Saturday, August 20, 2016

Teen review: The Divergent series

Book One: Divergent
by Veronica Roth
Genre: Science fiction
Appropriate for ages 12+

Series reviewed by M.S. (grade 11)

In a dystopian future, the city of Chicago is isolated from the rest of the world and is separated into five factions based on dispositions. At the age of 16, teenagers are allowed to choose their faction for life. Anyone who has the capabilities of more than one faction is called “Divergent,” and is considered a threat to the government. We follow Tris Prior as she learns she is Divergent and tries to hide her identity from the government.

This is an exciting book that involves a lot of action and even some romance. I enjoyed reading this book because the characters are so relateable and well described. The action scenes are well depicted and this book makes you excited for the following novels in the series. I would rate this book a 5.

Book Two: Insurgent
Pages: 525

This book begins a few hours after Divergent ended, with Tris Prior, her brother Caleb, and boyfriend, Tobias (also known as “Four”), rushing to seek shelter in a neighboring faction. They have to stay in hiding and seek help from unexpected sources in order to stay alive while the government tries to find and kill them.

This is perhaps the most boring book out of entire series. It is a book used solely to transition from the first to the third book. I had to force myself to finish reading this book so I could read the third book and understand what was happening. I would rate this book a 2.

Book Three: Allegiant
Pages: 526

Tris Prior, her boyfriend Tobias, and her brother and friends escape Chicago in order to find outside help so they can destroy the faction system and prevent more people from being killed. However, when they find the supposed help, they realize their “savior” is not at all what it seems.

This book was a bit boring. I had difficulty keeping my attention on the book and took months to finish reading it. This book, however, redeemed itself with an ending that was equally satisfying and disappointing. I cried when I finished this book because its ending was realistic, yet I wanted an idealistic ending. I would rate this book a 3.

Book Four: Four
Pages: 304

This book is the backstory of the character Tobias “Four” Eaton. It describes his life with his abusive father and his experience with leaving his home faction for another, as well as his side of his relationship with Tris Prior.

This book helps put some things from the other books into perspective and sheds light on certain situations. It answers questions that I had when reading the other three books and is very enjoyable. I would rate this book a 4.

Editor's note: I like that Book 4 is called Four and M.S. rates it a four! And of course, most of us have seen the movies, starring--hey, is that Shailene Woodley?! Wow. Burbank Public Library owns all the books and all the movies, plus three additional stories about the Divergent universe that you can find only as e-books. Take a look in our catalog at

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Club Report

We had 39 of our 58 Book Club members in attendance last night at our preliminary meeting to get acquainted and pick books for our September and October meetings. There are 11 members in 6+7, this year, 24 in 8+9, and 23 in 10-12, so it's a full house! We will still accept a few members for 6+7, but everybody else will be wait-listed.

After socializing a little and playing a get-acquainted game, we divided into book clubs and began considering what to read for September and October.


The 6th- and 7th-graders selected Loot, by Jude Watson, as the book they will read for September, and The Colossus Rises, by Peter Lerangis, for their October book. There was some preliminary discussion of reading Animal Farm, but that has been put on hold until perhaps later in the year--it seemed a little daunting to start off with!

The 8th- and 9th-graders chose Far, Far Away, by Tom McNeil, as their first book (Jeremy Johnson Johnson!), and Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, for their second.


Other books they considered were:
          Jackaby, by William Ritter
          A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
          The Glass Arrow, by Kristen Simmons
          Rook, by Sharon Cameron

The high school club (10-12) will read Canary, by Duane Swierczynski, for September, although the people who missed our meeting last night may have to play catch-up, since we don't have enough copies yet and are still trying to track down the last five copies for you. Duane S. (no, I'm not typing that out twice) will be paying us an author visit at BPL later in the fall, so we thought it would be great to read his book before he gets here.


October's choice was hotly contested, but the final choice was Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, by A. S. King, partly based on the merits of the author and partly on the weird beginning of the book, in which Glory and her best friend mix the desiccated remains of a bat into some warm beer and drink it, thus rendering them able to see visions of the past and future.

Other books they considered (in descending order of popularity) were:
          I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
          Side Effects May Vary, by Julie Murphy
          Proxy, by Alex London
          The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson
          All You Never Wanted, by Adele Griffin
          The Story of Us, by Deb Caletti

So here's where we stand:

All these books are on order.We will email the 6+7 Club when their books come in, which should be sometime next week.

The 8+9 Club can pick up their books starting Friday afternoon at Central or Saturday onward at Buena Vista. (We already had 20 copies.) We are three books short, so whoever shows up last will need to wait a couple more days to get their copy. You might want to call ahead.

Fifteen of the 22 10-12 Club members have already received Canary. The rest of you will wait until you hear from me that more are available. I hope that will be soon! If you want to get a jump on things, there are a couple of copies in the library system that you could check out and start to read.

Book club dates for September are as follows:

10-12 = TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 7:00 p.m. at Buena Vista (story time room)
6+7 = TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 7:00 p.m. at Central in the auditorium
8+9 = WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 7:00 p.m. at Buena Vista (story time room)

For those of you who missed, or those of you who forgot to pick up the paper with all the dates on it, you can always access book club dates here on our website. Please write these dates on your calendar or input them into your phone, and remember--if you are NOT attending book club, you must email either Melissa or Anarda ahead of time (i.e., before 4:00 p.m. the day of book club) to tell us. If you do that, your absence is excused. If we don't hear from you (and that means directly, not from your buddy in book club), your absence is noted, and two unexcused absences mean you will be dropped from the club and someone from the waiting list will be admitted. This is particularly crucial this year, because two of the clubs are beyond capacity, so please be diligent about this!

We can't wait to get back to book club! See you in September. (Well, hopefully we'll see you before then, but definitely at book club.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Now that school is back in session in Burbank...

...things such as SERVICE HOURS will become an urgent consideration, for high school students in particular. So let us remind you that if you like to read and you like to write, you can write BOOK REVIEWS for the BLOG and receive one hour of credit for each review you write. Some people have done their entire 10 hours by writing reviews for YAThink!

The guidelines for HOW to write the book review spell out exactly what you need to do. Please send your review (either as a Word doc attachment or simply pasted into the email) to

And can also write for us even if you do NOT need service hours. And we're taking submissions of original teen poetry and movie reviews now as well, so poets and movie mavens, please talk to us.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vote for the Teens' Top Ten!

Did you read any of the Teens' Top Ten nominations over the summer? Did you use and save your ballot? If so, voting opens today! You can go to the YALSA voting link here and pick your faves from the list of 25 books (choose carefully, because you can only pick three) to be the best 10 books for teens for 2016. Here's a video of the choices:

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Teen review: Realistic fiction

The Spectacular Now
by Tim Tharp
Realistic, romance
Pages: 294
Appropriate for ages 15+ (mature content)

Reviewed by M.S. (grade 11)

Sutter Keely is a teenage alcoholic who just got dumped by his girlfriend. Putting more effort into getting drunk and going to parties, he does poorly in school and has to get a tutor. His tutor is Aimee Finicky, a shy girl who has one friend and is walked all over by everyone. Sutter decides to spend more time with Aimee and try to make her more appealing, as well as continue his ways of partying.

This is a sweet story and the writing is absolutely amazing! The way Tim Tharp describes simple objects or times of days is astoundingly beautiful! The characters are realistic and easy to relate to, and I enjoyed reading it. I highly recommend this novel! I would rate it a 5.

Editor's note: We also own the audio book version of this, plus the movie, which stars (guess who) Shailene Woodley, because apparently she has to feature in every teen movie Hollywood makes!