Archive for December, 2007

Hero by Perry Moore

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  428 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Thom Creed is a teenager coming to terms with many issues in his life including the disappearance of his mother when he was young, the fall of his heroic father, and his questionable sexuality.  His father was once a huge hero, but due to an unfortunate event he lost his hand and became a complete outcast.  Now, there is a league of heroes who all have superpowers.  During a basketball game, Thom begins to see the beginnings of a superpower he might possess.  As he struggles to learn more about his power he also struggles with the feelings that he thinks he might be homosexual.  Both of these developments would anger his father greatly.

After getting kicked off his basketball team for the rumor of his homosexuality, Thom decides to go to hero tryouts in order to be a trainee for the league.  He meets many aspiring heroes with powers that have not yet become completely controlled.  After making a probationary team, Thom learns how truly difficult it is to be a hero and feels bad about the disappointment his father has become simply for trying to help people.  As Thom works with the league he comes to find out more about why his mother left, what really happened when his father lost that hand, and where he truly belongs.

This story about heroes training to save the world brings fun adventures along with deep feelings about many very real issues teenagers face today including sexuality, friendship, parents, reputations, and finding what one is supposed to do in this world.    The issue of homosexuality is an issue that many young adult authors do not touch, which makes this story unique.  Thom’s feelings hinder his aspiratons to become a hero, which connects nicely to aspirations many young people have but feel prejudice will keep them from doing it.  For example, even in our evolved society a homosexual teen would have a harder time breaking into pro sports than a heterosexual one.  While some readers may feel his homosexual fantasies are too graphic, they are no worse than any other sexual fantasies present in similar material.  Moore does a nice job of taking realistic elements and mixing them into the fantasy world where superheroes exist.

Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  265 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Alex Gregory is coping with his parents’ messy divorce and one night decides to break into the liquor cabinet, get drunk, steal his mother’s car, and drive to his father’s to tell him off.  His plan doesn’t work out when he drives over his neighbor’s lawn and breaks her precious lawn gnome.  Things only get worse when his judge overhears him saying that he doesn’t agree with his lawyer’s decision to plead guilty since no one got hurt.  This particular judge has no time for drunk drivers and proceeds to give him 100 hours of community service at a local nursing home.

Solomon Lewis is the man Alex is assigned to visit during his 100 hours.  At first Sol seems mean and mean and overly critical to Alex, but one day he brings his guitar and plays some jazz and Sol loves it.  Soon Alex decides to work with two students at school to plan a jazz concert for the home.  To his surprise, Sol ends up knowing a lot more about jazz than he thought.  As Alex spends time with Sol he learns that he has a daughter who never comes to visit him and he also has emphysema.  He wants to help make his last months memorable and meaningful, which is exactly what he does.

Sonnenblick, the author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, has written another great story about a teenager who loves music and wants to make a difference.  This story proves that no matter what has happened in the past you can always start over and make things right.  His stories show teenagers that they do not have to accept the stereotype that they are reckless, selfish, and an overall a menace to society.  In fact, teenagers can do great things, if they want to.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

Ellie, named after Elaine of Astolat, has just moved to the east coast with her parents.  Her parents are professors who have taken a year of sabbatical in order to write books.  Her dad is writing about a medieval sword and her mom is writing about Elaine of Astolat and the connections to King Arthur’s legend.  As Ellie starts at a new school she meets Will, who is the class president and all around a perfect guy.  Unfortunately, he has a girlfriend, Jennifer, so Ellie decides to forget any notions of romance.  When she finds out that Will’s best friend, Lance, is messing around with Jennifer, however, she must decide how to handle the situation.  Should she tell Will?  Should she protect Will?

Although this story seems like a typical teen romance, Cabot adds some mythical literary references, which will keep teens guessing.  The story of King Arthur has been told and retold for many years, but no one really knows the truth behind the legend.  Cabot’s story tries to enlighten her young readers and definitely adds a unique twist to the usual stories these readers enjoy.  The added mystery and action will be welcome to anyone who likes this type of tale and it is unlikely that anyone will guess how this story will end. 

