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YA Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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redstarAcevedo, Kristy. Consider. 288p. (The Holo: Bk. 1). ebook available. Jolly Fish. Apr. 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781631630583.

Gr 8 Up –If you had the opportunity to escape the cataclysmic destruction of the planet by exiting through a portal to another world, would you take it? That is the choice offered to Earth’s inhabitants on the day Alexandra Lucas’s world comes to a screeching halt. In Alex, Acevedo has developed a fully realized character whose struggles with anxiety are compounded by the threat of impending destruction. Using the vehicle of holograms that stand vigil next to the vertexes and answer questions about the advanced civilization they represent, the author deftly juxtaposes utopia with dystopia. The allure of a better world combined with the deterioration of human behavior in the wake of Earth’s anticipated demise is the perfect way to infuse complex moral issues and deep philosophical questions in a fast-paced adventure that will keep readers compulsively turning pages to see what will happen next. The author manages to weave typical teen profanity—sparingly applied—into prose that contains perfectly precise vocabulary, turns of phrase, and figures of speech in ways that will entice young adults. Readers will appreciate the treatment of relationships, physical intimacy, and pressures to be successful. Educators will welcome the opportunities the book presents for deep thinking. VERDICT Order multiple copies of this must-have for fans of Rick Yancey’s The Fifth Wave and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind.–Jodeana Kruse, R. A. Long High School, Longview, WA

Blake, Ashley Herring. Suffer Love. 352p. ebook available. HMH. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544596320.

Gr 9 Up – A classic romance for modern readers. Hadley St. Clair has been in Woodmont, TN, for less than a year but already has a reputation for fast hookups. She is an expert at pushing people away, especially her father, who was busted back in Nashville for having an affair. Her spontaneous make-out sessions are her attempt to bury the pain. When a handsome new student becomes her partner in English class, Hadley finds herself unable to stay emotionally distant. Sam also falls hard for Hadley. The problem? Sam’s mother had the affair with Hadley’s father. He and his younger sister, Livy, know who Hadley is, but Hadley doesn’t know Sam’s true identity. His struggle is complicated because his sister was the one who outed the affair to Hadley’s family. Just when Hadley felt she had someone she could rely on, the truth comes out, threatening her relationship with Sam. Echoes of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are featured throughout this novel about a relationship that’s full of secrets, half-truths, and hidden identities. Flawed adults are juxtaposed against seemingly more mature teenagers. Blake forces the question—what do we do when the people we are meant to trust the most, our parents, let us down the hardest? VERDICT A strong choice for YA collections, especially where romance is popular.–Carrie Finberg, South Park High School, PA

Bruchac, Joseph. The Long Run. 120p. (Pathfinders). ebook available. 7th Generation. Apr. 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781939053091.

Gr 6 Up –Travis Hawk is three months away from his 18th birthday and adulthood. But three months is too long to stay with his alcoholic father and the bullies at the Seattle homeless shelter where they live. So Travis sets off across the country to his childhood home in Maine, taking buses and hitching rides, drawing on the advice of his Passamaquoddy grandparents to avoid notice, survive the elements, and find strength in the world around him. A narrow escape from local thugs in Missoula notwithstanding, Travis’s journey is one of generous strangers sharing life lessons in exchange for company on a long drive or a few hours of work. A poet leaves him a verse and a $20 bill, a cowboy and his sister open up their home, and a kind police officer finds him a job with an elderly Syrian restaurateur and a ride with a wealthy senator. Travis and his father are quietly complex characters. The teen loves his dad in spite of the alcoholism, and his father, an Iraq War veteran, clearly has strong ties to his Native heritage that he has proudly passed on to his son, but employment instability has taken its toll on his ability to be the parent Travis needs. Written for a teen audience but at a lower reading level, this work is fast-paced and offers plenty of action without sacrificing depth and authentic emotional experiences. VERDICT A good choice for middle and high school collections in need of low-level reads that are well written, engaging, and uplifting.–Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN

Cross, Mimi. Shining Sea. 432p. ebook available. Amazon/Skyscape. May 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781503935532.

