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