Ashes, by Ilsa J. Bick is an American Library Association 2012 Teen Top Ten Nomination. I had heard good things about the book, but hesitated to pick it up because I’m not really into zombies. However, zombies or no zombies, it gripped my interest from the first few pages. Seventeen year old Alex has had a rough life. Her parents died in an accident and shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After multiple treatments that have not worked, her case is terminal. While her body and mind are still functioning she takes one last trip into the Waucamaw Wilderness where she has camped many times with her dad. Just a few days into her trip electromagnetic pulses are set off, wiping out power and electronic devices everywhere. To make matters worse, the pulse kills off a large portion of the population and turns most young adults into crazed zombies. Alex along with fellow survivors Ellie, a young girl, and Tom, a soldier who is on leave, band together to survive. The plot continually twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. I always felt like some new horror was lurking around every corner (and more often than not it was). Although some of the action sequences are quite gruesome, this part horror/part post- apocalyptic novel kept me riveted until the end. If you like books wrapped up all neat and tidy at the end this is not for you! Virtually nothing is resolved by the end, and there is a cliffhanger worthy of the Hunger Games. Luckily, book number two of this planned trilogy, Shadows, comes out September 25th!
Celaena Sardothien was betrayed by someone close to her, and as the best assassin in Adarlan, she was sentenced to hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier, as good as a death sentence, after being caught. When the crown prince offers her a way out of the salt mines in exchange for being his candidate for champion to the king, she has no choice but to accept or remain in the mines to die. The only possible outcomes: win or return to the mines. The crown prince, Dorian, and his captain of the guards and best friend, Chaol, get to know Celaena. She is a complicated young woman as a very talented assassin, someone who loves beautiful things, an avid reader, and a young person who still sees the world with optimism rather than being jaded by her deadly profession. Throne of Glass is more than just a love story, this complex novel is filled with intrigue, complicated characters, and a bit of magic.
Delirium is the first book of a trilogy published in January 2011 by Lauren Oliver. If you like dystopian fiction, then try this series. Lena lives in a new America, where love has become a disease that nobody wants to catch. Luckily, scientists have figured out a surgical procedure that cures this deadly illness. Unfortunately, it is too dangerous to undergo this operation until you turn eighteen. To avoid catching the “delirium” Lena’s life, and everyone else’s, is strictly controlled. Everyone must follow the Book of Shhh (The Safety, Health, and Happiness handbook) and carefully avoid everyone of the opposite sex. Lena’s life has always been complicated. Her mother committed suicide when she was six because of the Delirium. Since then she has been living with her aunt, uncle and cousins, spending time with her best friend Hana, and being careful to watch out for signs of the disease. Then, with only 95 days to go until her cure, Lena meets Alex, and begins to question everything that society has taught her. Will she continue her controlled, safe life or choose to search out the “Invalids” who have rebelled against society and are constantly in danger of losing their lives. Pandemonium is book number two in the series and equally as good as the first. Book number 3, Requiem, is due to be released in March. And for those who enjoy the books, the movie rights have been acquired by Fox 2000.
More and more I talk to adults who are reading Young Adult literature. A phenomenon which delights me to no end! It is great to see those beyond their teen years read materials aimed at teens. I believe it is a testament to the quality, variety, and pure number of materials now being produced for teen readers. Many times, with teen and adult readers alike, the problem is finding that next title that will truly interest them and keep them coming back.
Earlier this summer, I was sent a link by a colleague for a graphic titled “Are You New to YA?” It was a flow chart plotting recommended books, series, and authors for those who have dipped their toe into the endless pool that is YA fiction but don’t know where to go now. I was so excited to see all of the great recommendations it contained and the possibilities it would open up for readers looking for something new. The chart was posted on the book review blog stackedbooks.org. The site states that it reviews “books for readers while simultaneously enticing non-readers to think about reading in fun and interesting ways.” Founders of the blog include: Kimberly Francisco – “a public librarian with a weakness for genre fiction”; Kelly Jensen – “a compulsive consumer of all things books and blogs”; and Jen Petro-Roy – “a voracious reader and 17 at heart.” The three review a wide variety of genres, styles, and formats, including audio and digital books, videos, music, zines, graphic novels, and more. The “Are You New to YA” chart was featured in a column that runs a few times a month, called “So You Want to Read YA” which is written by guest authors to the blog. This particular post was contributed by the creators of another book blog, www.thereadventurer.com. Below is the introduction to the chart by “The Readventurers,” Catie, Flannery and Tatiana.
