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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: YA book review, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 41
1. Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Legacy of Kings is basically a historical-fiction-fantasy with Alexander the Great’s childhood reimagined. Does that not scream marvellous and great (har har I couldn’t resist) things to you? IT DOES TO ME. It’s quite a dark gritty book. There is battle and blood everywhere and evil magic and snakes. Ugh to snakes. I’m a big […]

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2. Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is now solidly one of my all-time favourites. Wow…just…how do I even sum up my love for it?! It’s beautiful and visually delicious and the characters were absolute perfection. BLURB Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old […]

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3. Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I had no idea what to expect when I read These Broken Stars (co-authored by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner) because I don’t read a lot of sci-fi. But WOW OH WOW. It was just incredible. It was exciting and sassy and flawless. I constantly hear it pitched as “The Titanic In Space” and basically […]

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4. Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

You know those books that make you sit back and go, “Um, woah” and then are super hard to talk about because they’ve messed with your brain so much? WELL. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill definitely fits in that category. It’s the kind of book that makes you think. It took me ages to formulate thoughts. WHAT DO […]

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5. Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

I absolutely loved and adored Every Breath by Ellie Marney. I DID! I put off reading it for a few stupid reasons and yes I am ashamed. But I was nervous to try it because: I totally adore Sherlock Holmes and I didn’t want to read a bad retelling, The cover is not pretty. I’m […]

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6. Review: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

I am quite pleased with Ally Carter‘s latest book All Fall Down. I had high expectations since her NYT bestselling series, Gallagher Girls, is such an excellently hilarious series, but All Fall Down definitely stands on it’s own! It features Grace, snarky and bitter, and granddaughter of a powerful ambassador. Oh and she’s looking for her mother’s […]

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7. Thursday YA book review: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

From the publisher:

protect the diamonds
survive the clubs
dig deep through the spades
feel the hearts


Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?


My thoughts:

Although The Book Thief is Zusak's hit novel, I really like his earlier books. It's hard to find YA with a strong guy protagonist, and Zusak nails these every time.

I Am The Messenger is gritty, and would technically fall in the New Adult category here in the States (Ed has graduated high school, even if he sort of stalled out since). I liked the mystery of the cards, of the messages, and of the muscle dudes coming to beat Ed up. There's plenty of humor, and the whole novel hinges on character, which is what makes it so great.

Loved Ed's dog, the Doorman.

I Am The Messenger is one of those books that transcends genre classifications like YA, mystery, whatever. It's just a great book. Highly recommend for anyone over fourteen.

0 Comments on Thursday YA book review: I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak as of 2/12/2015 2:09:00 PM
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8. Thursday teen book review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

From the publisher:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor
... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


My thoughts:

I actually read a YA romance! I didn't think I would read the whole thing, but Eleanor & Park surprised me. The romance feels real and not girly--I could see a boy reading this book, too. It helped that there was a good amount of mystery surrounding Eleanor's lousy home life. It made me hurt for her. The story did run a bit long for my taste toward the middle, making me skim to get to the meat of the story.

What teens might find a bit tough is that the book is set in the 1980s but not advertised as such; I've seen this pop in YA and MG a few times now, and I think it's a little bit of a sneaky cheat, probably to avoid dealing with today's technology.

Ample language and mature situations in this book, so probably not for your middle schooler. But also a nice read for us kids from the eighties.

0 Comments on Thursday teen book review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell as of 1/15/2015 12:39:00 PM
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9. A sweet, heartfelt video review of Scars

Check out this sweet, heartfelt, honest review of Scars by reader Jacob Lasher. Jacob’s read Scars five times already! (beaming) What a feel-good review from a reader.

4 Comments on A sweet, heartfelt video review of Scars, last added: 12/13/2012
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10. YA Edgar Nominee Review: The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

My last read for the Edgar nominees for best YA is The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall. This one was darker than the others at the opening: we're sitting in the court room with Hope while her brother Jeremy is on trial for murder. Not your light YA fare.

Against her better judgement, Hope testifies to their rough childhood so Jeremy, who no longer speaks, can be declared insane. In dark and clipped prose--my favorite--we learn that their mother is an unfit one, and an alcoholic too. But Hope (as her name implies) doesn't give up, and keeps looking for evidence to clear her brother's name. We delve deep into family history, small-town scandals, so the only way this mystery will be solved is by opening every can of worms.

This story was gripping, and the author didn't pull any punches when it came to the stakes. The resolution was a bit over-staged, but why not--I was right there as Hope revealed the killer. My only gripe was with the at times heavy religious message and quoting of scripture, particularly toward the end. It made the resolution very moralizing, and took away from the great grit this mystery has. Still, solid plotting, and a good murder mystery.

