Author: Marissa Meyer
This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series and tells the story of Cinder, a talented mechanic and cyborg who lives and works in New Beijing with her stepmom, who never wanted her. When Prince Kai enters her life asking for help repairing an android, her life is turned upside down. Soon after his visit, her sister becomes sick and Cinder is “volunteered” to help find a cure, a quest that leads to the discovery of Cinder’s true identity. For her own safety, though, she cannot tell anyone, including Kai.
The story is a unique take on the classic Cinderella fairytale and is full of romance and humor as Cinder tries to save her sister and her home while coming to terms with who she really is.
-Marisa, grade 12
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
Title: Silver in the Blood
Author: Jessica Day George
Dacia and Lou are cousins and best friends. Dacia is bold and outgoing, while Lou is more cautious and not remotely a thrill-seeker. The two are very close, though, and depend on each other for love and support. The book begins as they are traveling separately from Gilded Age Manhattan to their mothers’ ancestral home in Romania. Dacia and her chaperone arrive in Bucharest under a certain cloud of scandal because of her shenanigans in England, and Lou arrives soon after with her mother, father, and twin brothers.
All sorts of mystery surrounds the family’s plans for introducing the girls to their shared heritage, and the girls quickly realize that All Is Not As It Seems with their Romanian relatives.
The narrative switches perspective between the two young women, and there are letters, diary entries, and telegrams interspersed throughout the text. The girls start out as pawns in a larger story, but wind up taking control of their shared destiny. This is a sprawling story with loads of characters to keep track of, but everything ties together so neatly. Mystery! Magic! Romance! Yum!
I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything Jessica Day George has written. I’d be surprised if there’s a book of hers that has escaped me, whether YA or middle grade. This one steps out of the retold fairytales trope (Twelve Dancing Princesses, Cinderella, etc) that she has used in her previous YA books and shifts sideways into retold fantasy trope. I’m being cagey to avoid spoilers, but All Shall Be Revealed should you choose to read Silver in the Blood.
P.S. I love this cover! It’s a real throwback to the gothic romances of the sixties and early seventies.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes is an epic story. It’s Game of Thrones set in the Roman Empire. The story is narrated in turn by Laia and Elias. Laia is a slave and Elias is a soldier, but no one is truly free in the Martial Empire.
When Laia’s brother was taken by soldiers, she went to the Resistance and offered her services in exchange for their help in freeing him. She risks her life daily as a slave, a spy, and a saboteur in Blackcliff Military Academy.
Elias is one of the elite. trained from an early age at the Academy. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce, but in the Empire, defiance means death.
An Ember in the Ashes is a first novel that is bold, thought-provoking, and pulse-pounding. Book two, A Torch Against the Night, comes out August 2016.
Author: Michael Buckley
Three years ago, Lyric Walker’s life changed forever when she witnessed the Alpha, or First Men, walk out of the ocean and onto the beaches of Coney Island. Now, Coney Island is a military zone, the Alpha live in containment camps on the beach, and an uneasy truce is barely holding up.
When the school year starts, six of the Alpha youth are integrated into Lyric’s high school amid violent protests from the locals. Lyric is unwillingly recruited to help their prince, Fathom, adjust to life as an American teenager. The thing is, Lyric has secrets of her own, and she’s afraid the unwanted attention will expose them.
Turns out, though, that while the world sees the Alpha as an invading army, Lyric discovers that they may be humanity’s only hope of survival because there is something much more terrifying than the Alpha out there, and it’s on its way…
Undertow by Michael Buckley is the first in a trilogy.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Fallout: Lois Lane
Author: Gwenda Bond
Headline: Teen Reporter Busts Cyber-bullying Ring at Local High School, details to follow.
Lois Lane is an army brat. Her family has recently moved to Metropolis and is looking to stay for a while this time. Lois is determined to fit in and not get into trouble, but keeping a low profile is just not in her nature – not when she sees kids being victimized.
