Tag Archives: YA FIC

The Diviners

Bray. L. (2012). The Diviners. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Kindle. 

Reader’s Annotation

Evie O’Neill has been sent to Manhattan from her dull home town in Ohio at the height of New York’s Golden Age. She’s a young flapper and the world is her oyster, with the one exception of her troubling gift of reading into the pasts of people if she tries hard enough, oh… and the troubling nightmares, aaaaaand then there’s the gruesome murders all over town which seem to share a link with events from 50 years prior, but other than that Evie’s posi-tutely got it covered, you bet-ski.

Plot Summary

Told from the perspective of several characters, The Diviners is an excellent story of murder, mystery and intrigue. After Evie O’Neill uses her uncanny ability to see into the past of a well to do son of a business man she is shipped off to New York City to live with her bachelor uncle Will until the scandal, and threat of libel, die down. Manhattan in the 1920s, who could ask for more? Evie is thrilled! Uncle Will is the curator of TheMuseum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, otherwise known about town as the “museum of the creepy crawlies”. Uncle Will’s dour moods and dull life as an academic don’t stop Evie from kicking up her heels and enjoying everything the dazzling city has to offer, not even a homicidal killer with ties to the occult and series of murders that took place fifty years ago can do that!

Unfortunately for Evie, Uncle Will takes the threat of the killer very seriously. He and his assistant Jericho are working the case, with some help from Evie and the enigmatic conman Sam Lloyd, and    after Evie lands in jail after a night of wild partying Uncle Will can’t take it anymore. He threatens to send Evie back to Ohio, if for no other reason than to protect her from herself. In desperation Evie confesses to her uncle that she has an uncanny ability to read people’s pasts and tells him of the troubling dream that’s been plaguing her all these long months. Evie wins her freedom and sets to work unravelling the mystery of this gruesome killer, hopefully before he can complete his task.

Critical Evaluation

Libba Bray creates a whole new world in The Diviners. She takes her readers by the hand and transports them directly into 1920s New York City. All of the subtleties are there: references to Sacco and Vanzetti and the New York Socialist Movement, Yellow Journalism, Ziegfeld Girls, speakeasies, and the language! Bray infuses Evie’s speech with all of the colloquialisms of the age, to the point of annoyance for some reviewers, really creating a girl and a city that is just the elephant’s eyebrows.

Author Information

Libba Bray was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1964. After she graduated from high school she got into a serious car accident, crushing her face and losing her left eye. It was during this time that she learned that you can write yourself out of what seems unwinnable and into something wonderful. After she finished college she moved to New York and started writing with no more than $600 to her name. She wrote 5 plays, 3 of which were produced and 1 that won an award. She’s in a YA-authored band, called Tiger Beat, with Natalie Standiford, Barnabas Miller, and Daniel Ehrenhaft. She’s written 6 books, most recently The Diviners, which came out earlier this year.

Genre

Historical Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Curriculum Ties

Literary response and analysis for grades 9 and 10:

3.3 Analyze interactions between main and subordinate characters in a literary text (e.g., internal and external conflicts, motivations, relationships, influences) and explain the way those interactions affect the plot.

3.4 Determine characters’ traits by what the characters say about themselves in narration, dialogue, dramatic monologue, and soliloquy.

Reading curriculum for grades 11 and 12:

1.1 Trace the etymology of significant terms used in political science and history

1.3 Discern the meaning of analogies encountered, analyzing specific comparisons as well as relationships and inferences

Literary response and analysis for grades 11 and 12:

3.3 Analyze the ways in which irony, tone, mood, the author’s style, and the “sound” of language achieve specific rhetorical or aesthetic purposes or both.

Booktalk Ideas

How does the slang from the 1920s differ from the slang young people use today?

What kind of person is Evie? Does this differ from the kind of person that she wants to be?

How did you find the historical representation of the time? Does it agree with what you know about what was happening in New York in the early years of the 1900s?

