Meritropolis by Joel Ohman

Meritropolis-Cover

Genre:  Futuristic/Survival Fiction

# of Pages:  225

RAC:  Yes

Charley lives in Meritropolis where everyone is judged on their merit and given a score.  He has an unnaturally high score of 118. He loathes the system, however, because when he was 8 his only brother was taken away and put outside the gates to die simply because he had Down Syndrome and therefore had a low score.  He has been plotting his revenge since.  Every time a person is put outside the gates every adult is required to go to the gate ceremony to watch.  At Charley’s first one they led a little girl with a disability to the gates and he went crazy and started fighting the guards.  He was eventually overtaken, but due to his high number he was not sent outside the gates as punishment.  Instead, they put his best friend out there to remind him of who is really in charge.  At that point Charley started plotting how he can take down the system.

This book seems very simple at first, but touches on many important issues in any society.  For example, the sick and elderly are discussed quite often and how “valuable” they are in society.  There are different views on this throughout the book from different characters.  There are also hunger issues, which is a terrible problem in all societies.  Some people get a lot while others barely get by.  Finally, even abortion is touched on.  The main character is strong and not afraid to speak up and could be a great literary hero for reluctant boy readers.  The plot is full of unanswered questions, some interesting revelations, and lots of action.  Recommended for fans of survival fiction.

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Barnes

killerinstinct

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  375

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Naturals, all the main characters are back and still reeling from the very scary encounter Cassie had with a serial killer in the first book.  It isn’t long before another case draws in the naturals even though the FBI has sworn to leave them out of any active cases in the future.  A young college student’s body appears on the lawn of the campus, but the method mimics that of Dean’s father and that immediately complicates things.  Dean’s father will only answer questions for Dean so he has to come face to face with his dad for the first time since he was arrested for heinous crimes.  Meanwhile, Cassie, Michael, Lia, and Sloane all try to help but everything they try seems to get them in more and more trouble with the FBI.  On top of all that, a new FBI agent has been brought in to oversee the naturals programs and she seems determined to end the program one way or another.  Can they find out who is copying Dean’s father and how that person is getting information?  Can Cassie and her friends prove how valuable the program is so that it doesn’t get cut by the FBI?  Will Cassie ever choose between Dean and Michael?

This is a solid followup to the first book.  The mystery itself is engaging and is more complicated than most readers will think at first which will keep them guessing until the end.  The characters grow and develop more in this book and makes the naturals program seem more useful and interesting than before.  The love triangle between Dean, Michael, and Cassie finally gets resolved, but will most likely be revisited in the next installment.  Fans looking for a fun mystery series will enjoy this.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

otherwesmoore

Genre:  Non-fiction

# of pages:  239

RAC:  Yes

Wes Moore was born in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore and eventually ended up in military school where he went on to become a very successful Rhodes Scholar.  Meanwhile, another Wes Moore, born in the same neighborhood mere months apart from Wes ended up in jail for life for murder.  These two Wes Moore’s do not meet until adulthood when their lives and futures are already set, but when the author of this book learned of the other Wes Moore’s existence he felt compelled to visit him in prison and get to know him better.  He writes this book to ask what factors sent one Wes Moore down one path and the other Wes Moore down another.  Family support?  Opportunities?  Personal choices?

This story follows both Wes Moore’s lives as they make decisions to ultimately change their paths in two very different directions despite many similarities in the circumstances they were born into.  Both Wes’s grew up without a father, but for very different reasons.  Both Wes’s had chances to escape the life of crime and drugs their surroundings provided.  Both had hard working mothers who tried their best to raise them alone.  How then did one end up a war hero while the other ended up in jail for life?  This book asks difficult questions at a time when too many headlines focus on terrible things that have happened to kids from tough neighborhoods and home lives.  The story can get a bit confusing at times as many characters are introduced quickly, but the plot is interesting and many students will enjoy the honesty present in the text and subject matter.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

youngelites

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  355

RAC:  Yes

Adelina survived a terrible “blood fever” that killed many throughout the land she lives in with her father, mother, and sister.  Her mother, in fact, does not survive the fever.  Adelina is not left unscathed and loses an eye in the process of fighting the terrible disease.  Her father now views her as tainted and damaged.  He blames her for his business losing money and him not being able to sell her off to a rich husband.  Upon overhearing that he plans to instead sell her to a dishonest man looking for a young mistress she decides to flee, but her father catches her and in her anger she brings forth a power she did not know she possessed.  He is trampled and killed in the process.  Adelina is sentenced to death, but the famous and yet elusive “young elites” come and save her.  The “young elites” are made up of scarred survivors of the blood fever who have also acquired special powers and skills.  They agree to train Adelina in her new found skills, but if she fails to learn to control them they will have to dispose of her.  Does Adelina have what it takes to be a “young elite.”