The three of us have only been blogging together for a short time and we’ve never actually met in real life, but all of us are around the same age (in the adult years…other than that we’re not commenting) and we all love to read young adult literature. In fact, that’s pretty much what brought us together – that and an obsessive love of Goodreads.com.
They came to the conclusion, that most adults enter the YA arena through one of three avenues:
a) Harry Potter
I also find this to be true. Most often it is because of the pop-culture popularity of these series. All have been among the best-selling books for weeks and even years, they all have movies based on the books, and they all seem to appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests. These three series have helped to break down whatever barriers or stereotypes may have been in place in regards to teen fiction. Catie, Flannery and Tatiana say they wanted to use these three entry points to help readers be able to explore further into YA.
The journey through the chart begins with one simple question – Are You New to YA?
Where you go from there is based on one of three answers: Yes; I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!; and No, it’s old hat to me.
From there it is a matter of deciding on what genres, themes, and quirks of books appeal most to the reader. With lots of stand-alone titles, series, and authors on the chart, almost anyone should be able to find something that would appeal to them. More often than not, there are two or more recommendations along the way.
This is a sample of a pathway search I did:
Are You New to YA?
I’ve tried one or two but I want to try more!
Do you want to read more dystopian?
Fine, we wanted to work harder anyway! Which of these genres do you prefer?
We’re assuming you’ve read The Book Thief?
Interestingly, I don’t believe I’ve ever read either of these authors! So, even for someone who has read many, many YA books, there is something new to be found.
Click here to see the complete flow-chart. This is such a great tool, I know I will be using it to get recommendation ideas in the future.
Since 2003, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has released an annual list of nominees for the Teens’ Top Ten (TTT) List. The TTT is a “teen choice” honor list as chosen by teens throughout the country.
This year’s list contains 24 nominated titles, chosen by teen book groups from school and public libraries around the country, which nominate their favorite books of the previous year. Nominations are posted in April during National Library Week.
Teens are encouraged to read these titles throughout the summer, then vote for them during late August and early September. Winning titles will be announced via webcast during Teen Read Week, the third week of October.
Encouraging teens to read these books and take part in the voting not only is an easy way to find recommended titles, but gives teens a sense of inclusion in choosing the “best of the best” as chosen by their peers.
Using the TTT nominees as a catalyst, parents and caregivers can help get teens excited about reading and make time for their teens to read at home.
Studies show a regular reading habit makes teens better readers. YALSA president, Sarah Flowers, recently stated that “today’s teens seem to have less and less free time, and there are increasingly more activities for them to take part in during what little leisure time they have. That is why it’s important to encourage teens to set aside some time to read.”
YALSA has created a list of many ways parents or caregivers can encourage teen reading. Some ideas include:
· Set aside a regular weekly or daily time for the family to read.
· Make reading aloud a family activity. Read to your kids as long as they’ll let you.
· Read the same books as a family. Talk about them afterward. Allow each person in the family to have a chance to choose the reading material.
· Share your favorite book with your teen.
· Model reading for pleasure. Talk with your children about what you’re reading; make your enthusiasm for reading obvious to them. Explain how reading gives you pleasure while helping you learn about life and the world.
· When a movie based on a book is released, read the book first. Then go to the movie together or rent the video. Afterward, talk about how the two compare.
· If some kids don’t like to read or have difficulty reading, let them listen to audiobooks.
· Visit the public or school library with your teen to attend a program or to check out materials.
Manhattan Public Library has copies of all of the TTT nominees, there are multiple copies of several, and some are also available in an audiobook version.
