Beth and Ryan were holding hands. It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn't say anything.
Synopsis: ThBeth and Ryan were holding hands. It was enough to risk a formal citation for indecency, and they knew better, but I didn't say anything.
Synopsis: There was a war. It destroyed the major cities and left the United States of America under the control of the Federal Bureau of Reformation, its citizens policed by soldiers nicknamed the "Moral Militia". The guiding laws of the country are the Moral Statutes, which demand compliance with the Church of America, strict gender roles, and an even stricter definition of family. At seventeen, Ember Miller has been caring for her rebellious single mother for years. She keeps quiet and gets what they need. But when Ember's very existence is deemed "noncompliant" and her mother is arrested by a group of soldiers including the boy Ember once loved, her world is quickly turned upside-down.
Review I went back-and-forth a bit in my feelings for this book. It started off strong, dropping the reader straight into a world reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale in its government-enforced religious beliefs. Since she is old enough to remember how things were before the war and the rise of the FBR, she can detail the changes with a minimum of awkward exposition. I found her wry humor endearing. And then came the line that never fails to yank me right out of a good immersion in a fictional world: "I felt as if I were in a science fiction story." (45)
Well, yes, I can't help but think, that's because you are a character in a story. And then, just a couple paragraphs later, she looks in a mirror before describing herself for the reader. That particular cliche moment is a pet peeve ingrained from college fiction-writing workshops. There is also the fact that the news that so utterly shocks Ember toward the end of the book came as no surprise to me, but I think the reader was supposed to figure that bit of information out long before Ember does.
I kept on with the book, because I was intrigued by the world Simmons created, and I wanted to know what would happen next. The plot moves along at a thundering pace, carrying the reader right on past the fact that the backstory is really quite vague. Who exactly were the sides in the war? Why do the Statutes seem to be so unevenly enforced? Who are the players in power now? And why is Ember so clueless?
In the end, I enjoyed the book, and I'll definitely be seeking out the sequel. There are (clearly) plenty of open questions to be addressed in the middle and final parts of the trilogy.
Final Word: A decent debut in the crowded post-Apocalyptic teen genre.
Source: Checked out from the public library...more
In Anastasiu's dystopian vision of the future, humanity has been forced underground by nuclear war. Humanity has also embraced a cybernetic implant knIn Anastasiu's dystopian vision of the future, humanity has been forced underground by nuclear war. Humanity has also embraced a cybernetic implant known as the "v-chip" (presumably unrelated to the device used in televisions), as well as other biotechnological tools. All citizens receive a constant stream of information directly to their brains from the Link, acting in numb conformity as they get up, eat their food rations, go to their assigned jobs, and return to their assigned dwellings.
Everyone, that is, except 16-year-old Zoe. She has been "glitching", experiencing periods of time when she is disconnected from the Link and able to feel emotions, the very thing the Link and Chip suppress. She is on the verge of turning herself in to be "fixed" when she learns that there might be another way.
There are twists and turns to the plot, most of which are so clearly foreshadowed, they don't come as much of a surprise. Much of the story also feels recycled from other dystopian sci-fi titles, particularly Lowry's Newbery-winning The Giver. I came away with the feeling that I had seen all this done before, and done better....more
Fascinating peek into a part of history I know next-to-nothing about. Sadly, I also know next-to-nothing about pronouncing Welsh names, which kept pulFascinating peek into a part of history I know next-to-nothing about. Sadly, I also know next-to-nothing about pronouncing Welsh names, which kept pulling me right back out of the story....more
I was a good, quiet, and rule-following girl. The perfect princess, if not for my clumsiness and sometimes painful shyness.
Just after her sixteenth biI was a good, quiet, and rule-following girl. The perfect princess, if not for my clumsiness and sometimes painful shyness.
Just after her sixteenth birthday, the Princess Nalia is summoned to meet with her parents. What they tell her could not have come as more of a shock. She is not their daughter, not the Princess. She is a commoner, brought to court as a baby to stand in for the real Nalia, in an attempt to keep the royal heir safe from a prophecy that she would die before the age of sixteen. Now, the real Princess is coming home, and her stand-in will be sent to her only living relative - a previously unknown aunt in a small village - and expected to make a new life for herself. But it is not long before Sinda (as she is now known) discovers that there is much more going on than the King and Queen know, and it just might fall to her save the kingdom itself.
