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: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
In 2013, Rainbow Rowell published Fangirl, a book about Cath, a young woman who is deeply immersed in the Simon Snow book series she’s grown up with. In fact, Cath is famous for the vast quantities of fan fiction she has written about her 2 favorite characters, Simon and Baz. Simon, by the way, shares many similarities with Harry Potter, and Baz might remind many people of Draco Malfoy.
Anyhow, Fangirl was about a girl writing about a book series that didn’t really exist, but Rowell kept thinking about that fictional world within her fictional world, and about all the Chosen One stories – from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and Harry Potter – and she decided to write her own. Carry On is the result, and it’s about Simon Snow, the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
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
Title: The Grimm Legacy
Author: Polly Shulman
And while we’re on the subject of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, here comes The Grimm Legacy, a story set in modern-day New York City. Impressing one of her teachers, Elizabeth Rew manages to land a really cool after-school job at the New York Circulating Material Repository, which is sort of a cross between a museum and a library. People can check out items from the collection, and Elizabeth and the other pages are responsible for finding requested items and then putting them back once they’re returned. Not long after starting, Elizabeth begins to realize that fairy tales are real, and the special collections department houses objects from the stories she grew up with – including seven-league boots, the mirror from Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty’s spindle. Just as she’s getting over this shock, the magical objects begin to disappear. Elizabeth rallies the other pages to try to uncover the thief and return the objects to their rightful place.
This is a fun, frothy novel. Elizabeth’s home life bears a passing resemblance to Cinderella’s (although not quite as dire), and the combination of fairy-tale magic and New York City is tough to beat. For middle school readers.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian
Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball
Author: Jessica Day George
Speaking of fairy tales… Princess of the Midnight Ball is inspired by “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” from the Brothers Grimm. The story begins with Galen, a soldier returning home from years of war, who finds work as a gardener at the palace. There he meets Rose (clearly a popular name in fairy tales) and her eleven younger sisters, all of whom are named for flowers and all of whom are cursed to dance away the night every single night. In desperation, the king offers Rose’s hand in marriage to the first prince who can break the curse. Many try, and they all fail, until lowly Galen volunteers to take up the challenge.
George has taken one of the lesser-known Grimm stories and created an exciting full-length novel jam-packed with romance and action. This one is a keeper. And again, the shallow part of me says, Oooooh, what a gorgeous cover!
–Lisa, Teen Librarian