Love in the Time of Global Warming - YA Review by Sophie D


Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: Love in the Time of Global Warming
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pub Date: 08/27/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This is by far one of the absolute best books I have read in the past few years. Every aspect of it was perfect, in my opinion. Pen was a wonderful main character, heartbreakingly honest in her narration of her past life and her current journey. Her family, past friends, and current companions were all very real as well. I feel like I knew her family and have been to the pink house where they live. I really related to her family situation and saw many similarities to my life. The friends that she met while searching for her family were all very complex, real people. Their back stories were all very sad, and it really made me think about what it would be like if a huge disaster like this really did destroy families, homes, and friendships. There were no miracles in this book, no convenient coincidences. It was harsh and gave what I think would be a realistic portrayal of an apocalypse.
Memorable or Forgettable: There was something about it, and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it was, that was just so perfect. The writing was incredible, it made me feel as if I was really there when I was reading. The fragility of each character and the whole world was also something that really drew me in. The ending was hopeful, the perfect end to the book. I think the words that really sum it up are fragile, harsh, and beautiful.
Cover:  I love the cover and it matches the book perfectly. It has a kind of mythical feel, as well as connecting to the Odyssey. The butterflies are also a great touch, as they are an important element in the story.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Pen's life falls apart when Los Angeles (and possibly the entire U.S.) is destroyed in a huge Earth-Shaker. On the run from human-eating giants and trying to find her family, Pen encounters companions and enemies, and discovers her strange story telling abilities, all the while realizing the similarities between her journey and Homer's Odyssey.

tags: coming of age / post-apocalyptic / magical realism / ya lit



The Language Inside - YA Review by Sophie D


Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: The Language Inside
Author: Holly Thompson
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: 05/14/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book was exceptionally beautifully written. It was in poem form, which really added to the character's voice and the overall feeling and atmosphere of the book. It also was a very interesting situation for a main character, and one that I really enjoyed reading about. Because Emma does not look Japanese, no one really understands her connection to the country. The secondary characters were also beautifully developed. Zena is a patient who Emma helps write poetry at a care center. She talks with her eyes, but manages to have the strongest character voice in the book. Her poems were very striking as well, and they made me really admire the author for putting so much thought and effort into a character.
Memorable or Forgettable: I loved all of the different themes of the book and how they all came together. At first the many themes seem discordant - there are themes of Japanese identity, Cambodian identity, overcoming physical setbacks, poetry, and mother-daughter relationships - but they are woven together and are reflected in many different characters in the book. It is the kind of book where you finish it, and then just need to sit and think for a moment about all of the different connections in the book that were only apparent once you were finished.
Cover: The cover is nice. I like the reflection of her face in the glass, and how it has a travel-y feel. I also really like the stitch-like font of the title.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: When Emma's mother discovers she has breast cancer, the whole family is forced to move to Massachusetts from Japan - the only place Emma has ever called home. While feeling that she is out of place, Emma meets a group of Cambodian dancers and a paralyzed poet who make it hard for her to leave.

tags: prose / free verse / coming of age / cross-cultural complexities / ya lit



Fallout - YA Review by Logan


Reader: Logan
Age: 12
Title: Fallout
Author: Todd Strasser
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 09/10/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  It's a good book. It's a historical fiction mystery. The character development could be better, but over all it's a great book.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was very memorable because there was a lot of action and you never knew what was going to happen next.
Cover: The cover had a lot to do with the story. I just loved it and I know I choose a book by its cover (and by the back, and the first couple of pages).
Age Range: Not provided
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags:  suspense / alternate history / ya lit



The Neptune Project - YA Review by Marta M


Reader: Marta M
Age: 12
Title: The Neptune Project
Author:  Polly Holyoke
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Pub Date: 05/21/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book had good character development. The character had very strong reactions to  her challenges, which I really liked. I also saw very good description, such that I have not seen in many other books. I think this book may have needed a little more interaction between characters. It seemed like they kept to themselves most of the time, not expressing feelings to each other as much as I would have liked. Everything else was pretty good.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable because it had an original idea, at least one that I have not seen.  Like I mentioned before, this book also has great character development and great description. The best thing about the book was the way the author really included many challenges while still staying focused on the main idea. I have seen authors that totally stray and you get confused about the main point.
Cover: The cover looks really interesting. The fact that the humans are underwater and you can tell that the teenagers on the cover are mutants makes it seem exiting. The dolphins also add more mystery, like what could this be about? The mutated teenagers are obviously what the book is about, along with the dolphins which the teenagers have a strong bond with. So I think that the cover reflects the contents really well.
Age Range: Under 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Nere was one of the kids genetically altered to survive in the ocean. With the help of the other mutates and her dolphin friends she must swim to the colony. But, before reaching  her destination hundreds of miles away through the dangerous ocean, she must face many challenges.