There is a little bit of everything in this debut novel: fantasy, mystery, romance. O'Neal brings the elements together with a master's touch. The plot is intricate, yet it avoids getting muddled. Characters are developed so that they show both strength and weakness, good and bad. In flowing prose, O'Neal creates a world that pulls the reader in and refuses to let go until the last page. Highly recommended....more
Mom wanted me to go first. I think it was because she was afraid that after they were contained and frozen, I'd walk away, return to life rather thanMom wanted me to go first. I think it was because she was afraid that after they were contained and frozen, I'd walk away, return to life rather than consign myself to that cold, clear box.
Seventeen-year-old Amy's parents are part of a team about to colonize a new world. A new world that is a 300-year voyage away, so the whole family - along with the rest of the science and military experts on the mission - will spend the journey cryogenically frozen. They will be woken by the descendents of the original crew when they arrive, as if no time has passed for them at all. But Amy is awakened 50 years early, and she discovers that life on board the Godspeed has become very strange indeed. The ship's crew has formed a monoethnic society under the strict control of a leader named Eldest. His successor, Elder, is 16 and wondering if he truly has what it takes to lead. And someone on board is trying to murder the frozen colonists.
The first-person narration is shared by Amy and Elder in alternating chapters. Through Elder, the reader gets an insider perspective on life on-board the ship, which he accepts as normal. Simultaneously, Amy's horror at the situation is keenly felt. Revis gives readers a lot to think about in this engaging mix of mystery and sci-fi: what makes a good leader? how far should a leader go to protect the people? Highly recommended for ages 14 and up; be prepared for requests for the forthcoming sequel!...more
In J's head, he was nothing; in J's head, he was just a head, floating, trying to forget he had body parts he hated.
As a child, J's nightly prayers alIn J's head, he was nothing; in J's head, he was just a head, floating, trying to forget he had body parts he hated.
As a child, J's nightly prayers always ended with a fervent wish "to wake up a boy." Now seventeen, he has realized that he needs to reconcile his body and mind, or he will fall apart. Hoping that taking testosterone will be a quick fix, he learns instead that he will need to deal with the demons in his head before he can change his body.
Beam brings considerable experience working with transgender teens (her previous non-fiction work, Transparent, won a 2007 Lamdba Literary Award in the Transgender category) to her creation of a teenage transman. The close third-person narration gives the reader only J's perspective on the people and events around him. As the novel opens, he does not even have the words to describe his identity, and the reader learns about the process of transition at the same time he does. His confusion and frustration ring true to life. Secondary characters have their own complicated histories to deal with, making this much more than a single-issue "problem novel". The writing is solid, with realistic situations and dialogue. Highly recommended....more
Even with all those people between us, even with our folders up, our eyes on Mr. Anderson, and our voices busy on a really hard Bach catata, I feel a Even with all those people between us, even with our folders up, our eyes on Mr. Anderson, and our voices busy on a really hard Bach catata, I feel a steady ping coming off of Brooke like the signal from a giant antenna.
Brooke and Kathryn used to be friends, and now they are bitter enemies. From the outside, popular Brooke and shy Kathryn have nothing in common but a love of music. Their shared history is gradually revealed in sections that alternate between present events and what happened one year earlier.
After reading the first chapter, narrated by Kathryn, it would be easy to think that this is a simple drama of Mean Girl bullying, but Wealer weaves a more complicated tale. That becomes clear by the end of the second chapter, as Brooke begins her side of the story. Both girls are flawed but sympathetic characters; neither one is really the hero(ine) or the villain. Wealer perfectly captures the complicated lives of teenage girls: the secrets, the rivalries, the betrayals. The raw emotions are true to life, as are the pressures that both girls deal with. Tensions build on all fronts until a satisfying conclusion that manages to avoid being too neat or easy. A terrific contemporary realistic read. ...more
I have mixed feelings about this one. I love the voice so much; Doug just shines through. The story works so well right up until a particular turn neaI have mixed feelings about this one. I love the voice so much; Doug just shines through. The story works so well right up until a particular turn near the ending that I just can't quite buy....more
No one labels me as an eccentric, but that's because they don't know what's in my heart.
