# of Pages: 540
Jamie Carpenter witnessed his father’s murder a few years before the story begins and ever since he and his mother have believed that his father had been a traitor to the country. On the night his father died, he witnessed some strange phenomena outside his house, but had since convinced himself he was hallucinating. That changes when he is attacked by a vampire and barely escapes only to find his mother has been taken by one of the most powerful vampires in the world. Then, he learns of a secret organization called Department Nineteen that takes care of creatures most people do not believe exist. Despite the fact that many people believe his father is a traitor, he is welcomed in and allowed to train briefly in order to go after his mother. Does he have what it takes to fight vampires for his government?
This book has been named an Iowa Award Winner for 2013-2014 and it is easy to see why. Fans of fantasy enjoy the back story of this book as well as the truly colorful characters (Frankenstein is an actual employee at Department 19). There are many twists and turns in the story and the action is almost continual. This book sets up the possibility for many more to come. Recommended.
Published April 29, 2013
Adventure , Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: battle, betrayal, dating, friendship, futuristic, secrets, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 305
RAC Book: Yes
In this futuristic story, Day is a rebel who hides in the shadows and pulls pranks on authorities. He is the number one wanted criminal. June is a girl living in the Republic whose brother is a soldier for a high ranking official. She is considered a prodigy because she is the first and only person to earn a perfect score on the training test given to every ten-year-old in the Republic. After an attempt to obtain medicine from a hospital leaves June’s brother murdered she is led to believe Day was the culprit responsible. June goes undercover to find and apprehend the biggest criminal standing in the way of the Republic’s goals so she can avenge her brother. Day ends up being much more than she bargained for, however, and she finds the more questions she answers the more that arise. Whom can she trust in this government? Can she believe anything she was told over her entire childhood?
This exciting story will interest readers who like books such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. The setting is reminiscent of Divergent, but focuses much more on the goals of the Republic and not the little sectors that make up the people. The chapters alternate between Day and June so that you see each of the sides of this battle and why they see each other as the enemy. Many secrets unravel quickly, but it’s obvious there are many more where that came from. There is currently one sequel out and there will probably be more.
Published April 3, 2013
Award Winners , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Uncategorized
Tags: dating, divorce, domestic abuse, friendship, physical abuse, siblings, trust
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 328
RAC Book: Yes
Tennyson and Bronte are siblings whose parents are English professors. Tennyson feels very protective of his sister, Bronte, which is why he is upset when he learns she is dating Brewster who is known as Bruiser around their high school. Tennyson tries intimidating Brewster and even follows him to try and get him to leave his sister alone, but what he ends up finding is that Brewster is covered in bruises and other injuries. This leads Tennyson to believe that Brewster is being abused at home, but upon further inspection he realizes that Brewster’s situation is a whole lot more complicated than that. Brewster, through no effort on his part, takes on the pain of anyone he cares about. As Tennyson and Bronte start to get to know him they start to like having him around and vow never to tell Brewster’s secret. The problem is that this unusual power is killing Brewster and he does not know if he can stop it before it’s too late. What will he have to give to protect those he loves?
This story is very different and unique which is why it is so captivating and engaging. Shusterman creates a set of characters that any reader can empathize with. The chapters alternate between Bronte, Brewster, and Tennyson, which also helps the reader to see the situation through multiple perspectives. This book is recommended for everyone, but could be especially useful with reluctant readers.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 296
On a normal school day, Dean gets on the bus for school when all of a sudden giant hail beats down on the bus. The bus crashes and catches on fire, but another school bus who was behind it drives into a giant superstore and returns to save those who are uninjured. Dean is pulled from the wreckage moments before it explodes. Inside the superstore, they learn that only 6 high school, 2 junior high, and 6 elementary school kids survived the hail and the bus crash. They tend to the wounded and the bus driver leaves in the hopes of finding help. Meanwhile, they are shaken up by an earthquake and toxic gas that is poured into the air due to a leak caused by these natural disasters. They are safe in the superstore, but do not know how long they will need to survive there. Is anyone coming to rescue them?
