Archive for the 'Fantasy' Category



The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

madness underneath

Genre: Fantasy

# of Pages:  290

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Name of the Star Rory is recovering from her near fatal encounter with a deadly ghost in Bristol with her parents.  After a few weeks, her therapist surprisingly advises she return to school in London to resume her schoolwork and begin to move forward.  Rory is thrilled at the idea of returning to school, but she is very far behind on her schoolwork and has no idea how she can make it up.  Meanwhile, Stephen and the other shades are trying to solve an unusual murder that occurred very close to where Rory’s attack was.  Are they connected? Did her encounter somehow trigger other supernatural attacks in the immediate area of the school where all of her friends go?

This sequel moves very quickly and has a very exciting ending.  Fans of the first novel will enjoy this title as the Shades are detailed a little more and the challenges of their group’s existence are explained in a bit more detail.  Rory’s future in London seems very unsure at this point, but there are possibilities for how she will proceed laid out that could come into play in future books.   The supporting characters from the school are still just as colorful as ever, but are not featured as much as they were in the first book.  Overall, it’s a good sequel, but a tad fast and fans will be eager to see another one sooner rather than later.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Image

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

emerald green

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

fathomless

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.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages:  454

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to Cinder, Scarlet is introduced as a brassy red headed girl who becomes alarmed when her grandmother goes missing.  The police believe she ran away and will not look for her, but Scarlet knows something is wrong.  Then, she meets a mysterious man who comes to her defense after she makes some remarks defending Cinder, who is all over the news and considered a traitor.  Cinder, meanwhile, has been given the tools to escape her maximum security prison and she takes advantage of it.  Along the way she picks up another prisoner she believes might be helpful in the journey.  The evil Lunar queen tells the Emperor that if he does not produce Cinder for her to punish as she sees fit in three days time they will launch a devastating war on earth.  Will Cinder let countless others die just to save herself?  Will Scarlet ever find her grandmother or the reason for why she disappeared?  Will the prince give in to Levana’s demands?

In my previous post on Cinder I spoke very highly of a book that frankly did not sound that appealing initially.  Scarlet might be even better than that one.  It is so rare for a sequel to continue to build on the momentum acquired in the first one.  Meyer managed to continue Cinder’s story while also introducing many great new plot lines and characters in a way that connected and did not seem confusing or forced.  The action in the book is so exciting and tense that you cannot help but keep reading because the suspense of not knowing is just too much to handle.  Highly recommended.

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.

Department Nineteen by Will Hill

department-19

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  540

RAC:  Yes

Jamie Carpenter witnessed his father’s murder a few years before the story begins and ever since he and his mother have believed that his father had been a traitor to the country.  On the night his father died, he witnessed some strange phenomena outside his house, but had since convinced himself he was hallucinating.  That changes when he is attacked by a vampire and barely escapes only to find his mother has been taken by one of the most powerful vampires in the world.  Then, he learns of a secret organization called Department Nineteen that takes care of creatures most people do not believe exist.  Despite the fact that many people believe his father is a traitor, he is welcomed in and allowed to train briefly in order to go after his mother.  Does he have what it takes to fight vampires for his government?

This book has been named an Iowa Award Winner for 2013-2014 and it is easy to see why.  Fans of fantasy enjoy the back story of this book as well as the truly colorful characters (Frankenstein is an actual employee at Department 19).  There are many twists and turns in the story and the action is almost continual.  This book sets up the possibility for many more to come.  Recommended.

What The Night Knows by Dean Koontz

dean_koontz_what_the_night_knows1

Genre:  Suspense/Mystery/Fantasy

# of Pages:  442

RAC:  Yes

Many years before the book starts, a terrible serial killer named Alton Turner Blackwood murdered four families within mere weeks.  He was only stopped because he was killed by the final survivor in the final family who was a fourteen-year-old boy.  Years later that boy grew up to be a detective and he has a family of his own.  Now, he feels very strongly that a recent murder resembles the first murder by Blackwood all those years ago.  He is not the detective on the case, but the more he looks around the more the resemblance is uncanny.  If he is right, other families will be murdered very quickly and his will be the final as the killer’s unfinished business.  The question he struggles with is how this is happening as the original killer was murdered and many of the facts in the case were sealed.  Is it a copycat or has Blackwood somehow returned to finish the job he started?

Fans or mystery and suspense will enjoy this very intriguing story.  Early on, all of the family members feel something is wrong and question their safety.  It’s unusual they do not discuss these fears with each other, however.  The ending is very satisfying and exciting as everything comes together quickly.  This title has been named an Iowa Award winner for 2013-2014.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

fire

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  461

RAC:  Yes

In this companion to Graceling, Fire is half human and half monster.  She is amazingly beautiful and has the ability to control people’s minds, but due to the horrible things her father had done she chooses not to use her abilities and often covers her multi-colored hair.  She lives in a remote area with her best friend, Archer.  The Kingdom Fire lives in is in great turmoil as other kings are trying to take control of King Nash’s land.  After offering a warning Fire sensed to Nash’s mother he extends an invitation for her to come to the castle and help him identify other possible threats.   Fire chooses to go to the castle even though she is terrified of how people will react to her after the heinous deeds her father committed because she believes she must help save the kingdom she has grown to love.  As time goes on, however, it appears that whoever is out to get the king also wants her.  Can she save them all from certain destruction?

