April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review “Rebel of the Sands” Sequel and More

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In this last column by the Kitsap YA Group, the teens review the follow-up to Alwyn Hamilton’s fantasy adventure, a hard-hitting contemporary debut, and more.

YA-SP-ZennDiagramBRANT, Wendy. Zenn Diagram. Kids Can Pr. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781771387927.

Gr 7 Up— One touch tells you the depths of a person’s soul. One touch and you know them completely. One touch overwhelms you, until you meet Him.

I love the cover, the math equations immediately draw me (I’m a total math freak), while maintaining a kind of symmetry and depth. It’s like they’re saying “there’s more than you can see, figure it out” over and over. The fact that the “Zenn” diagram is in a heart shape at first totally drove me nuts, “perfect circle” that I am, but eventually just felt so TRUE with the story that I think [the publisher] couldn’t have picked a better cover. The [tag line] “What if one touch could tell you everything?” really drew me. As I said before, I’m a math freak, and also very, VERY intuitive. This book felt like it was my personal book since that very second I read that hook. I somehow knew this book was right for me.

I think the most compelling aspect of the book was the characters. They were extremely well rounded and well described, and the visions added a very interesting aspect to Eva’s (the narrator’s) knowledge and perception towards other characters. I found it very cool to read about Eva participating in many of the same rather atypical behaviors I do often, for very different reasons. For example: not touching people because she gets visions, not touching people because I am very physically sensitive.

By the end of the book I really felt like I knew the characters and could have told you what they would do and think in a given situation. We were already friends, even though they don’t exist.

Also, the math. What more can I say? I love math. There was math in this book. Perfect, right? I was only disappointed in this book for one reason: They had sex. Honestly! I like a good love story, but I don’t really want to read about people having sex. I think the story would have been just as beautiful, enticing, and ethereally real if they had just had a really hot make-out. Or took shirts off, or whatever. It’s really hard to find a love story these days that doesn’t have sex in it, and I would have been even happier (if that is possible) with this book if it was sex-free.

But, that is the only thing I don’t like. All in all a WONDERFUL book. Everyone should read it. It’s amazing.—Olivia V., 13

YA-SP-Cestari-TheBestKindofMagicCESTARI, Crystal. The Best Kind of Magic. Disney-Hyperion. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484752722.

Gr 7 Up— Amber Sand is a matchmaker in a family full of witches. She spends her days envisioning others’ true loves, wondering if she will ever fall in love herself. When a popular boy from school asks for her help in solving a mystery, she becomes love-struck, but is torn because she knows she is not his match.

I liked the cover, it wasn’t my favorite, but it was fun and pretty.

I loved the plot; it had the perfect balance of multiple things going on at once and it never really got boring. I also loved the characters, they had the perfect personalities that went with the plot and were built up perfectly.

I also really liked the writing style; it really gave life to the book and it felt like someone was actually telling you the story, or you were part of it, other than just monotone. The writing style made the book even more fun to read.

Some scenes in the book weren’t my favorite in the way that they were put together, but I think that, overall, the book was great and there were no really disappointing parts. It wasn’t my favorite book though.—Veronica C., 13

hamilton_traitorHAMILTON, Alwyn. Traitor to the Throne. Viking. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780451477859.         

Gr 8 Up—Traitor to the Throne is an amazing sequel to Rebel of the Sands. They are both fast-paced novels with wild characters trying to make their world a better place.

I liked how colorful the cover is. It really caught my attention. I immediately see some themes in the book, with the contrast of the wet stones and ocean to the desert palace.

I really liked the plot and the characters. Each character is distinctly different, and the fact that some have some distinct mark, like bright eyes or wild colorful hair, makes it even cooler. Also, the plot never tired, there were always twists or something happening.

Maybe describe the setting a little more, there are a lot of different places in the story that I think learning a little more about them could help.—Kaitlyn H.,14

Walton_Words on Bathroom WallsWALTON, Julia. Words on Bathroom Walls. Random. July 2017.Tr 17.99. ISBN 9780399550881.

Gr 10 Up— Adam is a teenage boy who goes through life seeing things that aren’t there, and when a miracle drug tries to help him live a normal life, he is not too excited. But when he meets Maya, he realizes that maybe it is important to get rid of what is not really there. This is a beautiful story of how to truly understand what it means for something to only be inside your head.

I thought the cover was a bit too scattered, but I liked the idea of it. I kind of got a headache looking at it and it brought back memories of gas station bathrooms *shiver*. I think it reflected the idea of the title, but I did not really understand the reasoning behind it. I mean, so many other things were going on besides the “JESUS LOVES YOU” or “don’t be a homo,” in the bathroom.

I loved having real characters that are not so John Green–fantasy-like, but are more real-life people. I loved Adam and Maya’s relationship and how they were so close but also breakable. I also loved the plot, and the hallucinations were an interesting aspect. The writing style was beautiful, and I think I cried about seven times in the six hours I spent glued to the pages. I love this book. I would go as far as to say it’s my favorite. I don’t like a lot of books, but this one said so much to me without the whole constant-deep-emotions-corniness thing. It was a truly beautiful story. I loved it more than anything I’ve ever read.


The Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group teen reviewers are part of YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten program. The participants select the books that go on to be nominated for YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten—a “teen choice” list.


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