Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new take on Zombies

I was going to start by saying that I am not a fan of the zombie genre, but if you have never really read any (except Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was just dumb), I guess you can't really claim not to be a fan, since you don't know what you're missing. So I'll just say that the whole concept of zombies--revived from the dead, favorite food = brains, etc.--does not appeal to me, and I have chosen to ignore this trend.

I did, however, recently read sort of a zombie novel, by Amy Tintera, called Reboot. I saw her at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival, and the description she gave of her main character intrigued me, so I bought the book. Here is a summary from Goodreads:
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
The thing that was different about this book is that the story of the zombies is told by one of them, Wren 178, who is a compelling character. The idea of the reboot itself is interesting; but I would have liked a little more of the science about WHY they had faster reflexes, greater strength, etc. afterwards. What is it about dying and coming back that changes them so radically? I find this to be an issue throughout YA science fiction--not enough attention is paid to the science. Fiction should always be about story...but it's called science fiction for a reason, people.

Also, the back story: People die of a disease, but not all of them--some of them come back; more explanation of the reasons for that would be good. There is a battle in the past between reboots and humans and somehow the HARC gets control over the reboots and turns them into HARC's flunkies--how? I really wanted more details!

I did like the characters of Wren and Callum a lot...although Wren is completely inconsistent with her own self-description as emotionless the minute she meets Callum. I guess that's the point of putting a romance into the mix, but the plot specifically states that the older the reboot, the less emotion she feels, so how is it even possible for her to be so moved and confused by Callum? Yes, I'm overthinking it. The romance is endearing. Enough said.

A lot of people will probably love this book and its sequel, Rebel. I might read it...or I might not. Somebody else can tell me what happened, because...there's a lot of zombie-less fiction out there waiting for me...

Friday, July 11, 2014

This week's reading log winners!


Dylan E. wins a $5 Ben & Jerry’s gift card
George S. wins a movie ticket
Annie G. wins a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card

Tama Z. wins a $5 Ben & Jerry’s gift card
Sandi A. wins a movie ticket
Jordan N. wins a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card

Dasha T. wins a $5 Ben & Jerry’s gift card
Jewell D. wins a movie ticket
Dania T. wins a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card



Book Review Drawing #2!

Our six BOOK REVIEW winners (bi-weekly drawing #2):

Regina A. wins a Barnes & Noble gift card
Emily M. wins a Best Buy gift card
Patrick S. wins a Target gift card
Andrew A. wins an iTunes gift card
Zachary H. wins two AMC movie tickets
Valerie L. wins one pound of See's Candies

These prizes will be available TODAY at our PROGRAM at the Buena Vista branch at 2:30 p.m., so if you're coming to see GALAXY QUEST with special guest WIL WHEATON, you can pick them up from us. If you can't come, they will then go to the REFERENCE DESK at the BUENA VISTA BRANCH, where you can pick them up today, tomorrow, or any time next week!

(If you need to pick up your prize at another branch, then email with WHERE, and I will send them there for pick-up.)

CONGRATULATIONS to all our book review writing winners! Our next drawing for book reviews is in TWO WEEKS (on July 25, which is also our FINALE), so be sure to write us some!

But PLEASE review the SUMMER BOOK REVIEWS guidelines on THIS BLOG. Many of you are writing book summaries (which is not good for sharing, because you're giving "spoilers"), and also, a book review has an OPINION in it. Remember--tell a bit about what the book is about, and THEN say what YOU thought of it! ("I liked the characters because they reminded me of my friends." "I thought the story was good, but the characters were lame." "Everyone should read this book--it's relatable because…")

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Buena Vista Branch, 2:30 p.m.


This movie has cult classic status: The leader of an alien race believes the actors from a sci fi TV show (like Star Trek) are real heroes who can save his people!

