Title: The Unwanteds
Author: Lisa McMann
The Unwanteds is a book where there is a lot of magic, and I would recommend this book for people who like to read fantasy. All you can see in the book are magical creatures everywhere you go and magical places where many interesting things happen. There is a lot of action going on in the book as well as lots of intense emotions for the characters.
We start in the kingdom of Quill where High Priestess Justine rules with many restrictions, and we meet two brothers, Alex and Aaron. Alex protects Aaron and takes any and all punishment that comes their way. That means that when the boys are sorted, Alex becomes an Unwanted and is sent to the Death Farm. Secretly, the killer turns out to be a nice man who protects the Unwanteds in a magical place, and no one in Quill knows anything about it.
Alex is happy, and he wants to bring his brother to this new magical place to prove how much better it is than Quill. But will Aaron believe him? Is he willing to come? And if so, how can they do this without exposing everyone to danger? If you want to find all this out, then read The Unwanteds.
-Krystian, grade 8
Author: Lucy Keating
Dreamology is a lovely novel about a girl named Alice who moves to a new town only to meet the boy of her dreams – literally. Ever since she was young, Alice has dreamt of her dream boy, Max, to escape the pain after her mother left her and her father. Through her dreams they fell in love and had awesome adventures together. Max soon recognizes Alice, and the book follows their journey as they try to figure out why they dream of each other.
Dreamology is a must-read for any romance lover as it shows that sometimes it’s better to have more than just dreams.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: The One Safe Place
Author: Tania Unsworth
The One Safe Place is a great book to read and I would recommend it especially for people who like reading dystopian fiction. When reading this book you will be always on your toes from the start until the very end. You really get into the main character’s shoes straight away and feel very sad at times or feel for others in the book as well.
The main character in the story is Devin. First off when you get in the story he tells you about his grandma and how she died and there’s only his grandpa here to help on the farm. Then, Devin’s grandpa dies and now he can’t take care of everything on the farm himself. He goes to the city where his grandpa once told him the rich live. Devin goes there to get some help on the farm. He meets a mysterious girl named Kit who has a very sad and harsh background story like Devin. Once in the city Devin can’t find any help, so he stays with Kit and gets to be friends with her. On the streets they meet a boy named Roman. He tells them about a place where abandoned children get cared for as well as getting free food and clothing. Kit doesn’t believe Roman, but later when Devin wants to go to the place Kit hops right in with him. Is this place real? Do they really take care of children as Roman said? If you want to find out, read The One Safe Place. You will want to find out all of the secrets in the book!
-Krystian, grade 8
Title: Highly Illogical Behavior
Author: John Corey Whaley
Lisa Praytor has a plan to escape her dull suburban life: win a full scholarship to the second-best psychology program in the country (second-best because why not be the biggest fish in the slightly smaller pond?). Her plan to win the scholarship involves tracking down and befriending the boy who took off his clothes, jumped into the school fountain years ago, and then disappeared.
Solomon Reed has already escaped. After the fountain incident, Solomon figured out how to cope with his massive anxiety issues: by never leaving the house again. Enabled by homeschooling, wifi, and two very concerned but supportive parents, Solomon hasn’t been outside in three years. Within the narrow confines of his world, and with some wisdom gleaned from Star Trek: the Next Generation, Solomon can almost manage his mental illness. And then Lisa comes barreling into his life. Followed quickly by her boyfriend, Clark, who shares Solomon’s obsession with Star Trek and all things Nerd. And soon Solomon finds he just might have a reason to go outside again.
Lisa is aware that her plan is rather cold and calculating, but she figures why not kill two birds with one stone: help Solomon and herself at the same time. As it happens, she finds herself truly enjoying Solomon’s company and becoming friends. Clark was not in favor of the plan, yet he winds up finding a kindred spirit in Solomon, and their friendship blossoms as well, although Solomon finds himself wishing for something more. Shockingly (!) Lisa’s plan does not go exactly as she hopes….
Since the author is John Corey Whaley, it goes without saying that this is terrific. The story switches back and forth between Lisa and Solomon’s points of view, so we see both sides of the situation. There is plenty of humor in the story, although I didn’t find it quite as uproariously funny as some other reviewers. Whaley is respectful and never downplays the seriousness of Solomon’s condition, but I still felt a little too anxious on his behalf to really let go and laugh out loud. All in all, though, an excellent book.
