Archive for August, 2013

The Roar by Emma Clayton

The-Roar

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  481

RAC Book:  Yes

This Iowa Teen Award Winner for 2013-14 begins with Ellie trying to escape after being held hostage for several months on a strange space ship.  Her twin brother, Mika, feels that she is alive despite the fact that the government has told his family that she drowned.  Mika and his parents live in a the poor area of London that is now beneath the newer, brighter buildings that were built on top of the poor when land got scarce.  The wealthy literally walk on top of the poor people all day and dictate what happens to them.  The more Mika resists the acts of the government the more they try to knock him down.  When a new video game simulation is introduced to all of the 12-year-olds he is intrigued and feels instinctively that this is his way to finding Ellie.  Can he succeed enough at this game to find his sister and what really happened to her?  Will he discover the sinister plot the government has for these twelve-year-olds?

This book has a futuristic feel to it and will be popular with The Hunger Games crowd.  There isn’t much violence, but the plight of these poor people is very raw and realistic.  Mika must endure bullying, unfair punishments, and overwhelming guilt for trying to stand up for what he believes in and ask unpopular questions.  The revelation of the goverment’s plot is surprising and satisfying.  Each of the characters is well developed with clear motivations in the sequels that are sure to follow.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  563

RAC:  Yes

Ethan lives in a small town in the south that still holds very rigid beliefs about who should belong in the community and who should be shunned.  Lena is the new girl in school and the niece of the most notorious shut in in town.  Therefore, she is an outcast before she even begins school.  Ethan is immediately intrigued with Lena, and finds himself crossing paths with her often.  They begin to strike up a romance and learn they can communicate with each other simply using their minds.  Lena comes from a family of Casters and on her upcoming birthday she will either go Light or Dark.  She is terrified she will go Dark like her cousin, Ridley.  Ethan does not fully understand Lena and her family, partly because they keep a lot of secrets, but he knows he will do whatever it takes to keep Lena safe.

Fans of fantasy romance will enjoy this title because it has many interesting characters and plot revelations.  It is also very slow moving at times.  The book is over 500 pages and not all of it feels strictly necessary.  The length may scare away some reluctant readers who struggle to get through some of those slower moments.  The ending feels a bit rushed considering the overall length of the story and some readers may be confused by the outcome.  Fantasy lovers will enjoy, but others may struggle to care about these characters.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

name of the star

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  372

RAC: Yes

Rory goes to England with her parents for her senior year of high school and enrolls in a private boarding school in London.  She hits it off with her roommate and finds that she fits in pretty well with their different classes and overall school schedules.  Shortly after she arrives, however, a terrible murder is committed mimicking Jack the Ripper’s first murder that occurred many years prior to this on the same date.  Despite London having over a million cameras throughout the city there is a shocking lack of evidence.  Rory and her new friends live close to where all of these murders occurred and therefore get caught up in the fear that sweeps over London.  Can they find the Jack the Ripper impersonator?  Will the murders continue and everyone be helpless to stop it?

This book was highly suspenseful, entertaining, and unique.  The idea itself captures most people’s interest as Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous unidentified serial killers and the hysteria that sweeps the public is completely believable.  The actual revelation of who is committing the murders is unique and yet plausible.  The characters are all likable and the ending sets up the series for many more titles to come.  This book was named an Iowa Teen Award winner for this year and is highly recommended.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

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Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2013-2014

In this prequel to Frankenstein, Victor desperately tries to find a cure for his twin, Konrad, when he mysteriously falls ill.  They had always had a spirited rivalry in everything in life, including their mutual interest in the young girl who lives with their family, but despite all the competition Victor simply cannot imagine life without Konrad.  He decides to seek the help of an eccentric scientist in the area who believes he can find the Elixir of Life.  There are many tasks to complete in order to acquire the ingredients for this mixture and Victor must make many difficult decisions in order to try and save his brother.  What is Victor willing to give up in order to save Konrad?

The tasks Victor must complete in order to gather the materials for Konrad’s cure are exciting, dangerous, and in many cases frightening.  Readers will enjoy the journey as Victor tries to save his brother, while also harboring feelings for Konrad’s girlfriend.  The ending is exciting and leads into a sequel.  This title is a hard sell for students who do not like historical fiction, but once they start it they find it is a wild adventure they want to take.