Friday, April 12, 2013

Teen Review: Starters

by Lissa Price
336 pages
Dystopic / post-apocalyptic fiction
There is a sequel, Enders, due out in January 2014, and three prequel short stories: "Portrait of a Starter, " "Portrait of a Marshal," and "Portrait of a Middle"
Reading level: 7th grade and up
Reviewed by Sarah C., 10th grade

S U M M A R Y :
Sometime in the future, the United States of America is attacked using spore missiles, and everyone between the ages of 20 to 60 is killed, due to the lack of vaccinations. The Spore Wars left only kids, called Starters, and the elderly, called Enders, alive. Callie Woodland's parents were killed, and she is left alone with only her younger brother, Tyler. Living off the streets with nowhere to go, Callie and Tyler are struggling to survive. Callie decides to head to Prime Destinations to make some money for her and her sick brother.

At Prime Destinations, Callie rents out her body to an Ender. The Ender gets to live in Callie's body for a short amount of time while Callie sleeps, and then Callie wakes up and gets paid very well. Sounds like an easy deal, right?

Everything is going fine, until Callie's connection chip glitches and she wakes up early. Callie finds herself in a nightclub, and she has to pretend to be her "renter." Finding herself rich with a huge house and beautiful clothes, Callie doesn't head back to Prime Destinations to get fixed. Callie then hears a voice in her head, Callie's renter's voice, saying that Prime Destinations is dangerous! Callie starts blacking out and switching between having control of her own body and losing control to her renter. After one of the blackouts, Callie realizes that her renter has something dreadful planned. Callie must choose whether to trust or betray her renter. Either way it looks like she is dead.

R E V I E W :
I really enjoyed Starters! It went beyond my expectations. I had read some reviews online saying that it was full of plot holes, yet others were comparing it to Hunger Games, with good reviews, so I really was not sure what to expect. I personally think it rivals Hunger Games in every way, if not surpassing it in some ways. Starters is written in first person, which I think is always tricky to pull off. Usually I find books written in first person hard to read and choppy-sounding, but I didn't even notice Starters was written in first person 'til halfway through the book! It was really smooth-flowing. I must say there are a couple of points that were lacking information in the story line and a cheesy spot here and there. But over all, I loved Starters, and I anxiously await the sequel, Enders!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Cover: The cover is one of the things that intrigued me most. It is really interesting, and the picture is actually mentioned in the book. Really awesome!

If you want to read another review of this book on our blog, go here. And I found this on Lissa Price's website: Somebody turned her book into a lookalike for an old pulp fiction magazine! Kinda cool, yes?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What we're reading: "Realistic" Fiction?

Well, let me put it this way: There are no faerie, no wizards, no mythical creatures, no one who sees ghosts or has special powers...but realistic? Hmmm.

I'm talking about Dead Cat Bounce, a thriller by first-time author Nick Bennett. Bennett is a former London stock trader (now residing in South Africa, where part of the novel takes place), and he has taken his experiences and put them into a teen novel about a 12-year-old boy named Jonah Lightbody, who goes with his dad on "Take Your Children to Work Day" to the financial trading floor of the prestigious London banking firm, Helsby, Cattermole, & Partners, where David Lightbody works.

David and his son don't have a good relationship (divorce, boarding school, yadda yadda), so talking his dad into taking him along is a major coup for Jonah. Turns out, though, that David isn't the most high-powered guy at the bank by a long shot--that role belongs to "the Baron," who runs the division that handles high-stakes, derivatives-oriented trading, and the Baron is curious about Jonah (and also wants to provoke Jonah's dad). Before he knows it, Jonah is sitting at the Baron's side, coding his trades for him. Jonah's dad isn't happy about this turn of events, but it's too late--the connection has been made, and after Jonah goes back to boarding school, he and the Baron develop a secret mentoring relationship that lasts four years, until Jonah is 16 and comes back to the bank for the summer to do an internship with the Baron.

All of this is quite plausible--there's lots of interesting insider knowledge about how stocks are traded, and it's a great glimpse into this world that isn't a common setting for a teen novel. But then the book takes a turn for the dramatic, and while it's exciting, fast-paced and enjoyable, the term "realistic" becomes a stretch. The Baron is up to no good and (of course) Jonah gets pulled into the middle of it and is cast in the role of hero.

If you like Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, or Harlen Coben's books about the young Mickey Bolitar, this book's definitely for you.

By the way, if you're wondering about the title, here's the definition according to Wikipedia:
In finance, a "dead cat bounce" is a small, brief recovery in the price of a declining stock. Derived from the idea that "even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height," the phrase, which originated on Wall Street, is also popularly applied to any case where a subject experiences a brief resurgence during or following a severe decline.
As an animal lover, this one is right up there with "kill two birds with one stone" for me, but it does make for a quirky title that will gain attention. (It attracted mine!) On his website, the author assures everyone that no cats were hurt in the writing of this book!

