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: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is basically Twilight but with reversed gender roles. Beaufort takes over as Bella while Edyth is Edward. The storyline is similar to that of the original Twilight as the two meet and Beaufort becomes wrapped up in Edyth’s world of vampirism.
While I do feel that this novel is good, I do not think that it comes anywhere close to the original novel, and it felt odd to see a story I know so well flipped. With that said, I still think that this is a book that is a must-read for fans of the Twilight saga.
– Kassidy, 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: 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.
Title: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Author: Tom Angleberger
This book is set up as a “case file” assembled by Tommy and including comments and drawings from his friends. Tommy is trying to get to the bottom of a strange problem: Is Origami Yoda real? “Does he really know things? Can he see the future? Does he use the Force? Or is he just a hoax that fooled a whole bunch of us?”
Origami Yoda was created by Dwight, and from his perch on Dwight’s finger, he speaks through Dwight in a surprisingly wise way. The reason this is so strange is that Dwight is so strange. Dwight is the weird kid who pulls his socks up over his knees when he wears shorts. The one who spewed apple juice all over the class cupcakes. The one who wanted everyone to call him Captain Dwight. So, he’s weird. Benign, but weird.
Origami Yoda, on the other hand, is a virtual fountain of wisdom and sage advice. You leaned against the wet bathroom sink and it looks like you peed your pants? Splash your whole body – it’s a water accident, not a potty accident. Problem solved! The thing is, if Dwight is such a weirdo, how does Yoda give such good advice? And if Yoda gives such good advice, why doesn’t Dwight listen to it? This is the conundrum Tommy is trying to solve, and it makes for a very entertaining book.
I started reading this on my lunch break and finished it at dinner. It’s a super-fast read (maybe 150 pages long), but there’s substance, too. The design of the book is fun. The pages are faux-crinkled, the fonts change depending on who’s telling the story, and there are lots of little doodle drawings and commentaries in the margins. The story continues in Darth Paper Strikes Back and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.
Title: Stupid Fast
Author: Geoff Herbach
Felton Reinstein, aka Rhinestone, aka Squirrel Nut, has always been a nobody. He’s got one good friend, and he gets picked on a lot because he’s small for his age – or at least, he used to be small for his age. In the couple of months leading up to his 16th birthday, Felton has had a massive growth spurt, adding 6 or 8 inches and almost 50 pounds to his frame.
On the outside, Felton’s now a powerful athlete who’s got football and track coaches begging him to join their teams. On the inside he’s still the same kid with a piano-prodigy little brother who’s obsessed with their father’s suicide and a mother who is slowly losing her grip on reality.
Stupid Fast manages to be funny while tackling some fairly serious issues. Felton is confused by a lot of what’s going on around him, and in true teenage fashion he does his best to ignore everything until it blows up in his face. The book ends on a positive note, and Felton’s story continues in Nothing Special.
–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: Beat the Band
Author: Don Calame
Summer’s over and Matt, Sean, and Coop are ready to rock their sophmore year of high school. The problem? Coop’s been paired with epic loser “Hot Dog” Helen for a semester-long project on safe sex. How will he survive this social death sentence? By entering and winning the school’s battle of the bands contest. The thing is, the boys’ band, Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare (kind of an inside joke), is more theoretical than actual. Sure they rock Guitar Hero, but real instruments? Not so much. Coop is unstoppable, though, and whether they like it or not, Matt and Sean are along for the ride.
Beat the Band is every bit as funny as Swim the Fly. This time Coop tells the story, and he’s terrific as he wise-cracks his way through the book. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments, although the scene in the library with the epic gas attack nearly killed me. As soon as you finish this, you’ll want to run – not walk – to get Sean’s story in Call the Shots.
–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
Title: Swim the Fly
Author: Don Calame
Every summer, best friends Matt, Sean, and Coop set themselves a goal. When they were younger their goals were simple, like collect 1,000 golf balls before the end of the season. This year, the goal is fairly epic: to see a naked girl – not in a magazine or online – a living, breathing naked girl. The problem? None of them has a girlfriend. In fact, none of them has ever even been on a date, so how they’re going to see a naked girl is anyone’s guess.
As crazy as this goal is, however, it begins to look almost feasible when compared to the situation Matt has gotten himself into. You see, in order to impress the hot new girl on their swim team, Matt has volunteered to swim the fly – the 100-meter butterfly, that is. The thing is, Matt can’t even swim one length of the pool, let along the four lengths that make up the 100-meter race – and how he’s gonna make it through the summer is also anyone’s guess…
This book had me laughing from start to finish. At one point I was literally crying from laughing so hard. (The scene involves laxatives, cross-dressing, and the girls’ locker room. How could you not cry?) Matt is an awesome narrator, and his friends and family are equally appealing. Everything about this book is fab, especially the fact that Coop and Sean have their own stories to tell in Beat the Band and Call the Shots.
–Lisa, Teen Librarian