tags:  science fiction / adventure / ya lit



Prep School Confidential - YA Review by Claire W


Reader: Claire W
Age: 12
Title: Prep School Confidential
Author: Kara Taylor
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub Date: 07/30/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: At the beginning of the book I didn't like Anne at all - I thought she was a stuck up rich girl - but she grew in the book in a good way. I love mysteries but a lot of them aren't original.  This one was something I had never heard before. I wish we knew more about Anthony. He was important but you learn almost nothing about him.
Memorable or Forgettable: I have always wanted to go to a boarding school in Britain so I also enjoy reading about them. But the beginning was a little bit forgettable and I wish there was a test like she went to a school/convent or something similar.
Cover: Yes, the cover made me curious because it looked modern and cool.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity:  4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Anne isn't a bad rich girl but that is how she comes across to other people after she almost burns down the gym at her old school. So her parents transfer her to a boarding school in Boston called Wheatley. In less than a week after being at Wheatley her roommate is murdered but the police have given up the case. Anne decides it is her job to find her roommate's murderer.

tags:  murder mystery / prep school / ya lit



Sex & Violence - YA Review by Guanani



Reader: Guanani
Age: 17
Title: Sex & Violence
Author: Carrie Mesrobian
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pub Date: 10/28/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book is an impressive debut in both style and content. As a very character-driven novel, it explores the sexuality and initial thoughtlessness of the main character, Evan, as he recovers physically and psychologically from being beat up in a group shower. Though I wasn’t particularly keen on the prominence of sex in the story, I still read the entire thing and was impressed with the character development, use of a small-town Minnesota setting, and carefully crafted prose style. The author is brave for breaching these topics in a YA novel and did so in a complete and mostly believable way.
Memorable or Forgettable: There are three main things that made this book memorable for me. First of all, the story is an example of the unusual format of having the climax happen in the beginning and spending the following 250 pages exploring its aftermath. Secondly, the title is extremely memorable because it’s so in-your-face and made it difficult for me to find a place where I was comfortable reading the book. I didn’t want my parents, friends, or any strangers to walk by and say, “Wait, you’re reading WHAT?” This factor may make anyone who isn’t intimidated or turned off by the title to be too embarrassed to buy it or check it out. Third, the book made me uncomfortable several times and I found myself questioning certain things about teenage sexuality I had previously just ignored or taken for granted, which isn’t really what I look for in a novel, but might just be the author’s purpose in writing it.
Cover: The cover is rather beautiful for the words it has on it. I was intimidated and confused the first time I saw it, and only read the book because a friend of mine did first. I think to truly reflect the contents it would have to include something more directly involving a lake or cabins, but it’s fine the way it is.
Age Range: 16 through 18 and up
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest

tags:  coming of age / ya lit




No Easy Way Out - YA Review by Nick B



Reader: Nick B
Age: 13
Title: No Easy Way Out
Author: Dayna Lorentz
Publisher: Dial Books
Pub Date: 06/11/13
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The author's dramatic writing style combined with an amazing story equals a great read. I was so lost in the story I forgot that it was just a story and started talking out loud to the characters. This book was relatable even though you wouldn't think that it would be. I would highly recommend this book.
Memorable or Forgettable: I thought this book had a good plot and went along very well with the first one in the series. The author is always very suspenseful but explains stuff all the way through. It's hard to imagine a better sequel.
Cover:  The cover is a picture of the quarantine symbol. I think this is the perfect cover because it's what the book is about - being stuck inside a mall with a killing flu virus. I also like the artwork because it has fragments of peoples faces behind it.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags: science fiction / post-apocalyptic / No Safety In Numbers series / ya lit




