The Fault in Our Stars was chosen by Time Magazine as the Best Fiction Book of 2012. This compelling novel tells the story of Hazel, a 16-year-old girl who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 13 years old. With her lungs riddled with tumors that she and her family are hoping to keep at bay with a new experimental drug, Hazel is forced to carry an oxygen tank everywhere and is isolated from friends her own age. She attends a cancer support group, where she meets Augustus Waters, a young man in remission with osteosarcoma but has had to have part of his leg amputated to survive. Both are intelligent, sarcastic, funny and mature and they form a strong friendship then a romantic bond. This is a touching, at times humorous and at times heart-wrenching , brilliantly written story about young people wanting to be remembered and wondering what legacy they will leave behind. Although categorized as a Young Adult book, this is a novel for anyone who loves exceptional writing and beautifully drawn characters. A truly amazing story and one that will linger with you for a long time. A favorite quote from Hazel about the many platitudes that cancer patients must endure hearing: “Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and it’s stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate”.
Young Adult books, as many people are recognizing these days, are not just for teens. In fact, adults make up the majority of young adult book purchasers. With that in mind, here are a few of my Young Adult picks from the past year that that should appeal to people of all ages.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
In 1941, fifteen year old Lina, her mother, and younger brother are suddenly pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet soldiers and sent to work camps in Siberia, while the fate of Lina’s father is unknown. Lina, her family, and fellow Lithuanians struggle to maintain their humanity while enduring brutal cold, near starvation, disease, and cruelty from Soviet soldiers. To cope with her horrific situation, Lina, a gifted artist, draws in secret, hoping that one day someone will find her pictures and her story will be told.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
At age sixteen, Hazel is a stage IV thyroid cancer survivor. Her life is hanging by a thread, as an experimental drug temporarily keeps her alive, but no one knows how long it will be effective. At her parents’ insistence, she begins attending a weekly support group for teens living with cancer. It is here that she meets Gus, a fellow cancer survivor, and they fall in love. Green deals with the tough issues in this novel – life, death and love – with honesty and sensitivity. And, although this book tackles a serious subject, there is a good deal of wit and humor that keeps it from devolving into a cry fest. However, you may not want to completely abandon that box of Kleenex!
Bzrk by Michael Grant
Conjoined twins Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, evil and twisted owners of Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a master plan to take over the world and turn it into their version of Utopia. Opposing them is a secret organization, code name BZRK, in which members take the names of the famously insane. This is no ordinary war, however. Here, the weapons of choice are nanobots the size of dust mites, and the battlefield is inside the human brain. The price of war to combatants is often insanity, loss of memory or free will, and even death. Atrocities are committed on both sides, and it is often impossible to tell the good guys from the bad. Although this book is science fiction, the ethical and philosophical issues Grant raises held my attention long after I was done reading.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Jazz is your average teenager growing up in the sleepy little town of Lobo’s Nod, except for one little thing. His dad is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Before finally being captured by police, Jazz’s father murdered over 100 victims, and passed on many of his secrets to Jazz along the way, hoping that one day Jazz would follow in his footsteps. Growing up with a sociopath has left Jazz with nightmares and the constant fear that he will inevitably end up just like dear old Dad. As if life isn’t complicated enough, bodies are beginning to pile up in Lobo’s Nod again. Jazz is determined to help the sheriff with the investigation, but unbeknownst to the police, Jazz has his own secret. If you are easily spooked, you might want to read this one with the lights on.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
This National Book Award Finalist is a fictionalized retelling of the childhood of Cambodian human rights activist, Arn Chorn-Pond. Arn is only eleven years old in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge marches into his Cambodian town and forces everyone into the country to work as slave laborers. Arn is separated from his family and is witness to atrocities that will make your stomach turn. As the Killing Fields pile up with bodies, Arn does whatever it takes to survive before he is eventually rescued and brought to America. This is not an easy book to read, but it is certainly unforgettable.
If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts or a great book to read over Christmas break, try out one of these I’ve mentioned or check out one of the many other great reads in our Young Adult area.
After war and plague destroyed New York city, most of civilization has migrated underground. Lives are short and when Deuce turns 15, she takes on the role of huntress to provide food and protection for the group. She is paired with Fade, a teenager who lived topside as a young boy, but he is not trusted by the elders who rule the clan. On a hunting mission, Deuce and Fade discover that a neighboring clan has been brutally destroyed by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks. When they try to warn the elders, they are exiled from the clan. Fade leads the way to topside and Deuce, born in darkness, must learn to survive in sunshine–in the ruins of a city populated by dangerous gangs. Guided by Fade’s memories as a child, they face dangers unlike any they have ever known. Enclave is a tense, action-packed dystopian story, much more thriller than romance, though Aguirre teases at a future love triangle. This is the first book in projected series, and will appeal to fans of the “Hunger Games.”