This year’s TTT finalists include:
All Good Children by Catherine Austen; Ashes by Ilsa Bick; Abandon by Meg Cabot; Tempest by Julie Cross; What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen; Wither by Lauren DStefano; Where She Went by Gayle Forman; Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen; Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman; The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge; Legend by Marie Lu; Hourglass by Myra McEntire; Cinder by Marissa Meyer; Shine by Lauren Myracle; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel; Across the Universe by Beth Revis; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; Divergent by Veronica Roth; Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys; The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr; All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Lucy and her friends have decided to spend graduation night searching for Shadow, the elusive but talented graffiti artist. Ed and his friends just want to kill time until they can carry out their real plans for the evening. In the meantime, Ed joins Lucy in her quest, racing to all of Shadow’s artwork while thawing their prickly relationship through their stories and hopes. Lucy shares her obsession with Shadow and his art, unaware of how close he really is. Graffiti Moon is a fun young adult novel with great characters and an artistic twist.
What would you take? When the Soviet police come to take her family away, fifteen year old Lina has 20 minutes to pack to leave her home in Lithuania. She chooses a few clothes, a family photograph, and drawing paper and pencils, leaving the loaf of bread cooling on the counter. She cherishes her treasures, but can’t help wishing she had also brought the bread. She and her mother and little brother are shipped to Siberia packed in train cars, always worrying about and missing her father. Through the book more and more of their dignity is stripped away as they experience horrible hunger, cold, and back-breaking work under the watchful eye of the completely unpredictable Soviet police force. But in the midst of this extremely grim story, we also get glimpses of the humanity that Lina and her fellow prisoners cling to; moments of sharing, kindness, and celebration together. And through it all, Lina draws with whatever she can get ahold of including dirt and ashes. The other prisoners smuggle bits of paper for her to use, having seen her special gift for expressing the truth of their experiences.
Between Shades of Gray brings to light a part of history that is often neglected. Powell’s story examines the basis of what it means to be human, expressing the best and worst of those in difficult situations, equally present in the police as in the prisoners. The subject matter is somewhat grim, but Lina’s determination to live and draw and the moments of kindness add enough light to make it a truly rewarding read.
For the past 5000 years, one million souls have inhabited Range, reincarnated in a new body each time they die. Ana is the first newsoul in all that time, and her existence raises questions others don’t want to think about. Her own mother calls her a nosoul and removed her from civilization to raise her in the woods away from people. After years of abuse from a woman who denies her ability to experience emotions, she sets off for the city to search for answers.
Ana is not necessarily welcome in the capital, Heart, either. Her curiosity and impulsive nature don’t endear her to the many people who have lived thousands of years and are unsettled by the change she represents.
One man who finds her fascinating and welcomes change is Sam, the most well-known musician on Range. Her own love of music draws the two of them together, and she enlists him in her mission to find out why she suddenly appeared and what happened to the soul her’s replaced. Others are not as pleased about her rejoining civilization and her search for answers. When she was out of sight, those who were disturbed by her existence could forget about her.
In a hard world filled with dragons, sylph, trolls, centaurs and other dangerous creatures, Ana must also worry about humans who see her as a threat to be eliminated.
Incarnate is Jodi Meadows’ debut novel and the first book in a planned trilogy.
> The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but once I started reading I couldn’t put it down till the very end.
Arnold Spirit, 14 year old Native American, has grown up on the Spokane reservation in Washington. Born with water on the brain and sporting thick and unfashionable glasses, he has learned to cope with the challenges of his life by allying himself with one of the toughest kids around and by drawing. “I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.” Then one day the injustice around him becomes a bit too clear and he is inspired to transfer to a nearby all-white and better funded school, which of course presents new challenges. His friends from the reservation see his school change as a betrayal and the white kids in his new school don’t know what to do with him.
This book made me laugh out loud. Arthur is a keen observer of the world and survives his situation with a keen wit. At the same time his life and his awareness of the unfairness of it all are heart-breaking. Alexie has shared that the book is semi-autobiographical, and that knowledge does give the novel an extra element of hopefulness. This book challenged my perceptions of Native Americans and growing up, as well as provided inspiration to face the challenges in my own life.