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Arion reluctantly moves with her dad to a semi-isolated forested area on the coast where he grew up. Starting at a new high school, she makes friends quickly but is instantly drawn to a secretive, beautiful young man with eyes that make her feel intoxicated and a silent song that draws her to him. She feels powerless to resist him and doesn’t understand why he tries to avoid her at all costs, until she has an accident and he comes to the rescue so fast that she didn’t even see him move. They grow closer, and he eventually reveals that he and his family are not really mortal. This familiar premise takes place in Maine (not the Pacific Northwest), and the mysterious family are Sirens (not vampires) who live on the breath of their victims. Arion’s older and wilder sister is semicatatonic due to an undescribed earlier boating accident, and she remains in San Francisco with her mother. The only thing that can possibly save her life is to become a Siren. Unoriginal, awkward, and illogical plotting with clichéd descriptions unfortunately limits the audience to Twilight die-hards or those looking for a undemanding supernatural romance. The open ending suggests sequels, which may correct some of this volume’s limitations. VERDICT An optional purchase for schools and libraries looking to fluff up their paranormal romance collections.–Susan Riley, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY

Davis, Jennifer Anne. Rise. 341p. (Order of the Krigers: Bk. 1). ebook available. Month9Books. May 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781942664895.

Gr 9 Up –This believable fantasy/adventure has a great setting with a strong, realistic, and likable female character. Kaia is trying to get medicine for her sick father in the land of Nebelek, where Morlet rules with an iron fist. She has to avoid the soldiers, find the apothecary, and get home before curfew, when the soldats enforce strict discipline. In this land, the people have been waiting more than 100 years for a prophecy to come true—when all 12 Krigers come together to overthrow Morlet and bring peace and prosperity back to their land. Kaia soon learns that she is the final Kriger. With the help of an assassin and his friend, and the years she has spent battle-training with her father, the teen escapes the guards who chase her and flees to a forest with Vidar and Anders. She is safe for a time, but danger lurks at every moment, and she has to come to terms with her destiny. The main characters are well developed through realistic dialogue, and the action-packed pace will keep readers engaged. VERDICT Fans of Tamora Pierce’s “Circle Opens” and “Song of the Lioness” books and Sharon Green’s “The Blending” series will love this strong new female character and her fantastic adventures.–Cathleen Ash, Manor High School, TX

Easton, Tobie. Emerge. 311p. (Mer Chronicles: Bk. 1). ebook available. Month9Books. Apr. 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781944816322.

Gr 9 Up –Lia Nautilus appears to be a typical California teen. She hangs out with her friends, fights with her sisters, and has a huge crush on her fellow classmate Clay. However, Lia is a mermaid. In this series opener, the protagonist tries to live among humans, along with her family and the other Mer people who have chosen to live above water to escape the turmoil and war going on beneath the ocean. Lia’s family, along with many others of their kind, have created the Foundation, which is a cover for the Mer people so that they can survive and thrive above water. Lia does her best to avoid Clay, knowing that there can never be anything between them. However, when a new Mer teen, Mel, comes to her school and chooses Clay as her boyfriend, Lia warily watches until she realizes that this new girl doesn’t appear to be following the rules of the Mer. When she accidentally walks in on Mel performing a forbidden custom of the Mer on Clay, she knows she must do everything in her power to save him. But how far is she willing to risk her own life to save his? The heroine is innocent and strong-willed. She follows her beliefs and puts others before herself. This is a fresh and exciting new story that addresses realistic themes set in a fantastical world. Teens will be able to connect with Lia and be immersed in Easton’s world-building. VERDICT Purchase where Zoraida Cordova’s “Vicious Deep” novels are popular.–Bernice La Porta, Susan E. Wagner High School, Staten Island, NY

Gholar, Tiffany. A Bitter Pill To Swallow. 315p. ebook available. Blurb. Jan. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781364467142.

