April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Scandals, First Love, and Genre-Bending Fantasy | Gr 9 & Up Fiction Reviews

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redstarAslan, Austin. The Islands at the End of the World. 384p. maps. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Aug. 2014. lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375991455; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744027; ebk. ISBN 9780385374217.

Gr 9 Up–Destruction descends upon Hawai’i. Not from the volcano-goddess Pele, but from a mysterious force that cripples one of the world’s pillars, technology. This occurs while Leilani, who suffers from epilepsy, is on O’ahu. Along with her father, they journey across the islands searching for home, supporting each other through every difficult step. Tension builds at a steady pace as the magnitude of the situation reveals itself. The former paradise faces depleting resources, looting, martial law, and chaos. With the world stripped of its electronic casing, the old world blooms. Hawaiian mythology is explored through numerous stories and elements of their journey. Hawai’i is a vibrant, personified setting that is well crafted. The author includes numerous references to the language, ecosystem, and culture. Despite her love for her home, Lei feels like she does not belong, partly because she is half Hawaiian, but mostly because of the disease that prevents her from having a “normal” life. Nevertheless, she feels a connection to her ancestry and the old gods. Slowly, the protagonist comes to a revelation that allows her to accept her blossoming self. Aslan’s debut is a riveting tale of belonging, family, overcoming perceived limitations, and finding a home.–Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada

redstarBetts, A. J. Zac & Mia. 304p. ebook available. Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544331648.

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Zac is recovering from a bone marrow transplant when a loud new patient moves into the room next door. While Zac thinks he knows all there is to know about cancer—how to navigate the physical responses to his leukemia treatments and discuss every detail of his bodily functions and fluids without hesitation—Mia’s arrival proves that he does not know everything. The two develop a friendship and learn to see beyond their own sickness and circumstances. Told from each teen’s perspective over several months, this story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Zac and Mia are strong and multifaceted protagonists. While Zac comes across as flippant and condescending at first, the development of his positive energy and affections for Mia make him more endearing as the story progresses. Mia’s angst and aggression are painfully understandable as she learns to accept the realities of life after cancer and an amputation. Secondary characters add heart to the narrative, and the plot unfolds steadily, which is satisfying without feeling calculated. While comparisons to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012) are inevitable, Zac & Mia holds its own as a smart, well-crafted story about the importance of friendship and feeling understood.–Whitney LeBlanc, Staten Island Academy, NY

redstarDuyvis, Corinne. Otherbound. 400p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419709289. LC 2013029536.

Gr 9 Up –High school can be a confusing and difficult time for any teen, but it has been exceptionally hard for Nolan. While his family and his doctors insist that he has been experiencing chronic seizures, comas, and incredibly detailed hallucinations, the truth is that every time he closes his eyes, his consciousness is transported into the mind of Amara, a servant girl living in the Dunelands, a realm where mages and magic are commonplace. It has been several years since he started seeing through Amara’s eyes, but in all of that time, he has only been a silent watcher, unable to even let Amara know he is there. Even worse, Nolan has endured great pain in both Amara’s world and his own, as Amara had been chosen by a mage to protect a crown princess in hiding after her family was usurped in a violent revolution. Everything suddenly changes when Nolan begins to gain control over Amara’s movements, forcing the two to work together in order to discover the truth behind the revolution that led to the princess’s exile. While Duyvis’s debut is an exciting take on the fantasy genre, as it alternates between our world and that of the Dunelands, the true strength of the novel is in its positive portrayal of LGBT issues. This becomes most important in establishing the character of Nolan, an adolescent who has experienced most of his adolescence from the perspective of a girl, and in the nuanced portrayal of Amara’s relationships.–Ryan F. Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, NY

redstarGiles, Gail. Girls Like Us. 224p. ebook available. Candlewick. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763662677. LC 2013944011.