Quarantine: The Saints - YA Review by Simon D-S


Reader: Simon D-S
Age: 12
Title: Quarantine: The Saints (Book Two)
Author: Lex Thomas
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pub Date: 07/07/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I felt like like Lex Thomas really excelled at using sensory detail in this book. I could see every crack in the wall, feel the humidity in every room, and hear sound crystal clear. The plot was good and able to keep readers interested in the story, but I felt that the author could have added a little more... something to separate this book from the rest.
Memorable or Forgettable:  I enjoyed the author's dark creativity. For instance, in one scene, an enemy chases the main character with a punching spike made of a broom handle and a corkscrew like object. Some other examples are a machete with a cardboard sheath, a dress fastened with paperclips, or a bedroom made out of a wrecked school bus. I also enjoyed the politics between and within gangs. Some examples are when leaders are overthrown, or when gang leaders try to manipulate each other.
Cover: Yes, the cover did tempt me to pick the book up. It also reflected the gritty aspect of the book, with an overturned school bus, smashed glass, and shadowy figures.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags: science fiction / dystopian / high school / ya lit



This Song Will Save Your Life - YA Review by Kit K


Reader: Kit K
Age: 15
Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pub Date: 09/17/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Thank you Leila Sales for creating even more amazing characters in This Song Will Save Your Life. Elise's narration is witty, believable, and relatable. We see her go through ups and some low, low, low downs. I got to have moments where I am proud of her, and times when I was forced to be disappointed with her (poor Alex!). I love you (creepy, I know, I tend to do that) for making a main character who IS ACTUALLY A TEENAGER WHO MAKES TEENAGE DECISIONS WITH A TEENAGE ATTITUDE. She could easily be the person I sit next to in my history class but have made the mistake of never getting to know. It was just the type of book that I finished and looked at my parents and whined for ten minutes that it was actually OVER. (They were annoyed and, frankly, so was the guy that was trying to sell us a car at the Chrysler dealer, because, yes, I refused to leave it behind since I just had to read it.) So, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Leila Sales. I can't wait to hit up Barnes & Noble this September to buy this book. And I agree, Char was definitely a waste of a good haircut.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable to me because in YA we are usually stuck with one of three things: 1) Too sweet summer romances, 2) romances with paranormal creatures doing paranormal things with their paranormal powers, or 3) really sad, but not necessarily awful, stories about some girl from towns in the middle of nowhere discovering who they are. But instead of being mopey, or sugar sweet, or paranormal, Leila Sales gave us a fantastically witty and slightly emotional Who-the-Hell-Am-I? story.
Cover: I LOVED THE COVER. DON'T CHANGE A THING. PLEASE. PRETTY PLEASE? The typography is what got me. It was perfect and wonderful and original and just plain old amazing. If the publisher decides to change this cover, someone is going to get slapped by this pissed off teenage girl.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Annotation: Elise Dembowski is a high school loser. After reaching the tip of the iceberg and facing suicidal thoughts just months before, Elise is searching desperately for a way out of her nearly friendless life. When she accidentally finds a dance club called Start, Elise's life finally takes off as she meets new people, makes new memories, finds a new passion, and discovers herself.

tags: coming of age / ya lit



Eleanor & Park - YA Review by Claire W


Reader: Claire W
Age: 12
Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pub Date: 02/26/13
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: There wasn't much dialogue but there didn't need to be - you were able to know Park's and Eleanor's thoughts and they talked with there eyes a lot. I wish you were able to know more about Richie and Eleanor's biological father. I feel that if you knew more about Richie the plot would be richer. There wasn't a big problem that Park and Eleanor needed to overcome - it was many little ones that didn't seem very big at the time. But I think that made the plot more interesting because you couldn't predict the outcome because you couldn't predict the problems.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was a love story that, on one hand you had heard before, but it had so many twists and turns that it kept me wanting more. I was not in love with the ending but not every book can be a happy ending. It was riveting that two young people that were so so so different could be so deeply in love. And not sappy love - real and true love that you usually don't see in High School.
Cover: Truthfully I didn't see the cover before I read the back. But the cover was very well done and almost was like a summary for the book itself. I wouldn't change it one bit. I really like how the headphone cords connect to make the ampersand. It was really cute but not cheesy.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: I really hope this book is a best seller. It is great and deserves to be recognized.
Annotation: Eleanor has always been the odd girl out. Even when she is home with her family. Now her family is more messed up then ever. Her mom refuses to leave a marriage that is only making things worse and Eleanor's step dad hates her. Park is only cool because of the past but he never feels like he fits in either. Everything changes when he meets Eleanor. She is so different from any other girl he has met. Eleanor feels the same way about Park. But not everyone approves of the relationship.

