Archive for February, 2012

Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  234

RAC:  Yes

Tod is a bully who has been caught sneaking into school property after hours.  His punishment is to go to his counselor’s office each night after school for detention to write in his journal.  At first he hates this, but eventually he comes to find it cathartic.  His counselor begins to see a whole new side of Tod and finds some answers as to why he acts the way he does at school.  He is very honest and smart in his journal and the readers learn a lot about his home and school life.   Can Tod find a way to change his ways and survive school without resorting to bullying?

The idea of bullying is a tough issue in any school.  This book does not in any way condone bullying, but does offer the suggestion that there may be some underlying causes that vary from student to student.  Tod probably opens up a little easier than most students would, but it is still interesting to see how his perspective on the journal changes with each entry.  This could be a great class read because it would open up a great discussion of treatment in school by all students as well as the many forms of bullying available, which now definitely includes technological bullying.  Recommended for boys and reluctant readers.

In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  228

**Special Review**

Samantha has had a crush on her best friend for as long as she can remember, but since he is unavailable she decides to try and strike up a conversation with Carter at his senior party.  Carter is the unofficial king of the high school and everyone loves him.  However, when Sam approaches him she is met with embarrassment and ridicule.  As she stumbles out of Carter’s room a girl sees her disheveled and crying and comes to the conclusion that Carter raped her.  Soon the rumors start flying and Sam is caught unawares until it is too late.  At that point several girls come forward and reveal that he has done heinous things to them as well, but never to the point of physical or sexual assault.  Sam is unsure how to stop the terrible rumors that everyone was quick to believe and she wonders if she owes it to his previous conquests to keep up the facade.  Meanwhile, Sam starts getting threats toward her by the small inner circle that believes Carter’s story.  Will Sam reveal that although he was cruel, Carter did not attack her physically?  Will Sam be able to face her small town if she comes clean?

This is an almost haunting book because it is so believable.  This misunderstanding could easily happen and once the rumors start it can be hard to stop.  Carter’s character is deplorable in many ways and he has done terrible things to many girls in the school, but is that a reason to let him suffer for something he didn’t do?  The reactions of everyone around Sam are believable and the ending is accurate, which many readers may struggle with.  Fans of Thirteen Reasons Why will love the harsh truth and reality of this story and will find themselves thinking about it long after they have finished.  However, readers looking for a fun romance should keep looking.  Recommended.

Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  377

RAC Book:  Yes

Tansy moves around a lot with her mother and grandfather because her mother is a horror author who needs to feel inspired by her surroundings.  This time they are headed to a small town in Texas where her grandfather grew up.  Her mother even rented out a house that is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a seventeen-year-old boy who committed suicide on the premises many years before.  Tansy does not get too wrapped up in these legends because she is used to it with her mother’s stories, but she does notice a few odd things at this new house.  Her suspicions are further heightened when she looks through the lens of her camera and sees a teenage boy staring back at her.  Can she find out what happened to him all those years ago?  Can she find acceptance in a town that never has newcomers?

Mystery readers will enjoy the intrigue of this ghost tale.  The way Tansy is able to interact with the ghost is very interesting and unique compared to other similar stories.  Some of the details will feel obvious to readers, but they will still find the delivery of the clues captivating.  Tansy’s feelings about moving and insecurities about starting a new school will resonate with other teenagers.  Overall, a very exciting mystery read.

Princess of Las Pulgas by C.Lee McKenzie

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  348

RAC:  Yes

Carlie, her mother, and her brother must move from their home after the death of their father/husband due to the mounting medical bills.  Not only must they leave their home, school, friends, and neighborhood, but they must move to a rough part of town that is the rival of their old school.  When they begin their new life they are all still dealing with the loss of their father/husband and therefore appear disengaged from their daily activities.  Carlie in particular is targeted as being standoffish and is criticized for believing she is better than everyone else.  Can she ever find a place for herself in this new school?  Will she ever find a way to cope with the loss of her father?

This story shows how the death of a loved one can and often does affect every aspect of a teenager’s life.  Carlie’s mother is clearly struggling with the loss of her husband, but at the same time is having a difficult time helping her children come to terms with the loss of their father.  Carlie’s brother, Keith, and herself handle their new surroundings differently, but the reasons behind their actions are very much the same.  Carlie’s perception at her new school clouds her experience and makes her easy fodder for bullies.  All in all, a good story about a family coping with death and transition after death.

The Road to Dendura by C.L. Lewis

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  261

RAC Book:  Yes

Creed Griffon goes to a private school where students occasionally go missing.  After  a girl who tends to bully Creed she goes missing, he is immediately a suspect due to the altercation they were overheard having prior to her disappearance.  Meanwhile, Creed keeps having disturbing dreams that slowly start bleeding into his real life.  He comes to find out he is much more involved with the paranormal activities at his school than he could have ever realized and it might be up to him to save the missing students.  The more he learns, however, the more danger he finds himself in.  Can he find out what he needs to in order to survive?  Can he clear his name even as evidence mounts against him in the disappearance of the girl at school?

Fantasy fans will love this book, especially ones who like Harry Potter or Percy Jackson.  The story moves quickly and engages young readers from the beginning.  A few of the plot details seem a bit murky at first, but clarify as Creed begins to learn more about his school and his personal situation.  The characterizations develop as the story goes on and readers begin to care what happens to them.  All in all, a nice fantasy read that should have no problem finding an audience.

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  306

RAC:  Yes

Alison wakes up in a psychiatric facility with no memory of how she got there.  She has always had the special ability to see colors and taste words, but her mother always told her to hide this for fear of mental illness.  A new doctor tells Alison he believes she has synesthesia, which means she has a heightened sense of all five senses and is considered a real medical condition.  She learns she confessed to killing a friend, but the body has not been recovered and she has no recollection of actually killing her.  As her new doctor tries to help her, Alison comes to find out there is a lot she does not know about him.  Can she ever find out what happened to her friend?  Can she ever prove she is not a danger to society so that she can be free again?

The beginning of this story grabs the reader right from page one.  The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and the eventual explanation of what happened to Alison’s friend will take many readers by surprise.  The synesthesia is an unusual condition that will intrigue readers since it is a real condition that does not signify mental illness.  Fans of mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction will all find themselves engrossed in this captivating story.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Genre:  Futuristic Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  487

RAC Book:  Yes

Beatrice lives in Chicago in the future where the entire population lives in one of five factions.  Each faction focuses on a different virtue:  truth, bravery, selflessness, peacefulness, and intelligence.  She was born and raised in the Abnegation faction, which focuses on selflessness.  At the age of 16 each person is tested to see which faction they are best suited for, but each person is given the free choice to choose where he or she would like to spend adulthood.  If Beatrice should choose to leave her faction, however, she will rarely if ever see her family again.  When she is tested she finds that she does not fit easily into any faction and therefore has mixed results.  She can truly choose any faction she wants.  The choice she makes surprises everyone and she worries she has made a mistake.  Can she survive initiation in order to feel she is a true member of her faction?  Can she trust the society she lives in to create a city she feels is righteous and fair?

There are many futuristic society stories out right now, but this one is a bit different and will appeal to readers who like this style of writing.  Beatrice makes some difficult decisions that will affect her future, a topic many young adults can relate to.  Meanwhile, there are some unexpected realizations about growing up and seeing the flaws in adults, especially those with power.  As Beatrice struggles through initiation she makes new friends and enemies as she lives in a competitive environment.  In the end, the story is about society and how people treat each other, which is something young adults must ponder as they reach adulthood.  The story has excitement and action and will leave readers wanting more.