By the same author as the Legend series, this series will interest fans of fantasy fiction such as Rick Riordan and James Dashner.  The story itself follows a similar plot progression as others we have seen, but remains unique enough that the reader will care what happens to Adelina and her sister.  The characters are well written, but their motivations and actions are sometimes unclear.  The ending has a proper buildup and anticipation and comes through with excess action and a dramatic conclusion.  This is a solid beginning to an interesting new series.

Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

iron trial

Genre:  Fantasy

# of pages:  295

RAC:  Yes

Callum Hunt has been told his entire life that he will not be attending the Magisterium, which is the magic school both of his parents attended.  His father firmly believes it brought them only bad things and the tragic death of Callum’s mother.  When Callum gets the invitation for the admittance test he brings nothing with him as he has no intention of going with the Masters to the Magisterium at the end of the trial.  He does everything in his power to fail this test and succeeds remarkably well, which is why he is so surprised when the greatest master chooses him to mentor along with two other students.  Callum’s father refuses to let him go, but is overruled and Callum is forced to go to the school he has been told his entire life will only lead to his downfall.  Can he succeed even if his father thinks it’s impossible?  Why was he chosen if he performed so poorly on the test?  Will this be the first place he has ever truly fit in?

This is the first in a five book series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, two very popular fantasy authors.  It will inevitably lead to comparisons with Harry Potter, but there are enough differences to intrigue Harry Potter fans.  Callum’s character is flawed and in no way a real hero to the story, but yet throughout the story he steps up when his friends need him even knowing he very well could fail and make things worse.  There are many unanswered questions that will leave readers wanting more.  Recommended for struggling readers who enjoy fantasy.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting

the-taking

Genre:  Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Kyra gets into a fight with her father on the way home from the softball championships and forces him to stop the car on the highway so she can get out and walk away.  Kyra storms out of the car and sees a blinding light before everything goes black.  She wakes up behind the dumpster of the local gas station and is still wearing her softball uniform.  She walks home only to learn that five years have passed since she disappeared.  Her parents are now divorced and her mom has a new husband and child, her father has become consumed with finding out what happened to her that night, and her boyfriend went to college and started dating her best friend.  Everything has changed except Kyra.  She begins to form a relationship with the boy next door, but then the NSA comes looking for her and she has to run for her safety.  What do they want with her?  What do they think she’s capable of?  Will it be possible to be a normal teenager ever again?

This story has a really interesting premise.  What would any of us do if we woke up and the world had moved on without us?  As Kyra’s questions start getting answered readers will be intrigued by what she discovers about her disappearance, but the story does lag a bit in certain places.  The relationship between Kyra and Tyler develops extremely quickly and very little detail is given as to how that is.  For the most part readers will be able to identify with Kyra and want to see what happens to her, but a lot is left unanswered with an ending clearly set up for a sequel.

Dust Lands: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

dust lands

Genre:  Adventure/Futuristic/Survival

# of Pages:  459

RAC:  Yes

Saba lives with her twin brother, father, and little sister in the middle of a desserted, dry place.  Lugh, her twin, begins to worry about their survival with the lake drying up and their overall lack of food.  Her father has never been the same since Saba’s mother died giving birth to her sister, Emmi.  Unexpectedly one day, four men in long robes riding horses kidnap Lugh and kill her father who tries to stop them.  Saba and Emmi then begin a long journey to try and find Lugh, but before they get far they are captured and Saba is forced to cage fight daily for her life in a brutal coliseum type entertainment venue where people come to watch young girls die.  While incarcerated, Saba begins to make a few friends and learns a few things about Lugh’s whereabouts, but the more she hears the worse it sounds.  How will she get free so that she no longer has to fight for her life for other’s entertainment?  Will she ever be able to find and rescue her brother and sister?  Can she trust anyone she meets?

This futuristic survival tale will be riveting for anyone who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Maze Runner.  It’s very raw and gritty and leaves the reader truly pulling for Saba who has an unbelievable amount of obstacles in front of her.  Everything that happens to Saba and her friends is brutal, but very realistic and believable unlike some of the other futuristic series out there.  Saba is a flawed and interesting character that makes you wonder what will ultimately happen to her, but the characters around her are also flawed and somehow they all work together to bring forth the best version of themselves.   Recommended



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