March 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Feminist Western, Hollywood Spy Caper, and LGBTQ Greek Myth | High School YA

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redstarHunt, Leo. 13 Days of Midnight. 336p. Candlewick. Aug. 2015. Tr $13. ISBN 9780763678654.

Gr 9 Up –Luke Manchett lives in a small town in northeast England where his life consists mainly of rugby; tending to his headache-prone, New Age–advocating mother; and attempting to hide the fact that his father, who walked out when he was six, exorcises spirits on a paranormal television show. But when Luke’s estranged father unexpectedly dies, he leaves the teen with a Host of eight unhappy spirits, a set of incomprehensible notes, a locked book, and a collection of rings. With school outcast Elza Moss’s help, Luke has until Halloween—just 13 days—to figure out how to use this miscellany to control or banish the Host; if he fails, the entire town will be in danger. Dark and witty, Hunt’s debut novel is like an eerie episode of Ghost Hunters merged with an Edgar Wright comedic film. A well-constructed, truly unique plot and perfect pacing combine to immediately hook readers, who will be invested in Luke’s fate after only a few pages. Luke and Elza are credible and convincing characters: He is funny, likable, and though inexperienced with the paranormal, he is determined. Independent and outspoken Elza shows a spark of her own humor. By the end of the book, readers will not only be cheering for the teens’ survival but also hoping for a budding romance as well. VERDICT Fans of Jonathan Stroud’s “Lockwood & Co.” series (Disney-Hyperion) are certain to appreciate this unusual and enjoyable title.–Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University R. M. Cooper Library, South Carolina

redstarMcCarry, Sarah. About a Girl. 272p. ebook available. St. Martin’s. Jul. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250068620.

Gr 10 Up –The conclusion to the “Metamorphoses” trilogy (St. Martin’s) follows Tally to a small town outside of Seattle where she seeks out her maybe-father to learn more about her past and her family. The place feels full of magic and people who intrigue her. Tally has a hard time thinking straight here, and her dreams are filled with vivid and terrifying images of blood. She falls for the mysterious Maddy, a girl who seems to hold the answers to her many questions. Based loosely on the story of Jason and the Argonauts, the protagonist’s journey reveals far more about her family than she could have imagined. Maddy keeps saying “no pasts,” but as Tally learns, the past is everywhere—the past is then and now. The stunning, densely packed story is full of as much intoxicating poetry as meticulous scientific explanations. Tally’s initial prim and rather academic narration becomes richer and more dreamlike as her story unfolds. This edgy, smart, and challenging title combines mythology, punk rock, science, a quest, feminism, art, dreams, and the power of stories and storytelling with unforgettable results. The well-developed cast of characters is racially and sexually diverse. The emphasis on the importance of female relationships—as family, as lovers, and as friends—is a welcome exploration of the many levels of intimacy. The book can be read as a stand-alone, but will certainly send new readers looking for the previous books in the series. VERDICT A highly recommended and breathtakingly read for sophisticated readers.–Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN

redstarPérez, Ashley Hope. Out of Darkness. 408p. ebook available. Carolrhoda Lab. Sept. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781467742023.

Gr 9 Up –The tale’s layered plot begins with a prologue set hours after an actual deadly U.S. school disaster in New London, TX in March 1937. Readers are plunged into the grief and horror of the moment long enough to meet important protagonists and wonder at the event before being transported back to September 1936. From this point, the book focuses primarily on Naomi, a 15-year-old of Mexican heritage, and her younger biracial twin half-siblings. Recent arrivals from San Antonio, the children are all living with the twins’ white father, and Naomi is forced to navigate the racially divided oil-mining town, learn to run a household, and to face her increasing interest in an African American youth. This third person story, recounted in multiple perspectives, slowly discloses the origins of the teen’s apprehension for the recent transition. The insertion of black-and-white photos and stark black pages interrupt the narrative much like the metaphoric explosions in the lives of the diverse protagonists. Additionally, an increased use of white space leading to the book’s climax seems to slow, and almost stop time. This book presents a range of human nature, from kindness and love to acts of racial and sexual violence. The work resonates with fear, hope, love, and the importance of memory. The author’s note and acknowledgements pages give more background on the disaster. VERDICT Set against the backdrop of an actual historical event, Pérez’s young adult novel gives voice to many long-omitted facets of U.S. history.–Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

redstarVerdi, Jessica. What You Left Behind. 368p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492614401; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781492608745.

Gr 9 Up –Ryden Brooks is making the most of his senior year as the star soccer goalie with his beautiful girlfriend Meg on his arm. He has a promising sports career, with his eyes set on a scholarship to UCLA, until it all comes crumbling down. Meg gets cancer and is pregnant. While the protagonist is riddled with guilt, wanting to take care of the situation, Meg feels the opposite and goes against all advice, thus writing her own death sentence. Hope is born, and Meg passes, leaving Ryden and his single mother to pick up the pieces; Meg’s parents wants nothing to do with them. The teen is thrust headfirst into fatherhood, meanwhile working a summer job at Whole Foods where he meets Joni. She knows nothing about his past and awakens something in Ryden that he thought was long buried. Verdi eloquently details the trials and tribulations of being a single teen dad, Ryden’s feelings of guilt over Meg’s death, and his budding feelings towards Joni. The author weaves a mystery amid the chaos through the uncovering of a series of journals that Meg left for Ryden, her sister Mabel, and best friend Alan. Verdi holds nothing back, shedding a realistic light on Ryden’s situation, his decisions, and their very real consequences. His voice is spot-on and doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities that he faces. It isn’t often that a book nails the male teen voice as well as Verdi does in this work. VERDICT An excellent addition to YA collections.–Erin Holt, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin, TN

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

Aguirre, Ann. Public Enemies. 384p. (Immortal Game Trilogy: Bk. 2). ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250024664.