Gr 6-10 –Artistic 14-year-old Janina has lived at the Harrison School for Exceptional Youth in Chicago since she was 10 years old. Devante has just been delivered there by his parents because recent trauma has left him depressed and suicidal. Drs. Lutkin and Thomas, who work at the school, are also in times of transition. Meanwhile, the group that owns the school is looking to cut costs. These five plotlines intersect to make a statement about mental health services, especially within African American communities. The decision to set the story in 1994 blurs the message that changes are needed in the present. The cartoonish villainy of the for-profit management group’s obsession with cost cutting will work for younger readers but will leave older ones wishing for a more nuanced treatment. That said, the “good” adult characters are nicely fleshed out. Multigenerational stories are uncommon on the YA shelves, and this element of the book fills a gap. Unfortunately, there are some classic first-novel writing technique issues, most notably the rapid shifting among different characters’ points of view, done clunkily in the third person. The book helps illuminate how treatment of mental health in African American communities often lags behind that of white suburban communities. Young teens will find Janina and Devante to be likable and will cheer for their happy endings. VERDICT Plagued by some debut-novel writing issues, this book could still help teens reconsider how they think about those living with mental illness.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Jiménez, Joe. Bloodline. 128p. ebook available. Piñata. May 2016. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781558858282.

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Abraham is having a hard time. He’s been in three fights and has been suspended from school twice, all before Thanksgiving. His grandmother has decided that she cannot raise him without the help of a male influence to help shape him into a man. Against the advice of her girlfriend, Abraham’s grandmother calls her troubled son Claudio home to help with the teenager. Claudio sees that his nephew has potential as a boxer and starts taking him to gyms to work out. He bribes Abraham with a puppy and makes him promise to fight. When the time comes, the teen tells no one of his match, especially not his friend Ophelia, who has told him fighting will end badly for him. This is a short novel filled with an abundance of metaphors, which often weigh down the progression of the story. It’s a slow and unnecessary burn to get to the heart of the story. A majority of the work is told in a second-person narrative before switching to first person at the shocking climax. While there is resolution, the startling and quick conclusion will most likely leave readers angry and upset. VERDICT Possibly for large library systems looking to diversify collections.–Faythe Arredondo, Tulare County Library, CA

King, Wesley. OCDaniel. 304p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481455312.

Gr 9 Up –Daniel, a budding writer and resident pariah, is tortured by a neurosis that racks his body and mind with pain if he doesn’t fulfill obsessive rituals before bed, eating, or anything else in life. He lives in fear of these compulsions, until his path is crossed by someone whose cornucopia of irregularities rival his own. Sara is situationally mute and understands his problems because hers are more than she can bear. Believing her father was killed by her stepfather, Sara embarks with Daniel on a desperate search to reveal her father’s fate. King uses crisp, believable dialogue to illustrate positive character dynamics, while sidestepping stereotypes and the typical YA tropes in this coming-of-age tale. Readers will find the characters sympathetic but may become disillusioned by the lack of a driving point in the book. At times, the work is a character-driven book of neuroses, and at others it’s a quirky coming-of-age comedy. Then, it switches gears and becomes a plot-driven novel of suspense. King endeavors to explore too many avenues of possibility: the progression of Daniel’s placekicking career; his unlikely pursuit of Raya, the popular girl from school; the inclusion of the character’s own writing; and, finally, the arc unveiling the fate of Sara’s father. King is a skillful writer, but the multiple strands give the novel an unfocused feel. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers who enjoy weird boy–meets–misunderstood girl stories, particularly fans of A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz and John Green’s Paper Towns.–Brian Hoff, Elmwood Park High School, IL

redstarLubar, David. Character, Driven. 304p. ebook available. Tor Teen. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765316332.