In the late Fall of 1985, Annie is a high school senior in subNo one labels me as an eccentric, but that's because they don't know what's in my heart.
In the late Fall of 1985, Annie is a high school senior in suburban Houston, and her comfortable life is on the verge of being completely upended. Her best friend wants her to go to college in Austin with her. Her boyfriend of two years wants her to stay in town with him. Her mother wants her to be friendlier to Donald, her mother's boyfriend. Annie isn't sure what she wants, except that she wants to be a poet, an idea she keeps secret from the engineers and space program geeks who populate most of her town. Then, she meets Christa McAuliffe at a dinner party. She can't help but feel inspired by the famous "Teachernaut", so inspired that she decides to take a road trip to Florida to see the Challenger launch. And maybe, while she's at it, figure out where she wants to go.
This is a quiet novel, with a lot of introspection. As it opens, Annie is caught between conflicting impulses and would really rather hole up at home than deal with making decisions about her future. While it is a situation many teens will recognize, the story lacks action, making it less than compelling. Even the romantic subplot, with its potential for angst and drama, ends up feeling underwhelming. The book might find its audience with adults who remember the Challenger disaster and will appreciate former NASA engineer Moss's attention to detail....more
At fourteen, Grace Carpenter doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Her pageant-obsessed mother has never quite forThe winds in Washokey make people go crazy.
At fourteen, Grace Carpenter doesn't quite fit in anywhere. Her pageant-obsessed mother has never quite forgiven her for an incident during the Little Miss Washokey Pageant seven years ago and is now utterly focused on grooming Grace's little sister, Taffeta, to win that same competition. At the beginning of her first year of High School, the administration moved her up to Sophomore status, separating her from her friends every hour of the day except homeroom and lunch. She spends her free time roaming the badlands, picking up interesting rocks, dreaming of getting out of her tiny Wyoming town.
Grace knows of one other person who doesn't quite fit in: beautiful 17-year-old Mandarin Ramey, who moved to town seven years ago and has maintained a distance from everyone ever since. Grace has admired her from afar since the first time she caught a glimpse of her. When the two girls are thrown together for a school project, Grace finally has the chance to get to know Mandarin, to try to be more like her. But the more she learns, the less sure she is that she wants to be like Mandarin, and the more she realizes she needs to be like herself instead.
Self-discovery is a familiar theme in young-adult novels, and Hubbard explores it in fluid prose. Grace's colorful first-person narration is peppered with unexpected similes: the flower pinned to her hair in that last pageant flew "across the stage like a paper boat caught in an eddy of rainwater" (3); during a big storm "the river brimmed over its banks and jumbled up all the boulders like a kid spoiling a marbles game" (22). Her observations are often dryly funny, the sarcastic wit of a smart teenager aching to break out of her everyday life. Her girl-crush on Mandarin is realistically and sensitively drawn, and the betrayals that only those closest can commit strike hard. While in the beginning, Mandarin is the one who seems to live her impulses out loud, it becomes clear that under even the quietest exteriors, passions run deep. (I, like several other readers, found myself wondering if there was more than friendship to Grace's relationship with Mandarin. Hubbard has a lovely answer to this question on her web site.)
It is a poignant tale, beautifully told. Fans of contemporary realistic fiction will find much to love here.
This is Hubbard's debut novel. I read it for the Debut Author Challenge, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for her next book, slated for publication in 2012. ...more
I watch the life that my parents lead, and I know that I want something different. They have worked hard their entire lives with no savings to show foI watch the life that my parents lead, and I know that I want something different. They have worked hard their entire lives with no savings to show for it. My dad dropped out of school in Mexico before third grade; my mom "graduated" from middle school. My brother and sister got out of high school, but they don't want anything more.