This survival story is incredibly realistic and forthcoming about what life would be like after several natural disasters. The kids all have different strengths and annoyances as they strive to find the best way to live together. Some of their solutions for how to make the store more efficient and inhabitable are very clever. Other actions are not as clever, but reveal that they are in fact just kids trying to survive. The story moves at a quick pace and packs a lot of interesting plot developments. Readers may be disappointed by the abrupt ending, but most likely a sequel will be on the way.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 261
Maggie and her boyfriend climbed a gorge in order to jump hand in hand into the water below, but something went terribly wrong and Maggie woke up at the top with no memory of what happened. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, Joey, floated in the water below dead. Afterward, Maggie and her friends must face life without Joey, while also overcoming the guilt they feel for having gone to that place at all. Adam, one of their best friends, seems to be holding something back and has been steadily withdrawing since the accident. Is there something Maggie doesn’t know about Joey? Will she ever remember what happened at the top of that gorge?
Fans of realistic fiction will enjoy this title. This story is engaging right from the beginning and the individual characteristics of the group are detailed well so that the reader can truly distinguish between each member. There are a few key elements that the reader will pick up on before Maggie, but the big reveal seems satisfying nonetheless. The book deals with grief, the aftermath of death, and even the ability to see the flaws as well as the strengths in someone who is gone in a manner that anyone can relate to who has experience with losing a loved one.
# of Pages: 376
RAC Book: Yes
Benson is a foster kid who has been passed from one home to another for years. He finds information about a boarding school online and applies for a scholarship. He hopes to find a home for the rest of his high school life so that he does not have to face being the new kid anymore. When he arrives at his new school, Benson is not as excited as he thought he would be. The entire school is covered in electrified barbed wire and security cameras. There are no actual adults in the school and all the kids are responsible for doing everything, such as teach and cook meals. The kids have broken into three gangs to try and survive, but Benson is not willing to accept that there is no way out, despite the insistence that anyone who tries to escape never returns. Can Benson find a way out? Can he handle the answers he finds along the way about the truth behind the school?
Variant is engaging from the second Benson arrives at the school. There are so many factors involved in the make up of the school that it becomes almost impossible to ascertain why these students are being held captive there. The author adds an interesting twist about halfway through the book that makes it even harder to determine what the purpose of the school is. There are many characters, but they are described in a way that makes it easy to understand why they are responding to life in the school this way. Fans of the Maze Runner series will love this storyline.
# of Pages: 323
RAC Book: Yes
Hope has a tough home life, but she never fails to look after her mute, autistic brother, Jeremy. Her life turns upside down when Jeremy is accused of murdering the high school baseball coach with his bat. She has T.J., her best friend, and Chase, the sheriff’s son she secretly has a crush on, to help her prove Jeremy’s innocence. The evidence against Jeremy is overwhelming and he is not speaking to help explain what happened. Meanwhile, their neglectful mother obviously believes her son is guilty. Can Hope prove her brother is innocent without pushing everyone away? Can she come to terms with the situation if he is in fact guilty?
This mystery has many great elements that will keep readers interested. First of all, there are many surprising plot developments revealed as Hope investigates what happened that fateful morning. The empty jars Jeremy collects provide a unique and interesting way of understanding Jeremy and of helping Hope learn what really happened to the coach. There are also many great characters with multiple dimensions and motivations including Jeremy’s lawyer, Chase, TJ, and Jeremy. The truth is in front of the reader the whole time, but Hope has to put the pieces together. Overall, a good mystery.
Published June 26, 2012
Adventure , RAC , Realistic Fiction
Tags: civilization, cult, friendship, lies, survival, trust, tumor, zombie
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Apocalyptic Society
# of Pages: 465
RAC Book: Yes
Alex goes into the woods against the wishes of her aunt and doctors in order to distribute the ashes of her parents before her brain tumor kills her. While she is in the woods there is an electromagnetic wave that sweeps the country and maybe the world. The pulse kills most people instantly and leaves others either saved or in a zombie-like state. She meets a young girl, Ellie, who is unharmed, and a teenage boy, Tom. Tom is a former U.S. soldier from Afghanistan. Together the three of them try to survive, but keep finding more and more challenges to finding food and staying safe. Will they ever feel safe again? Will they all survive this disaster?
