Archive for November, 2007

Sleeper Agenda by Tom Sniegoski

Genre:  Action/Mystery/Science Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  308

Sequel to The Sleeper Code

RAC:  Yes

In the first book in this series, The Sleeper Code, Tom learns that he has been programmed into having two personalities.  Tom is the normal teenager who is there most of the time, but then Tyler can be called up at any time.  Tyler is a trained assasin that is called when Tom is put into a coma like state.  During the first book, Tom learns the truth about his so called narcolepsy, but in this book he learns more about Tyler and how they both came into existence.  While Tom is trying to figure out how to cope with learning that his entire life has been a lie, he is also fighting Tyler’s persona who is fighting to take complete control of the body they share.  Meanwhile, Madison’s parents are attacked and she is almost killed because the enemy wants Tyler back. (Madison was the girl who helped him uncover the truth about himself in the first book.)

Tom learns a lot about himself and the people who created him in this book, but parts of it tend to drag a little as he and Tyler battle for control.  The explanation of how they came to inhabit the same body seems a little confusing at times and many details are glossed over.  The ending is satisfying, but a little rushed as the enemy is apprehended during an added-on  ending chapter.  The action in this book is as good as the first, but there isn’t as much of it,which is what fans will be looking for.  Not as thrilling as the first installment, but it’s nice to know what happens to Madison and Tom once he learns the truth about himself.

 

I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader by Kieran Scott

Genre:   Realistic Fiction/Romance

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Annisa is a new student at her high school and her first day does not begin well.  First, she discovers that she is literally the only brunette female in the entire school.  Second, she lives in a house that another girl’s family was evicted from for not paying taxes and she blames Annisa for some reason.  Third, she accidently breaks the nose of the most popular girl in school.  Later that night she also inadvertently witnesses two cheerleaders getting busted with alcohol, therefore removing them from the competition squad a mere two weeks before the big regional competition.

Still trying to fit in, Annisa decides to try out for one of the two open spots on the cheerleading team.  Even though several members of the team hate her for one reason or another she manages to get a spot.  Unfortunately, she makes a few mistakes and the rest of the squad starts to fall apart and everyone blames her.  She offers the suggestion of starting a prank war with the nearby school to work as a bonding activity.  The prank war lands her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.  Meanwhile, her neighbor, Daniel, is someone Annisa feels she could be very interested in but of course he is dating her most hated rival, Sage.  As time goes on, Sage shows her true colors and eventually loses Daniel.  The question is whether or not that means he is interested in Annisa.

This story is filled with ridiculous plots twists and the coincidences that teen movies are made of, but the voices of the characters are interesting and the plot moves at a good pace.  Some of the conflicts are worked out much too quickly, which is of course in time for the big cheerleading competition that is two weeks from Annisa’s first day of school.  The fast pace of the book is believable, however, because high school conflicts often start and end quickly.  Girls who like Meg Cabot books will enjoy this.

Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth

Genre: Fantasy and Mystery

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  333

RAC Book:  Yes

Dan Atwater is an FBI detective with a blemish on his record he can’t ever forget or forgive himself for.  His latest assignment is to protect a “violet.”  Violets are people born with violet eyes who can sometimes allow dead people’s spirits to inhabit their bodies.  Violets are often used in murder trials so that the jury can hear the victim speak.  Violets are very rare and as such are often forced into law enforcement even when they do not want to have serial killers and victims in their heads all day.

Several violets have gone missing and Natalie, the woman Dan is supposed to protect, assures him that several have come to visit her and are therefore dead.  No one can figure out why anyone would want to kill violets or why the murders change over time.  There is also evidence that someone is returning to the crime to steal personal items after the fact.  Why would the killer do this?  As the violets slowly go missing it becomes pretty clear that things are not as they seem and Natalie is definitely the next name on the killer’s list.  Can Dan save her?  Can they figure out who would want to cause harm to a group of people most people admire?

This mystery story adds some fastasy elements that make it very unique.  The story has suspense, drama, and action.  There comes a point when the reader should figure out the mystery of the identity of the killer, but there are many twists at the end of the story that will keep anyone guessing until the end.  Recommended for mystery lovers.

How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

Steph Landry accidently spilled a drink on the most popular girl, Lauren, in sixth grade, and Lauren never let anyone forget it.  In fact, Steph Landry’s name has now morphed into an insult as she has gotten older.  For example, if someone trips someone else might yell, “Way to pull a Steph Landry!”  Steph does have two close friends, Becca and Jason, but she longs for the days when she wasn’t a joke. 

Steph’s grandfather has recently come into some money after selling some of his land so that a save-a-lot could be built.  Steph’s mother, a bookstore owner, is not happy about this since she believes it will drive out all other businesses and as a result has refused to go to her dad’s wedding to Kitty.  Kitty just happens to be Jason’s grandmother. 