Reading Level/Interest Age 

16+

Challenge Issues

Some patrons may take issue with the grisly murder scenes and preternatural nature of this novel. The library strives to assure its users that they are exercising free will when they check out books from our collection, only the reader and his or her parents can choose the items that are correct for them. The library neither agrees nor disagrees with the viewpoints represented in this book, but supports each reader’s right to read. This library is a supporter of the ALA Library Bill of Rights and   challenges censorship. Forms for reconsideration are available, but all final decisions are made by the director after examination by the board.

Reason for inclusion

Great book by great YA author.

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles, #1)

theredpyramid

Reader’s Annotation

Sadie and Carter Kane only see each other a couple times a year since their mom died. On one such visit their dad Julian brings them together in the dead of night for a mysterious purpose, but in a horrible twist of fate ends up raising the Egyptian god Set, who promptly banishes Julian to the underworld for all time. Now the siblings are on the adventure of their lives as they race against time to save their dad and the world.

Plot Summary

Ever since their mother died six years ago Sadie and Carter Kane have lived apart. Sadie lives with their grandparents in London and Carter travels the world with their dad, Egyptologist Julian Kane. The book begins with Julian taking the siblings to British Museum, supposedly to study the Rosetta Stone, but actually with the hope of mending the tear in the family that occurred with the death of their mom, Ruby. In a bad twist of fate, Julians attempt at making things right goes terribly wrong and he ends up raising Set, the Egyptian god of chaos, who banishes Julian for all eternity.

Now Carter and Sadie are on the run, hiding first at the Uncle Amos’s house in Brooklyn where the discover that they are descended from a long line of power magicians. Unfortunately no place is safe for the Kane’s and after an attack on the Brooklyn mansion leads to Sadie’s cat Muffin revealing herself as the goddess Bast, the siblings are off again to try to find their way into the Duat, a magical world that lies parallel to this one. The action doesn’t stop here as Sadie and Carter meet another magician, Zia, who takes them to the granddaddy of all schools of magic, the First Nome.

Just when it seems like the Kane’s might catch a lucky break and learn how to control their powers the head of the Nome, Chief Lector Iskandar, dies and the Kane’s are on the run from his evil second in command who wants to see their heads on pikes. In whirlwind of activity that is hard to keep track of the Kane’s end up having to venture down into the underworld to get the feather of truth and learn the true name of the god Set so that they can destroy him. The book ends with an epic battle in Arizona, America’s closest resemblance to Egypt I guess, where Sadie and Carter have to face down true evil. This is the kind of book that jumps from climax to climax, so take notes between chapters!

Critical Evaluation

This is not a very satisfying read for grown ups. It’s a little bit on the juvenile side of YA, I think, and that really doesn’t make it the best choice for adults. Sadie and Carter are pretty decent characters, but they lack a certain amount of depth that usually comes along with good YA fiction. The most remarkable thing about them is their back and forth banter, which although is certainly typical of a brother and sister, is kind of cutesy and patronizing to read as a grown up. I don’t know if it reads that way to teens also, but I sure hope not. Otherwise the story is pretty blah, I felt like Riordan just wrote Percy Jackson again with Egyptian Gods instead of Greek. I guess if you’ve got a money maker of an idea you’d better reap it for all it’s worth!

Author Information

Rick Riordan was born in 1954 in San Antonio, Texas. He attended university at North Texas State, but graduated from University of Texas at Austin with a BA in english and history and went on to cert certified to teach English and history. Riordan grew up in an artistic family and has been writing from a young age. When he was 13 he tried to have his first story published, but it was rejected.

Riordan has published a number of novels inspired by mythology an ancient gods. In addition to the Kane Chronicles, which concern the gods of ancient Egypt, Riordan had published two separate series on the Greek gods of Mount Olympus, Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and The Heroes of Olympus. All told Riordan has published around 28 novels, including one adult title The Last King of Texas.