Gr 8 Up –Quincy and Biddie are “speddies” (special education students). They have just graduated high school and must live out in the world on their own. After being matched together by their teacher, they are given adult responsibilities: Quincy works at a supermarket while Biddie cooks and cleans for the older woman who is boarding them. The teens must learn how to fend for themselves in a world that is unfamiliar. They have both experienced physical, mental, and sexual violence, and must rely on each other to come out stronger than they were before. Girls Like Us is filled with genuine relationships that develop over time and feel authentic. There is humor and heart throughout, making the severity of the protagonists’ situations more accessible to readers. A story line about Biddie’s obsession with a family of ducks in their backyard is particularly poignant. The one- or two-page chapters alternate between Quincy and Biddie and are told in voices that are genuine to their experiences but never sensationalized. The frank discussions and depictions of the violence committed against them are shocking but never vulgar. Giles has constructed a unique, hard-hitting yet refreshing story with well-developed characters free from expected clichés or caricatures. A powerful novel that teens will enjoy wholeheartedly.–Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library

redstarMoracho, Cristina. Althea & Oliver. 384p. Viking. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670785391. LC 2013041135.

Gr 9 Up –This richly satisfying debut defies simple description. On its surface, it is about teenage best friends, a boy and a girl, who have complicated and messy feelings. Friends since they were six, the teens have grown up doors apart, both in single-parent families in Wilmington, North Carolina. What sets this novel apart is the way the youth are allowed to speak for themselves in all their chaotic, exciting complexity. Althea, who has anger issues, is in love with Oliver, which would be complicated enough even if Oliver didn’t seem to be a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, falling into a strange, deep sleep at random moments and not waking up for weeks or months. Oliver’s mom, Nicky, finds a doctor in her home city of New York who is conducting a study of this disorder, called Kleine-Levin Syndrome, and Oliver grudgingly agrees to participate. While he navigates the strange world of a hospital ward filled with other teenage boys with KLS, Althea tells her dad that she’s taking a road trip to visit her mom in New Mexico, but then heads to New York City to find Oliver. Instead, she falls in with a collective house of crusty punks in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, who are perfectly described with deep familiarity instead of exotic detachment. Oliver’s medical condition functions as both an interesting narrative quirk and a deeper metaphor, and the resolution is satisfyingly uncertain. The novel is set in the mid-1990s, which is vividly re-created with plenty of drinking, sex, and rock and roll, but it is the exquisitely created and painfully real, pitch-perfect characters who make it so memorable.–Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City

Graphic novels are now reviewed in every issue.
Where applicable, they appear at the bottom of the grade level section.

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Grades 9 & Up

Aguirre, Ann. Mortal Danger. 384p. (Immortal Game Trilogy). Feiwel & Friends. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250024640.

Andreu, Maria E. The Secret Side of Empty. 336p. ebook available. Running Pr./Teens. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762451920. LC 2013950819.

Armstrong, Kelley. Sea of Shadows. 416p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062071248.

Baker, Ken. How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love. 272p. ebook available. Running Pr./Teens. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762450145. LC 2013950638.

Bennardo, Charlotte & Natalie Zaman. Blonde Ops. 288p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250030399.

Bergren, Lisa T. Remnants: Season of Wonder. 304p. (Remnants: Bk. 1). Blink. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780310735649.

Bertrand, Diana Gonzalez. There’s a Name for this Feeling/Hay un nombre para lo que siento. tr. from Spanish by Gabriela Baeza Ventura. 76p. Piñata Bks. Jun. 2014. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781558857841.

Blacker, Terence. The Twyning. 432p. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763669027. LC 2013955665.

Blumenthal, Deborah. Mafia Girl. 256p. ebook available. Albert Whitman. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807549117. LC 2013028440.

Bowman, Erin. Frozen. 368p. (Taken: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062117298.

Brunner, Kym. Wanted: Dead or in Love. 288p. Adams Media/Merit. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440570575. LC 2014001601.

Buckle, J. A. Half My Facebook Friends are Ferrets. 224p. Capstone/Switch Pr. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790004; pap. ISBN 978-1782020745.

Calonita, Jen. Summer State of Mind. 256p. Little, Brown/Poppy. 2014. pap. $10. ISBN 9780316091152; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9780316323420. LC 2013019009.

