February 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review Latest from Joelle Charbonneau, Stephan Pastis, and More

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need_charbonThe young adults at the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library share their thoughts on Joelle Charbonneau’s latest dystopian, Gareth Jones’s time travel adventure, and Stephan Pastis’s newest “Timmy Failure” book.

CHARBONNEAU, Joelle. Need. HMH. Nov. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544416697.
Gr 7 Up–
Through the promises of a new social media site, the body count rises with the escalation from simple pranks into malicious crimes. Enter the world of NEED, where the dark side of networking and human nature is revealed. This book is great if you love suspense and mysteries! I REALLY wanted to know who was behind the NEED website, and why it was all happening. The cover reflected the contents very nicely, but personally, I didn’t find it very appealing. For me, it just doesn’t feel quite right. The end was a little anticlimactic, and then it ended on a huge cliff-hanger, which I don’t appreciate very much, especially when there is no news of a sequel.—Lauren W., 15

wolf by wolfGRAUDIN, Ryan. Wolf by Wolf. Little, Brown. Oct. 2015. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316405126.
Gr 8 Up–
1956: The Axis Powers rule most of the world under an iron grip, and each year, a trans-continental motorcycle race from Germany to Japan is held. This year though, things will be a little different. Lael, a survivor of human experimentation in the death camps, will race under the identity and face of last year’s winner. She’s racing to win- and to assassinate Adolf Hitler. I actually rather liked the cover. It does scream “I’m a World War II novel!” but for that kind of cover, it’s well-designed. The color scheme really works, and the bold, futurist title font draws in your eyes. The map as a cover backdrop is a lovely touch, as is the shadow work as the center of the eye-catching cover. It’s a very admirable design that also works on its own merits as an image instead of just being an effective cover. I appreciate this element of it very much.

The most compelling aspects of the novel were the characters and world. Lael is an interesting character, and her identity struggles were very believable. The fact that during the action of the book, she can’t even remember what she originally looked like adds an interesting dimension to these identity issues. The rest of the supporting cast is equally interesting, with most getting at least a bit of development.

Finally, the world is clearly the star of the novel. It’s well-built, terrifying, and compelling. The author has clearly done research and used that to create this alternative world to our own. The entire tone of the book is furtive and claustrophobic and it fits perfectly with the set-up of the Axis Powers having won WWII.

I was disappointed by a number of things in Wolf by Wolf, namely, aspects of character development and the romance subplot. In the character department, Lael and her cohorts all seemed a bit too perfect. Most characters are insanely talented, and it takes a great deal of suspension of disbelief to consider them realistic.

no true echoFinally, Lael’s romance with Luka was unutterably dull. It was completely predictable and really like almost any YA novel romance. Girl meets guy she hates? Check. Both are pretending to be something they’re not? Check. Eventually they fall in love against their better judgement? Check. Check. Check. It’s irritating and felt out of place, a feeling exacerbated by rather bland writing. This is a very entertaining novel. While quality-wise, it’s hardly the best, it’s certainly a lot of fun to read, and will fill time nicely. At times it almost feels like Battle Royale meets a road trip novel. An odd combination, but somehow, it sort of works.—Ella W., 15

JONES, Gareth. No True Echo. Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419707841.
Gr 7 Up–
Eddie Dane is entranced by red-haired Scarlett White, the newcomer at school. However, soon secrets about his family, and their connection to the time loop he is stuck in, get revealed. The cover was very creative. I like the way that the title spread outwards, it reflected the “time loop” which is a major plot point in the book. The plot was very creative. I have read few books that handled the “time loop” aspect of time travel as well as this book. The author also wrote the characters very well. The plot got confusing about three-quarters of the way through the book. It took a lot of different directions all at once, and was hard to follow.—Thadeus S., 14

THE_HOUSE_laurenLAUREN, Christina. The House. S. & S. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481413718.
Gr 9 Up–
This is a book that will have you staying up past your bedtime reading. This book is like Monster House [animated film], but the person who lives in the house is a 17-year-old boy dating this girl who I’m pretty sure he will marry in this unrealistic expectation of love at a young age. The boy has to choose between the girl, and the house, which animates everything itself and takes care of him. It was cool at first, but then got super creepy, because the house was always watching the characters by possessing whatever objects that go inside.

The cover was well-represented enough, with the creepy window overlooking what was the neighborhood street, and how the curtains seemed aged and old, but with enough personality to tell you that it hadn’t been used in a decade. However, I didn’t like how the title was split between two colors, white and black. In my eyes, I saw it as “Ho Use” not “House”.

The book was creepy. I liked that. The book was unexpectedly creative. I liked that, too. The book had a twisty point of view that made me see such things as “haunted/monster houses” a different way. I didn’t expect that. Like, at all. I loved how the characters were well-rounded to be likable or “hateable,” (ha, I invented that word—can you tell?), whichever way your view them. There was enough detail and handy description to keep me imagining both the setting and plot throughout the book, and overall the whole thing just seemed to flow in my head. And by flowing well that means I stayed up until two in the morning reading this book, it was so spanking [(please excuse my thesaurus word. I promise, it is a synonym of good) I couldn’t look up great, because I kept getting synonyms for ‘enormous’ instead].

The book had a lot of description, as I mentioned before, which would allow readers to imagine with as much detail in their head what was happening on paper. In some places, that really freaked me out.

timmy failure sanitizedYou might not know, but this was as much a romance novel as a horror story. Sometimes that combination can be fatal, and sometimes it can be spectacularly awesome! But in this case, I got really…what’s the word? UNCOMFORTABLE, during a lot of the sexy parts where the two characters would make out and have sex.—Sam G.,14

PASTIS, Stephan. Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection. Candlewick. (Bk. 4). Oct. 2015. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763680923.

Gr 5 Up–Timmy Failure thinks he is a great detective but he fails a lot in many humorous ways. I was slightly disappointed with this book. It was not as funny as the other books. This book also seemed like an “in the middle” book and not a “moving forward” book. I also think that the book is getting too much into his emotional family problems. I did like the cover because I thought it was funny. Then, I did not like the cover because Timmy Failure never actually sat in a toilet with a crown on his head. Molly Moskins was the one who was actually shoved into the toilet and she was not wearing the crown. On all of the other covers the pictures on them actually happened in the book. I like the characters. I just think that the characters are really funny and ridiculous. I also like the humorous writing style. I thought it was funny having new settings.—David C., 12

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  1. C.W. Renfield says:

    The main that bugs me about WOLF BY WOLF is the need to water down the real world you’ll-never-top-the horror-of this history of WWII and all the freakazoids who played for the Dark Side by introducing never-never land fantasy elements about shapeshifting and such. I f you want to read a much better take on the alternative history idea (nothing wrong with Grandin’s storytelling skills but just sayin’) read FATHERLAND by Thomas Harris; it’s set in 1964 after the Nazis won and is a reallly well thought out picture of what the world would’ve looked like. Also check SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD BY M. T. Anderson, who’s got enough sense not to dramatize an already unbelievable story….