Genre

Young Adult Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Mythology, Siblings, Egypt

Curriculum Ties

history, ancient cultures

Booktalk Ideas

How do the representations of Egyptian Gods in this book differ or agree with what you already know about them?

How do you think life would have been different for the siblings if they had stayed together after their mom died? What if Sadie went with Julian and Carter stayed with their grandparents?

Reading Level/Interest Age 

12-16

Challenge Issues

Some parents may object to this book because of its use of magic and representation of Egyptian gods. While the library encourages discourse on all topics, it does not support censorship, as in accordance with the ALA Library Bill of Rights. That said, reconsideration requests are available and each complaint is taken very seriously. The library reserves the right to make all final decisions after review by the board and strongly encourages parents and children to have open and clear discussion on what kind of material is appropriate for them.

Reason for Inclusion

This book borders on juvenile fiction, I think, but I included it anyway because I think it is a fast past exciting read for kids who don’t particularly enjoy reading.

References 

Riordan, R. (n.d.) Biography. About Rick. Retrieved from: http://www.rickriordan.com/

Ship Breaker

Bacigalupi, P. (2010). Ship Breaker. New York:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Nailer leads a rough life, stripping rusted out oil tankers of their copper wiring, with the constant threat of injury, starvation, or death hanging over him like a dark cloud. What Nailer needs is a bit of luck. When he finds a luxury yacht, seemingly abandoned by her crew after a city-killing hurricane, it seems he’s found his big payoff. Little does he know that what’s will change his life forever.

Plot Summary

Nailer lives in dystopian future that is not too hard to imagine. Earth has been ravaged by her has to occupants, her natural resources all but used up, the ice caps melted and huge swathes of the country are underwater. Nailer lives on the Gulf Coast, scavenging copper wire from old oil tankers. For now he’s perfect for it; his small, light body can wriggle into tight spaces and that allows him to make quota- and thus survive- another day. Nailer has to wonder though, how much longer will his luck hold up? What he needs is some big luck.

After a city-killer hurricane wipes out practically his whole town Nailer isn’t sure if his luck will hold at all. He and his pal Prima decide to go rustle up some of good fortune of their own and scour the coast for salvageable wreckage. As the day wanes on Nailer and Prima stumble across the biggest score they could imagine, a luxury yacht off the coast, seemingly abandoned by capitan and crew. This is considered Big Luck by the superstitious duo and they board the ship ready to strip it of all it’s valuables and cash it all in for a major payoff. What they don’t expect to find is the injured girl in the lower cabins. Now Nailer needs to decide if he’s going to kill her and make a fortune from his find or if he should try and help her get back to her people.

Nailer’s choice puts everyone he cares about in serious danger as he and the rescued, Lucky Girl, sneak off to Orleans II and seek a ship back to safety. They’ve got to negotiate a world of enemies and thieves, to get where they’re going and Nailer’s only hope is that he, and his luck, will hold.

 Critical Evaluation

What makes Ship Breaker worth reading is Nailer’s humanity. He’s living in a brutal world, where friends die or become enemies at the drop of a pin; his own father is own of the books biggest villans. Despite all that though Nailer proves himself to be thoughtful and demonstratively appreciative of the value on human life. Namely he weighs his choices and decides that rather than getting rich enough so that he and Pima can stop scavenging ships, he’s going to save this privileged girl he knows little and less about. If any other character in the book, well maybe not Pima’s mom, had found Lucky Girl they would have made quick work of her and cashed in for the big payoff, but Nailer demonstrates a remarkable bit of humanity in the face of the daily horrors he faces as a shipbreaker and this act of selflessness really set him apart from the majority of the characters in the book, leaving the reader to wonder whether morality is something that we’re taught or that we’re born with.

Author Information

Paolo Bacigalupi is from Colorado Springs, Colorado and achieved a BA from Oberlin College in 1994. He’s an author and journalist, his first novel The Windup Girl was published in 2009 and most recently has published a sequel to Ship Breaker called The Drowned Cities, it is not included in this collection.