Carlson, Melody. Blind Date. 208p. (The Dating Games: Bk. 2). ebook available. Revell. Jun. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780800721282.

Casey, Jane. How to Fall. 352p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250040657.

Clarke, Cat. Undone. 352p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402292248.

Clark, Bridie. You Only Live Once. 224p. (Snap Decision: Bk. 2). ebook available. Roaring Brook. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781596438170.

Crane, Rebekah. Aspen. 236p. In This Together Media. Jun. 2014. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781496139436.

Cronkhite, Lisa M. Disconnected. 196p. Poisoned Pen. Jun. 2014. Tr $10.95. ISBN 9781929345021; ebk. $5.99. ISBN 9781929345038. LC 2014931630.

Deriso, Christine Hurley. Thirty Sunsets. 240p. Flux. Jul. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738739915.

DeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. 416p. Viking. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670785223.

Diaz, Stephanie. Extraction. 416p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250041173.

Dorset, Skylar. The Girl Who Never Was. 304p. Sourcebooks Fire. Jun. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781402292538.

Driza, Debra. MILA 2.0: Renegade. 448p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062090393.

Farley, Christina. Gilded. 339p. (The Gilded: Bk. 1). ebook available. Amazon/Skyscape. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847015; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781477810972.

Finn, Katie. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend. 352p. ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250045249.

Fiore, Kelly. Just Like the Movies. 280p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633544.

Fisher, Catherine. Circle of Stones. 304p. ebook available. Dial. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803738195. LC 2012033348.

Glines, Abbi. Sometimes It Lasts. 288p. (Sea Breeze). ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481406710; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781481406703.

Harris, Carrie. Demon Derby. 304p. ebook available. Delacorte. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742177; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375990458.

Henry, April. The Body in the Woods. 272p. (A Point Last Seen Mystery). ebook available. Holt. Jun. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805098525.

Herbach, Geoff. Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. 311p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402291418.

Howe, Katherine. Conversion. 448p. ebook available. Putnam. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399167775.

Ireland, Justina. Promise of Shadows. 384p. ebook available. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442444645. LC 2013002959.

Johnson, Erin. Grace and the Guiltless. 272p. (Wanted: Bk. 1). ebook available. Capstone/Switch Pr. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790011.

Katcher, Brian. Everyone Dies in the End: A Romantic Comedy. 186p. Dark Continents. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780615710174.

Kenneally, Miranda. Breathe, Annie, Breathe. 304p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Jul. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402284793.

Kiernan, Celine. Into the Grey. 304p. ebook available. Candlewick. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763670610. LC 2013952836.

Kizer, Amber. Pieces of Me. 304p. ebook available. Random. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385741163.

Klavan, Andrew. Mindwar. 352p. (The Mindwar Trilogy: Bk. 1). Thomas Nelson. Jul. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781401688929; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781401688936.

Kuderick, Madeline. Kiss of Broken Glass. 224p. ebook available. websites. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062306562.

LaMarche, Una. Like No Other. 347p. ebook available. Penguin/Razorbill. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146748.

Kristen. Tabula Rasa. 352p. ebook available. Egmont USA. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781606845189.

Little, Ashley. Anatomy of a Girl Gang. 254p. ebook available. glossary. Arsenal Pulp. 2014. pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781551525297.

Lloyd-Jones, Emily. Illusive. 416p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316254564; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316254588.

Longo, Jennifer. Six Feet Over It. 352p. ebook available. Random. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780449818718; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780449818725. LC 2013026249.

Demitria. In the End. 448p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062105486; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062105509.

McDaniel, Lurlene. The Year of Chasing Dreams. 224p. ebook available. Delacorte. Jul. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780385741736.

McGarry, Katie. Take Me On. 416p. Harlequin Teen. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211180; ebk. ISBN 9781460326657.

Ockler, Sarah. #scandal. 412p. ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481401241.