Verdict: a good mystery, could appeal to both boys and girls. Some religious overtones.

Mystery Quotient: 5 out of 5. Plotting a bit on the stretchy side, but done with heart.

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11. YA Edgar Nominee Review: The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines

The next book in my YA Edgar nominees read-o-rama is The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines. As the cover hints, this YA mystery takes us to the forties, when Iris is struggling with the familiar YA stand-by: new school, new people.

But in the historical context, this YA cliche became fresh and interesting. Iris goes from a private to public school after her mother dies, and finds herself hanging with not-so-popular Pearl. To make matters worse, her P.I. father, an injured war veteran, is hanging on by a thread financially--which is what prompts Iris to help him with his cases. Her stubbornness is endearing, and her search for belonging in her new life recognizable.

Iris' quest shifts when a boy at her new school goes missing, and she begins her amateur sleuth quest for his whereabouts. We quickly get caught in some girl-drama, 1940s style. The historical detail in setting, dialogue and social mood were spot-on; big kudos to the author for getting the details right. This historical context got in the way of the story though, and the mystery's resolution felt a little disappointing to me. Still, The Girl Is Murder is a very solid P.I. mystery, well-plotted, and a unique read.

Verdict: recommended for a teen-view of the 1940s in America, probably better-suited for girls.

Mystery Quotient: 5 out of 5; a solid P.I. mystery.



2 Comments on YA Edgar Nominee Review: The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines, last added: 3/22/2012
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12. Edgar Nominee Review: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The third book in my kid lit Edgar nominees read-a-thon gave me a change of pace. After the fast-paced thrillers by Harlan Coben and Todd Strasser, Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star felt like a slower ride. But the book was no less interesting and gripping, just more of a mystery. There's a puzzle to solve, so settle in and enjoy the journey, was what this book seemed to say.

Rory, a teen from Louisiana, gets to spend a year at a London boarding school. Okay, so I rolled my eyes a little when I saw this boarding school angle--let's face it, it's been done. But Johnson obviously did her homework, because the details of the British school system and the colorful way she described Wexford made me regret my initial reaction. I quickly got to love Jazza, Jerome, and the rest of the Wexford population.

 The book opens with the usual mystery body discovery, but then it took a while to get back to the dunnit--largely because Johnson took a good amount of time to let us watch Rory scramble to adjust to Wexford. But eventually, it becomes pretty clear that the story is not just any mystery, but a ghost hunting expedition as well.

I won't spoil the rest of the book, because you really should read it yourself. Despite some pacing and revelation hiccups, The Name of the Star is such a smart, well-written story that I didn't care that I had to watch Rory get settled at Wexford before the mystery got hot. Great YA voice, too. It's Agatha Christie meets Ghostbusters meets YA.

I know, you want to read it now, right? And you should.

Verdict: Perfect YA, probably more for a girl, but not a girly book. Smart. Cool.

Mystery Quotient: 4 out 5 because of the supernatural element. But pacing more like a traditional mystery.

Side-note: This is just the sort of book I wish had been around when I was a teen.

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13. Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I’m not a big fan of issue books, so when Penguin announced their new Point of View program with books on ‘difficult topics,’ I cringed a little. My inner rebel (okay, so she’s not so inner) smelled an after-school special. But some of my favorite writers were featured in Point of View, so when I saw the little display at my bookstore, I picked up a copy of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, along with a snazzy discussion guide.

This book is dark and painful and beautiful. We dive into Lia’s world of self-torture, right after Lia’s best friend Cassie kills herself in a nearby motel room. Lia tries to assure her father, step-mother, and mom that she’s just fine, but inside she’s really unraveling like one of her knitting projects. Lia is anorexic, and cuts herself.

The book has a brutal insight into Lia’s mental deterioration as she starves herself to be clean inside, dropping pounds every day: “At 099.00 I think clearer, look better, feel stronger.” Even more gripping is watching the adults around her struggle to make her stop and get her to eat, and watching the effect Lia’s anorexia has on her stepsister Emma.

As Lia’s struggle continues, she tries to come to grips with her best friend Cassie’s death—Cassie, whose ghost haunts Lia, taunting her to win their contest to be the thinnest.

The writing is true Laurie Halse Anderson: direct, beautiful, painful, and gripping. It hurt to read this book, hurt to watch Lia’s descent into anorexia, and how she unwittingly dragged everyone down with her, including her little stepsister. My only minor gripe is that the ghost aspect seemed a little forced at times—but this was a mini objection in a powerful book.

