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Falling Into Place - YA Review by Veronica K



Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: Falling into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins
Pub Date: 09/06/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: What really bothered me about the book was the narrator. It took me 237-ish pages to figure out who was telling me the story. This sort of took away from the book, as I spent more time confused than comprehending. Another problem was how stupid the characters were. The main character knew she was an idiot, complained about being an idiot, but did nothing about being an idiot. Annoying. This book also felt like it was written in segments over a long period of time. This might have been the non-linear timeline, but some of the sections felt like they were written by an eight year old. My final problem is that it seems like the first chapter happened to hook you; the middle happened because the author wanted to make a point, but the story was neglectable; and the end is there to finish it and make it over.
Memorable or Forgettable: This is forgettable because it seems like one long complaint. The main character was weird and annoying. The other characters were out of character for most of the book. It just was not well done.
Cover: like the cover. Nobody else my age will like it, but I like it.
Age Range: Under 12
Quality: 2Q Needs more work
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest


tags:  bullying / suicide / ya lit




Fig - YA Review by Dana F



Reader: Dana F.
Age: 13
Title: Fig
Author: Sarah Elizabeth Schantz
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub Date: 04/07/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book was wonderfully written. Fig, her family, and her classmates are all very different and personable in their own ways. I felt like I knew them by the time the book was over. I also thought the dialogue was well thought out and realistic. I will add that the plot was a little confusing and surprising at points.
Memorable or Forgettable: I loved the character of Fig. She was unlike the standard heroine, maybe because she is very devoted to her mother and isolates herself from her classmates. The whole plot was memorable because of the way it was told - and it was different (in a good way).
Cover: The cover definitely pulled me in, but it doesn't really reflect the contents.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: This book is a snapshot of Fiona’s (otherwise known as "Fig") life as her mother struggles with schizophrenia, a mental disease.


tags:  contemporary fiction / schizophrenia / ya lit




We All Looked Up - YA Review by Sophie F



Reader: Sophie F.
Age: 13
Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 03/31/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The narrator shifts are a bit confusing at first, but as the book goes on I began to identify with each character, to ask myself, "What would I do?" The author does a really good job building the plot up all the way to the end, but some things were slightly confusing due to the narrator shifts. I think that this is a must read for those of you wondering, "What would happen if the world ended in two months?"
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable because it is dealing with the topic of an apocalypse. The author does a good job of conveying how each person reacts differently.
Cover: The cover tempted me because of how it was simple yet intriguing at the same time.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsSlightly confusing and unclear ending.
Annotation: There is a 66 percent chance that, in 2 months, an asteroid known as Ardor will collide with Earth, ending the world as we know it. For five teens, this means that now is the time to really LIVE.


tags:  contemporary fiction / apocalypse / ya lit




Paper Things - YA Review by Pazao L



Reader: Pazao L.
Age: 14
Title: Paper Things
Author: Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 02/10/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I did not like this book and would not recommend it unless you enjoy reading books that are a little too easy to read. It was a simple read that took me not too long to finish. I felt like all the main character did was either complain, talk, or not do anything at all. I felt like she was not really well developed and wasn't complete. The other characters were okay. They also weren't very well developed and weren't explained much in the book unless they were very important. I also felt like this story was written more towards younger children with a young adult topic.
Memorable or Forgettable: Something that was memorable about this book was the fact that the main topic of the story was how it felt like to be homeless and how it felt like to not have a permanent home. It made me feel like I was actually going through what they went through and their experiences were quite sad and heart-breaking. It made me look at people in a different light and not judge people at a first glance. You never know what a person could have gone through and this story made me understand that.
Cover: The cover was actually the thing that made me pick the book up and check it out. I really like the cover and it really relates to the contents.
Age Range: Under 12 through 13
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  contemporary fiction / homelessness / ya lit




Mortal Heart - YA Review by Brooke H



Reader: Brooke H.
Age: 16
Title: Mortal Heart
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub Date: 11/04/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I really enjoyed this book. The plot was very well organized and developed, and it certainly kept me guessing. I never knew how the author would solve certain conflicts, and there were so many twists that I didn't expect! Also, the way that the main character, Annith, developed throughout the book as she figured out who she was and what she wanted was beautifully done. There were some lesser characters that I wish we knew more about, but overall, the character development was pretty great. I loved the way that the author told the story, and I was rarely bored.
Memorable or Forgettable: The most memorable thing for me is the fact that even though the dialogue and actions within the story were accurate to the time period, it was written in such a way that the reader could understand it. That certainly takes a lot of talent, and I admire the author for it. The direction of the plot was also memorable, because, as aforementioned, it kept me guessing and was full of twists.
Cover: I didn't love the cover, but it wasn't bad, and it reflected the contents well.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Annith has been waiting for a chance to serve her god, Mortain, but she discovers that her convent doesn't want her to leave. So, she escapes to find out the truth about herself and discover her destiny.


tags:  historical fantasy / Celtic mythology / female assassins  / His Fair Assassins trilogy / romance / ya lit




Killer Instinct (The Naturals) - YA Review by Simon D-S



Reader: Simon D-S
Age: 14
Title: Killer Instinct (The Naturals)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pub Date: 11/4/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book had a very good construction. The characters all had multiple dimensions, allowing for growth and change throughout the book. The plot moved well, seamlessly transitioning from one lead to another. I honestly had a hard time turning to homework when reading this.
Memorable or Forgettable: This will always be one of my favorite series, constantly giving me a good mystery to sink into. I love the way that the book gives me a way to learn about serial killers and also ride the plot.
Cover: I loved the cover, as it implied both violence and mystery.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: The Naturals survived a serial killer with victims mimicking Cassie's mother. Now, they have something worse on their hands: a killer mimicking Dean's father.