Fans of Graceling have enjoyed this title since its release and it has been named an Iowa Award Winner for 2013-2014.  Fire’s story is compelling as she struggles against a reputation she did not earn simply because of who her father is.  She is surrounded by strong, open minded people who yearn to overcome their bias of her, which is refreshing.  The plot is fast paced and involved an elaborate plot that most readers will not figure out too early.  The ending is very satisfying.  Recommended.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

ruby red

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  322

RAC Book:  Yes

Gwyneth lives in a large house with her extended family who are anxiously awaiting the first time travel episode by her cousin, Charlotte.  Their family has a long history of time traveling and it was predicted that Charlotte would be the next in the line so she has spent much of her childhood getting prepared.  Gwyneth is therefore very surprised when she is transported into an unknown time period instead.  This causes quite a bit of turmoil in the household as they scramble to help Gwyneth in her new mission and understand how the mistake came to be.  With each time travel, Gwyneth comes to find more questions than answers about the true mission of her and her cousin, Gideon, who is also a time traveler.  Whom should they trust?  Who wants to help them and who is merely selfishly using them for their own personal gain?

This book has been on my “to read” list for awhile and I wish I would have read it sooner.  It was exciting, charming, mysterious, and entertaining.  Despite having quite a few characters they are all easily identified due to their detailed characterization.  The mystery behind the mission is somewhat discussed, but it’s obvious there is much more for Gwyneth to learn.  Fans of romantic fantasy will absolutely love this and move on to the sequel quickly.

Dark Souls by Paula Morris

dark souls

Genre:  Fantasy/Mystery

# of Pages:  292

RAC:  Yes

Miranda and her brother, Rob, are in a terrible car accident that kills Miranda’s best friend.  After the fact, Rob has some serious fears about riding in cars and claustrophobia, while Miranda is mourning her friend.  Her parents have professional reasons for visiting York, England and decide it is a perfect time for the family to get away.  Upon arrival, Miranda realizes she can now see ghosts, but is most intrigued by the one across the street that she can see in the attic of a boarded up house.    She meets a troubled young man, Nick, who can also see ghosts and invites her to some mysterious places in order to interact with them.    The more time she spends with Nick the more she suspects he is planning something big and mysterious.   Can she save him from making a terrible mistake that will change his entire future?

This story includes a lot of folklore about York which ties into the story well.  The characters are well developed, especially Miranda’s family, despite being in the story rather infrequently.  The mystery moves a tad slow at the beginning, but eventually takes off and it’s obvious that the groundwork for solving it has been laid from the beginning.  Fans of ghost and/or mystery stories will enjoy this title.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Genre:  Science Fiction

# of Pages 398

RAC Book:  Yes

Amy must make the very difficult decision of whether or not to cryogenically freeze herself with her parents.  They have been chosen for their elite skills to lead a new planet in 300 years.   Amy can choose to wait 300 years to continue her life on a new planet with her parents or she can stay and live the rest of her life without them.  She chooses to get frozen, but is unexpectedly awoken 50 years early by someone wishing to cause harm to frozen people.  Amy feels it is her responsibility to protect her parents from the person trying to hurt the frozen people, but how?  Meanwhile, Elder, the future leader of the ship, is trying to learn what it will take to lead one day from Eldest, the current leader of the ship.  Eldest is tyrannical, oppressive, and difficult to work with.  Worst of all, as Elder soon learns, he has no problem with lying to the passengers of the ship.  Can Elder become the kind of leader the ship needs?  Will he go along with the lies they currently believe just to make Eldest’s life easier?

Fans of Glow and Divergent will enjoy this title.  The plot is interesting, even for those who have read similar titles.  Although the plot can be predictable it is also clearly thought out and multi-layered.  Some difficult issues are discussed or displayed such as suicide and sexual assault, so beware of younger readers.  All in all, it was an interesting, enjoyable read.

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  266

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to the Ghost and the Goth, Alona is still a ghost trying to find out why she was sent back from the light.  Meanwhile, Will is approached by a strange organization that claims to free the world of spirits or ghosts.  While Will is thrilled that he is not the only one with the gift of seeing ghosts, he is not sure he completely trusts the motivations of the organization.  A girl named Mina has been trying to become a member of the group with little success and it is clear she is annoyed by how much they want Will to join.  Alona does not trust Mina and is irritated that Will wants to learn more about her and this organization that she thinks works against ghosts instead of with them.  In order to get Will’s attention Alona attempts a risky and dramatic plan that could land both of them in serious trouble.  Can these two find out the truth behind the organization? Can they save themselves from the unexpected forces that want to tear them apart?

This sequel was very well done.  For a book with a light, funny premise it was unclear if there would be adequate plot developments for a sequel, but the story kept me interested throughout.  Alona and Will’s characters and relationship have deepened and developed over the course of the story and teenagers will respond to them.  While some of the plot points seemed a bit predictable it was not boring or repetitive in any way.  Readers who follow the series will be curious to see what happens to these characters next.


Archives