I watched a lot of hidden anorexia in my high school, growing up. And I imagine this hasn’t changed much. A girl in my high school, like Cassie in Wintergirls, even killed herself over her struggle with bulimia—and that’s something that haunts all of those who knew her forever. Could we have done something?

So I’m coming back from my no-issues-in-books stance. Maybe we need books like Wintergirls to expose things like anorexia, even if it’s hard. Maybe because it’s hard.

3 Comments on Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, last added: 10/23/2009
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14. Review: Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia

I picked up Jumped because it made the ABA nominee list, and looked like the kind of book I would enjoy. Plus it has a skinny spine, and you know how I like that. Author Rita Williams-Garcia is also a Coretta Scott King Honoree (for Like Sisters on the Homefront, which I will now have to add to my list).

Jumped is written from three perspectives: Trina, who is a confident artist, Dominique, who’s rough around the edges with a solid temper, and Leticia, who falls somewhere in the middle.

All Trina (in her pink outfit) does is pass by Dominique, but at the wrong place and time. Dominique (“Do I look invisible to you?”) vows to get back at Trina, and we follow these three girls throughout their day at school, as tension builds and builds.

The shifts in perspective are expertly done—the voice is incredible for each of these girls. All written in first person, it would be easy for the author’s voice to intrude, but there’s none of that. As a short story lover, I enjoyed this book for its succinct storytelling, great build in tension, and ambiguous ending.

Jumped is a solid 5, and goes on my crime fiction list. Go read it. You won't be disappointed.

2 Comments on Review: Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia, last added: 11/9/2009
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15. Review: How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan

Some of you probably know: I’m a big fan of the short story. I cut my teeth as a writer while attempting to craft shorts, and still love to write a short or two. Many of my favorite books are short story collections.

This is the first YA short story collection I read, one I picked up after enjoying Nick&Norah's Infinite Playlist, which was co-authored by Levithan. How They Met is essentially a collection of love stories; according to the jacket flap, Levithan starting writing these to entertain his friends.

I won’t go into the individual stories too much here, since that would take forever. Each of these love stories was very different from the other—not easy to pull off in a collection, where any lazy plotting or recurrent characters would be easily revealed. And there’s none of that in this collection.

What struck me most about the writing was that despite the somewhat wry look on life, these are all very hopeful love stories. Some of them even border on schmaltz—and I like it (amazing, I know).

I highly recommend you pick up this book, if you’re into YA, and like a story you can finish in a single sitting. You’ll have 18 really great ones in How They Met. This book seems like the perfect present for someone you love.

On a side-note: I’m adding a category on the YA Sleuth blog for YA short story collections, because I love shorts so much. Even if they’re not mysteries—I mean, nobody’s perfect, right?

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16. Review: DopeSick by Walter Dean Myers

Another book with a skinny spine, which you probably know I’m a fan of. And since this one was written by Walter Dean Myers, I hoped it would pack just the punch I love.

I wasn’t disappointed. Lil J is having a really bad day. He’s running from the police, hiding inside an abandoned building (at least he thinks it is) with a gunshot wound to his arm. His friend Rico has already been arrested, and now there’s a manhunt for Lil J.

Inside the abandoned crack house, Lil J finds Kelly. Kelly is watching TV, with strange images of Lil J’s past and future. At the start of the book, we get the impression Lil J is just at the wrong place at the wrong time, but as we read on, it becomes apparent that Lil J has something of a skewed perception of himself. Kelly confronts him with his past mistakes, with the bad decisions he’s made to get him where he is: wounded, running from the police, destined to wind up dead.

DopeSick, in its simplest definition, is A Christmas Carol meets the ghetto. The story is terse, immediate—and what surprised me most was how this book made me take a closer look at my own beliefs. At the start of the book, I wanted to believe Lil J was a stand-up guy with some tough breaks. When our lead was exposed as a ghetto stereotype: an unemployed drug user, failing in high school, and a baby mama he wasn’t supporting, I didn’t know what to make of Lil J, or my own disappointment in him.

The end of the book is poetic, though I have to admit that it was Lil J’s flaws that kept me thinking long after I turned the last page.

Read this book. Let me know how you experienced it.

0 Comments on Review: DopeSick by Walter Dean Myers as of 12/14/2009 9:13:00 AM
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17. Review: Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin

I picked up Ten Mile River in passing at my library. The cover looked cool, NYC in blue-ish tint, so I put it on the pile. And I'm glad I did.