Steph decides to take matters into her own hands when she finds an old book in Kitty’s attick called How to be Popular.  By following the book’s advice, Steph does start to get noticed more, but she also alienates her good friends and Lauren makes it her mission to get back at her for making her look bad in front of the other cool kids.  In the end, Steph is faced with a tough decision, but by facing it she also has to face her future as a high school student.  Who does she really want to be?  Who does she really want to be friends with?  How can she gain respect from her peers?  How important is her family to her? 

The voice in this book is interesting and many girls will be able to identify with Steph’s desire for popularity.  It is nice to see that she doesn’t become a mindless drone who will do anything the popular kids ask her to do, however.  The ending is a little bit cheesy, but Cabot fans always like their happy endings.  Popularity is an issue in almost any situation, but in high school it seems especially important.  This story does a nice job of putting it into perspective and showing that popularity isn’t everything and there is no formula for becoming happy with yourself.

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  415

RAC:  Yes

Silver is living in her family home, Tanglewreck, with her evil aunt, Mrs. Rockabye when the book begins.  Silver’s family was killed when she was young and now she is forced to watch as Mrs. Rockabye takes over her house in every way.  Silver must scrounge for food and do her chores constantly.  When a mysterious man comes to inquire about a clock, Silver hears him promise her aunt a lot of money if she can locate it and turn it over to him.  Unfortunately, no one knows where the magical Timekeeper clock is and because of that time has begun to fall apart.  Sometimes time stand still and other times it speeds up.  Most disturbing of all is when there are time warps and people and things disappear and go into another time and place.

Silver must go on a journey to find out where the Timekeeper is and what she is meant to do with it.  There are two main characters who want the clock for two different reasons and it is unclear to Silver at times which is the lesser of two evils.  Silver meets a lot of friends along the way and learns more about how she needs to fix the issues with time the world is having before it is too late.  This book was entertaining, but some of the explanations of how time can be manipulated might get a little confusing for younger readers.  The ending seemed a little abrupt after 400 pages.  Readers who have been along for the leisurely story up until now will either be happy for the quick resolution or feel jilted out of a proper ending. 

 

Please Stop Laughing at Me by Jodee Blanco

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  273

RAC Book:  Yes

This real life tale follows a girl who faced heavy bullying from fifth grade on through high school despite being transferred to two new schools in the process.  Her parents hated seeing her as an outcast and tried everything they could think of to help her fit in including buying her designer clothes and taking her to a psychiatrist.  Unfortunately, the solution offerred by the psychiatrist was to put her on medication and have her try harder to fit in socially.  At the crux of all her problems in every school was her insistance on defending those around her who needed it.  Those people ranged from nerds to physically handicapped students. Every community is different and faces difference kinds of bullying, but it is hard as an adult to look at students picking on those who have disabilities. 

 There are instances where Jodee finds people who are willing to be friends with her, but almost always those people are presssured by the mass to back away again.  If things weren’t bad enough, Jodee also has a physical condition that she is unable to remedy until she turns seventeen.  Of course, once this condition is discovered the students make fun of her even more. 

In the end, Jodee attends her high school reunion, which seems unusual considering she hated these people so much she wrote a book about the experience.  She comes to find that several of those people do not remember what they said or did or pretend like they don’t.  Since Jodee is now very successful they all want to congratulate her and be her friend.  Forgiveness is a powerful virtue, but it seemed almost too easy for Jodee to forgive these people after the physical and emotional abuse she experienced that sent her into a depression in high school.  The fact she is able to share this story will be a comfort to those enduring the same thing and possibly a wake up call for those instigating it.  It’s a powerful story that all teenagers should read and discuss.

 

 

 

Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Genre:  Realistic fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  312 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

This story follows three teenage girls as they work in a peach orchard for the spring break and summer before their senior year of high school.  Birdie is the daughter of the orchard owner and the only thing she feels confident in is working the fields.  She feels lonely and abandoned since her mom left and her father’s deepening depression over the divorce and the financial troubles of the orchard do not help.  Leeda is Birdie’s cousin, but comes from a wealthy family in which everything revolves around her older sister.  The more Leeda tries to fit into her own family, the more obvious it is that she was the unwanted second child.  Finally, Murphy was sentenced to work at the orchard for various pranks she has pulled.  Her mother dates a lot of men, which people judge her for and it makes Murphy uncomfortable.

The orchard itself is the center of this story as they try to work and save the peaches from frost, insects, and foreclosure.  Murphy and Leeda are both there against their will, however, and do not become helpful for a long time in the story.  The girls do eventually come together and become good friends, but they are also quick to turn on each other when the opportunity arises.  The end seemed rushed as all the loose ends were tied up neatly, but it would have dragged if it had gone on too much longer.  Fans of the Traveling Pants series will enjoy this book, but it doesn’t have the plot or character development of those books.  Mild recommendation.