Bacigalupi writes mainly adult science fiction. He’s been nominated for Nebula and Victor Hugo Awards several time and his work has been anthologized in several “best of” series, Ship Breaker was nominated for a National Book Award in 2010. He’s written six novels, two of which are YA fiction.

Genre

Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Apocolyptic

Curriculum Ties

Science, global warming, philosophical questions of right and wrong

Booktalk Ideas

What do you think of the world Bacigalupi has created? Is this a kind of future you can imagine?

Nailer has to make a tough decision when it comes to saving Nita, what would you do in his position?

Reading Level/Interest Age 

14+

Challenge Issues

This is a pretty dark novel, the world that Nailer lives in is not a nice place. Some parents may object to their children being exposed to this kind of post-apocalyptic world, but a collection development policy that clearly states the library’s support for the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and  every reader’s freedom to read should offer the library some protection from over protective parents. This book is intended for children over the age of 14, those young people should be old enough to discuss with their parents what they should and shouldn’t be reading.

Reason for inclusion

My collection is rather lacking in male leads. I included this book to help fill that gap.

References

Paolo Bacigalupi. (2012). In Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1000201369&v=2.1&u=csusj&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Bardugo, L. (2012). Shadow and Bone. New York: Henry Holt and Co. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

When Alina’s magical powers are discovered she’s removed of everything she’s ever known. Life in the First Army, with her best friend Mal, becomes a painful and ever distant memory as she begins to focus her attention to developing her long dormant talent. Things aren’t as simple as they seem though and as the secrets of the Grisha begin to unravel so does Alina’s ability to tell who and what she can trust.

Plot Summary

Alina and Malyen, Mal, are best friends. They grew up together in the Duke’s orphanage and while they’re not in the same unit now that they are old enough to serve in the First Army, at least they’re together and can often chat after a long days march. When Alina and Mal have to cross the Fold, a wasteland completely devoid of light an inhabited by terrifying harpy-like monsters, the volcra, Alina is scared but remains hopeful that the First Army will make it across without incident. Unfortunately Alina is wrong, and her unit is attacked by volcra.

After Alina saves Mal’s life by releasing long dormant magical powers she had no idea she even possessed she’s immediately whisked away to train with the Grisha, the elite magical army lead by the alluring and handsome Darkling. Alina works hard learning to control her powers, but the lessons seem endless and she doubts her ability ever master what she’s spent her whole life denying. The Darkling never wavers in his belief of Alina, and is convinced her power is what will unite their war torn land. As the Darkling convinces Alina she can, and indeed must, master her powere, Alina begins to realize that things aren’t exactly as they seem. In a world where everyone is working toward their own agenda, Alina begins to realize that the only person she can trust is the one who has been with her forever. Will she ever find her way back to the safety of her best friend? Or is she a prisoner in gilded chains in the court of the Grisha?

Critical Evaluation

A lot of reviewers nit-pick Bardugo for her liberal use of a pseudo-Russian within the pages of Shadow and Bone. I can’t claim to know anything about how the Russian language works, so you’ll hear no complaints from me about how she’s doing it wrong. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that she’s not doing it wrong at all. Shadow and Bone is good. Alina’s character is appealing, and hardly simpering at all. She’s a good balance of hard and soft, a fierce young woman who knows she doesn’t know everything, but learns as the story progresses how to trust herself and what she truly loves. The novel isn’t so deep into fantasy cannon that’s alienating to readers who are outside of the normal fan base, there is enough realism there that I believe this work will be equally appealing to all readers.

Author Information

Leigh Bardugo is not your typical YA fiction author. Her day job is as makeup artist L.B. Benson, and her work has appeared on Re-Up/Toyota Scion,Project EthosHunters & Gatherers, the Discovery Channel, and well as the film Worth. Previous to her life as a make-up artist she wrote for television, companies like Oxygen Network, David E. Kelley Productions, 20th Century Fox and the L.A. Weekly.