This story is engaging and students who like survival and futuristic type stories will enjoy the action. The characters all have secrets that they are reluctant to share, despite their close relationships they eventually form. There are many unanswered questions by the end of the story and the ending itself may frustrate some readers who are looking for more of a resolution. Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered in the inevitable sequel.
# of Pages: 266
RAC Book: Yes
In this sequel to the Ghost and the Goth, Alona is still a ghost trying to find out why she was sent back from the light. Meanwhile, Will is approached by a strange organization that claims to free the world of spirits or ghosts. While Will is thrilled that he is not the only one with the gift of seeing ghosts, he is not sure he completely trusts the motivations of the organization. A girl named Mina has been trying to become a member of the group with little success and it is clear she is annoyed by how much they want Will to join. Alona does not trust Mina and is irritated that Will wants to learn more about her and this organization that she thinks works against ghosts instead of with them. In order to get Will’s attention Alona attempts a risky and dramatic plan that could land both of them in serious trouble. Can these two find out the truth behind the organization? Can they save themselves from the unexpected forces that want to tear them apart?
This sequel was very well done. For a book with a light, funny premise it was unclear if there would be adequate plot developments for a sequel, but the story kept me interested throughout. Alona and Will’s characters and relationship have deepened and developed over the course of the story and teenagers will respond to them. While some of the plot points seemed a bit predictable it was not boring or repetitive in any way. Readers who follow the series will be curious to see what happens to these characters next.
# of Pages: 391
Nora is paired with Patch in science class and always feels a bit uncomfortable around him, especially since he seems to turn up wherever she is. The more time she spends with him, however, the more drawn she feels to him. Her best friend and the school counselor warn her he is dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted, but she cannot help but feel like she is in fact safe with him. Meanwhile, another new boy has come to her school, Elliot, and he is determined to befriend her. While Nora’s best friend thinks Elliot is wonderful Nora cannot help feel like something is a bit sinister with him. After a series of bizarre events in which Nora either hallucinated or someone is purposefully messing with her, she must decide which boy would be taunting her with dangerous situations. Is her life actually in danger and why?
This story is yet another fallen angel romance, but somehow still finds a way to be unique and interesting. Patch and Elliot both have reasons to hurt Nora, yet they both seem genuine at times when they want to befriend her. While Nora’s mother is absent for an enormous part of the book and her best friend seems to make the worst choices ever, Nora seems to take things in stride despite the fact that she finds herself in severe danger over and over. The ending provides some answers, but there is still a lot readers will want to know as this fantasy romance unfolds. Fans of Unearthly, Fallen, and Halo will enjoy this title as well.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 270
RAC Book: Yes
Chiko and Tu Reh live very different lives in modern day Burma, but are forced to make tough decisions through circumstances beyond their control. Chiko has always been raised to study and read and therefore does not have the strength or skills to fight in an army. He is forced to be a soldier by his government anyway, however. He must learn quickly what it takes to survive in a far off camp away from everyone and everything he has ever known. Tu Reh remembers when the Burmese soldiers burned down his family’s home and left their village in despair. He is surprised when his father chooses to show an injured soldier mercy and must come to grips with the decision he ultimately decides to make. Can either boy survive to reach adulthood in this war torn country? Will they ever find the strength to make those tough decisions?
This book will feel like a historical fiction book to many students because it can be hard to believe that teenagers their age really live this way in the modern world. That is why it is important for any student reading this book to know that this is what modern day Burma is like. Teenagers are struggling to feed and protect their families and have had to change their ultimate goals in life accordingly. These two characters accurately portray the different cultures that are currently at war in Burma and how young people are in a fight they do not understand. Their motivations, frustrations, and individual feelings are truly illustrated for the reader and will leave the reader with a better understanding of what it is like to be a teenager in Burma at this time. Recommended for class or individual reading assignments. Teachers are encouraged to discuss Burma in some detail with any student who reads this so that he or she can properly understand the accuracy of the depiction.
Genre: Romance/Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 288
RAC Book: Yes
London suffered a traumatic incident when she was a child and as a result lost her long term memory. She must keep notes of everything because when she goes to sleep her memory is erased and she forgets everything when she wakes up. She does have “flashforwards” that allow her to retrieve memories from the future. She meets a new boy at school and immediately feels a connection, but she has no memory of him in her future. London begins having one recurring vision that terrifies her, especially when she realizes it is actually a memory from her past and not her future. In order to understand her future she must face the past that was so painful her parents decided not to remind her once she had lost her memory. Meanwhile, she must decide if she can trust this new boy or if he is just going to hurt her when he learns the truth about her memory issues.