Olive Corbett is definitely not crazy. Not anymore. Olive, coming off a failed suicide attempt, takes her meds, hangs out with her best friend, Ami, and avoids the girls who were her friends before the “incident.” Olive notices that the new girl at school, Miranda, has latched onto popular Katie, Olive’s ex-best friend. Olive can see that there is something almost parasitic about the relationship as Miranda starts to adopt Katie’s personality and even begins to dress and look like Katie. Disturbed, Olive types the things she first noticed about Miranda into Google: weird skin, alien, and mirror eyes. Possible explanation: a shape-shifter and Katie is her host! Maybe the wild rumors about Miranda are true. Maybe Miranda is a killer–but who would believe Olive? Shift is a sinister young adult thriller that tears through the themes of identity loss and toxic friendship.
I picked up The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde because I’ve read and liked the Thursday Next series and because the book got some great reviews. If you like Jasper Fforde’s oddball humor in his other books (or if you like Terry Pratchett), you’ll want to pick up The Last Dragonslayer.
Jennifer Strange is a foundling. She was abandoned on the steps of the convent of the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster as a baby and raised there. At 12, she was placed with Kazam Mystical Arts Management and is currently running the agency after the disappearance of its founder in a magic trick gone wrong.
Kazam is an employment agency for magicians that has fallen on hard times. Magic has been fading from the world and the magicians have grown less powerful as ambient magic has fallen. When magic starts to see a surge, strange events start to happen. The magicians with precognitive abilities all have a premonition that the last dragon will be slain in the next week. Jennifer sets off to find the Last Dragonslayer to see what she can do to prevent this from happening.
Every morning, A wakes up in a different body. Some days A is a girl, some days a boy, sometimes white, sometimes Asian, some days fat and some days thin (although always the same age as A, which at this point is 16). A has gotten used to these changes because it’s all A has ever known. A tries not to interfere in the lives of the bodies s/he inhabits, just drifting in and out and trying to leave things the way they were and not cause damage or have the person act too far out of character.
That all changes when A wakes up in the body of a slacker named Justin. Justin has a girlfriend, Rhiannon, and A falls in love with her at first sight. Suddenly A is breaking the rules and trying to see Rhiannon even after switching bodies. Rhiannon is the first person A confides in about the way A lives. It’s the first time A has really wanted to be with the same person every day. Rhiannon and A must navigate the complexities of what A’s condition means in having a relationship. They must decide what things can be sacrificed and what things cannot.
Today is Maggie’s first day of school. Ever. For the first 14 years of her life, Maggie’s mom homeschooled her. Her only friends were her three older brothers who are there at high school to watch out for her, but it definitely isn’t the same. Lucy and her older brother, Alistair, are the only ones who have shown an interest in trying to get to know shy, quiet Maggie. They eat with her at lunch, go with her to see Alien at Halloween, and take her with them to the local Maritime Museum. That’s where Maggie finds out the back story of the ghost that has been stalking her since she was a little girl.
by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
Along with our customarily full calendar of stellar activities for kids and youth, Manhattan Public Library and its co-sponsors will offer some unusual opportunities for fall fun to families and individuals of all ages this October. The beauty of the season and the crisp, cool weather make it a great time to be out and about, so plan to join us for any or all of our events which, as always, are free and open to the public.
Starting this week, the public will be unleashed on the streets of downtown Manhattan in search of gargoyles, Aesop’s fox, a relic of an historic flood, and the letter W. A new and updated edition of our popular Architectural Scavenger Hunt, co-sponsored this fall by Downtown Manhattan, Inc., will be held during the entire month of October. To begin the hunt, pick up a brochure at the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, or print one from the library’s website. Next, search for the architectural features pictured in the brochure and write down their locations. Then, bring your results back to the library and enter the drawing for a chance to win prizes donated by Downtown Manhattan businesses including the Pathfinder, Brown’s Shoe Fit, Cary Company, AJ’s Pizzeria, and DMI. Prize drawings will be held at the end of the month, and winners will be from among those who completed the hunt successfully. This is a fun activity for all ages and a great way for you, your family, or visiting friends or relatives to explore Manhattan! More information can be found by visiting the library at 629 Poyntz Avenue, at the website, or by calling 785-776-4741, extension 141.
Attend another blockbuster movie event at Manhattan Public Library on Saturday, October 13, when we’ll show the film that started it all on the big screen in the library auditorium at 2:00 p.m. The festivities will include refreshments and special prizes and activities, and movie-goers are encouraged to come in costume if they wish! Local sponsors include Varsity Donuts, Wal-Mart, and Hastings. The celebration is part of Star Wars Reads Day, a national event created by LucasFilm, international publisher Dorling-Kindersley, and other publishing partners. This film is rated PG.
