# of Pages: 298
Rio and her twin, Bay, were born in the underwater town of Atlantia and it is now their chosen time to decide if they wish to stay below or go up to the surface for the rest of their lives. People in the underwater city believe that life above ground is dangerous, labor intensive, and fairly short while residents of Atlantia are believed to have an easy life where most people live a very long time. Unfortunately, their mother, Oceana, was recently found dead and many suspect foul play. Rio has always dreamed of going above, but now that their mother is gone she has promised Bay she will stay with her down below. All decisions are final in this ceremony and there is no going back and forth allowed. Rio is shocked when Bay ends up leaving her and choosing to live above the water, but she is ushered away before Rio has a chance to ask her why. She does have time to utter one word that alerts those near to her of what she truly is, which is a siren. Her mother has trained her to keep that truth a secret for reasons unbeknownst to Rio. Can Rio survive in the one place she has wanted to leave her entire life without her mother or sister? Why would her sister choose to leave after making her promise they would stay together forever? Is it possible to bridge the two societies together?
This novel is fresh and interesting right from the beginning. It feels like yet another futuristic story, but the setting and characters quickly help you to forget all of that as you cannot help but get immersed in the story. Rio has many plot details to figure out in order to find out the truth of her family and Atlantia itself. While many great characters are introduced, it does take Rio awhile to discern whom she can and cannot trust which makes the journey more interesting for the reader. It also appears that this is going to be a stand alone novel which is refreshing in a world where every book seems to have three sequels. Recommended for students who enjoy fantasy.
Genre: Historical Fiction
# of Pages: 249
Sophie has been summoned to Russia to meet with the Empress and her nephew, the heir to the throne. Sophie’s mother has impressed upon Sophie how important it is for their family to secure a match with the prince because they have many debts and are in danger of losing their title and land. Once Sophie arrives in Russia it becomes clear that the prince is very self involved and wants all attention on him at all times. She begins to spend a lot of time with her Russian tutor, Sergei, and one of the prince’s men, Alexander. Eventually, Sophie begins to have affection for Alexander and she knows how much trouble she would be in if anyone ever found out. Meanwhile, she is informed that she must learn fluent Russian and convert to Greek Orthodox before she can marry the prince. Can she turn her back on her family and marry the man she loves or must she marry a man she finds vile in order to save her family?
Loosely based on Catherine the Great, Ficklin makes no apologies for any historical inaccuracies. The story is interesting in that very little is written in the young adult category for this era in historical fiction. Due to the fact that it is based on true events, there are some twists to the story that may shock and dismay readers, but is essential in order to follow the arch of Catherine’s life. The characters are interesting and written so that they are not easily confused. Fans of series such as The Luxe or Cleopatra’s Daughter will enjoy this title.
Genre: Futuristic/Survival Fiction
# of Pages: 225
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.
Published January 16, 2015
Mystery , RAC
Tags: copycat, FBI, serial killer
# of Pages: 375
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.
# of pages: 239
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.
# of Pages: 355
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.
# of pages: 295
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.