Stories with characters blocking out painful memories is not new, but this story definitely puts a new twist on it. The reader gets to put the pieces together right along with London to find out what happened to her that caused her memory to rewire itself and also as the clues slowly come out regarding London’s mysterious vision. The story has many twists and turns and more overall character development than it first appears. Recommended for mystery or reluctant readers.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 367
RAC Book: Yes
In this sequel to Matched Cassia is trying to find Ky by getting herself sent to the outer provinces as an abberation. Of course, she is an actual citizen, but is willing to jeopardize her citizenship status for true love. Ky has been fighting the attack on the Society for some time and has seen many people die around him. One day he decides to run for his freedom and takes two friends with him. Cassia arrives at the outer provinces to discover that Ky is gone or possibly dead, but she never loses hope. Instead, she tries to follow where she believes he might have gone in the hopes of finding him and the rebel organization fighting the Society. The journey is very difficult and some of the lies she was told by the Society threaten her life out in the wild. Can Ky and Cassie find each other against all odds? If they do find each other will they be able to rekindle the spark they once had or will their future goals pull them apart?
This installment of the story moves very slow and leaves many questions unanswered, which could frustrate the readers. Cassia does learn a few things about Ky’s past and the truth surrounding the attack on the Society that they do not want citizens to know about. However, there are still many things left unmentioned and favorite characters either don’t appear at all or only for short instances. The ending was intriguing, but ambiguous and after the long journey it took to get there readers should expect more. Hopefully readers will be intrigued enough by Cassia’s overall journey to keep reading after this, but the lack of answers in this book might make them question how forthcoming the third book will be with answers.
2010 Iowa Teen Award Winner
Genre: Sports Fiction
# of Pages: 244
Troy believes he can predict football plays if he watches games closely and understands the pattern of the plays. When his mom gets a job with the Atlanta Falcons he tries to tell the defensive coach his gift so that his favorite team can win a game, but instead he is escorted off the field by security. In the process of trying to help his team, he gets himself and his mother into a lot of trouble. His only hope is to somehow contact the linebacker, Seth Halloway, and get him to believe in his unusual skill so that he can help the Falcons win. Meanwhile, Troy is having trouble with his own football team because the class bully’s dad is the coach and refuses to let Troy play, despite the fact he is the best quarterback they have. Can Troy ever get anyone to recognize his talent and passion for football?
This fun football story will engage even the most reluctant male readers. There is excitement, drama, family turmoil, strong friendsip, and of course a lot of football action. The age level is a big too low for my school, but the story is fun and the characters are engaging. Sports fans will enjoy this quick read.
Published January 12, 2010
Fantasy , RAC
Tags: evil, good, imagination, trust
# of Pages: 371
In this sequel to The Looking Glass Wars, Redd is struggling to find her way back to Wonderland in order to battle her niece, Alyss, for the throne. Meanwhile, Alyss is trying to rebuild Wonderland after Redd’s reign of terror and destruction. Alyss wonders if they will ever be the happy and secure place that Wonderland once was. Dodge, Alyss’s best friend, is now the head of security and desperately wants to find time alone with Alyss (which is difficult now that she is queen) so that he can tell her how much she means to him. Hatter Madigan is holed up in a cave far away mourning the loss of the love of his life without plans to ever return to combat until a diary with a surprising message convinces him otherwise. When Wonderland is attacked and Alyss’s personal bodyguard is taken captive Alyss must decide if it is Redd or if a new nemesis has in fact revealed himself.
This sequel is action packed and every bit as exciting as the first. Alyss’s struggles as queen are believable despite taking place in a fantasy world. Readers can identify with many of the characters because their motivations and feelings are written in a way that anyone can understand why they feel the way they do. The ending is a bit abrupt, but luckily the third installment is ready to pick up where that one leaves off. Recommended for anyone who loves fantasy and fantasy series such as The Lightning Thief or Maxiumum Ride.