Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

salvage

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of pages:  520

RAC:  Yes

Ava is a young woman who was born on a merchant ship in deep space and has never set foot on a real planet before.  The only way of life she knows is on board this ship, which includes strict separation of women’s and men’s duties.  Women cook, clean, sew, and have babies while men train for jobs in areas such as business and engineering.  When a rumor comes down that Ava has been betrothed to a man on another ship she cannot help but hope it is the young man she met once when they were kids.  He even encouraged her to fix a broken device herself, which was something women are never allowed to do on her ship.  When the two ships come together Ava makes a very unfortunate mistake and her punishment is death, but she manages to escape to earth.  Is she strong enough to survive going “planetside” after a lifetime of never experiencing that kind of gravity?  Can she find her way in a world that assumes she knows basic skills she was denied on her ship such as learning to read?  Will she ever find a way to punish those on board her home ship who failed to stand up for her under unfortunate circumstances?

Fans of Glow, Across the Universe, and other space adventure stories will enjoy this very real and dangerous life that Ava is living.  The supporting characters are interesting and multi-faceted in a way that the reader can understand their point of view, but at the same time Ava is the heroine of this story.  Values, morals, and other societal laws are called into question as each planet and ship tends to make up their own, but all of these discussions can be applied to different cultures and countries on Earth.

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

dear killer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  359

RAC:  Yes

Kit has been trained to be a killer since she was a small girl by her mother.  Kit’s mother felt called to kill, but eventually felt like she was getting too close to getting caught so she retired and trained her daughter to believe she was merely performing a service.  Kit truly believes killing is neither right nor wrong, but just is.  By day she is the chipper private school girl who blends in everywhere and yet has no close friends.  Once every few months, however, she visits a local coffee shop where there is a secret drop box in the bathroom wall where people deposit letters and cash to have the “perfect killer” dispose of their unwanted family and friends.  She reads the letters and chooses which victims she feels most comfortable with and takes care of it in a way  that no clues, DNA, or fingerprints are ever found.  She leaves the letters at the crime scene so that the police know it was her.  One day her mother invites the lead detective on the perfect killer case over for dinner and they strike up a friendship so that Kit can know where they are on the investigation, which is nowhere.  Can she keep up this facade forever?  Will the job ever bother her or have lingering effects?

This book is dark and yet written in a light way so that it appears like Kit is a very normal and sympathetic girl.  The more you get to know the character, however, the more disturbing she really is.  She is able to kill perfect strangers for money without feeling any remorse or blame in any way.  What’s worse is it almost seems like a game to her.  Fans of mystery books might enjoy the thrill of living vicariously through someone who truly does what she wants when she wants, but eventually it gets a bit old as you discover how scary someone like this actually is.

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

avalon

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  418

RAC:  Yes

Jeth and his sister have been working for the evil crime lord, Hammer, ever since their parents were executed for treason and their uncle gambled away their parent’s beloved spaceship, Avalon.  Jeth and his friends work by stealing spaceships to give to Hammer that are then chopped up and sold for pieces.  They are hoping to save enough to buy Avalon back so they can escape for good.  On a routine job, a government official comes to Jeth and claims that his next job will include going to a dangerous part of space to retrieve a lost ship.  He wants Jeth to return the ship to him instead of Hammer and in return promises Jeth full ownership of Avalon as well as the truth about his parents.  Jeth is tempted, but Hammer is not someone people generally cross.  Can he trust this government official?  Does he have a choice?

This space adventure is full of action and twists and turns that keep the reader guessing.  Jeth’s crazy crew all have fun personalities that make them likable and interesting.  The villains are truly terrible people who do unbelievably terrible things.  The plot feels refreshing and unique, unlike some new series out there.  Recommended for fans of Glow, Salvage, and even the Michael Vey series.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

graduation day

Genre:  Futuristic fiction

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

In this third installment in the Testing series, Cia is faced with the reality that she must help bring The Testing to an end, but she does not know whom she can trust.  She is given a list of names by the president and ordered to kill those people in order to overthrow the people in charge of the Testing.  Meanwhile, Cia starts to enlist the help of people she thinks she can trust through various tests she creates herself.  When one of her tests goes wrong she must move on her bigger plans quicker than she expected.  Can Cia and Tomas really bring an end to the Testing?  If so, can they survive to enjoy it?

Fans of the series will find this installment quick, action packed, and full of intrigue.  Cia is right not to trust people blindly in this community where most people are simply out for themselves.   She knows the difficult road she has ahead of her, but feels she must do it for the upcoming students who might be spared the horrible actions of The Testing should she succeed.  The motivations of the government are clear and understandable, but Cia proves there is no easy way to determine who a leader really is.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girls

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  388 p.

RAC:  Yes

On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house.  Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder.  Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime.  Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna.  Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail.  As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison.  Will Anna be convicted?  Did she know anything about this terrible crime?

Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story.  Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes.  There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

enclave

Genre: Futuristic fiction

# of Pages:  262

RAC:  Yes

2014 Iowa High School Award Winner

In this futuristic novel, Deuce is a huntress who lives underground in an enclave.  Humans have moved underground because life above ground is believed to be uninhabitable.  Her hunting partner, Fade, is very mysterious and there are rumors that at some point he has been above ground.  Together they work in the tunnels surrounding their enclave to find food for their people, but it dangerous work since there are many mutated “Freaks” in the tunnels fighting them for food.  When Deuce is officially allowed to finish her training and go into the tunnels she is surprised by how well the Freaks seem to fight.  She was taught that they were simple minded and easy to fool, but they appear to strategize and work together to outsmart the other fighters.  Meanwhile, a good friend of Deuce’s is accused of a crime she knows he did not commit so she takes the blame and is exiled to live above ground.  Surprisingly, Fade stands with her.  Can they survive above ground?  Will the enclave be safe without them to help defend the colony?

Fans of futuristic novels like Divergent and The Maze Runner will enjoy this novel because it does have a different spin on the genre.  Deuce is a very strong female character who will not give in to pressure to change her opinions or beliefs.  The story itself moves quickly with a lot of action which will pull in those reluctant readers who do not like slow moving plots.

The Naturals by Jennifer Barnes

the-naturals

 

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  308

RAC: Yes

Cassie has relied on her ability to read people since the mysterious disappearance of her mother five years ago.  She is surprised, however, when she is recruited to join an elite team in the FBI made up of teens with similar special abilities called The Naturals.  Cassie will be trained as a profiler for the FBI to use on cold cases.  She feels it is important for her to do this since her mother’s disappearance and presumed murder is still unsolved.  Once she starts training, however, she is pulled into an ongoing serial murder investigation in which the killer seems to be taunting the teens in the naturals.  More alarmingly, the case seems to be connected to her mother’s case.  Can they solve the murders or will Cassie become the next victim?

Fans of mysteries will love this new title as it combines an intriguing mystery story with tons of great, albeit mysterious characters so that Cassie does not know whom she can really trust.  The ending is very satisfying and will surprise most of the readers no matter how diligently they have followed the clues leading up to the exciting climax.  The book sets itself up well to become a series which is good because readers will want to see more of these naturals.  Recommended.



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