 11 PM that night. The cover did reflect the contents though; as what appears to be a romantic comedy— and reads like one for a few pages— quickly evolves into a psychological thriller with a murder mystery attached. I think the cover reflects the book in that first impressions do not equal the reality of the situation.

the girl with the wrong nameTheo spends her free time making documentaries, often with a hidden camera on her clothes to capture everyday life. When she comes across Andy, an unbelievably attractive boy, she can’t resist the urge to find a new story to tell. Together, they wander across New York City in search of someone called Sarah, who Andy loved and is now inexplicably gone. Theo finds the answers, but they are not what she expected.

I loved how few things are as they seem. Theo is a girl who plasters a scar on her face with makeup and starts a relationship with an elusive boy named Andy who always manages to run whenever she wants him to meet her friends. Together, they search for Andy’s lost crush, but instead they find Theo’s past.

This is a story about what it means to love someone, lose them, forget them, and have suppressed, horrifying, memories resurface. I loved how the story follows the confused pathways of Theo’s mind and wanders across New York City in search of a girl who looks like her. I also appreciated how Miller links nearly everything in the story together with one person and event, including Theo’s fantasy wedding dress and ring, Andy, and Theo’s cold relationship with her mother. Theo grows from a film-obsessed teenager who writes love letters for her friend Lou (that never get delivered to the boys in question) to a self-aware person who understands the power of memories, the truth, and family.

I had two major problems with this book:

  1. Max is a relatively flat character who does not change much beyond filling the archetype of “male romantic interest.” He’s there, he’s reliable, but he isn’t much of anything else. Also, Lou, Theo’s best friend could be summed up as a stereotypical “smart Asian friend” and love triangle member.

I know Max and Lou are by no means the central characters so they don’t need to be very developed, but it would have been refreshing to make Max a klutz and nerd instead of a hot jock, or have Lou be interested in Theo rather than Max. That option would give Lou and Theo’s relationship a new dimension and explain why she asks Theo to write love letters for her, allegedly to be delivered to other boys.

  1. SPOILER Also, the author does not explain what induced the villain, the real Andy, to act the way he did. Did he lose someone close to him to dating violence so he thought it was acceptable? Was he abused as a child? Miller does not tell us or imply any possible explanations. This lack of explanation for his actions leaves the ending feeling slightly incomplete.

hellraisers_Overall, this was an enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone seeking a page-turning, unconventional mystery.—Angela K., 17

SMITH, Alexander Gordon. The Devil’s Engine: Hellraisers. Farrar. Dec. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374301699.
Gr 9 Up–
There is an asthmatic teen who is always running from his problems. Recently he carved a piece of the male anatomy onto the head of his principal’s car. He finds himself caught between reality and fighting demons.

The cover doesn’t quite do the book justice. It needs a more hellish background and a demonic being and a little fire. I think this book would become well-liked among teens due to its high rise elevated action and crazy detail. I liked the element of demonic description and horrific detail, where it’s a movie playing in your head and it has you clinging to the edge of your seat wanting more.—Joshua P., 16

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