tags: romance / abuse / bullying / BFYA nominee / ya lit



The Neptune Project - YA Review by Adam M


Reader: Adam M
Age: 12
Title: The Neptune Project
Author: Polly Holyoke
Publisher: Disney
Pub Date: 05/21/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The book had good character development. An example of this is that thorough out the book Nere learned to understand people around her, and she learned how to face her own challenges. I also enjoyed the dialogue because there was not too much, or too little.
Memorable or Forgettable: I really had never read a book that was about people living under water, so that made it memorable. I also like that there was a significant amount of action, but there was also some explaining in the book. I also enjoyed the characters - how they interacted with each other.
Cover: Yes, the cover did tempt me to pick up the book and the cover did reflect on the book.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: This was a fascinating book and I would like to see another book in the series.
Annotation: At birth Nere and two kids in the area got their DNA changed so they can live under water. When the government wants to the residents that live near the sea to move inland, Nere and her partners escape by finishing their transformation to breath under water. However, living under water is not easy - there are sharks, octopuses, and government officials that are after the kids. The best way to survive will be to get to Nere's father's colony. On the way, Nere will find other kids like her that will help to reach the destination.

tags:  science fiction / adventure / ya lit



Scarlet - YA Review by Sophie D



Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pub Date: 02/05/13
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I thought this book was the perfect sequel to Cinder. It was less predictable and less cliched, which I enjoyed. I also really appreciated the introduction of a new character and her own story line that eventually crossed with Cinder's. It added even more interesting elements to the series and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.
Memorable or Forgettable: What was memorable for me was the creepy wolf cult that is made up of genetically modified people. It was a weird and weirdly original plot element, and added a lot of new dimensions to the futuristic world. I also appreciated that the plot twists were better thought out than they were in the previous book.
Cover: The cover is nice, but it lacked the originality that Cinder's cover had. I would have loved to see something more complex.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags: science fiction / fairy tale / Lunar Chronicles / ya lit




Allegra - YA Review by Marie W


Reader: Marie W
Age: 14
Title: Allegra
Author: Shelley Hrdlitschka
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date:  04/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Have you ever done something before that took lots of work on your part; then been told to complete the work again. If that has ever happened to you and it was extremely frustrating well that's exactly how she feels. The plot had enough interest to keep you reading though it wasn't very original. The idea was unique compared to other books though. I liked Allegra's perspective. It was interesting though to see how the music class affected her character. My favorite thing about the book would be how relatable Allegra was.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was memorable in the sense of the music woven throughout the book. Allegra had the feel of an actual person instead of a character you were to believe is real.
Cover: Yes the cover is a good representation of the book. It is pretty tempting and natural.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: Allegra will soon be going to a performing arts high school. When she gets there she learns she will have to take a music class, even though she has already passed the highest level offered in the music academy.

tags: coming of age / performing arts high school / BFYA nominee / ya lit



Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - YA Review by Kit K


Reader: Kit K
Age: 15
Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publisher: Dial Books
Pub Date: 08/15/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: My mother did not like this book. I don't blame her. I wouldn't have liked it either if it ruined a whole day of my summer by causing a fifteen year old girl to be squealing and "What?!"-ing every few minutes in loud, squeaky tones.
     Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea comes from a genre that usually isn't my cup of tea. Though it was very mysterious and dark themed book for a summer romance, I really enjoyed it. I loved the fact that Tucholke threw details into the story that seemed to blend though they would normally make me scoff due to their pure cliché state (the parents and their little trip for example). I loved how my favorite character, one of the main characters, was dead for the whole story. I loved the twists and turns towards the ends that made me scream "No way!" much to the dismay of my family. I especially loved how I got a headache by not being able to decide how I felt about the love interest ("He's bad, but that's supposed to be good, but he could be Satan...."), and how most of the swear words used were Damn and Hell and reminded me of the Devil.
     I did NOT like everything though. I was annoyed by the overuse of colors used as names in the book. I get it, it's sort of a "thing" in the story, but it gets really old really quickly. Even worse, I became aggravated by how many redheads there were in the book. Don't worry, I'm not racist against gingers (Can I call that a race? Am I hair-ist?) but only about 2% of the world's population is actually redheaded (Unless you are in Ireland, which is not the case for the story). It was just a little much.
     Even though I had my complaints, I will still be keeping an eye out for the sequel.

