Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 462 p.
This novel focuses on five students (Mia, Jake, Whitney, Gregor, and Zoe) who are all placed together in a freshmen orientation group. They all have to have a bonding experience so they end up deciding to write letters to their future selves, hide them in the school, and then promise to meet in four years to open them. The rest of the book shows how each of their high school experiences go and how even though they are not best friends their lives all touch at times throughout high school. Zoe is living with her aunt since her movie star mother is in rehab. Jake is dealing with the fallout from admitting he’s gay. Whitney is struggling to understand why her popular friends act like they do while also navigating her parents’ divorce. Mia is struggling to find her identity vs. what everyone wants her to be. Gregor is a band nerd who desperately wants to find the courage to talk to Whitney. Eventually, their lives all intersect again at graduation.
For readers looking for truthful, engaging writing that does not hold back from issues that many teens do deal with in high school this would be a great pick. It does not go into detail on many life changing events for its characters, but the purpose of the story is not to spend too much time on any one character but instead to show how people from all groups and cliques in a high school still connect in different ways throughout their four years.
# of Pages: 357
Kyra gets into a fight with her father on the way home from the softball championships and forces him to stop the car on the highway so she can get out and walk away. Kyra storms out of the car and sees a blinding light before everything goes black. She wakes up behind the dumpster of the local gas station and is still wearing her softball uniform. She walks home only to learn that five years have passed since she disappeared. Her parents are now divorced and her mom has a new husband and child, her father has become consumed with finding out what happened to her that night, and her boyfriend went to college and started dating her best friend. Everything has changed except Kyra. She begins to form a relationship with the boy next door, but then the NSA comes looking for her and she has to run for her safety. What do they want with her? What do they think she’s capable of? Will it be possible to be a normal teenager ever again?
This story has a really interesting premise. What would any of us do if we woke up and the world had moved on without us? As Kyra’s questions start getting answered readers will be intrigued by what she discovers about her disappearance, but the story does lag a bit in certain places. The relationship between Kyra and Tyler develops extremely quickly and very little detail is given as to how that is. For the most part readers will be able to identify with Kyra and want to see what happens to her, but a lot is left unanswered with an ending clearly set up for a sequel.
Published February 28, 2014
Mystery , RAC , Realistic Fiction , Romance
Tags: accident, aspirations, college, death, goals, parent/child relationships, scholarship, teenage relationships
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 277
Parker is a high school senior who has always followed the rules and done what she was supposed to, which is why she is currently a finalist for a prestigious scholarship that would give her a full ride scholarship to her dream school. Her best friend, however, feels she needs to break a few rules before graduation. The opportunity surprisingly arises when she is asked by a teacher to mail out notebooks full of wishes and goals written by a group of high school seniors ten years prior. As she gathers the notebooks to send out to these graduated seniors from ten years ago she comes across one for a Julianna. This is a big deal because Julianna died in a car accident with her high school sweetheart shortly after graduation. They have since been immortalized in the town as the “golden couple” who were meant to be together forever. Parker decides to open the notebook and read what Julianna’s last thoughts were in those weeks leading up to her death. What were her aspirations? Her dreams? When Parker starts reading the notebook, however, she is very surprised by Julianna’s words and it makes her question everything the town promotes about this girl. Was there more to that fateful night that led to the horrific car accident? Parker decides to investigate.
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks will devour this title. It is full of colorful characters, including Parker who is always pushed for greatness by her mother but deep down she doesn’t really know what she wants for her future. Meanwhile, Julianna’s notebook opens a flood of feelings and fears leading up to graduation that anyone could identify with. Plus, there is the added intrigue of finding out what exactly happened to Julianna and her boyfriend. It’s a fun romance story that will be popular with many young adult teens.
Published February 14, 2014
Adventure , Fantasy , RAC
Tags: betrothed, family relationships, government, marriage, rules, secrets, teenage relationships, utopian society
# of Pages: 356
Morgan lives on a city that is floating in the sky. The legend is that the gods of land believed the humans to be greedy and wasteful and were going to exterminate them and begin a new race when the god of sky decided to save them. Therefore, their floating city is suspended in the sky and anyone who attempts to look at or jump to the earth either dies or is seriously injured. Morgan’s brother was blinded when he attempted to see the ground below. The community has limited space and resources so everything is carefully monitored such as who will marry who and when or if they will be allowed to have children. Morgan and her betrothed are very close and have no secrets from each other. One day a young girl is found murdered on the train tracks and this makes for the first willful murder ever to take place in this city. Naturally, the citizens get scared and are on high alert even as security is enhanced. Then, Morgan sees the suspected culprit running free in the woods despite all accounts of his being in custody. Is the government lying to the people? If so, what exactly are they lying about and what can she do to find out the truth?
