Archive for September, 2013

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

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Genre;  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  350

RAC:  Yes

Nicole is popular, beautiful, and participates in local beauty pageants.  Then one day she is walking down the halls of her high school and someone throws acid into her face burning half of it.  She is horrified and doesn’t know how to continue since everyone has seen her as beautiful her entire life and it has become a part of her identity.  Jay, an outcast who also suffered a terrifying incident at the high school two years earlier, was in the hall during the attack but failed to see who actually threw the acid.  When Nicole and Jay meet in the counselor’s waiting room they begin to start a relationship and Jay becomes obsessed with finding out who attacked Nicole.  He tries not to show it at school, but Jay is actually an accomplished hacker and he begins to investigate who would want to hurt her and the list of suspects is way too long.  Is Nicole safe from any further attack?  Can he help make the perpetrator have to face the punishment he or she deserves?

This is a powerful story that audiences who enjoyed Whatever Happened to Cass McBride or Thirteen Reasons Why would enjoy.  The attack itself was so brutal and personal, but Nicole’s reaction to it is very understandable and almost painful for those around her to watch.  There are many suspects and false leads in the mystery to finding the culprit and the ultimate resolution is both surprising and satisfying, albeit in a sad way.  Issues such as beauty, identity, trust, and even self worth are all discussed in ways that anyone can identify with.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Genre:  Fantasy/Science Fiction

# of Pages:  390

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Cinder is a cyborg living in squalor with her stepmother and two stepsisters.  She works everyday as a mechanic while her family does nothing and spends all the money.  A terrible plague is striking their kingdom and Prince Kai is trying desperately to find a cure.  He has lost his mother to this disease and now his father has contracted it.  When Prince Kai comes to Cinder for help with his broken cyborg she conceals the fact that she is a cyborg because many people look down on cyborgs as less than human.  The plague soon strikes Cinder’s house and she is blamed for bringing it to the family.  Her stepmother sends her away to “volunteer” to be a test subject in the royal labs in order to find a cure.  When Cinder arrives at the testing facility they end up learning much more about her past than she could even imagine.  Who is she?  Who were her parents?  How did she come to be a cyborg?  

This retelling of Cinderella is new and fresh as Cinder has a robotic foot which causes her stress throughout the story.  The kingdom is in peril both from the plague and from an evil outside ruler trying to take over during their time of need.  Fans of futuristic novels, such as Divergent, will enjoy this title for its unique twist on an old tale and will eagerly grab the sequel to see what happens next. 

Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  190

RAC:  Yes

Perry is constantly pressured by his parents to get into an Ivy League School and become successful.  They even make him work after school at his dad’s law firm in the hopes of acquiring a letter of recommendation from one of the partners.  Perry does everything they ask without too much complaint, which is why he’s so upset when he is ordered to take their weird foreign exchange student to the prom instead of going to the important gig his band had set up.  Ever since Gobi had come to stay with them she had been distant, cold, and just plain strange.  When they actually head out to prom, Perry is in for a surprise when he learns she is actually an assassin who has been training for this night where she plans to kill multiple people and use him as the getaway driver.  Can Perry stop her or at least come out unscathed?

This fun novel reads like a movie.  Perry is upset with having to take Gobi to the prom and becomes shocked when she suddenly transforms into this sexy assassin with her sights set on killing very powerful people in the city.  The novel twists and turns as facts surrounding her plans are revealed and the ending is very satisfying.  Recommended for people looking for a fun, short, and exciting read.

Crazy by Han Nolan

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  348

RAC:  Yes

Iowa Teen Award Winner 2013-2014

Jason tries to blend in at school and not draw anyone’s notice because he doesn’t want anyone to know how bad his home life is.  His father has always had some mental issues, but when his mother suddenly dies he finds it is up to him to take care of his father and everything else.  When he tries to rebel against some of the rules in class, however, he ends up having to meet with other troubled teens in a counseling session every week.  Soon, he comes to find that others have difficult issues to deal with as well and begins to open up a bit.  Will his new friends help him keep his secret even after they see his deplorable living conditions and the fact that he is solely responsible for his father’s survival?

This is a powerful story about a group of young kids who deal with more than most students can probably imagine in a single day.  Loss of parents, illness, infidelity, divorce, mental illness, and substance abuse are all discussed as these high school students try to help each other cope.  The counseling sessions do help Jason come to terms with the fact that he is not alone and he can reach out to people.  Reading this book could help high school students to be more understanding of each other and hopefully not as superficial.