Memorable or Forgettable: Though this book was excellent, I have read many excellent books. The main problem for this book is the paranormal romance theme. For some reason publishers have been cranking this type of story out of their printers like the Peeps factory makes marshmallow birds during Eastertime. Quite frankly, I'm ready for something new, something not paranormal, not apocalypse, not dystopian, something that is not any other current Teen Fiction cliché currently on the market. But don't worry, I will still point this story out to my friends next time we book binge at Barnes & Noble.
Cover: The cover was perfect for the story, and it definitely caught my eye. But I wish they made the image of the two on the cliff bigger instead of a little background element.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Violet White's parents have abandoned their two teens to travel Europe with the last of their diminishing fortune. With her parents gone, her beloved grandma Freddie dead, and the whole summer to do whatever she wants on her large estate, Violet ends up caught in a dark and mysterious romance with a dark and mysterious boy. Could he have anything to do with the deaths and disappearances in Violet's small town?

tags:  gothic thriller / paranormal romance / ya lit



The Summer Prince - YA Review by Sophie D


Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: The Summer Prince
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pub Date: 03/01/13
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This was a really fresh, original book. I really loved the setting. Palmares Tres was very futuristic, and very atmospheric, but the author spent a lot of effort making it into a real city. The characters all had strong connections to the city, amd it was a really nice element that the city actually "talked". I also really liked the characters, they all seemed very real and faced personal challenges as well as the bigger, political challenges. The technology was also a great touch. It seemed like a very realistic future-one where people no longer need a body, as their minds can be plugged into the internet. It is a scary thought, but a good way to reflect on our technology dependencies today.
Memorable or Forgettable: Again, this city was a great idea. A giant, pyramid shaped city in the middle of the jungle, ruled by a corrupt circle of Aunties? Such a great setting. This book was pretty fast paced in places, and when I finished, I found myslef wanting to read it again, to go back and pick out all the things I missed. This is usually a good sign for me, that the book was complex and well written.
Cover: I love the cover. It did reflect the contents, as it showed the glowing tree underneath June's skin. I also love the suggestion of the glowing algae in the background. It is a lovely, mysterious, and futuristic looking cover, so an overall win.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: June Costa's art always comes first. It is her art that allows her to communicate her feelings that would otherwise be taboo in Palmares Tres, her beautiful Brazilian city. But when Enki, the Summer Prince, comes into her life, everything changes. She must risk her social standing, family connections, and even her life as she gets caught up in the violent whilrwind surrounding the beautiful Summer King.

tags: science fiction / dystopian / post-apocalyptic / BFYA nominee / ya lit



All the Truth That's In Me - YA Review by Sophie D


Reader: Sophie D
Age: 17
Title: All the Truth That's in Me
Author: Julie Berry
Publisher: Viking
Pub Date: 09/26/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: This book intrigued me because it is written in second person - it is all addressed to a different character in the book. This was really interesting to read. Also, I thought the plot was very original and the character's development was realistic and, at times, heartbreaking to watch. I loved it that she slowly came to realize the power she could have, even though she'd been treated as an outcast for years.
Memorable or Forgettable:  All of the elements of this book came together to make it very memorable. The setting, the townspeople, Judith's obsession with Lucas, the identity of her kidnapper, and the way the facts are slowly revealed. But most of all, Judith was an exceptionally memorable character. She seemed weak at the beginning, but as time went on you realized how very strong she was. And it is a beautiful thing when she realizes how to use her voice. This is a book about empowerment, and I think that is something rather lacking in teen fiction, especially about girls learning to empower themselves. Judith is able to overcome all of these labels and stereotypes put on her by the townspeople, and in the end she shows them how much power a young girl can have. The end was also perfect and very satisfying.
Cover: I'm not crazy about the cover. I think it looks pretty generic, the only thing that really sets it apart is the slash across the girl's mouth. I would have loved to see something in the woods, because that is where most of the book takes place.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Judith can't speak. Her mother won't let her. Ever since she returned to her small town with half a tongue and the truth about her friend's mysterious death, she's been treated like a cursed outcast. But when events in her town start to spin out of control, she realizes that she must find her own voice to speak the truth.

tags:  historical thriller / self-empowerment / ya lit



The Sin-Eater's Confession - YA Review by Guanani



Reader: Guanani
Age: 17
Title: The Sin-Eater's Confession
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pub Date: 11/28/12
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  Ilsa J. Bick continues to be queen of teen torment and angst. Like her past books, The Sin-Eater’s Confession immerses the reader into an intense first-person psychological crisis. I think this book is more about how guilt can change your identity than about hate crimes, which I assumed would be the primary focus when I started it. While the paranoia and self-doubt were well described and vivid, it went on for quite a while and left me feeling sort of prickly and unsatisfied when I finished.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable for its intensity and unusual confession format. The writing is high quality and I finished it, but I did not like it. There were moments when I put it down because what was happening was so unpleasant. I think the subject of hate crimes against possibly gay people in rural towns is important and relevant, but I would not necessarily recommend this book.
Cover: I like this cover; the sideways title is intriguing and sort of gives a sense of the twisted and crooked things that happen in the book. The blood spatters will be sure to ward off people who don’t like violent stories, and the parchment-like background is an original touch.
Age Range: 16 through 18 and up
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags:  coming of age / homophobia / personal responsibility / individual freedom / ya lit