-Lisa, Teen Librarian
Author: Katherine Howe
When girls at an elite Boston-area private school start falling victim to a wide range of physical and mental ailments, senior Colleen Rowley doesn’t pay much attention at first. It quickly becomes apparent that school administrators and local health officials are at a loss for what is causing the crisis, and when the media catches wind of the situation, chaos descends on the suburban town of Danvers, Massachusetts. Colleen and her friends are busy obsessing over college admissions, last-minute interviews, and so on, but when she gets anonymous texts urging her to look closer, she does.
Conversion was published a couple of years ago. I had heard lots of buzz at the time, but didn’t get around to reading it until now, and I’m glad I finally did. It’s smart and sophisticated. Howe tells two stories simultaneously. The main story is told from Colleen’s point of view, which lends itself to a certain sense of claustrophobia and confusion. After all, as a teen she’s not privvy to official meetings, reports, etc. Interspersed throughout the book are sections of a story narrated by Ann Putnam in 1706, recounting her role in the events that led to the Salem Witch Trials years earlier.
As people speculate about the mystery disease – environmental? reaction to a vaccine? academics-induced hysteria? – Colleen begins to notice parallels between the present and the events of 300 years earlier. After all, Danvers used to be called Salem Village. About halfway through, I wasn’t sure if I was reading a horror novel, a medical mystery, or an indictment of the contemporary college arms-race. It’s all of the above and more, deliciously creepy and compulsive reading at its best.
–Lisa, teen librarian
Title: Once Was a Time
Author: Leila Sales
It’s 1940 in Britain, and ten-year-old Kitty and Lottie are best friends. Kitty is somewhat smothered by her protective parents, and Lottie is left to her own devices after her mother leaves. Her scientist father is consumed by his work for the government, and he pays no attention to his children at home – not that he’s ever home in the first place. So the girls have each other, and as far as they’re concerned, that’s perfect. But the Germans are after Lottie’s father’s project, which has to do with time travel, and through a terrible twist of fate Lottie winds up in Wisconsin in 2013 – leaving Kitty behind.
Lottie is stranded and alone, and over the next several years she manages to make a new life with her foster family in small-town America, but her one goal in life is to return to Kitty.
The book is roughly divided into three sections: Before, in 1940s England, where the stage is set. Then there’s Lottie’s immediate arrival in Wisconsin and getting her settled. And finally, the story picks up again as she is finishing up high school.
I was a little confused when I started reading and the girls were ten because I know (and love) Leila Sales as a YA author. I suppose this is technically a middle grade novel; however, there’s nothing to say older kids wouldn’t enjoy the story, particularly since Lottie grows up over the course of the book.
There’s an old-fashioned feel to the story – time travel! orphans having adventures! – but there are contemporary issues too, most notably Lottie’s detour into Mean Girl land and a potential romance. The main theme, though, is love and the power of friendship. Lottie never stops looking for a way back to her best friend, and if someone was crying by the end of the book, well, I guess my allergies were just terrible that day…..
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: I Am Princess X
Author: Cherie Priest
Libby and May met in fifth grade and soon became best friends, bonding over a comic they created together. May wrote the stories and Libby drew the pictures for Princess X, a sword-carrying, Chucks-wearing, crime-fighting princess. They were best friends right up to the moment when Libby died. In a terrible accident, Libby’s mom drove off a bridge, and Libby’s body washed up down the river days later.
Years pass, and May is shocked to stumble upon Princess X once again. There’s an online comic, merchandise, a whole fan base. The thing is, she and Libby were the only two people who knew about Princess X. Did somebody somehow discover their old creations? Can Libby possibly be alive?
May looks a little closer and realizes there are clues hidden within the comics. With the help of her computer-geek neighbor Patrick, she starts investigating online and irl. They quickly discover that they aren’t the only ones looking for Princess X – and that the other person will stop at nothing to unravel the mystery.
This is Cherie Priest’s first YA novel, but she’s probably a familiar name to older teen readers of speculative fiction. There’s no science fiction or fantasy going on here except within the Princess X comic. What we have is a great story about friendship, and the lengths someone will go to in order to help a friend. There’s plenty of suspense, and watching May untangle the clues within the comic is very cool. Pages of the comic itself are interspersed within the novel, so the reader can see exactly what May sees. Finally, a case could be made for considering Seattle as another character in the book. I was not surprised to learn that Priest had lived there because the city is presented in great and loving detail.
P.S. How awesome is that cover design? It took me a second to realize it wasn’t just a photo of a sticker.
-Lisa, Teen Librarian