March 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review Kat Ellis’s “Breaker,” Steampunk, and More

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ELLIS, Kat. Breaker. Running Pr. May 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762459087.
Gr 8 Up—
It starts out with a good beginning were Kyle beats this guy up for calling his mom. then Kyle gets sent to kill deer academy where he meets a girl named Naomi, whose mom was murdered by Kyle’s dad. Kyle finds out and tries to avoid her but is eventually pulled towards her. This is a great book with great plot twists.

BreakerAt first glance the cover caught my eye and I was intrigued, wondering about the boy and girl on the roof and the owl. When I finished the book I looked at the cover again and it amazed me— it connects perfectly to the book after you’ve read it and intrigues you before you’ve read it. The plot moved fast enough to keep my interest piqued and kept me turning pages but it wasn’t too fast and didn’t overwhelm me. Although, the second chapter introduces quite a bit of characters that were hard to remember at first, but then it gets easier quickly. The only thing that disappointed me was the ending. It was a little abrupt and lacked complete closure.—Jacob H., 17


I thought the cover was good for the small portion I read, but overall I felt the cover was confusing. I guess if you read more, the owl will come in somewhere.

I didn’t read much, but characters were probably the best part in the book. The development had started in the second page but Kyle Henry’s mom was super weird. Being very nonchalant on where your son will be for the next year isn’t a good thing.

I was very disappointed with the book because it jumps all over the place. First you’re in a car, next you’re reading a newspaper. Third, you’re across the country and back again to show up at the new school. The school rules were totally relaxed, and don’t get me started on some of the dialogue. You have whispered “aluminum foil” twice in the last two pages. What are you having? A foil boat race?—Emma B., 14 

DoreenMANASTER, Ilana. Doreen. Running Pr. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780762459629.
Gr 8 Up–
Who knew that your life could change forever with the simple click of a camera? Well definitely not frumpy, disappointing Doreen. This was an exciting novel that just forced you to get lost in the twists and turns of the plot! I did enjoy the mysteriousness of the cover and it definitely made me want to grab this book right away.          I absolutely adored the sudden twists in the plot. Manaster did a fantastic job turning an older classic[The Picture of Dorian Grey] into a new and thrilling young adult novel. The setting was also decent, however I most likely would have gone into a little bit more detail about the bridge and the school, but other than that it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed by a few different aspects of the book. One major aspect that almost caused me to stop reading was how the author formatted chapter changes. It bothered me that all of a sudden we were on a different chapter. There should be some sort of title page for each chapter. Or at least a heading at the top of the page so it doesn’t look like the book just continues. Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself by getting lost in this novel.

I feel that some teens may not enjoy this as much because of the scenes involving “joints” and some scenes that almost got a little too up close and personal with the characters.—Sophia B., 13

Vanishing Throne_final front cover.pdfMAY, Elizabeth. The Vanishing Throne. Chronicle. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452128825.
Gr 8 Up–
In the wake of her failure to keep the fae locked in their prison, Aileana now must face the ruinous world left in its wake. In order to protect her remaining friends, she must unlock her full abilities as a Falconer and secrets even the fae have forgotten.

I really liked the cover. It kept up with the theme of the first book, making it easily recognizable as the next one in the series, but like the book, it tells a story. The first cover portrays a young, fierce heroine holding a dagger poised to strike—a perfect representation of the main character on her hunt for revenge. This one illustrates a battle-worn young woman, her dress in tatters and blade drawn, who has come to terms with the past and is now ready to face whatever the future has to offer.

I loved the concept of the plot from the first book. Full of action in a fantasy/steampunk setting with a spice of vengeance and the fate of the world in the protagonist’s hands. I mean, who isn’t the slightest bit intrigued by that description? Now with the world she once knew completely destroyed, she has to face her most epic failure, and with that acceptance, unlock her full powers.

The most disappointing and most infuriating part was the sudden, abrupt cliff-hanger ending. It has left me yearning in anguish for the final installment of this amazing trilogy. So much so that I fear for my sanity come 2017.—Meghan S., 17

world beneathWARMAN, Janice. The World Beneath. Candlewick. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763678562.
Gr 6 Up–Joshua doesn’t realize that black and white people in South Africa don’t get treated equally until he is hiding a black man wanted by the police.  He is swept up in the riots and has to decide how he wants to fight oppression.

The cover of the book mildly reflects the contents, but is very uninteresting.  The main character of the book doesn’t understand that black people are treated differently until he is hiding a black man wanted by the police.  He faces loss, murder, and fighting.  The cover of the book should reflect his struggles, and be more from his point of view.

The most compelling aspect of the book was that the main character, Joshua, is learning about the struggles for black people along with readers.  It is an interesting point of view to tell the story from.

I was disappointed with the content of this book.  The book was based off of the author’s own experiences in South Africa in 1976.  She lived in a wealthy house with a black servant.  The riots and shootings were all around her.  It seems like the book should be much more heartfelt, and with the original experiences of the author, but it was very generic.  I also didn’t have a strong sense of the time and place of the book.  The story isn’t set too long ago, but you don’t get that impression from the text.  The book should make you think about where black people aren’t treated well today.  It also seems like Joshua should have a broader view of the world in 1976 and been less limited to the neighborhood he lived in.

At one point in the book, Joshua is taken away from his mother and to a training camp for people who want to fight against the oppression of black people.  He doesn’t seem sad, and he seems too willing to be there.  The moments in this book where he has to decide between right and wrong, such as when he is deciding to set a bomb or not, don’t feel very meaningful.       —Olivia. C.,

art of being normalWILLIAMSON, Lisa. The Art of Being Normal. Farrar. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374302375.
Gr 9 Up–
David’s always had one wish in life: to be a girl. So when the mysterious Leo shows up at school one day, David’s life is turned upside down, and he realizes he might actually have the strength to be who he really wants to be.

I liked the cover. It was really colorful and bright, which was nice.

I seriously loved everything about this book. It’s such a good story, and it informs kids of others around them who are dealing with these things. The beginning was a little bit slow, but once it got going, I could hardly set down the book, for every page turn held new secrets I was just dying to figure out.

So many of the different scenes made me feel different emotions, like anger, sadness or happiness, and it was so much fun to read! I loved all the characters, how both David and Leo changed throughout the book, and how all of their struggles made me so sad and angry, but the end made everything seem worth it.

The beginning was a little slow, but beside that, everything was great! Such an amazing book!—Zoe D., 13

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