Born in Jerusalem, Bardugo was raised in LA, and attended college at Yale. She currently lives in Hollywood where the majority of her work as a makeup artist is conducted. Shadow and Bone is her first novel and a New York Times bestseller.

Genre

Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, Magic, Dystopia

Curriculum Ties

n/a

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

14+

Challenge Issues

This novel is a little dark, deals with magic and has some gory scenes. Objections to this novel would be handled in a similar way to all other books in the collection. Our collection development policy clearly states that we defend censorship when faced with it and encourage parents and teens to decide which books are right for them to read together. Challenges to the collection can be made and will be reviewed by the board. The director will make the final judgement based upon the results of the board’s findings.

Reason for inclusion

A fun fantasy novel, a light easy read for readers of any level.

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)

O’Brien, C.M. (2010). Birthmarked. New York: Roaring Book Press. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Gaia is a fully trained midwife, taught by her mother, who has just completed her first solo delivery. She returns home eager to tell her parents of the successful delivery only to discover that they’ve been arrested and are being held in the Enclave for questioning. Now Gaia has got to figure out how to rescue her parents without arising the suspicions of the Protectorate, and everyone’s life is on the line.

Plot Summary

In a distant dystopian future the classes are separated into two categories, those who live in the Enclave and those who live without. The people have lived this way since the collapse of civilization and for a long time it worked, that is until inbreeding weakened the blood lines of those living within the Enclave. Now the first three babies born in every district on the outside is advanced into the Enclave where the will be raised with all the privileges befitting those within: most importantly enough food to eat, water to drink and a warm, dry place to sleep every night.

Gaia’s family lives outside the enclave where her mother works as a midwife and her father works as a tailor. A facial disfigurement has kept Gaia safe with her parents her whole life and now she is fully trained as a midwife, able to perform deliveries without the guidance of her mother. After Gaia advances her first baby to the Enclave, she returns back to her home ready to report the events of the evening, only to be warned by her mother’s assistant that her parents have been arrested, the assistant gives Gaia a coded message from her mother and urges her to find her long lost grandmother, rumored to have made way for a mysterious wood no one is entirely sure actually exists.

Instead Gaia enlists the help of family friends and sneaks into the Enclave, hoping to break her parents out of jail. Now Gaia has got to figure out how to rescue her parents before it’s too late, and when it becomes clear that will be impossible she has to decide who is trust worthy and who is working against her before it’s too late.

Critical Evaluation

This book was solidly mediocre. Indeed it was so mediocre that I haven’t got a whole lot of opinion on it at all. It takes place 300 years in the future, and the world O’Brien has created is bleak and without a great deal of hope. The most interesting portions of the book, in my opinion, were the birth scenes, which were described vividly and with surprising accuracy for a book for intended for teen readers.

Author Information

Genre

YA Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic

Curriculum Ties

n/a

Booktalk Ideas

 

Reading Level/Interest Age 

14+

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion

Tithe (The Modern Tales Of Faerie, #1)

Black, H. (2002). Tithe. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. Kindle.

This book is part of a series, all three titles are included in the collection.

Reader’s Annotation

Kaye and her mom have been on the road a long time. When fate takes a turn for the worst and sends them back to their New Jersey roots, Kaye doesn’t spend anytime looking for her childhood friends, the faeries she whiled away the hours with before she and her mom left. That is until she runs into another faery and begins to realize everything she thought she made up as as child is true, and that knowledge just may cost her her life.

Plot Summary

Critical Evaluation

Tithe is gritty fantasy novel that takes place within the back drop of the working-class, ironed-imbued, run-down New Jersey streets. Holly Black writes poor real good, anyone who grew up with parents who never coud quite make ends meet will recognize the world that she has created. The beautiful thing about the world that Holly has created is that despite the alcohol abuse and absentee parents there is still magic around every corner.