Paper Covers Rock is a new Young Adult novel by Jenny Hubbard. It has recently been named a finalist for the William C. Morris Award which honors first-time authors that write for teens. The setting of the book is an all boys’ boarding school on the east coast in 1982. It is narrated by Alex, a 17 year old boy who has just witnessed the drowning of one of his friends, Thomas. The reader is privy to all of Alex’s thoughts which he records in his journal that he keeps hidden behind a copy of Moby Dick in the school’s library. It is obvious from the first couple of pages that there is more to the drowning than meets the eye. Although the drowning has been ruled accidental, there is way more to the story than Alex and his friend Glenn are telling. The reader watches as Alex struggles with guilt and must decide whether to keep secrets and protect himself and Glenn or to confide in his teacher, Miss Dovecott who recognizes that Alex is withholding the truth. The secrets that Alex is keeping are gradually revealed in his journal over the course of the book. However, the reader is kept guessing up until the very end which direction Alex will choose to take. As an added bonus, the book is filled with original poetry that Alex writes in his journal which is quite good even aside from the rest of the book. If you enjoyed A Separate Peace by John Knowles give this book a try.
The United States of America no longer exists. The western states are now known as the Republic and the east is known as the Colonies. The two have been fighting for as long as anyone in the Republic can remember and all resources are devoted to the war effort. June was born into privilege and had all possible advantages growing up. She is a military prodigy and will likely achieve a high military post when her training is completed. Day was born into the slums of Los Angeles and is now a wanted criminal for his activities hindering the military.
June and Day are thrown together when June’s first assignment is tracking and catching Day. June may be certain she wants to catch Day in the beginning, but as time goes on, it becomes less and less clear to her that the Republic is always right and Day is the one committing the most serious crimes.
Legend is Lu’s debut and is a taut dystopian thriller, the first in a planned trilogy. The book has received positive reviews from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. This one will appeal to readers who liked the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Definitely a series to watch. Fast-paced, exciting, and has the potential to make a great trilogy.
It’s 1996 and Emma Nelson is the proud new owner of a personal computer. Her neighbor and one-time best friend, Josh, brings over an AOL CD-ROM so Emma can use the internet on her computer. When Emma connects she is redirected to a website called Facebook, where she finds the profile of a woman who looks remarkably like an older version of herself, who has the same birth date and graduated from her high school. At first thinking this is a virus or prank loaded on the CD-ROM, Josh and Emma are skeptical, but as their actions change what is happening to the pages of their future selves, they come to realize that it’s not a prank. Emma becomes obsessed with changing her future so she’ll be happier and Josh wants her to stop changing things because he likes what he sees.
As their actions change things for both better and worse for their future selves, Josh and Emma become more aware of the choices they are making in their present.
This original new novel is an interesting look at how a teenager in 1996 would react to seeing something like Facebook years before its time. It also explores how decisions made on a daily basis can change an entire life and how a person might react if they could know what actions would change their future for the better (or the worse). If you liked Before I Fall or Gimme a Call, you’ll probably like this one.
Sixteen-year-old Cat’s best childhood friend, openly gay Patrick, is in a coma, a victim of a brutal hate crime. The local sheriff is ready to pin the crime on out-of-towners, but Cat’ssuspicions lie elsewhere. For the past three years, Cat has retreated from most of her friends after being sexually abused by one of her brother’s friends. Cat slowly learns about her old friends in the meth-addled underbelly of her hill-country Southern town. Despite ominous warnings to leave it be, Catfinds the will to expose the homegrown hatred that gave rise to Patrick’sattack. Shine is a bleak story leavened by the things Cat learns about herself (and the attack) in the course of her investigation.
>If you’re waiting for Inheritance, the newest Christopher Paolini featuring Eragon and Saphira, you have some choices of other books to read while you wait.
One wonderful series that has been overlooked by many is the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. Sabriel, the first book in the series, was published in 1996, two years before the first Harry Potter and before children’s/young adult literature captured popular attention. Sabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer who puts the dead to rest and prevents the restless Dead from returning to Life. When Sabriel receives a message from him while she is away at school in Ancelstierre (where magic does not work), she must return to the Old Kingdom (where magic works) to take up his duties and try to free him from where he is trapped in Death. Sabriel is followed by Lirael and Abhorsen.