If you enjoy a brain challenge along with your entertainment, come to Manhattan Public Library on Saturday, October 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. when the KSU Math Department and Math Circle Seminar will host a drop-in birthday celebration and math games event in honor of world-renowned mathematician Martin Gardner (1914-2010) in the library’s Groesbeck Room. Gardner, a math and science writer who specialized in “recreational mathematics,” wrote a monthly column, “Mathematical Games,” which ran for over 25 years in Scientific American magazine. His writing introduced a wide popular audience to math puzzles, games, and paradoxes, such as Soma cubes, Tangrams, the works of M.C. Escher, Penrose tiling, and the Golden Ratio. Gardner authored books of brainteasers, puzzles, and logic problems for thinkers of all ages, and many of his books are available from Manhattan Public Library. The program is appropriate for older children, youth, and adults, and will include opportunities for participants to work on a variety of math puzzles and games.
Ravka is a place of hardship for most. It is ravaged by wars with hostile neighbors and has been split in half by the Shadow Fold for the past few hundred years. The Fold is a dead, dark place filled with volcra, creatures that fly out of the darkness and snatch and eat the men trying to reach the ports of Ravka on the other side of the Fold. Some in Ravka, known as the Grisha, have special powers ranging from the ability to heal wounds to the ability to summon fire. The Shadow Fold itself is the result of a Grisha known as the Black Heretic’s greed and lust for power.
Alina and Mal are soldiers in the First Army who grew up together on a noble estate after being orphaned in the Border Wars and have been best friends since their shared childhood. They must cross the Fold, or Unsea, on ships made to cross the dead sand and dust. Ships powered by Grisha who can summon the wind. When their ship is beset by volcra and Alina and Mal are moments from death, Alina’s desperation makes her use a dormant power, one the people of Ravka have been waiting for since the Fold first appeared.
Alina is swept away to the palace by the Darkling, head of the Grisha, to train and learn to use her new found power. Without Mal she feels more out of place than ever, and the palace is filled with intrigue and people with hidden motivations. Who can Alina trust in this strange new world?
When starting a book, the anticipation can be tremendous.
Who will these characters be? Which ones will I like/love/despise? Where will the story take me? Will there be adventure? Tragedy? Laughter? Tears?
If we are lucky, a few chapters in we have settled in with good friends, in a familiar setting. We have become comfortable in this new world. We can’t wait to see what each turn of the page will bring.
We’ve settled in and become comfortable. Yes, twists and turns in the plot may make us anxious, but with luck, our heroes/heroines will come out of the situation without too much damage. Though they, and we, may not see it for some time, hopefully they have learned and grown from their ventures.
Then, many times before we know it, the story is coming to a close. We begin to realize we will soon have to let go of all of the people, places, and things to which we have become attached. We know the end our time with them is near.
Then, it is over. You put the book down and reflect on everything that just happened. Whether it took a few hours or a few weeks for us to get through the story, if it is one we enjoyed, it is a bittersweet moment. We hope for a sequel, but know that more often than not, this is the end.
Now we can only imagine what happens next. For our favorite characters, we imagine greatness in their future. Happiness, love, and all good things.
I’m sure I am not the first person to realize that books really do reflect life. Even if the adventures are way beyond anything we would actually experience in real life, the jest of the scenario is relatable.
Such is true for me this week.
After six and a half years as Young Adult Librarian at Manhattan Public Library, I say goodbye this week to head off to the next adventure in my career.
From my first day at MPL, I have always known this was a special position at a special library. In my time we have been able to take the Young Adult area from a single isle of books in a far corner, to a welcoming section with seating, displays, and a booming programming schedule.
While I am apprehensive about leaving MPL, I take comfort in knowing that staff and teens will work to keep the programs going and continue to build this crucial area.
So many people have worked alongside me over the past few years to encourage teen reading and get teens active at the library that I could never thank them all; but I hope the next YA Librarian at MPL will have the wonderful experiences that I did in meeting teens, community members, educators, parents, and all those involved in other community organizations.
The hardest thing for me this week will be to say farewell to some teens I have known for many years now. When I came some were just approaching middle school, and now those same kids are in their last year(s) of high school. I have seen so many of them grow into wonderful young men and ladies and can’t wait to hear about all of their accomplishments in the near future.
Looking back on the first time I ever wrote this column as a staff member at MPL, I was able to speak more about what a Young Adult Librarian is and what they do.
I pointed out that telling someone you work with teenagers causes one of three reactions: fear, sympathy, or confusion. To this day, that is still true.
However, I am now able to add in the description of my job that “my” teens are so much fun and appreciate me for who I am and what I can do for them that every day is an adventure, and every time I get to be around the teens I learn more about teens, about my job, and about myself. Working with teenagers for more than nine years has given me a unique perspective on the world, one which I believe keeps me young.
The volume of my life that has taken place around Manhattan Public Library has been a good one. With lots of twists and turns, but ultimately with a happy ending that leaves us all looking forward to what happens next.
With all this in mind, I leave you with a quote I recently found by Terry Pratchett in his YA book Nation.
“No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect.”
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.
By Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian
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