High school Senior Marisa is working hard. All the time. At school, she is trying to keep up with a college-preparatory course load that includes AP Calculus. Even with her affinity for math, it's hard to stay on top of homework when her after-school hours are taken up with working extra shifts at the grocery store to help support la familia (she hands over half of her paycheck to her parents) and baby-sitting her niece. Her math teacher is pushing her to apply to an engineering program in Austin, but her parents aren't even eager to see her start school in town at the University of Houston. Marisa sees the life her sister leads, pregnant as a teenager and now in an unhappy marriage to the father, and she knows she wants a different life. While her best friend is happy to live out her life in Houston, Marisa wants to do more. Her whole life, she has tried to be the good daughter, to do and be everything her family needs. When does she get to take of herself?
In this realistic novel, Pérez brings the reader intimately into Marisa's world, viewing it through her eyes. The dialogue is peppered with Spanish phrases, echoing the speech of many bilingual teens. Secondary characters are vividly drawn, and glimpses of their perspectives illuminate Marisa's conflicts. Her life is full of complications that come with being a child of immigrants. Although the particular challenges she faces will be unfamiliar to some readers, her struggle to balance her own needs with those of the people she loves is universal. ...more
There are several kinds of silence. There's the silence of being alone, which I like well enough. Then there'sBook Source: ARC giveaway via GoodReads
There are several kinds of silence. There's the silence of being alone, which I like well enough. Then there's the silence of one's father. The silence when you have nothing to say and he has nothing to say. The silence between you after the investigation of your stepmother's death.
Briony Larkin has a secret, a secret she must never tell. Because of her secret, her twin sister was injured, her stepmother is dead, and if she tells her secret, Briony will be dead, too, hanged as a witch by the people of the Swampsea. So, she keeps quiet, keeping to herself in a town where she feels like an outsider despite having lived there all her life. It takes a newcomer to the Swampsea, handsome, cosmopolitan Eldric, to uncover secrets even Briony never knew she was keeping.
After reading rave reviews of Chime all over the place, I was a little nervous. What if it didn't live up to the hype? I needn't have worried. Briony is clever and self-deprecating, and her humor shines in the first-person narration. The setting is a rural village in early twentieth-century England, but an England in which the Old Ones are known to be present. In the dark swampland, mysterious creatures threaten humans who venture too far. In the village itself, there are brownies and Dark Muses. Most of the creatures remain unseen to those without the Second Sight. Briony can see them and wishes she could not, because she knows that it means she is a witch.
Briony knows many things, but as the reader learns, not all of them are true. She is a wonderfully developed unreliable narratorm and her distinctive voice is a pleasure to read. It is easy to be swept right up into the world of Chime. Billingsley blends fantasy and magic with the almost-magic real technological advances of the turn of the (twentieth) century, along with elements of mystery and romance. Recommend to fantasy lovers looking for something new and different....more
I spent my eighteenth birthday driving from New York City to Eden, Michigan, so my mother could die in the town where she was born.
Four years ago, KatI spent my eighteenth birthday driving from New York City to Eden, Michigan, so my mother could die in the town where she was born.
Four years ago, Kate's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given six months to live. Sure that the end is now near, she has insisted on moving back to her tiny (so tiny, it's not even on the map Kate uses to get there) hometown in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She also insists Kate finish high school; Kate's plan is to just keep her head down and spend as much time with her mother as possible. Still, she manages to get on the wrong side of Ava, the Captain of the cheer squad before the first week is out. And then, well, then things get weird.
After Ava dies playing a prank on Kate, a mysterious young man brings her back to life before Kate's eyes. He claims to be Hades, Lord of the Underworld, and there's a price to pay for Ava's life: Kate must spend the next six months with him and face seven tests. He will keep her mother alive while she does. If she passes, she will become a goddess and Henry's wife, spending six months of every year for eternity in the Underworld. But she is the twelfth girl to face these tests, and the others all died in the process. Can she pass the tests no one else has managed? More importantly, does she want to?
This retelling of the Persephone myth is first and foremost a romance, and readers uncomfortable with the genre may find themselves disappointed. For everyone else, this is a refreshing twist on the paranormal tales that have taken the YA world by storm, with a bit of murder mystery as well. Henry (Hades), in the role of romantic leading man, is dark, brooding, and tortured, and it will take a special leading lady to break through his emotional defenses. Kate - strong and independent, but inexperienced in matters of love and romance - faces tests of her character and moral fiber while falling in love for the first time. And also trying to stay alive long enough to pass those tests.
