March 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review the Latest from Beth Kephart, Siobhan Vivian, and More

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The Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group is keeping busy reading and critiquing Beth Kephart’s This Is the Story of You, Danielle Rollins’s latest, and more.

alexander_the art of not breathingALEXANDER, Sarah. The Art of Not Breathing. Harcourt. Apr. 2016. Tr 17.99. ISBN 9780544633889.
Gr 9 Up–
A girl dealing with her brother’s recent death meets up with some new friends who introduce her to drugs and lots of language. Here, she tries to cope with the tragedy. I love the cover! It is very pretty and displays the contents.

The writing style was terrible. It left a lot to the imagination and the plot wasn’t very good either. The main character was, however, very well described and portrayed. All the other characters were quite shallow and again, left a lot to the imagination.

The book began with drugs and cussing, however I kept reading. Then I came across a sex scene and was done. It was unnecessary for the story or for character development. I felt that this book used language, drugs, and sex as a backbone for the plot, portraying it as if the whole book was terrible (which it was), teens would still read it for those things and not for the story at all.

This book was very shallow and could have been a whole lot better.–Emily B., 16

Black NightstruckBLACK, Jenna. Nightstruck. Tor. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380043.
Gr 7 Up–This book is a really great scary book about magic that has leaked into our world. It makes inanimate objects come alive during the night and tries to infect people and make them “nightstruck.”

I liked how interesting the cover is, because it’s not every day that you see a drainpipe with teeth, or a knotted light post. It definitely reflects the contents and gives me an idea what some of the night time magical things look like. Also, you can see the main character walking her dog, like it says on the first page.

I liked the plot, and how during the day, everything is normal, but then at night, the magic comes alive and it’s like a totally different planet. Also, I thinks it’s cool that while the magic appears to be gone during the day, there are the subtle signs, like the flowers on the door changing into a different design.

The end of the book was a total cliff-hanger (not necessarily a bad thing, but it left me wondering what would happen next and needs a sequel).–Kaitlyn H., 13

KEPHART, Beth. This Is the Story of You. Chronicle. April 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452142845.
Gr 7 Up–In the off season of a vacation town, bad weather is the norm, cupboards are filled with canned food and flashlights, and people are proud of their storm weathered houses, but no one was prepared for this storm. This is the ocean at its worst.

I like the cover; it gives off the vibe of the book, but doesn’t give anything away. Also, I like how the two pictures on the cover are different and show the parts of the story.

The writing style of this book is brilliant and haunting. Kephart paints a picture of the scene and paints out the story with her words. The only thing that was disappointing is that it was a little slow and sometimes a tad bit boring.–Cosette M., 14

This is the Story of You KephartANOTHER TAKE

This book is about a girl who lives on an island called Haven with her brother and mother. Her brother has Hunter syndrome and she loves him more than anything, but while her brother and mother are at the hospital, a big storm hits and separates the family. She has to survive through the storm, and then survive until her family can get to her.

I liked how the cover is done, the different fonts create an interesting effect along with the contrasting beach and ocean pictures. The cover reflects the contents very well, with the stormy picture and the peaceful, sandy scene.

The poetic way that the story was narrated was beautiful. I really liked the way defining characteristics of characters were expressed by the different things they owned, such as Deni’s bag being reinforced with extra stitches representing how she was cautious, and always was building up more support to stop her world from falling apart.

I enjoyed reading this book, but the ending was a bit abrupt. I think that some more detail on Gillian’s mother’s relationship with Mickey could have been added. Other than that, the book is very good.–Natalie K., 13


Haven has always been a safe place for Mira and her friends. But all that changes when a storm blows in, wiping out houses and tearing Mira away from everyone that she loves.

I liked the cover. The cross between a sunny day on the beach and a stormy, gray sea reflected the contents well, and drew me in to want to know more about what was inside.

The writing style was pretty good. Kephart has a beautiful way of writing, but sometimes it can be a little confusing to readers. The end of the book was a little disappointing. It didn’t really wrap up the story well for me. I wanted to see Mira with Mickey and Jasper Lee again, and have Sterling meet Jasper Lee like Mira always wanted. It seemed almost rushed, and although it had some good aspects to it, I didn’t get the sense that the story was over.

Also, throughout the story, some things were a little confusing, like why Eva was drawn to Shift in the first place. I also wish there had been a little more backstory, or the characters were explained better, because all of them seemed pretty alike to me. –Zoe D., 13

Rollins_BurningROLLINS, Danielle. Burning. Bloomsbury. Apr 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619637382.
Gr 9 UpBurning by Danielle Rollins is about a group of juvie girls who get thrown into a world of deception and mystery they could never have imagined.

The cover of Burning reflected the book well. It shows a big part of the story, the segregation block, with smoke coming out, which is another big part of the story.

The most compelling aspect of Burning is how you really don’t know what’s going on, just like the main character. You don’t learn anything besides what the main character knows.

The end is probably the only disappointing part for me, since it ends so suddenly and doesn’t follow-up with a lot of the plot.–Abby S., 13


Angela has been at Brunesfield Correctional Facility (juvie) for over a year, and she’s to be released in a few short months. That all changes when a new warden and a strange new inmate arrive. Evil is brewing at Brunesfield. How will Angela and her friends escape? If you like creepy books with exciting action, you will love this book.

I like the mysteriousness of the cover with the smoke curling out of the cell. I think this reflects the contents because of what some characters in this book can do.

I really liked the excitement. I have never really read a horror book or a scary/creepy one, so this was my first taste. It was a book that kept me on my toes and kept me thinking about what might happen next. Also, the ending was AMAZING! –Eleanor C., 14

Rock KlickitatROCK, Peter. Klickitat. Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419718946.
Gr 9 Up–
I didn’t really like the cover, mostly because it’s just an image of your average anonymous pretty girl to draw wandering eyes in, it’s been done a lot, and almost never very well.

Honestly, it was hard to find something I liked. The most compelling aspect was probably the connection between sisters Vivian and Audra, they were very close while the rest of their family just didn’t understand them.

Unfortunately I found this book very dull. It may have just been my frame of mind, but I could barely get through the first few chapters. The characters lacked complexity, and the plot was very predictable. I was very disappointed because I grabbed it thinking it was my kind of story, but I guess not.–Isabel T., 14

Vivian Last Boy and GirlVIVIAN, Siobhan. The Last Boy and Girl in the World. S. & S. Apr. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481452298.
Gr 8 Up–
If you had one month to leave the town you were born in, grew up in, and lived in your whole life, how would you spend it? This is the situation hundreds of people in Aberdeen faced and Anna just wanted to make the most of it.

The cover was definitely intriguing, it was why I picked up the book in the first place; even the staff people were talking about how great the cover was.

I think the way it was written was most compelling. How the first chapter was set in almost the end was so ingenuous the way it made you want to figure it all out throughout the book. It was fulfilling in the end and so complete as a story.–Rachel F., 14

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