Ten Mile River is the story of two juvenile delinquent teens; the book opens with "Ray is bigger, but Jose is boss," which sums up perfectly what it's all about. Ray is smarter (he reads Scientific American), but feels obligated to Jose, who is his foster brother. The two are hiding out in an abandoned stationhouse in NYC's Ten Mile River Park, surviving by stealing, hiding out from the worldf and the law in particular.

But then Ray meets beautiful Trini, who wants the foster brothers to go straight. The rest of the book follows their struggle with loyalty to one another while trying to find their own identity.

I have to admit that it took me a bit to get used to the dialogue ("Howzabout our money?" and "Git up," and those were the clean lines), and think it got in the way of the story sometimes. But the solid characters (Ray is golden), and gritty storytelling were right up my alley. No mystery, but I think it qualifies as crime fiction. Ten Mile River gets a 4.

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18. Review: Somebody by Nancy Springer




Another book with a skinny spine! I know, it sounds like I’m a lazy reader, but I really want to see how authors do when using fewer pages.

Somebody tells us about Sherica, who’s keeps moving and gets a new name with each place she and her father and brother move to. She’s 15, and is beginning to question what her father has been telling her. Is her mother really a floozy who ran out on them?

Sherica (her real name) finds out through an internet search that she’s a missing girl, and that her mother has spent the past 10 years looking for her. Now she’s caught between her father, who is determined to fatten her up, her brother, who only worries about their father winding up in jail, and her own self-worth.

When I started reading, this seemed like a fairly simple, clean (no swearing, etc.) YA—good for even a younger crowd, possibly older middle-grade. But as I continued reading, Sherica’s character struggles went deeper, and there was even some symbolism (won’t go into detail; you’ll just have to read it). And all that in 117 pages.

I give this one a 4.5, and goes on my mystery list. Somebody is a great book for a somewhat reluctant reader, or someone who just likes it when an author gets to the point. Somebody like me, I guess.

2 Comments on Review: Somebody by Nancy Springer, last added: 2/15/2010
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19. 2010 YA Edgar Nominee: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams


First on the list of this year's Edgar Nominees, Reality Check has a solid premise: girl goes missing, and now the mystery is where she went. Our lead is Cody, Montana football player with torn knee, who has just dropped out of high school when his girlfriend goes missing at her boarding school in Vermont. He drives to Vermont to find out what happened, and gets caught in rich family drama and Vermont town secrets.

Reality Check took a while to get started—it wasn’t until roughly 100 pages in that Clea goes missing. But then the suspense gets pretty good, with a fair amount of mysteries for Cody to solve. The ending was a good one, suspense-novel style (won’t give it away).

This is definitely an older YA, where the characters bordered and adult in their behavior and interactions. Though Reality Check is a strong contender for an Edgar, I think it would be an even stronger contender if International Thriller Writers had a YA category. I give it a 4 out of 5.

1 Comments on 2010 YA Edgar Nominee: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams, last added: 3/7/2010
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20. 2010 YA Edgar Nominee Review: If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

I always look forward to a Caroline B. Cooney novel, since hers are strong YA mysteries in a genre where straight mysteries are hard to find. If the Witness Lied starts strong, with Jack, Smithy and Madison as our siblings lead characters, and Diana, who babysits three year-old Tris in the family. Aunt Cheryl is the kids’ guardian, after their father died in an accident that has been blamed on little Tris.

Cleverly using shifts, Cooney uses a trail of clues to uncover who killed the kids’ father. Meanwhile, Aunt Cheryl is determined to get the family on TV, painting Tris as an evil child.

Although the mystery in this book is solid, the ‘bad guy’ was so glaringly obvious from even the book jacket description, I felt like putting the book away pretty quickly. Still, nicely plotted, and I might be a too-seasoned mystery reader for this book. I give If the Witness Lied a 3.5 out of 5.

2 Comments on 2010 YA Edgar Nominee Review: If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney, last added: 3/8/2010
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21. Review: Lake of Secrets by Lael Littke


Carlene’s family just moved back to Lake Isadora, the place where her brother Keith went missing fifteen years ago. Even though Carlene has never been to Lake Isadora, she begins to have memories of the place, and of things that happened there long ago.

The mystery of Keith’s disappearance is slowly revealed through Carlene’s visions of the past. Carlene tries to figure out where the visions come from, all while connecting with the players in Keith’s disappearance, to figure out if his death was an accident.

I liked this. It was a cozy with a supernatural element—well executed with this moody, Lake Isadora setting. It reminded me a bit of my friend Deb (a great writer)’s work. A solid supernatural mystery—I give it a 4.5.