Gr 10 Up –At the center of this hilarious offering is an adorably awkward protagonist. Cliff’s first-person and sometimes second-person narration, rendered in an affable, funny, and talkative tone, will suck readers into his life story immediately. He is a 17-year-old boy with a crush on a girl, Jillian, but he has no idea how to talk to her. He also has a difficult home life, partly because of his unemployed and angry, often cruel father and his overworked mother. Cliff works two jobs, and his father doesn’t want him to go to college. The book is light on plot in the beginning, and the pacing is measured. The tone and the writing, which will appeal to fans of Jesse Andrews’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, are what shine here. Cliff breaks the fourth wall often, adding rich layers to this creative work of metafiction. Lubar plays with tropes expertly, crafting a deeply relatable young man whom readers won’t soon forget. While some of the material is more appropriate for older teenagers, it’s always authentic (for instance, Cliff describes an idealized version of a sexual encounter and then presents the much more awkward but realistic version). VERDICT A fascinating and inspired novel for sophisticated readers.–Shalini Miskelly, St. Benedict Catholic School, Seattle, WA

Luna, Chelsea. Lions in the Garden. 236p. ebook available. Kensington/Lyrical Pr. Mar. 2016. pap. $15. ISBN 9781601835109.

Gr 9 Up –When Mila runs away from the castle in Prague in 1610, nefarious men happen upon her, and she is saved by Marc. The two quickly become lovers. She is the High Chancellor’s daughter, destined to marry nobility, while he is the blacksmith’s son. Even more ruinous, she is a Catholic and he is a Protestant. This takes place at a time when Catholics rule and live in excess while the Protestant peasants starve. As Mila’s eyes are opened, she discovers that in order to fight for her love, she may have to ignite the rebellion. The story relies too heavily on the clichéd damsel-in-distress/savior dynamic: Mila is frustratingly naive for most of the book, while Marc is overly perfect. However, romance readers able to overlook the one-dimensional characters may still enjoy seeing the simmering romance turn a little bit steamy. The straightforward writing moves at a quick pace, while cliff-hanger chapter endings encourage continuous reading. The political and religious drama add action and intrigue. Though this is a realistic historical novel, the focus on the romance of an unlikely pair, coupled with depictions of the castle and gowns, gives it more of a fairy-tale feel. The conclusion sets the stage for the upcoming sequel. VERDICT This title will easily find an audience where historical romances are popular.–Jenna Friebel, Deerfield Public Library, IL

McFarlane, Melanie. There Once Were Stars. 331p. ebook available. Month9Books. Apr. 2016. pap. $15. ISBN 9780996890403.

Gr 8 Up –“It doesn’t matter how many birthday wishes are made; I always wake up trapped inside the dome.” Natalia Greyes has graduated, and according to dome law and her prickly grandmother, “Your time to contribute to the dome begins today,” on her 18th birthday. Dome 1618 was created for the safety of the people after the “cleansing wars” made death by radiation a real threat. The Dome’s motto, “Peace, Love, Order, Dome,” doesn’t sit well with Natalia after she witnesses the capture of an “Outsider” and swears the other man who got away was her Uncle Alec, a man who died with her mother and father nine years ago after an excursion to the outside went terribly wrong. It doesn’t help matters that this Outsider is handsome and arrogant and has answers to many of the questions she has about the outside. Natalia questions everyone, even some of her closest friends and family. Her strength rivals Katniss’s and Tris’s, and the title has a similar dystopian backdrop. The ending leaves the possibility of another hit trilogy in the works. VERDICT A well-written and action-packed dystopian novel to add to an already growing genre; a must-read for fans of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and Veronica Roth’s Divergent.–Meghan Oppelt, Whitehall School District, WI

Masson, Sophie. Emilio. 184p. (Through My Eyes). chron. ebook available. glossary. Allen & Unwin. May 2016. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781743312476.