Author Information

Genre

Curriculum Ties

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

15+

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion

The Tension of Opposites

McBride, K. (2010). The tension of opposites. New York: EgmontUSA. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Nothing has been good for Tessa since her best friend Noelle was kidnapped two years ago. Now Noelle is home Tessa is desperate to tell her how long she waited and much she missed her. She’s shocked to find that even though Tessa is back, she’s not the same girl she was before her abduction.

Plot Summary

Critical Evaluation

Author Information

Genre

Curriculum Ties

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion

The Miles Between

Pearson, M.E. (2009). The miles between. New York:  Henry Holt and Co. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

What if you could have one perfectly fair day? Destiny Faraday doesn’t believe in perfect days, indeed Destiny doesn’t really believe in anything at except keeping her head down and trying to keep herself from being noticed. When an empty convertible shows up on campus it seems like fate, and Destiny and her three schoolmates pile in for a life changing adventure.

Plot Summary

Critical Evaluation

Author Information

Genre

Curriculum Ties

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion

Peeps

Westerfeld, S. (2005). Peeps. New York: RazorBill. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Vampirism is a disease and some of those infected are parasite positive, while others are simply carriers. Cal is a carrier and his job is to hunt down the parasite positive, or peeps, for rehabilitation. In this fast paced biological thriller Cal is hunting down a major infestation of contaminates that threaten the whole human population of New York and the world.

Plot Summary

Imagine a world where vampirism is sort of like an STD. This is world Cal lives in, and he’s been infected. Instead of being a blood hungry fiend though, he just needs a lot of rare meat and can’t swap any bodily fluids with anyone else, ever. Cal tries not to dwell on his sorry state by spending his time hunting the peeps he’s infected with the virus and bringing them into custody so that they won’t spread the virus to other innocent victims.

Things begin to get more intense when Cal discovers a huge nest of infected rats underneath the apartment building that is the last known address of his maker. To complicate matters there’s this girl who he has feelings for and he afraid he may have infected her. Meanwhile he’s getting closer and closer to unravelling the mystery of how the desire travels and also his maker.

Critical Evaluation

Peeps is a fast paced biological thrilled that’s kind of icky, if you want the long and short of it. At the beginning of each chapter Cal explains, in detail, the life cycle of a new parasite. Skip those portions of you’re easily grossed out. That said, the scientific descriptions of the parasites is part of what makes this really good biological thriller. I’m not a science-buff by any stretch of the imagination, and Westerfeld does an excellent job of writing the science-y parts of the novel with enough humor that even folks like mean won’t balk. Westerfeld also does language really well, that is to say that the dialogue in Peeps is really fast paced and witty, so that even if you’re bored to tears by the science talk you won’t mind hanging around for the rest of the story.

Author Information

Scott Westerfeld is the author of eighteen novels. He’s written 13 YA novels and 5 adult novels. He is probably best known for his YA series The Leviathan a steampunk re-boot of WWII and The Uglies which takes place in a world where plastic surgery is required when you hit age 16.

Scott was born in Texas and currently lives in New York City and Sydney. He received a BA from Vassar in philosophy and likes Mexican and Thai food.

Genre

Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Vampirism, Biological Thriller Horror, Male Lead

Curriculum Ties

science, biology

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

17+

Challenge Issues

This book has got sex and violence in it and is recommended for older young adults. As always we support each users right to read and their privacy. Selection of appropriate material is between the reader, her parent or gardian, and the book. We support the ALA Library Bill of Rights and discourage censorship.

Reason for inclusion

Male lead.

References

Westerfeld, S. (2012). About the author. Scott Westerfeld. Retrieved from: http://scottwesterfeld.com/

The Long Walk

King, S. (1979). The long walk. New York: Signet. Print.

Reader’s Annotation

Every year on May first 100 boys meet for a walk. The only hitch is that they don’t stop until there’s only one man standing.

Plot Summary

Critical Evaluation

Author Information

Genre

Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia, Thriller

Curriculum Ties

Booktalk Ideas

Reading Level/Interest Age 

Challenge Issues

Reason for inclusion