The book gets off to a bit of a slow and confusing start, with a prologue that provides information to the reader that Kate - the narrator - does not receive until much later. In the early chapters, the pacing is uneven, but once Kate enters Henry's domain, the story finds its footing. Readers familiar with Greek mythology will figure out the major players (and solve the murder mystery) well before Kate does, but this is a solidly developed and satisfying romance.
Carter's debut YA novel is the first in a series - volumes two and three are slated for publication in 2012 - and readers will be eager to find out what happens next.
Preparing to pregg is a full-time job with no days off -- but I don't have a choice. Not when there's so much at stake.
Melody is sixteen years old, anPreparing to pregg is a full-time job with no days off -- but I don't have a choice. Not when there's so much at stake.
Melody is sixteen years old, and according to the advertising jingle playing on a continuous loop at Babiez R U, she is the most important person on the planet. With just about everyone over the age of 18 rendered infertile by a widespread virus, fertile teenagers willing to bear children as "Surrogettes" have become a hot commodity. Melody's economist parent shave been preparing her for a lucrative pregnancy contract practically since adopting her as a newborn. Miles away, in a religious community called Goodside, Melody's identical twin sister has been raised within the Church and groomed to become an obedient wife and mother by her mid-teens. Both girls have their futures mapped out. That is, until Harmony decides to leave Goodside and meet this previously-unknown sister. Her decision will have serious consequences for both of their lives.
McCafferty plunges the reader right into Melody's world, so the first chapter is disorienting. Melody throws out slang terms and jargon that the reader must decipher. The second chapter is narrated by Harmony, whose sheltered background provides a natural way to reveal important details without drowning the reader in exposition. The perspective alternates between the two characters over subsequent chapters with distinct voices underscoring the differences between the two.
Reminiscent of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Bumped is a fast-paced dystopian novel that distills issues of love, friendship, faith, loyalty, and family to their essence. McCafferty blends drama and humor effortlessly, populating a disconcerting world with refreshingly complicated characters. A cliffhanger ending will have readers clamoring for the sequel.
Stranded, hurt, but I can handle it. No freak-outs. No worries. This girl is different.
Three days before the beginning of her Senior year of high schoStranded, hurt, but I can handle it. No freak-outs. No worries. This girl is different.
Three days before the beginning of her Senior year of high school, Evie sprains her ankle hiking along the creek. She refuses to see herself as a damsel in distress, but it still comes as a relief when two local teenagers stumble upon her and help her out. Even better, it turns out that the two teenagers will also be Seniors in a few days, and they're happy to help Evie get settled in her new school. She's not exactly new in town, but she has been homeschooled (or, really, "unschooled") by her mother. With plans to go to Cornell, Evie wants to experience a year of high school before heading off to college.
Once school starts, it isn't long before Evie's outspoken nature and commitment to social justice put her at odds with the high school Powers That Be. Her attempts to improve the situation for students, while founded on the best of intentions, risk destroying her new friendships and budding romance. She has always told herself that she is different, but can she stay true to herself and still get through a year in the Institution of School?
Evie's unique voice is a welcome addition to the YA Lit scene. She is smart, strong, and self-confident, but also vulnerable to the emotional turmoil that comes with being a teenager. Having spent her whole life with her mother and uncle, moving from place to place, following her own interests in solitary study, she is unprepared to deal with the social side of high school. Her outrage at the injustices of school life (Why do the students have gross bathrooms while the faculty have nice, clean ones? Why are the students cooped up inside all day, instead of being allowed in the courtyard during lunch?) and the abuses of power she witnesses ring absolutely true, and her determination to do something about them will have readers cheering her on. Johnson's debut YA title is a welcome breath of fresh air. Highly recommended.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it, and when you don't.
Ninety-five days. That's how long it will be before Lena tuThe deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it, and when you don't.
