February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review the Latest from Alexandra Bracken, Shaun David Hutchinson, and More

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In the first “YA Reviews” column of the year, the teens of the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group share their thoughts on sci-fi, suspense, and novels-in-verse, including a title from the author of the “Darkest Minds” trilogy.

JanSciFi1BRACKEN, Alexandra. Passenger. Disney-Hyperion. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484715772.
Gr 9 Up–
Join a violin prodigy from technology-rich 2015 as she searches through history assisted by a legal pirate skilled in the art of time travel and beating up bad guys. The setting is the most compelling part of the book because it changes. As this is a time travel book the setting, the era in time and the area of the world changes throughout the book. I was not disappointed by this book at all, it was fantastic!

I read the “Darkest Minds” trilogy (Disney-Hyperion) by Alexandra Bracken and loved it. I went into this book with high hopes, and was not disappointed. Passenger shows what a versatile and skilled author Alexandra Bracken is.–Cossette M., 14

Gangsei_ZeroGANGSEI, Jan. Zero Day. Disney-Hyperion. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484722268.
Gr 7 Up–
Addie’s grown up in a dark, unforgiving world. Kidnapped at a very young age, Addie was trained to become one of the nation’s best hackers by her father. But, she isn’t an ordinary girl. No, she’s the President’s daughter, and when she is forced back into her luxurious, White House–centered life, Addie couldn’t feel more out of place. But the question is, when the times come, which father will she trust more? The cover of Zero Day was okay—not anything really special, though. It has the title in bold, old American flag letters on a background of coding. I liked the concept of the coding background, like on a computer, but I thought the way they added sayings into the coding was a little unnecessary. It would have been interesting had the sayings not been REALLY stereotypical, such as “They’re watching” or “Never question.”

When I first chose Zero Day, the plot is what compelled me the most. Of course, this opinion changed because of how cliché the basic layout of the book was. But in today’s world, filled with cyberattacks and terrorists, this book (at least the summary) catches reader’s attentions. Everyone wants to know what the President’s daughter would be like in that type of world. I thought this book was a little disappointing, because it was so stereotypical. The premise was a good one though, bound to catch attention. The book was a letdown. The characters were so expected; they were the same people as in any other mystery/scandal book. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I felt that the book could’ve been a little less ordinary in development.–Kalea C., 14

JanSciFi4HUTCHINSON, Shaun David. We Are the Ants. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481449632.
Gr 9 Up–
We Are the Ants was an incredible book, about a teenager struggling with depression. Henry Denton often gets kidnapped by aliens, but no one believes him. His boyfriend Jesse committed suicide last year, and he believes that it’s his fault, and that he will never get over Jesse. Henry is given a choice. He has 144 days to choose if he wants to press a button to save the world. He doesn’t believe the world is worth saving, but then someone comes along and shows him why it just might be. Through a series of events, Henry grows as a person, and watches his friends, family, and other humans grow too. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, the colors are beautiful, and while intriguing, doesn’t give away too much of the book. This is such an incredible read; it was written really well. This book was so raw and real, and I really connected with the characters. It felt like it really was written by a teenager, which was a refreshing change from other YA books. The plot was also great, and it kept me up all night. It was SAD. Which, in all honesty, isn’t bad, but it definitely made me feel things that I’m not entirely sure I wanted to feel. I highly recommend this read.–Lauren W., 15

See also: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson | SLJ’s Starred Review http://ow.ly/WYdjQ

Johnston_TruthJOHNSTON, Jeffry. Truth. Sourcebooks. Feb. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781492623205.
Gr 7 Up–
Chris, a 16-year-old high school student, is forced to kill a 13-year-old boy in self-defense. The police dismiss the case as an open-and-shut self-defense case. But the victim’s brother wants the whole story, and will go to any lengths to find out what really happened to his brother. The cover was appealing for several reasons. The cover pictured the title of the book spelled out using duct tape. This symbolized Chris’ kidnapping, and the duct tape that held him hostage. It also symbolizes the terrible secret he is essentially holding hostage within. The story itself was one of the most compelling aspects. The author takes one of the standard themes of crime stories (the self-defense killing) and puts an entirely new twist on it. The author is able to weave a story of the effect tragedy can have on a family. The common saying is: “tragedy brings us together,” but this book shows the opposite. It shows how tragedy can tear two siblings apart.

oatman high_selfie_The author also makes another bold statement about tragedy. He shows the psychological effect tragedy can have on you, instilling a deep hatred for anything that could cause a tragedy to occur again, even pushing you to cause a tragedy to prevent one from occurring.–Thadeus S., 14

OATMAN HIGH, Linda. That Selfie Girl. Saddleback. Jan. 2016. pap. 10.95. ISBN 9781680210606.
Gr 7 Up–
This story was about a girl who was known as selfie girl and was taking a selfie on the road when a car hit her. I think the cover was okay. But I think it should have a girl taking a selfie with a car on the road. I felt really attached to the main character. I loved how the writing style was like a poem.–Juliet W., 13

Sappenfield_Life_SAPPENFIELD, Heather. Life at the Speed of Us. Flux. Jan. 2016. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9780738747309.
Gr 8 Up–
Sovern Briggs hasn’t spoken since the crash. Her only escape is speed and adrenaline, but when this need results in a snowboarding accident, she makes a discovery that could change her future— and her past. I didn’t really like the cover because the title was actually partially cut off. However, I do appreciate that it stayed away from the traditional beautiful main character staring off into the distance dramatically—the originality was a nice change.         The most compelling aspect of the book was the plot; it was full of twists and turns. I never knew what would happen next!

I was disappointed with the writing style. The story line was great but the writing was dry and repetitive. –Isabel T., 14

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