Aslan, Austin. The Girl at the Center of the World. 352p. ebook available. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385744041.

Baker, Chandler. Alive. 368p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484706831; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781484709184. LC 2014028082.

Bennett, Kyla. No Worse Sin. 305p. ebook available. Harvard Square. 2015. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9781941861011.

Berry, Nina. The Notorious Pagan Jones. 400p. Harlequin Teen. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211432; ebk. ISBN 9781460341513.

Blake, Kasi. Crushed. 288p. (The Witch Game Novels: Bk. 1). Clean Teen. Aug. 2015. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781634220835.

Bowman, Erin. Vengeance Road. 336p. ebook available. HMH. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544466388.

Brewer, Killian B. The Rules of Ever After. 256p. ebook available. Interlude. Jun. 2015. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781941530351.

Brotherlin, Wendy. Freaks of Nature. 248p. (The Psion Chronicles). Spencer Hill. 2015. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781633920064; ebk. ISBN 9781633920071.

Brown, Nancy Marie. The Saga of Gudrid the Far-Traveler. 204p. Namelos. Jun. 2015. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781608981892; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781608981908.

Cart, Michael, ed. Taking Aim: Power and Pain, Teens and Guns. 368p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062327352; ebk. ISBN 9780062327376.

Collins, Myfanwy. The Book of Laney. 200p. ebook available. Engine Bks./Lacewing. 2015. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781938126284.

Creagh, Kelly. Oblivion: A Nevermore Book. 448p. S. & S./Atheneum. Jul. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442436275; ebk. ISBN 9781442436299. LC 2014015820.

Davey, Douglas. Switch. 256p. Red Deer. 2014. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780889955240; ebk. ISBN 9781552443408.

Echols, Jennifer. Most Likely to Succeed. 352p. (The Superlatives). ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442474529; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781442474512.

Fine, Sarah. Of Dreams and Rust. 288p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442483613.

Flinn, Alex. Mirrored. 384p. HarperCollins/ HarperTeen. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062134516; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062134547.

George, Elizabeth. The Edge of the Shadows. 464p. (The Edge of Nowhere: Bk. 3). Viking. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670012985; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698169197. LC 2014009139.

Han, Jenny. P.S. I Still Love You. 352p. (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442426733.

Harper, Annie, ed. Summer Love: An LGBTQ Collection. 276p. ebook available. Interlude. Jun. 2015. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781941530368.

Hastings, Avery. Torn. 288p. (Feuds Series: Bk. 2). St. Martin’s Griffin. Jul. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250059277; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466845336.

Herman, Eleanor. Legacy of Kings. 464p. (Blood of Gods and Royals: Bk. 1). Harlequin Teen. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780373211722; ebk. ISBN 9781460390894.

Hofmeyr, David. Stone Rider. 336p. ebook available. Delacorte. Jul. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780385744737.

Huffaker, Nathan. Stranded. 272p. ebook available. Bonneville. 2015. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781462116195.

Jensen, Cordelia. Skyscraping. 336p. Philomel. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399167713; ebk. ISBN 9780698172562. LC 2014035150.

Karo, Aaron. Galgorithm. 320p. ebook available. S. & S. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481440639.

Lim, Rebecca. The Astrologer’s Daughter. 364p. Text. Jun. 2015. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781922182005; ebk. ISBN 9781925095005.

Novak, Ali. The Heartbreakers. 336p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2015. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781492612568.

O’Neill, Louise. Only Ever Yours. 398p. Quercus. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781623654542; ebk. ISBN 9781623654559.

O’Rourke, Erica. Resonance. 448p. (Dissonance: Bk. 2). S. & S. Jul. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781442460270; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442460294. LC 2014038589.

Philips, Fleur. Beautiful Girl. 150p. BookSparks/SparkPress. Jun. 2015. pap. $15. ISBN 9781940716473; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781940716466.

Shakespeare, William. Srsly Hamlet. adapted by Courtney Carbone. ISBN 9780553535389; ISBN 9780553535471. LC 2014041937.

––––. YOLO Juliet. adapted by Brett Wright. ISBN 9780553535396; ISBN 9780553535488.

ea vol: 192p. (OMG Shakespeare). Random. 2015. Tr. $9.99. ebk. $9.99.

Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. Noble Warrior. 391p. Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484705285.

Skovron, Jon. This Broken Wondrous World. 384p. ebook available. Viking. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670014620.

Smith, Michelle. Play On. 296p. (Lewis Creek: Bk. 1). Spencer Hill. 2015. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781939392596.

Sommers, Jackie Lea. Truest. 384p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062348258.

Stewart, Barbara. What We Knew. 224p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250051394; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466867147.

Stone, Tamara Ireland. Every Last Word. 368p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484705278; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781484706275.

Stout, Katie M. Hello, I Love You. 304p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. Jun. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250052599; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466854598.

Tromly, Stephanie. Trouble Is a Friend of Mine. 352p. Penguin/Kathy Dawson Bks. Aug. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525428404; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780698188730.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.