Gr 7 Up –A suspenseful tale of a teenager caught in a world beyond his control, this well-researched novel touches on the turbulent trials of a young man surrounded by drug violence in Mexico City. The seemingly ordinary life of high school student Emilio Garcia Lopez is turned upside-down with one knock on his door. It is his cousin Juanita, a police officer, accompanied by an officer from the federal police. They inform Emilio that his mother has gone missing and they suspect that she has been kidnapped by a drug gang. The gang is demanding ransom, as they mistook Emilio’s mother for being a wealthy business tycoon. The initial terror that the teen experiences from this bad news is just the beginning of the struggle to bring her home. This work explores the dark worlds and fears that are the reality for some of today’s children. It is part of a series that aims to tell the stories of young people in conflict zones throughout the world. Although Emilio’s tale is fictional, it is clear that Masson used news reports and other research to craft this novel. The author writes in a readable way, and the book’s short, suspenseful chapters help propel readers. Also included are a time line of the drug conflicts in Mexico and a glossary of Spanish words. VERDICT Recommended for classroom discussions of real-world issues and YA collections in need of strong narratives with Latino protagonists.–Kevin McGuire, Woodland Hills School District, PA

Parsons Yazzie, Evangeline. Her Enemy, Her Love. Jan. 2016. ISBN 9781893354272.

––––. Her Land, Her Love. Mar. 2015. ISBN 9781893354951.

ea vol: 430p. Salina Bookshelf. pap. $22.

Gr 8 Up –A sobering perspective of what it was like to be forced on the Navajo Long Walk, one of our nation’s most traumatizing events. Ninaanibaa’, the young woman whose family the story centers on, is the heart of the novel. Two of her young daughters are kidnapped prior to removal. Through the love of her warrior husband, Haske Yil Naanaah, she never gives up hope of reuniting again with her daughters. Interspersed with the Navajo language, Yazzie creates a homage to the Navajo people, who lost so much, continued to lose more, and used the guidance of their teachings to remain dignified when dignity was taken away. Through perseverance and love, the family is reunited at the end of the first novel. The second volume is from the viewpoint of the oldest daughter, Deed Yazhi, and the experiences she encountered after being kidnapped and separated from her family. She suffers loss and endures torture but remains resilient, ultimately finding her way back home. The two books are powerful reads that reflect an important part of an awful time in our nation’s history. VERDICT Mature subject matter, handled matter-of-factly, creates an honest look at what was done to Native people in American history; recommended.–Amy Zembroski, Indian Community School, Franklin, WI

Peacock, Shane. The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim. 352p. Tundra. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781770496989.

Gr 7 Up –Nightmares have plagued Edgar Brim from the time he was small. At nine, the Victorian lad is orphaned after his father is seemingly frightened to death after watching a dark play from one of his favorite horror writers. Edgar is sent to boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, where he endures unchecked bullying and continued dreams of being attacked by monsters. When his one true friend, Tiger Tilley, is expelled from the exclusive boys school for masquerading as a boy, Edgar goes to find her in London. Professor Lear follows him, thinking Edgar’s night terrors hold the key to solving some vicious local murders, and orchestrates a meeting with the Crypto-Anthropology Society of the Queen’s Empire. Convinced that shared nightmares portend more attacks, Lear convinces Edgar, Tiger, and his grandchildren, Lucy and Jonathan, to begin an earnest campaign to find and destroy the evil creature that is on the loose. After channeling monsters and demons from the literature of Edgar Allan Poe and others, the vigilantes are led to Dracula’s creator, Bram Stoker, whose London stage plays hold clues to the death of Edgar’s father. A meandering plot and numerous red herrings are merely contrivances for introducing readers to elements of Victorian horror literature. The main characters aren’t fully developed, and teens will struggle to finish. VERDICT Only avid fans of classic horror will enjoy.–Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

Pons, LeLe with Melissa de la Cruz. Surviving High School. 272p. ebook available. Gallery. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781501120534.