Patterson, James. Homeroom Diaries. illus. by Lisa Papademetriou. 252p. Little, Brown. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.00. ISBN 9780316207621.; ISBN 9780316207638; Audio ISBN 9781478953661. ebk. LC 2013016061.

Philbin, Joanna. Since Last Summer. 304p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Jun. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316212090; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316212106. LC 2013022286.

Pillsworth, Anne M. Summoned. 320p. Tor Teen. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765335890.

Pratt, Non. Trouble. 384p. S. & S. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442497726.

Preston, Natasha. The Cellar. 368p. Sourcebooks Fire. Mar. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781492600978.

Priest, Robert. The Paper Sword. 224p. Dundurn. 2014. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781459708266; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781459708280.

Quinn, Kate Karyus. (Don’t You) Forget About Me. 352p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062135964; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062135988.

ROSENFIELD, Kat. Inland. 400p. Dutton. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525426486; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698140615.

Sarn, Amélie. I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister. tr. from French by Y. Maudet. 160p. Delacorte. Aug. 2014. lib. ed. $18.99. ISBN 9780375991288; Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780385743761; ISBN 9780385370202. ebk.

Schroeder, Lisa. The Bridge from Me to You. 336p. Scholastic/Point. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545646017; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545646659. LC 2013033112.

Sheff, Nic. Schizo. 272p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399164378.

Shinoda, Anna. Learning Not to Drown. 352p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781416993933.

Silver, Charlotte. The Summer Invitation. 192p. Roaring Brook. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596438293; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781596438309.

Skilton, Sarah. High and Dry. 272p. Abrams/Amulet. 2014. Tr $18.65. ISBN 9781419709296.

Stone, Juliana. Boys Like You. 304p. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402291470.

Sullivan, Kiki. The Dolls. 384p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780062281487; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062281494.

Toor, Rachel. On the Road to Find Out. 320p. Farrar. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300142.

Trevayne, Emma. Chorus. 288p. (Coda: Bk. 2). Running Pr./Teen Kids. Jun. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762449507; ebk. ISBN 9780762452019.

Triana, Gaby. Summer of Yesterday. 256p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jul. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781481401302; ISBN 9781481401319. ebk.

Tucholke, April Genevieve. Between the Spark and the Burn. 320p. Dial. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740471.

Vaught, Susan. Insanity. 300p. Bloomsbury. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781599907840; ebk. ISBN 9781599908397.

Vega, Danielle. The Merciless. 288p. Penguin/Razorbill. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595147226; ebk. ISBN 9781101631317.

Verday, Jessica. Of Monsters and Madness. 304p. Egmont USA. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606844632; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781606844649.

Vernick, Shirley Reva. The Black Butterfly. 226p. Cinco Puntos. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781935955795; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781935955801.

Ward, Rachel. The Drowning. 272p. Scholastic. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545627719; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545627726. LC 2013025788.

Whyman, Matt. The Savages. 288p. Overlook. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781468308563.

Wilkinson, Kerry. Reckoning. 368p. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250053534.

Willey, Margaret. Beetle Boy. 208p. Carolrhoda Lab. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467726399; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467746267. LC 2013036853.

Williams, Carol Lynch. Signed, Skye Harper. 304p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481400329. LC 2013040091.

Winnacker, Suzanne. Defector: A Variants Novel. 288p. Penguin/Razorbill. Jun. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781595146564.

Wiseman, Eva. The World Outside. 240p. glossary. Tundra. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780887769818; ebk. ISBN 9780887769825. LC 2013936991.


Graphic Novels

Grades 9 & Up

Lonergan, Jesse. All Star. illus. by Jesse Lonergan. 184p. NBM. 2014. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781561638352.

Tanemura , Arina. Phantom Thief Jeanne. tr. from Japanese by Tetsuichiro Miyaki. illus. by Arina Tanemura. 258p. (Phantom Thief Jeanne: Vol. 1). Viz Media. 2014. Tr $10.99. ISBN 9781421565903.

Yang, Gene Luen. The Shadow Hero. illus. by Sonny Liew. 176p. First Second. Jul. 2014. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781596436978.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.