In an Asian-inspired fantasy realm, young Eon is in a fierce competition to apprentice to the Rat Dragon, one of twelve dragons who guard the realm. Twelve-year-old Eon is actually 16-year-old Eona in disguise. Hiding her sex is the only way for Eona to study Dragon magic, a pursuit forbidden to girls. If she is caught, she will face disembowelment. Eona is not chosen by the Rat Dragon, but that is, of course, not the end of the story. Eon is a fast-paced novel that will have you racing to pick up Eona, the conclusion to this complex and well-crafted story.
Princess Raisa is on the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, when she will be of age to make a politically advantageous arranged marriage. Han is a young man living in poverty and supporting his family through odd jobs after leaving his street gang. The two meet when Raisa is out in disguise investigating discontent in her kingdom and Han is fleeing from the authorities who believe he is guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Chima weaves together a number of complex story lines in this tale of intrigue and politics. The Demon King is followed by The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne. The fourth book in the series, The Crimson Crown, will be released in fall of 2012, according to the author’s website.
And if none of these books look to be to your taste, stop by the young adult section of the library and pick up one of the handouts of suggestions for those who liked Eragon, created by our talented YA librarian.
Tessa Gray’s search for hermissing brother leads her into Victorian London’s supernatural underworld,where she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters in order tocontrol her powers and find her brother. Prequel to the Mortal Instruments series.
After surviving her second time in the arena, Katniss has been propelled intoleading a revolution. Residents of District 13 have been preparing for war foryears, and are at the front of the fight. It seems the world is on Katniss’sshoulders as she struggles with being the face of the rebellion and target ofthe Capitol’s vengeance. Final book in the HungerGames trilogy.
Nora’s life has never been ordinary, but now that she has learnedabout her true Nephilim bloodline and her guardian angel, she wants to knowmore. What really happened to her father? Does Patch really love her? Is hehiding something? Sequel to the best-selling Hush, Hush.
Nineescaped from the planet Lorien just before it was destroyed by the Mogadorians.Hidden amongst the Earth-beings, the nine wait for the time they can regroup tofight their would-be destoyers. But Number One was caught in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. Theykilled them all. Number Four is next.
As Meghan approaches her 16th birthday she discovers she is thedaughter of a faery king, a princess. A changeling has taken the place of herkidnapped brother. Meghan will leave behind everything she knows and travel tothe fae world to find the truth, face unknown enemies, save those she caresabout, and maybe even fall in love.
Cassia is happily surprised when at the Matching Ceremony, her lifelong bestfriend Xander’s face appears on the screen. Then something startling happens –Ky’s face appears on the screen briefly before fading to black. Cassia beginsquestioning everything. What if all the choices that have been made her wholelife aren’t the only choice and she could make her own? Should she follow the lifeset forth for her by the Society, or travel down an unknown and defiant path.
Max is starting to believe the scientists saying she needs to save theworld. Fang has left, and the flock’s new member, Dylan, may be her perfectmate. Meanwhile, Max needs to help lead her flock to defeat a doomsday cult outto kill all the humans. Seventh book in the bestselling Maximum Ride series.
Employed by theInternational Paranormal Containment Agency, a fairy ex-boyfriend, a mermaidbest friend, and current boyfriend who is a shape-shifter. No, Evie’s lifeisn’t exactly as a “normal” teenager. Seeing paranormals for what they areisn’t exactly something all teenagers can do. Actually, pretty much no one elsecan.
Friday, February 12 started just like any other day for Sam Kingston –atleast the first time. The car crash that night should have taken her life.Somehow though, she is not dead, but reliving the day – seven times. With eachreincarnation, Sam learns more about how her actions effect others and the truevalue of the people, things, and events in her life.
When Calla saves a humanboy on her mountain from a bear attack, the consequences are farther reachingthan could be imagined, especially when that boy shows up at her school andappears to be a favored companion of her masters.