Gr 10 Up –Vine star Pons, known for her six-second videos on the social media app, writes a semiautobiographical novel that only fans will love. Lele is new to a Miami high school where she does not fit in at first; she’s goofy and awkward. Once her brand-new fame as a Vine star thrusts her into the popularity echelons of the social scene, Lele must grapple with faux friends and a new crush in between raves and celebrity parties. This frivolous book is not, as promised, about surviving high school but more about surviving short-lived fame at a young age. Lele, however, comes across as arrogant and unlikable; case in point: “My life is dope and I do dope things. People think I’m cool and want to be around me; I attract crowds like moths to a flame, I am in demand.” Due to prolific cursing and sexual situations, this is best for mature teens. VERDICT Dangle this ego-filled carrot in front of reluctant readers and avid fans of the Latina social media guru.–Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

Schindler, Holly. Spark. 304p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062220233.

Gr 6-10 –Strange and powerful forces are at work in the skies over sleepy Verona, MO, a small town with a dying town square and some buried tragedies. High school senior Quin has been raised on the legend of the long-abandoned Avery Theater’s glamorous past and tragic closure. When her adoptive mother, the high school drama teacher, forces the advanced drama class to stage a production of Anything Goes to raise money to revive the Avery, all hell breaks loose and past and present intertwine in a whirlwind of memories, strange happenings, romantic sparks, and flashes of memory. This urgent yet sweetly told tale of history, small-town tragedy, and magic lacks something as a theater story—rehearsals and performances are often skipped in favor of magical denouements and dramatic flashbacks—but the fast pace and slightly eerie writing are appealing. The first-person narrative allows readers to see the world through Quin’s caring, wide-open eyes and loving perspective as she works hard to showcase her friends’ latent talents and honor her town’s history. VERDICT An innocent, hopeful, lightly magical romance, ideal for teens looking for “clean reads” and historical nostalgia.–Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library

Siegert, Mia. Jerkbait. 248p. ebook available. Jolly Fish. May 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781631630668.

Gr 10 Up –Tristan and Robbie are identical twins who play on their high school hockey team. Robbie is the more talented and aggressive player and has a legitimate shot at being an early pick in the NHL draft. Tristan hides that his real passion is not hockey but dance and musical theater. Macho, domineering Robbie is gay, while sensitive, artistic Tristan is straight. Tristan is believed to be gay, however, and is viciously attacked by his teammates until he is rescued by Robbie, who outs himself in the process. Up to this point, he had been deeply closeted and so tormented by his feelings that he became suicidal. When he comes out to his insensitive parents, they make plans to hide his homosexuality, just as they did his suicide attempts, for fear of the negative effect it might have on his draft status. Robbie becomes the target of his teammates’ attacks, and Tristan quits the team. In a rapid-fire and bewildering series of events that close the novel, Robbie runs away with an online predator right before the biggest game of the year. His twin locates him by communicating with him telepathically (an ability that is mentioned nowhere else in the novel). The work then wraps up happily for both teens. VERDICT While ostensibly challenging widely held assumptions about sexual orientation, gender roles, and the nature of sibling relationships, this scattered, unfocused effort lacks the narrative rigor and the seriousness of purpose required to engage readers interested in exploring these issues. VERDICT Skip this title.–Richard Luzer, formerly at Fair Haven Union High School, VT

Silverthorne, Judith. Convictions. 216p. ebook available. Coteau. May 2016. pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781550506525.

Gr 7 Up –Jennie is in trouble. Caught stealing some moldy, discarded food, she has found herself shackled and sentenced to hard labor in the penal colony of Australia. Silverthorne’s book follows Jennie’s journey aboard the Emily Anne in this bleak depiction of the situation faced by thousands of British people condemned to similar fates in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jennie grapples with the loss of her freedom, the absence of her family, and new expectations that she is forced to consider. In incredibly close quarters with the sailors, guards, and fellow convicted women, she struggles to reconcile her own prejudices with her frustration at how she is judged by others, eventually building valuable relationships she did not initially expect. This is a powerful historical fiction tale portraying an often overlooked aspect of the past. The characters and relationships are realistically developed with satisfying growth. The events are increasingly horrendous, which at times feels over-the-top, though it is simply a reflection of the historical era. The protagonist enjoys a certain amount of privilege, which allows her to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and a happily-ever-after conclusion. Silverthorne balances historical detail to authentically convey the despair of those on the convict ships with the more uplifting fictional account to engage readers. VERDICT A solid addition for middle and high school libraries, especially where historical fiction titles are popular.–Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA

Smoot, Madeline & Hope Erica Schultz, eds. One Thousand Words for War. 232p. ebook available. CBAY. May 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781933767512.