Ninety-five days. That's how long it will be before Lena turns 18 and has "the procedure", a sort of brain surgery to prevent Amor deliria nervosa, the disease of love. After that, she will complete her education, be married to a suitable young man, and have however many children the evaluators deem appropriate. In the first few chapters, the reader gets acquainted with Lena and learns that she has plenty of reasons to fear ever falling in love. As in any good dystopian scenario, though, all is not well in this new loveless America, and Lena begins to uncover the truth behind the many lies she has been told.
The idea of love as an eradicable disease, and that its elimination would create a perfectly content society, is an interesting one, but it never really becomes clear how the destruction of the "sickness" became the U.S. government's number-one priority. The book lacks the solid world-building really needed to support the reader's suspension of disbelief, but sympathetic characters, suspenseful action scenes, the promise of secrets revealed, and the specter of doomed romance all combine to keep the reader turning pages to the end.
There is a little echo of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in the way the government has taken control of so many facets of people's lives, especially their relationships, and there is a big echo of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the way a metaphor becomes literal. In Lena's world, love really does make you crazy. It really might kill you. And it really can save you in the end....more
Edit (12/7/11): I've given this a second read (this time in audiobook format), and I liked it more the second time around.
I knew I shoEdit (12/7/11): I've given this a second read (this time in audiobook format), and I liked it more the second time around.
I knew I shouldn't stare, but I couldn't look away. Girls this strange didn't exist in Boyer. They lived in Columbia or Kansas City or places like that.
High school senior Logan Witherspoon has known all of his classmates since kindergarten. In a town the size of Boyer, MO, everyone knows everyone. So, it's a surprise when a new girl, Sage, joins his biology class. With her outgoing nature and flashy clothes, she seems like the polar opposite of Logan's ex-girlfriend, the girl he dated for three years and thought he might one day marry. Sage is attractive and intriguing, but Logan knows she's hiding something about her past. He never thinks to suspect that her secret is that she was born in a male body.
The first-person narration gives the reader Sage's story filtered through Logan's experience, making this more a story about Logan's meandering journey out of total transphobia than about Sage herself. Katcher creates a believably confused and sympathetic Logan, so it's unfortunate that Sage feels like an amalgamation rather than a fully-fledged character in her own right, as if events from different people's lives were thrown together and expected to become a coherent backstory.
Katcher explores the meanings and boundaries of friendship, love, and loyalty, issues that any teenager struggles with. Logan's interactions with his sister, mother, and friends contrast against Sage's description of her relationships with her parents and sister, just as the relationship Logan had with his ex-girlfriend forms a stark contrast to his developing relationship with Sage. Logan's story will prompt teen readers (and maybe some adults, too) to think about how they would act in his situation. And that can only be a good thing. ...more
Book Source: e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley.com, by request
Maybe God was a giant eyeball in the hazy June sky, only there was a burn mark on His pBook Source: e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley.com, by request
Maybe God was a giant eyeball in the hazy June sky, only there was a burn mark on His pupil in the exact spot of Black Creek, North Carolina, and that was why He didn't see me.
For the last three years, 16-year-old Cat has been keeping to herself. Something bad happened, and after it did, she stopped talking to just about anyone, even her best friend, Patrick. But when Patrick is found unconscious outside the gas station, left for dead, the victim of an apparent homophobic hate crime, she takes it upon herself to uncover his attacker.
The book opens with a newspaper account of the attack on Patrick and a description of the hard times the town of Black Creek, NC, had recently faced, complete with quotes from townspeople that make certain prejudices clear from the start. The rest of the novel is told from Cat's first-person point-of-view. She questions everyone from her own brother to the local meth distributor, forcing buried secrets out into the open once and for all. Poverty and addiction have taken their toll on quite a few residents of Black Creek, and Cat's suspicion that the local law enforcement won't work too hard on solving the case is easy to believe.
Myracle weaves a gripping story, creating strong characters and providing just enough misdirection to keep the mystery intriguing. Squeamish readers be warned: there is strong language and some violence in this book, but none of it feels gratuitous. Drugs and guns are plentiful in Black Creek, and some ugly slurs come all-too-easily from characters' mouths. Cat's struggle to deal with her own past and her determination to find Patrick's attacker build up to a satisfying conclusion. I was up until 1 in the morning finishing the last few chapters; I just couldn't put it down.
Shine is scheduled for publication in May of 2011.