The Look - YA Review by Tara L


Reader: Tara L
Age: 13
Title: The Look
Author: Sophia Bennett
Publisher: Chicken House
Pub Date: 03/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: It was written well and it was an easy read because you couldn't predict what was going to happen next so you kept wanting to read.
Memorable or Forgettable: How it was sort of a unique kind of book.
Cover: Yes the cover did tempt me to pick up the book. Yes it did reflect the contents.
Age Range: 16 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: I really liked The Look.
Annotation: The Look was a interesting book in a good way. I like the way the book is written.

tags: coming of age / lymphoma / ya lit



Oblivion - YA Review by Eli S-M


Reader: Eli S-M
Age: 13
Title: Oblivion
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Random House New York
Pub Date: 06/25/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: While the interaction and dialogue among the characters seemed a bit forced, the character development isn't anything special, the romance element seems to just be in the book for the sake of being in the book, and the ending is confusing, the author handles some parts of it very well. The concept of the book is well thought out, and all the science is well researched, making it more believable than a lot of other science fiction novels. The main character's amnesia keeps you in suspense throughout the novel, always making you want to read more.
Memorable or Forgettable: The poorly done romance element of the book made it forgettable to me, but the well thought out 'big reveal' makes up for that, and the use of fake newspaper articles scattered throughout the novel is at least somewhat unique (the only other element like it that I am aware of is the memos in the Maze Runner books), though sometimes I wish I was kept more in the dark until the end.
Cover: The cover does accurately represent the contents, though the nonchalant attitude the protagonist is displaying toward the worm lead me to believe it was a normal feature of the fauna of Paradox, and not the antagonist. I feel that a cover showing the twin suns of Paradox, a cover showing the protagonist holding weapons toward the worm, or else treating it as more of a threat, or a cover showing the protagonist in suspended animation would be more appropriate.
Age Range:  Under 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags:  science fiction / adventure / The Gatekeepers Series / ya lit



Scowler - YA Review by Rayna Grace


Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 14
Title: Scowler
Author: Daniel Kraus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 03/12/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book was great, but it nearly gave me a nervous breakdown it was so stressful. The main character, Ry, had lived a life filled with the traumatic and brutal abuse of his father, and when his father was dragged off to prison, his sick actions still echoed in his life and caused him to become accustomed to a monotonous, hopeless existence. Nine years later, when his father escaped from prison, the three imaginary friends and mentors Ry created for himself during his father’s rule were resurrected and it nearly caused him (as well as the reader) to go insane. I am not even kidding, for about fifty pages in this book my heart was racing because everything happening was so intense. This was a fantastic book that seemed to have genuine psychological research supporting it. It actually left the reader equally sympathetic for the main character as well as totally disturbed by what he became with his father’s presence in his home. I am not sure what more there is to say. If you are prepared for the emotional journey (and to possibly be scarred for life), read this book.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable because of the unique point-of-view of the main character himself as well as the intense plot line throughout the story. I do not think there is another character out there that is quite like Ry. This book was really interesting and I’m glad I read it, even though it was so crazy I thought it was going to kill me.
Cover: The cover is pretty cool and it depicts the horrors on the inside of the book pretty accurately. I like the creepy guy at the top (I am assuming it is Ry’s father) that kind of turns into an image of a guy walking towards some dilapidated shacks. It was a really creative visual effect that really made the book stand out, in my opinion.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags:  horror / psychological thriller / family trauma / survival / BFYA nominee / ya lit



When We Wake - YA Review by Katie J


Reader: Katie J
Age: 12
Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healey
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Pub Date: 03/05/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I didn't like this book.  I thought it was weird and it didn't make sense AT ALL!  It's pretty much about a girl who is killed at a protest, frozen, resurrected, and hunted.  She learns about a lot of meaningless things, such as the Ark Project and gets followed by the government, locked in cellars, and gets a boyfriend.
Memorable or Forgettable: I thought it was forgettable because the plot was weird and I didn't like it.
Cover: I thought the cover was cool. It sort of reflected the story but not a ton.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest

tags:  science fiction / dystopian / cryogenics / BFYA nominee / ya lit