In an effort to make new friends, Lois joins The Daily Scoop, a teen subsidiary of the regular newspaper, The Daily Planet. Soon she and her new buddies are investigating The Warheads, an online gaming group that is based in the school and getting creepier by the minute.
And, the only person she feels safe discussing all this with is her online buddy, Smallville Guy.
As Entertainment Weekly said, “Lois Lane meets Veronica Mars and it’s all kinds of awesome.”
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: A Confusion of Princes
Author: Garth Nix
Khemri is a prince of the realm, and he’s destined to be the next emperor – or so he thinks. Being a prince turns out to be not quite as exciting as it sounds, because there are millions of princes out there. All of them are enhanced with Bitek, Mektek, and Psitek, and all of them are vying to become the next emperor. As soon as Khemri comes of age, he is tossed out of the little oasis of calm where he’s been coddled and looked after all his life. Now it’s on to the real world, where it’s kill or be killed – again and again.
A Confusion of Princes is pretty hardcore science fiction. We jump in to the story midstream, never really learning how this world came to be and how all the technologies work. Having said that, if you’re willing to go with the flow, it’s an excellent ride. There’s lots of action, a bit of a coming-of-age story as Khemri sheds his views of privilege and entitlement (sometimes quite painfully), and the world Garth Nix has created is pretty darn amazing.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Jennifer Strange is a 16-year-old orphan who manages an employment agency for magicians. Business is slow because magic has been drying up over the last few decades. Once-powerful magicians have been reduced to attempting modest home improvements and delivering pizzas via magic carpet, until one of the magicians starts having visions of Big Magic. In the visions, someone is going to kill the last dragon, and it looks as though that someone is Jennifer. Is Jennifer really the last dragonslayer?!
Jasper Fforde is best known for his fantastical mystery series featuring literary detective Thursday Next. This is his first book for teens and also the first in a trilogy. The approach is very matter-of-fact; I mean, is there a more pedestrian name than Jennifer? And yet our practical, responsible young heroine does indeed turn out to play a major role in the upheaval facing her country. It’s a fun, quirky book with plenty of slapstick, puns and wordplay, and the best sort of dry British humor. And a dragon, of course.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
I’ve struggled with how to summarize this, so I’m throwing up my hands and posting the publisher’s summary:
AROUND THE WORLD, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth has grown dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
MEET KAROU. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands;” she speaks many languages — not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers — beautiful, haunted Akiva — fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
After I finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I alternated between hugging the book to my chest and stomping around in a fit because I had to wait for the second in the trilogy. The story elements are familiar (angels, romance, star-crossed lovers, etc.), but Taylor puts such a fresh spin on them. Her writing is so richly descriptive, you feel like you’re right there on the streets of Prague or Marrakesh, and the romance is absolutely swoontastic. Days of Blood and Starlight comes out November 8, 2012 – hooray!
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Author: Jon Skovron
As a shallow and superficial person, I had noticed and disregarded this book on many occasions because of the not-so-exciting cover. Sadly, I am all about judging books by their covers. It often comes back to haunt me, but have I learned from my many mistakes? No. Anyhow, I saw yet another rave review of Misfit online, and decided I really should give it a go – lucky me!
Hiding underneath this cover is an amazing story. Jael is the daughter of a demon and an ex-priest – although she never knew her mother, who died when she was a baby. Because she’s a half-breed, demons consider her an abomination and want to destroy her, so her father has kept the two of them on the run and under the radar for years. As Jael turns 16, her powers begin to manifest, and the world may never be the same.
Between the mythology and the action, Misfit should easily appeal to older fans of the Percy Jackson books. The story wraps up nicely, but the world-building and backstory are so rich that there’s plenty of room for a sequel (or two?). It doesn’t look as though Jon Skovron has any plans to continue the story in a full-length book (there are a couple short stories out there), but we can hope….
-Lisa, Teen Librarian