Right Behind You by Gail Giles

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  292 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Kip murdered a child when he was nine years old and had to spend many years in psychiatric facilities in order to help him come to terms with that.  He was the youngest person in Alaska history to commit such a violent crime. Why did he do it?  Is he capable of doing something like that again? 

While Kip was trying to deal with his own feelings he was shielded from the outside world and was shocked to learn the torture his father had been put through.  Their house has been burned down and he had had to change jobs often.  As Kip prepares to enter the real world again he needs to decide if he can shed his old life and begin again as Wade.   Can anyone really leave their past behind or does it always catch up with you? 

Right Behind You tells the story of a boy trying to deal with the demons from his childhood, while also trying to live his life.  He needs to decide whether or not he deserves to live a normal life when the child he killed cannot.  He needs to decide what made him do it and whether or not he can refrain from such behaviors again.  Can he begin again or is he his own worst enemy?

 

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Genre:  Romance/Mystery

Age Level:  12 and up

# of pages:  236 p.

Other Books in the Series:  I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

RAC Book:  Yes

Cammie Morgan is on her way back to Gallagher Academy for the second semester of her sophomore year.  At the Gallagher Academy, Cammie is required to learn multiple languages, defensive strategies, and covert operations since it is a school for spies.  Unfortunately, Cammie is still nursing a broken heart from the first semester when she befriended a local boy and was told to end the relationship when it was found out by her superiors.

Cammie has more on her mind than just Josh, however, as she notices some changes around her school.  She knows there is something the headmistress, her mother, isn’t telling her but never in her wildest dreams imagines what it could be.  That is until the day that a group of young men from another spy school move into her school!  If that weren’t bad enough, one of them is the boy who foiled one of her covert operations assignments.  Now this boy, Zach, won’t leave her alone and Cammie isn’t sure what she thinks of him.  Does she trust him?  Is there something he isn’t telling her?  As the semester pushes on, Cammie and her friends must investigate many different possibilities for why the boys are there while passing their courses and attending mandatory events, like a big ball.  Can Cammie save her school from a possible breach of security?  Can she figure out who her allies and her enemies are?  Is she cut out to be a spy after all? 

For fans of the first book in this series, this book will be a hit.  The adventures of Cammie and her friends are interesting and unusual to say the least, but are all described in ways that seem plausible.  There is a lot of room left open for future books since we still do not know what is planned for Cammie in the future and which boy she will end up with.  A fun read with some romance, humor, and mystery.

 

 

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  337

RAC Book:  Yes

Miranda, her mother, and her little brother Jonny are all excited about the upcoming event of a meteor crashing into the moon.  Meteorologists have been predicting it for weeks and believe people will be able to see it just by looking at the sky.  People plan big parties and everyone is outside to watch, but somewhere the calculations are off and the meteor has a much bigger impact than anyone predicted.  In fact, the moon is pushed closer to earth, which causes a string of events that end “normal” life on earth.  First, the tides begin to change and cause floods, tsunamis, and tornados.  Then, volcanoes start to erupt all over earth.  The ash in the air causes the sun to become blocked, which kills the crops, etc. 

Miranda and her family live in a place that is not directly affected by any of the natural disasters, but everyone in the world is affected by what has happened.  All of the grocery stores and restaurants close, the price of gas keeps rising and rising, the schools close, and there is no electricity.  Miranda tells the story through her diary where she depicts her family’s activities each day following this disaster.  They gather as much food and supplies as they can so that they can be prepared, but still find themselves eating as little as possible so that they can conserve.  They also spend hours on household chores such as washing clothes and chopping wood since they won’t be able to count on their appliances anymore.

As the story moves on, things keep getting more dire for Miranda and her family and there are times where they all doubt their survival.  There is a theme of hope in the book, but there is also always the possibility that they will all die.  The story is told realistically and accurately portrays how one incident can change everything about life on earth.  Some students may find it too realistic and therefore disturbing, but it is good for students to be aware of how we all depend on each other and what might happen if even one thing went wrong.