March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review the Latest from Sedgwick, Barnes, and Serle

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Jennifer Barnes and A.G. Howard keep the hits coming in their current series, “The Naturals” and “Splintered,” while perennial teen favorite Marcus Sedgwick delivers another unusual, and creepy, YA title, The Ghosts of Heaven. An average girl is put into unusual circumstances in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Black Ice and Rebecca Serle’s Famous in Love, resulting in very different outcomes.
BARNES, Jennifer Lynn. Killer Instinct. (The Naturals: Bk. 2) 384p. Disney/Hyperion. Nov. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1423168324.
killer instinctGr 9 Up—In this sequel to The Naturals (Hyperion, 2013), all of the naturals are back after their close encounter with danger, and yet again another case strikes close to home as murders pop up mimicking those of Dean’s father. Not only are they trying to help Dean, who wants nothing to do with anything involving his father and solve the case, they are also dealing with a new supervisor who is attempting to limit or even shut down their program. Cassie must work harder than ever before to figure out the mind of this killer before it’s too late.
I liked this sequel even more than the first book in the series, which was pretty hard to top. It was fast-paced with enough twists thrown in that I rarely had any idea of what was coming. I, once again, found myself hanging on to every word and putting off everything else, instead, choosing to read because I could not put it down. In addition,  I learned a lot about the characters and their backgrounds in this novel, particularly Dean, which makes you love them even more. It is also the same perfect balance The Naturals had of the action-packed not so relatable drama of the world of catching serial killers and the relatable drama every teen faces with relationships, friendships, and family.
One thing I particularly liked about it was the fact that [SPOILER] they had three killers which threw off a lot of assumptions I had made about who I thought was or wasn’t the killer. Killer Instinct is a book anyone would enjoy, but I would especially recommend this book for fan of crime investigation shows, mysteries, and realistic fiction.— Grace B., age 15
FITZPATRICK, Becca. Black Ice. 400p. S. & S. 2014. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781442474260.
black iceGr 8 Up—Britt is an average girl, just hoping to have a good hiking trip with her friend and her ex-boyfriend. However, a snow storm changes their plans and they are forced to knock on the door of a nearby cabin for help. Two men answer the door, and their situation quickly turns dangerous as the men take her and her friend hostage.
I loved this book. It was very well written, though I do wish that it had been longer. I enjoyed reading the book, and it went by too fast. The idea that she fell in love with her kidnapper was very intriguing. I loved Fitzpatrick’s “Hush, Hush” series (S. & S.). This book was just as good.—Rachele, age 16
HOWARD, A.G. Ensnared. (Splintered: Bk. 3) 416p. Abrams/Amulet. Jan. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781419712296.
Gr 9 Up—The final installment of the “Splintered” trilogy (Abrams) sends Alyssa into AnyElsewhere searching for Morpheus and Jeb. But things have changed with both of them. After daring attempts to infiltrate the Queen of Heart’s palace, Alyssa is forced to make a choice that will change her future forever.
Let me just say, this is how you end a series. This book was an extremely satisfying end to one of my favorite series. Over the past three years, I have fallen in love with the madness of Howard’s reimagined Wonderland. The books are beautifully written and convey an amazingly well-thought-out story. The characters are well-developed and believable, and they have real things to say: real concerns, real struggles, and real passions. They do things that I didn’t question. ensnaredEverything makes sense and you can tangibly feel the despair and the hope and the anger. And, best of all, though there is a love triangle, none of the characters involved are defined by each other like you see so often with other YA literature. This final one was no exception. The dizzying logic and breathtaking scenery are always on point. I just can’t praise these books, especially this one, enough.
My only complaint is with the covers. The covers make the books seem shallow when they’re really so much more than that. The stories are deep and insightful, probing the human psyche, while maintaining that edge and surprise and otherworldliness that the covers fail to convey.—Alexandra, age 15
SEDGWICK, Marcus. The Ghosts of Heaven. 336p. Roaring Brook. Jan. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781626721258.
Gr 7 Up—The helix and the spiral seem to appear in various lifestyles throughout time and space. The Ghosts of Heaven tells the story of a girl who lived at the very beginning, who was one of the first to write, and Anna, who was betrayed and presumably labelled as a witch. Along with an insane writer and an astronaut who inevitably was sent from his home planet to start a new colony, this book introduces four characters whose lives were changed forever.
ghosts of heavenEven though the beginning was somewhat vague and hard to follow (after all, the novel starts off with a poem), I eventually got used to the author’s writing style and the book’s layout. Once I read to Quarter Three and Quarter Four, I couldn’t set the book down. The mysterious figure of Dexter and the truths of Bowman’s voyage were very suspenseful and intriguing, especially when the author managed to intertwine plots from Quarters One and Two into the later parts of the novel. However, there were a couple of times where the action seemed to slow down. Despite that, overall, The Ghosts of Heaven is an incredible book.
Personally, I find the scene when Bowman finds out the “truth” about the Song of Destiny voyage to be the most enthralling. [SPOILER]  After going to sleep multiple times without knowing about the origin of the shadowy figure and what really caused the deaths of the Longsleepers, he wakes up to a certain number: phi. Bowman encounters several instances that relate to the number phi and eventually hacks into the network’s main mission files, where he learns the true intentions of his voyage and who the killer is, and that the whole journey was built upon a lie.—Mindy L., age 14
SERLE, Rebecca. Famous In Love. 336p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Oct. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 978-0316366328.
famous in loveGr 8 Up—Paige Townsend is a normal girl who wants to be an actress. She tries out for a part in the movie adaption of her best friend’s favorite book. She gets selected and Paige’s life changes dramatically.
The whole book was wonderful, but the best part was when Paige sent the new book to her best friend to make up for her actions earlier on in the story. I like how that shows her character as someone who puts her friends first.
I really enjoyed this book. This was one of those books that you just can’t put down. I will definitely be re-reading this book many times. If you like realistic fiction with romance in it, this book is definitely for you.—Liz F., age 13
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