Actor WIL WHEATON, who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: Next Generation and is now featured on The Big Bang Theory, will introduce the movie, so be sure to be there ON TIME (aim for 2:15 just to be sure) or you'll miss him! Snacks will be served, and all are welcome to this program.

IF you are registered for the teen summer reading program, you are eligible for PRIZE DRAWINGS at both these events--we have some fantastic prizes, so be sure to register!

And remember...we will draw for weekly READING LOG prizes and also for bi-weekly BOOK REVIEW prizes this Friday (July 11), so get your tickets in the jars and your book reviews entered online by Friday at noon!

And are you coming with your Science Fiction TRIVIA CHALLENGE? It's due NEXT Friday (July 18th), so don't dally!

Teen review: It's a Hoot

Hoot is a New York Times bestseller by Carl Hiaasen. It is a 292-page realistic fiction/children’s literature book. Hoot is the first book out of four in its series, the others being Flush, Scat, and Chomp. Hoot is definitely age-appropriate for kids 10 and up. It was an easy read and the story was good, but it wasn’t so complicated that any 10-year-old couldn't understand.
This book is about a seventh-grade boy named Roy Eberhardt, who just moved to Florida. He is put into a middle school where bullying is basically no big deal. He is picked on a lot, but he stays strong and stands up for himself. Beatrice Leep is the tough girl in the school who goes to Roy to ask him to help her brother and herself. Beatrice’s brother (Mullet Fingers) shows Roy that a construction site is going to destroy a whole bunch of burrowing owls' homes. They have to find a way to stop the destruction.

I liked that it was accessible and entertaining enough to keep me reading the book. It did get slow-paced at some parts, but once you got through it, the book was great. I give this book a 3 out of 5 because it was fun to read, but it didn’t ENGAGE me. If you want something quick and easy to read, I recommend this book to you, because it does not use tough vocabulary and is very straightforward.

Reviewed by Maya P., 9th grade

Editor's note: We also have these books in both audio and e-book formats.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Dystopian Girl" Books

I picked up A Girl Called Fearless, by Catherine Linka, at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival back in April, and just got around to reading it. This is yet another in the dystopian-girls-lose-their-rights-and-freedoms batch of YA fiction. You know, in which there's a plague or a revolution or a political shift that shines the spotlight on women as the bearers of the future generation and uses that excuse to take away their civil rights and turn them back into property?

I liked this one pretty well--the characters and situations were interesting, the main character was fresh, and the story arc was well done--I felt like it actually could have happened, in most respects. I didn't care for the insta-love aspect--I would rather the focus had stayed on Aveline solving her own problems instead of her spending so much time mooning over Yates. I wanted to know more about the underground organization. I also felt the author was short-sighted about how profoundly the economy would be affected by the United States losing half of its work force in a period of a year or two!

The thing I did like about this book, though, is that Catherline Linka wrote this (I think!) as a stand-alone, so I don't have to (wait for and) read two or three (or four) more books to get the whole story! There is potentially more to it--if she wanted to write a sequel, she could--but if not, it's satisfying as a single book.

This book made me think about, and compare it to, all the others in this subgenre of dystopian fiction for teens (I made you a list, below). The main character was less naive than the girl in Matched, and more realistic than the ones in Wither. I also thought of the classic dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, because the patriarchal nature of the government echoed that for me.

Here is a list of dystopian books that specifically reference marriage, relationships, and child-bearing, and venture onto the ground of women as property:
Birthmarked, Prized, Promised, by Caragh M. O'Brien
Bumped, Thumped, by Megan McCafferty (although in these, even though "anatomy is destiny," the girls are in charge--sort of)
The Crossing, by Mandy Hager
Matched, Crossed, Reached, by Ally Condie
Delirium, Pandemonium, Requiem, by Lauren Oliver
Eve, Once, by Anna Carey
Wither, Fever, Sever, by Lauren de Stefano
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
and finally, here is a book I would recommend if you are interested to see a surprising and innovative solution to the problem:

The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri S. Tepper