Archive for September, 2010

Quad by C.G. Watson

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  296

RAC Book:  No

This story focuses on high school students from different cliques being thrown together in fear as an unknown shooter begins to take out students in the quad.  The six students all have their fair share of insecurity and have battled in high school antics, but they have trouble deciding who they think has snapped and brought a gun to school.  As accusations and fears fly they all must evaluate their own behavior as well as the behavior of others in the school.  They quickly realize that more than one person has reason to bring a gun to school.  Will they survive this threat?

This is a very accurate portrayal of the different cliques present at most high schools.  Along with the cliques comes the cruel treatment and calculated bullying and insults.  While accurate, parts of this story are difficult to read and may bother some students.   Quad is not the best bullying book out there, but would work well in combination with others such as Hate List and Wish You Were Dead and would be interesting to reluctant readers.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  281

RAC Book:  Yes

Alona is arguing with someone on her cell phone when she fails to look before she crosses a street and is killed by a school bus.  She dies, but does not go to heaven as she expects.  Instead, she remains around her high school and finds she can see how everyone is coping with her death.  To her dismay, her high school did not come to a screeching halt merely because its most popular girl died.  She begins to get frustrated because she doesn’t know how to get to heaven, but then she realizes that the weird goth kid, Will Killian, can see and hear her.  She makes it her mission to make him help her get to the other side, but Will needs some favors of his own.  Can the two overcome their differences to work together and find happy outcomes for both?

This is a fun, light story with some very real problems in it.  Alona was the popular girl of the class, but that did not mean her life was perfect and Will soon finds that she hid some very serious problems from her classmates.  Meanwhile, Will is struggling with his gift of seeing the dead and worries he might end up like his father who had shared the same gift.  There is a bit of swearing, but it won’t be anything most high school students aren’t used to hearing.  The message of the story is clear and readers will move through the fast paced story quickly.  The ending is a little unclear, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

Payback Time by Carl Deuker

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Mitch True is a reporter at his high school and is extremely unhappy when he is assigned the sports columns.  Mitch dreams of one day being a star investigative reporter who breaks open huge stories, like Watergate.  He really wants to work on the school paper, though, so he dutifully goes to the football and volleyball games.  At one of the football practices he notices a new kid, Angel, off to the side with an amazing throw.  When he asks the coach about Angel he is brushed off.  When the season starts he sees that Angel is hardly ever played despite his obvious skills.  The more Mitch investigates this student’s past the more confused he gets and he starts to wonder if this is his big story.  Can Mitch find out why Angel’s trying to downplay his skills to everyone, including possible talent scouts?

Carl Deuker is a master of writing sports fiction high school boys love to read, but this might be his best yet.  The football action is written in an exciting and easy to follow manner, but the mystery behind Angel’s past is almost more engaging.  Even reluctant readers will struggle to put this mesmerizing sports mystery down.  Highly recommended.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Genre:  Fantasy/Romance

# of Pages:  452

RAC Book:  Yes

Luce begins her first day at Sword and Cross, a reform school, and feels lost until she sets eyes on Daniel Grigori.  Suddenly she feels like she is home and has known him all of her life.  He insists he does not know her and tries to push her away at every opportunity.  Meanwhile, Luce is trying to come to terms with the reason she has had to come to Sword and Cross.  She was involved in another student’s death at her previous school and knows that her weird visions had something to do with it, but she maintains her innocence to anyone who questions her about the incident.  She meets some unusual students at the school and finds she has no real allegiance to any of them when Daniel is present.   Can she find out why she is so drawn to him and yet why he is so determined to keep her away?

This fantasy mystery story will appeal to the Twilight and City of Bones readers.  There are no vampires in the story, but the romance is compelling as it plays out.  The story has a unique nature that many fantasy stories do not and the characters are colorful and memorable.  Beware that there is a sequel in the works and the story is not resolved by this book’s end.  A must read for fantasy/romance lovers.

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  265

RAC Book:  Yes

In this fourth installment of the Gallagher Girls series, Cammie Morgan is heavily protected by secret agents because the evil spy organization, the Circle, is trying to find her.  No one knows why Cammie is so important to the Circle, but several security measures are taken at Gallagher Academy to ensure that she is safe at all times.  Meanwhile, on her winter break Cammie is startled to learn that someone she was very close to has been accused of working with the Circle.  Can she trust anyone again?  Can Cammie and her friends find out why the Circle is after her?

This book picks up right where the third one left off and makes for an exciting and fast paced story.  The plot has many surprises and many questions are raised, but for the first time readers get a few answers too.  The characters and dialogue are just as fun as ever and fans of the first three Gallagher Girls books will devour this one too.

Past World by Ian Beck

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  353

RAC Book:  Yes

Pastworld is a theme park designed to look exactly like 1880’s London.  In this historically accurate world, anyone who comes to visit must abide by the dress, laws, language, and even technology found at this time.  Some people were born in Pastworld and do not realize it is merely a tourist attraction utilized mainly by the wealthy.  Others, like Caleb, travel to the old London in order to see what life was like back then.  The problem is that crime definitely existed in the 1880s and has crept up again in this new city.  Law officials are forbidden from using any technology not found during the 1880s to solve crimes.  When a Jack the Ripper type serial killer starts killing innocent people there seems to be no way of stopping him.  Meanwhile, Caleb is blamed for a crime he did not commit and must go on the run or risk spending the rest of his life in a historically accurate prison with an archaic judicial system.

The idea behind this story is very intriguing and sets itself up with lots of details and interesting characters.  The Fantom, or serial killer, is an interesting idea but the character ends the story feeling unfinished and undeveloped.  Readers who enjoy fantasy or historical fiction will enjoy the idea of this interesting tourist attraction, but may find the ending a bit abrupt and unsatisfying.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Genre:  Futuristic Fiction

# of Pages:  390

RAC:  Yes

In this third and final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy Katniss must deal with the aftermath of her actions, and those of some rebellious friends, at the Quarter Quell.  As she recovers from her injuries she cannot help but wonder about Peeta, who was not rescued from the arena.  Her worries are founded when Peeta appears in a Capitol broadcast in which he appears to be on the side of the Capitol.  As Katniss struggles to find her place in this rebellion she is asked to be the symbol or Mockingjay for the entire fight for freedom.  Does she have the strength to be the Mockingjay?  If she becomes the mockingjay will it endanger her friends and family?  Will she ever see Peeta again?

This final installment accurately portrays the difficulty of starting and carrying out an overthrow of government.  Circumstances continue to get worse and with every person lost in the fight Katniss feels responsible.  The action and suspense are good, but maybe not quite as good as the arena action and suspense.  The character development is wonderful and amazing considering the extreme pressure these characters are under.  It would be hard to to portray them as truly human as Collins did.  Readers should be satisfied with the ending, especially after some reflection.  A nice ending to an unforgettable series.  Highly recommended.