tags:  mystery / serial killers / The Naturals series / ya lit




Grasshopper Jungle - YA Review by Gwyneth P


Reader: Gwyneth P.
Age: 13
Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pub Date: 02/11/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The writing style was very original and is something I'd love to read more of. I loved how the book was very well put together and flowed nicely with its intriguing use of history and more modern events and ideologies. The plot, I felt, wasn't necessarily about the end of the world; it seemed more in the background. I think that was because it was seen through the eyes of a sexually confused teenager who was quite ignorant to even the most dire needs of others. The dialogue was fun and witty, but did have some quite serious and emotional moments. I thought it was quite well thought out and articulated. I thought the character development could use some more work. I wish we could get to know all of the main characters in more detail, especially Robby and Shann. I understand that Austin was mainly focused on himself, as he had many issues at the time. I did love the way that everything was out in the open, there were no secrets. Everything was known and everything was shared at some point and that truthfulness in the writing was very surprising but very appreciated. I also loved the way that everything was consecutive almost like a time line, which I guess it was.
Memorable or Forgettable: Grasshopper Jungle was very memorable because of the eccentric and beautiful way that it portrayed the truth, in all sense of the word, to its readers.
Cover: Yes, the cover did tempt me to pick up the book because it was so simple. It was so simple that it stood out with its simplicity. The yellow pages made the gritty, almost dirty, and old effect that the writing style portrayed, but that kind of gross look also drew me in.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: This book was beautiful.
Annotation: In a miniscule town known as Ealing, Iowa, sexually confused Austin Scerba and his two best friends Shann and Robby (of whom he is sexually confused about) accidentally let loose a plague strain that turns humans into giant praying mantises that only want to do two things. Austin, Robby, Shann, Robby's mother, and a pancake house owner then must learn how to stop these beasts from ending the world by uncovering their concerning history, somehow resolving their personal problems, and making history themselves.


tags:  realistic science fiction / coming of age / GLBT / ya lit



Destined for Doon - YA Review by Claire W


Reader: Claire W.
Age: 13
Title: Destined For Doon
Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon
Publisher: Blink
Pub Date: 09/02/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The description of the setting is great. Most of the book is set in a hidden city in Scotland that isn't very modern. I can picture it perfectly in my head without trying. The plot had a few cracks but was great over all. The characters have changed a bit because it has been between 2 and 6 months. They show very real and believable emotions.
Memorable or Forgettable: I love Scotland so much because I lived there for a year. The setting was just so accurate and beautiful.
Cover: love the cover because the girl on the cover is wearing a beautiful dress.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional CommentsThis is the second book in the series
Annotation: Kenna hasn't even gotten over Duncan, but she thinks she has. When he shows up in her dressing room all the old feelings come rushing back. He asked her to go back to Doon because her best friend desperately needs her help. She makes her way back to Doon and finds things much worse than she thought.


tags:  fantasy / romance / Brigadoon / ya lit



Guy in Real Life - YA Review by Michelle M



Reader: Michelle M.
Age: 16
Title: Guy In Real Life
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: 05/27/14
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: What originally caught my eye was the summary - the summary had a very unique way of describing the story that seemed original, as compared to many old cliches you often find. When I read the book, I felt that the story was different from the summary, and that the summary did not accurately describe the story. Though this disappointed me, I still enjoyed the story. Elements I found memorable in the story were the plot voice/narrator voice, and the character development. The narrator voices changed often, between the voices of Lesh and Svetlana (the main characters) and the characters of an RPG. I enjoyed reading the main characters' voices and being able to get inside their heads and understand them, but I didn't like the RPG characters as much. I understand that parts of it were essential for the plot of the story, but I felt it also detracted from the story a bit. I thought that the narrator's depiction of Lesh was quite strong, and though his views were somewhat strange, they were understandable. Svetlana was also well written, but I did not feel a connection to her. I thought that later on in the book there was a very good plot twist that was well set up, but I felt that it was resolved too soon and it should have been expanded on more.
Memorable or Forgettable: I had a mixed reaction to this book. There were many flaws I found while reading it, but for some reason I needed to keep reading it. I was intrigued, and I loved the little romance/love story between Lesh and Svetlana. I picked it up because of a very promising summary, was disappointed when the book didn't meet expectations, but kept reading. I loved reading the unconventional love story, and the differences in their lives. I thought the characters were relatable, and I got a kick out of the fact that the main characters live in the same city as me and go to my high school. I would say it was forgettable in that it spent too much time describing the RPG characters and not enough time developing the plot. I found it memorable in that it is unique from many love stories and that there is such a big difference in personalities of the characters.
Cover: The title caught my eye, but my reaction to the cover is neutral. I appreciated the mental image of what the characters looked like, and I appreciated the simplicity of it, but it wasn't eye catching and does not reflect the contents as well as it could.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  romance / role playing games / ya lit




Guilty?: Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice - YA Review by Veronica K


Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: Guilty?: Crime, Punishment, and the Changing Face of Justice
Author: Teri Kanefield
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 11/04/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was nonfiction (but you probably knew that). It seemed very well researched and well presented. It moved very smoothly and made sense. If it were me, I would have put more of my opinion in it, but the whole "these are the facts, what do you think" thing worked. Nonfiction can be good, or it can crash and burn. This was good.
Memorable or Forgettable: The real life situations made it memorable. I am against pointless things right now, and the real life made it have a point. It made sense, and that helped its cause.
Cover: Wait- it has a cover?! Oh yeah. It does. Well, it reflects the contents. I picked it up to annoy my Social Studies teacher. I would not know if it turns people off or not.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal


tags:  non-fiction / American justice system / ya lit