New FANTASIES coming soon!

In the Mortal Instruments universe...

Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare, out now (and on our shelves momentarily!) plus...

THE BANE CHRONICLES, the stories! Remember Marcus Bane, the warlock? A series of 10 SHORT STORIES is available only on e-readers (or however you read electronically). Find out all about it on Cassandra Clare's website!

From Mirrorworld...
Fearless, by Cornelia Funke, comes out on April 17!

From the world of Lumatere...
Quintana of Charyn, by Melina Marchetta, releases April 23!

...and a NEW series from the author of Incarceron and Sapphique...
Obsidian Mirror, by Catherine Fisher! also April 23!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Teen Review: Perks

by Stephen Chbosky
213 Pages
Realistic Fiction
Grade Level: High School
Reviewed by: Alexia H., 9th grade

I wouldn’t say that this book was life-changing for me, but I will say this: I came out of this book a wiser person.

The Perks of Being a Wallpaper is composed of a series of letters written by a high school freshman named Charlie that he sends to an unknown party. The letters chronicle his life as he explores new territory by the side of his friends Sam and Patrick, who teach him to “participate” in life, not just observe it as it passes by.

This book is special. Genuinely special. As I type this, I can feel my eyebrows scrunching together and my forehead wrinkle because for a while I couldn't tell what this book did to be so...special. But I think I’m starting to get it now.

What I think this book is truly about is the process of learning to live--not just exist. This book is about confronting issues within yourself that you didn't know were ever there. It’s about liberating yourself and being yourself and accepting yourself because in the end that’s the only person you can be. This book is about learning to forgive yourself and having love for the people around you, and not judging people because you never know what the things they are struggling through.

Yeah, I definitely get it now.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is special because you don’t need to go through what Charlie went through to learn a little about life. The book doesn't leave you with the pressure to change your outlook on life or guilt yourself into becoming “a better person” the way other books do when they try to teach you something. This book just is. And it’s your job to take what you can from it and “participate” in life knowing that you’re a little bit wiser.

☆☆☆☆☆ Five stars.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Teen Review: Mara Dyer

Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Number of Pages: 527
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes, this is the second book of the Mara Dyer Trilogy
Reading level: High School
Reviewed by: Giselle F., grade 9


S U M M A R Y :
Mara never thought it could get worse, but she is proved wrong and things go from bad to worse. After finding out that Jude, her ex-boyfriend, is alive, she is committed to a mental institute. Mara soon realizes that the things that she thought were just in her head are not, she learns more about her past, and most importantly she learns more about her strange, powerful, and very dangerous abilities with the help of her boyfriend, Noah Shaw.

R E V I E W:

After reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I was in shock and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next, in the second book in the trilogy. I wanted to know what would happen to Mara now that her ex-boyfriend is back from the dead, as well as what would happen between Mara and the handsome, mysterious Noah Shaw. As I held the book in my hands, I began to prepare myself for the craziness Mara and Noah might uncover.

I was hooked on the first page. I loved how creepy and enigmatic the book was. Right away you find yourself on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what’s going on with Mara. Is she really crazy? Is she possessed? Or is something more going on? The weird mental patients and the crazy things that Jude did left me both creeped out and worried for Mara and Noah. The author did a fantastic job writing the book without giving anything away. I was left guessing and grasping for answers, but found none.

I loved how the author took the time to develop other characters. Jamie, with his funny sarcasm and witty comments, definitely lightened the mood throughout the whole book, and it was great to have him back as Mara’s close friend--he definitely added some sass to this book. Daniel, Mara’s older brother, quickly became my favorite character second only to the ever-passionate Noah Shaw. I loved how Daniel was still able to be that annoying older brother, quipping with Mara, and also was able to be sweet and sensitive to Mara’s situation.

Although the creepy factor was high throughout the whole book, there was no shortage of Noah-and-Mara moments. I really liked how Noah was constantly there for Mara, and how he did everything he could for her. I found it a little annoying how dependent Mara was on Noah in the beginning of the novel, but later on, Mara became more independent. I didn’t think it was possible to love Noah more than I did in the last book, but I do!

The last chapters were wild! There was a crazy twist that I never saw coming. And by the end of the book I was in a big state of shock again, and I couldn’t believe what had happened. This book will leave you breathless and sad.

I give this book 5 stars!

If you want to see a blog post about the first book, go here. According to Michelle Hodkin's website, the third book--The Retribution of Mara Dyer--comes out in late October! There are lots of extras and videos and stuff on her website, so check it out!