Futuristic stories are incredibly popular right now amongst young adults and this one will fit into that niche easily. The story has similar aspects to books like Matched and Divergent but is different enough to encourage interest. Morgan comes to find that much of what she believed her world to be is in fact a lie. Her government, her teachers, and even her family have all kept secrets from her. The end of the story is exciting and leaves an opening for a thrilling sequel. The supporting characters all enhance the story as you see how each person responds to the world they live in and the rules imparted on them differently. Recommended.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 405
Sloane and James live in a world where teenage suicide is suddenly very common and often unexpected. They are still reeling from Sloane’s older brother’s suicide, which they both witnessed. Despite having many mixed up feelings about all the loss and stress around them they feel compelled to act happy all the time for fear they will be sent to The Program. The Program is the government’s answer to all of these teenage suicides and so far the only answer available for stopping them. Teenagers believed to have suicidal warning signs are sent to this building for 6 weeks and when they emerge they are completely happy and oblivious to their old life regarding friends, appearance, and personality traits. Sloane and James are terrified of The Program because of how some of their friends have returned, but parents are truly terrified of losing their children to suicide and will call the authorities if they are at all nervous about their child falling prey to this epidemic. Can Sloane and James keep each other safe and out of The Program? What will The Program entail if they do get sent there and are they strong enough to resist?
There are several epidemic type stories that are popular right now such as Delirium and Blackout and this one will find an audience with fans of those books. The motivations behind the teenagers and parents are accurately portrayed so that the reader can truly identify with everyone and their fears and motivations. The setting itself is told in such a believable way that it is easy to imagine how a community could get to the point of instituting something like The Program. The relationship between Sloane and James proves to be incredibly strong throughout the book and reveals their true feelings for each other. Like many other YA novels this one leaves an opening for a sequel. Recommended for reluctant readers.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Mystery
# of Pages: 310
RAC Book: Yes
Abby has always looked out for her sister, Maya, but one day when Abby is running and finds the murdered body of Maya’s boyfriend things get a little complicated. Abby is especially disturbed to find Maya’s cell phone near the body. She immediately begins thinking of ways that she can either find the real killer or cover it up so that her sister does not get into trouble. The more she investigates into her wild sister’s life of running away, drug use, and relationships with shady characters, the more Abby realizes that everyone will believe Maya committed this crime. Does she believe Maya committed this crime? Can she find a way to keep her sister out of jail?
This mystery will keep a lot of readers guessing all the way until the true killer is revealed. Abby’s actions often go above and beyond to try and find ways to help Maya, and some readers might question what she is truly willing to do in order to protect her sister. The family dynamic of the two girls and their parents is complicated and difficult, which makes this tragedy harder for them to deal with and comprehend. There are some hard truths in this mystery and none of the characters are angels by any means, which makes it difficult for the reader to decide who they are rooting for. The story is intriguing and will keep mystery lovers reading to the very final reveal.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
# of Pages: 369 pages
RAC Book: Yes
Cassia lives in a perfect society where everyone has the same clothes, houses, food, and education. Everyone is watched by the officials to make sure they are behaving correctly and following all the rules. When Cassia goes to her match ceremony to find out who the officials have chosen to be her perfect match she is shocked when it turns out to be her best friend. She is even more surprised later when another boy’s face appears on her match’s ID card. Can the society make mistakes? Do they have a choice in ANY aspect of their lives?
This book resembles societies in books like The Giver, but delves a little deeper into a world where literally everything is chosen for you and nothing is really yours. Everyone must follow orders about every aspect of their lives down to how they spend their free time. Disease, pollution, and drug dependency are all a thing of the past, but is it okay to live people’s lives for them? Condie creates a great series here with characters that readers will want to know more about. It also encourages readers to think about the choices they make everyday and the way they choose to live their lives. This book is bound to find a following and could be great for classroom reads as well.