Gr 8 Up –A thought-provoking if uneven collection of sci-fi short stories about the powerful ways young adults can overcome and embrace grim circumstances. The volume focuses on protagonists whose environments or societal expectations threaten to destroy them physically or emotionally. For example, one entry centers on a transgender girl standing up to bullies, while another poignantly tells the story of a child soldier trying to save his fellow friends from war and death. Some of the themes covered include adversity, persistence, and change. Other darker topics pertaining to abuse and assault are present but not graphic. Many of these vignettes might resonate with teens who are underdogs or who feel “othered.” Reluctant readers will enjoy these fast-paced narratives; however, they might have an arduous time acclimating to different settings as well as getting to know the main protagonists. Full-length sci-fi novels have complex, detailed worlds, and the short lengths of these selections don’t always allow for much depth. The stories are conceptually creative, but they might feel disjointed to readers. Character development, especially of some of the one-dimensional supporting roles, is also lacking. VERDICT An additional choice to complement YA sci-fi collections.–Katie Flynn, Williston Northampton School, MA

Wright, Penelope. No Use for a Name. 224p. ebook available. Reputation. Apr. 2016. pap. $13.95. ISBN 9780986203145.

Gr 9 Up –Baby learns at 15 that her parents did not ever get around to naming her when she was born and left her name as “Baby Girl Anderson.” Thus begins the spiral of events that almost ruin her life. Baby tries to navigate through high school while living with her neglectful mother, deciding between two boys in her school, and dealing with the cheerleading squad. Her journey is fast and furious—anything that a teenager could imagine as a worst-case scenario happens to Wright’s characters. Readers have many supporting characters thrown at them early on, but none of them are fully developed. The language and sexual situations serve more as distractions than as crucial points to the plot. Many contemporary themes are explored in this work, but the book feels oversaturated. Teens who enjoy a fast pace and overblown, surface-level adolescent drama will appreciate this offering. VERDICT An additional purchase for libraries looking to engage reluctant readers with a taste for teen drama.–Jennifer Pope, La Grange Independent School District, TX

Yancey, Rick. The Last Star. 352p. (The Fifth Wave: Bk. 3). ebook available. Putnam. May 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399162435. POP

Gr 9 Up –The Others arrived with one goal in mind—complete annihilation of the human race. The first wave cut the power, the second brought natural disasters, the third heralded the plague, the fourth saw the Others walk among us, but the fifth will be the worst. Without trust, it is every human for themselves. Forced by Vosch to undergo the 12th system, Ringer is enhanced with alien technology that makes her a deadly killer. Vosch has given her one mission—bring him Evan Walker. With Evan captured, Ringer offers Cassie what she wants most—a chance to infiltrate Vosch’s headquarters to save Evan as long as Vosch is Ringer’s to kill. Added to this pressure is the fact that they have just four days before the mothership will begin dropping bombs on all of the world’s major cities. This is the most mature of the volumes of Yancey’s “Fifth Wave” trilogy, as strong language frequently appears and violence reaches its peak. Astute fans will appreciate the author’s attempt to make everything come full circle back to Cassie’s initial fear that she is the last human. While satisfying, the ending will leave readers either loving or hating it, so prepare to hear passionate debates from teens. VERDICT While some questions remain unanswered, there are too many fans of the series even to consider passing over the final installment for purchase. Lindsey Tomsu, La Vista Public Library, NE

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. Laura LaTour says:

    Glad to see a started review Consider by Kristy Acevedo. LOVED that book. And the review is spot on.

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