Archive for December, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  344

RAC:  Yes

Cia Vale lives in a very small farming community on the outskirts of their civilization.  The civilization was once ravaged by the Seven Stages War and everyone left behind is simply trying to survive.  Every year when the local school graduates a class of students everyone secretly hopes that someone from the government will arrive to invite someone to the Testing.  The Testing is a super secret test that only the best and brightest are invited to.  No one really knows what it entails, but if you do well you get to go on to higher education.  Cia’s father underwent the testing in his youth and is a very accomplished scientist, but he does not remember much about the test and seems leery of wanting his children to have this same great opportunity.  No one from Cia’s community has been chosen for years, which is why it’s so surprising when four are invited, including Cia.  As Cia begins her journey she is warned to trust no one.  What has she gotten herself in to?  Will she ever return from the Testing?

This book is definitely similar to The Hunger Games and Divergent, but for readers who enjoy that type of novel it is still very engaging.  Despite some of the similarities to other stories out right now many readers will care about the characters in this book and wonder what will happen to them through the course of this testing.  The book does have a fair amount of violence, betrayal, and overall treachery so readers who prefer lighter novels should keep looking.  Recommended for reluctant readers.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

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Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# Of Pages:  447

RAC:  Yes

In the third novel of the Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen is still fuming over her treatment by Gideon in the last book.  She feels betrayed and like she cannot trust anyone.  She is also convinced that there is more to the story of her ancestors, Lucy and Paul.  She does not believe they would simply steal the chronograph for their own gain.  She does not trust the Count, but has no way of knowing how to protect herself from anyone because she does not know who to trust.  Then, she discovers something hidden in her own house by her late grandfather and she uses it as a means for communicating with him back when he was still alive.  Can he help her to decipher the prophesy enough to know what her role in this is supposed to be and manage to keep everyone safe?

This trilogy has been engaging from the beginning, but there were always unanswered questions and this book puts many of those to rest.  The final resolution regarding the Count, Lucy and Paul, and even Gwen and Gideon are all interesting and exciting.  Gwen’s interactions with her grandfather are also enlightening concerning the overall story.  The book has a satisfying ending to the trilogy, but still leaves a little room for more in the future.  Recommended for fans of fantasy romances.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

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Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

Lo lives in the water as a mermaid type creature with her “sisters” and none of them remember where they came from before living in the water.  There is a myth that if they find a human to fall in love with them and then they kill that person they can take his or her soul and become human again.  They have all tried this, but it’s impossible for anyone to fall in love instantly so they end up murdering innocent people simply because they are so desperate to become human again.  Meanwhile, Celia lives with her two sisters on land and as triplets they have a unique connection.  One sister can see the future of someone by touching them, another can see the present, and Celia can see someone’s past.  This was always viewed as fairly useless, but when Celia meets Lo accidentally one day she realizes she could help her remember who she was before.  If that is possible could Lo become human again?

This book was recommended by a student who really enjoyed it, but it moved very slowly and the pieces of Lo’s past take a long time to reveal themselves.  The ending was a bit exciting, but far too fleeting and the ending is abrupt and uncertain.  It seems it is setting up for a sequel, but the story did not leave me wanting to learn more.  The premise behind this is interesting, but the plot just moves too slowly and not many students will stick with it all the way through.

The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

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Genre;  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  400

RAC:  Yes

Karl is living in Berlin in 1934 and although he does not look Jewish or practice any Jewish beliefs he has ancestors who were Jewish and because of this connection has started getting bullied by the Hitler Youth.  After one particularly bad beating he had to go serve at his father’s art gallery opening and he meets Max Schmeling, the famous German boxer.  Max offers Karl free boxing lessons in exchange for a painting and Karl takes this promise seriously.  He begins working out on his own while Max travels overseas and it’s almost a year before he actually joins the Berlin Boxing Club with Max as his coach.  He begins fighting in some junior competitions and slowly the men from the boxing club begin to support him.  Karl is always careful never to reveal details from his personal life, however.  At home, he has been expelled from his school and evicted from his house because of his heritage.  His parents fight all the time and do not know what to do.  Things finally come to a head on Kristallnacht and Karl knows they need to get out.  Is he strong enough to stand up and fight for his family?  Who can he rely on for help?

Fans of Between Shades of Gray, Night, and Sarah’s Key will enjoy this title.  It is very serious and realistic in how Karl and his entire life begin to unravel during WWII.  You also see many periphery characters and how they react to their own changing environments, some for the better and some for worse.  Karl is a very honest young man and often admits he wishes he wasn’t Jewish so that he wouldn’t have to worry about the abuse and prejudice.  He doesn’t hate his old friends for joining Hitler Youth because he is too jealous.  He has no connection to his Jewish faith which means he has no conviction to fight for it.  He does not handle every situation heroically, but he does respond the best way he knows how at the time.  The boxing aspect provides a unique spin on things because boxing was big during this time in Germany and although trained people could ensure a fair fight, the outside world is not so simple.  Highly recommended.