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: Neal Shusterman
Tennyson and Bronte are 16-year-old twins, and while they’re not super-close, Tennyson is annoyed that his sister has started dating the school loner Brewster, aka Bruiser, aka “the kid most likely to go to jail.” Bronte convinces her lacross-playing brother that Brewster is just misunderstood, and eventually the boys become friends, too.
Soon, the twins realize that whenever they’re around Brewster, their cuts and bruises disappear, and that he’s covered in new hurts. Somehow he takes on the physical and emotional pain of the people he cares for. Clearly, being a loner is easier for him to handle, but that’s out the window now.
The story is narrated in turn by Tennyson, Bronte, Brewster, and his little brother, Cody, and Shusterman juggles the different voices very well. Tennyson is particularly witty, and it’s a pleasure to follow his transformation from borderline bully to a more sympathetic young man. It’s difficult to describe Bruiser in a nutshell, but the story is compelling, and your heart goes out to each of the characters in the book (except, of course, for Brewster and Cody’s horrible uncle).
–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