4 Comments on Review: Lake of Secrets by Lael Littke, last added: 3/29/2010
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22. review of YA fantasy The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding

The Glass Swallow
Julia Golding
Marshall Cavendish (October 2011) (pre-order)
ISBN-10: 0761459790
ISBN-13: 978-0761459798

My review: 5/5 stars


I have found another YA fantasy author who has quickly become a favorite of mine–Julia Golding. (You can bet I’m going to run out and find all of her other books now.)

The Glass Swallow is a wonderful read–it has a strong girl character; suspense and danger; romance; and the strong girl pulling together everything to make things work out.

In The Glass Swallow, Rain designs stained glass windows in secret; in her land, it is forbidden for women to do so. But her designs are beautiful, and capture the attention of a neighboring kingdom. She pretends it is her cousin who designs them, and they make a temporary proposal of marriage. Her cousin is asked to design their neighboring kingdom’s summer palace, and Rain goes along. Once she arrives, her entire party is killed, and Rain is left to fend for herself in a strange land that devalues people who work in the trades, especially those with birds and animals. Rain works her way into the hearts of others, finds true love, and once the kingdom collapses, is key in recreating it to become a better, happier land.

This is one of those books that I didn’t want to end. I quickly came to care about Rain immensely, and Peri (the love interest) as well, rooting for them every step of the way. I loved Rain’s inner strength, her fiestiness and courage, and her insight and talent, and Peri’s goodness and courage. It helped that there were loving, full-rounded characters, such as Rain’s dad and the bondsman Rain became friends with, to offset the slimy or ugly characters; the mix worked beautifully. There was only one very small thing that I didn’t believe, and that was Ret’s movement from a spoiled young man to a mature, aware one–but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the story. I was with Rain and Peri every page, believing in their characters, their desires and motivations, their dreams. Julia Golding created a wonderful world that kept me enthralled.

Highly recommended! If you like fantasy, pre-order yourself a copy! Fans of Tamora Pierce will gobble this one up.



source: ARC obtained at ALA in New Orleans

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23. Legend: Same Dystopia, Different Day

Legend-marie-lu     Absolutely everyone has noticed the rash of dystopian YA novels kicking around the bookstore these days. I was recently in the wonderland that is Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, and their YA room had a great "I'm Dystopian!" display. Author Philip Reeve wrote about the phenomenon in this month's School Library Journal. And you can't escape the promotions for the upcoming movie version of The Hunger Games. I'm guilty of being quietly obsessed with the genre ever since I started teaching Lois Lowry's classic The Giver twenty or so years ago.

    Well, in the past few years, I've read: The Hunger Games series, The Maze Runner series, the Chaos Walking series, the Gone series, the Uglies series, Incarceron, Divergent, Matched, Delerium, Enclave, Shipbreaker, The Roar, etc., etc., etc. Lots and lots of 'em. Some of them are great (Shipbreaker, Delerium, Chaos Walking series); some are very good (Maze Runner, Uglies, Gone, Incarceron). All of them are addictively readable.  For some reason I cannot fathom, we are fascinated with our own inevitable, horrific future. What we know for sure: Earth will suffer many cataclysmic disasters which will (probably) be our fault; the new government of what is left of the U.S. will be oppressive and totalitarian; the poor will be really poor and the rich will be really rich. And one last thing: Some plucky teenager with mad fighting and survival skills will soon see it all for what it is and will fight back.

    So what is different about Marie Lu's Legend, which will be published later this year and has already been optioned for the screen? Truthfully, not much. When I received the galley of Legend and read the back cover, I actually groaned. Aloud, not inwardly. My obsession was in danger of spilling over into compulsion: Yet another dystopian novel I must read. No, really, I just can't do it again. Please make it stop!

    Still, I cracked Legend open and began. Original it ain't, but, I gotta tell you, I liked it.  I liked it a lot. Despite being able to predict almost everything that was going to happen, I couldn't put Legend down. And if it's done right, it could make an awesome film. At the very least, it would be a great video game.

    June is a war-ready prodigy in the future Republic of America, a perfect soldier-to-be, who grew up in the golden light of Los Angeles's richest district. Day is a prodigy of another kind. He is from one of the city's poorest districts, and he's also the country's most wanted terrorist/criminal.  June and Day could not have come from more contrasting origins, but their worlds are about to collide in a big way.

    When Day's family is quarantined because of a breakout of the newest strain of plague to run through the L.A. slum areas, he needs to steal some plague cure quick. June's brother Matias, who seems to be the ultimate Republic soldier, is murdered at the hospital on the night that Day tries to swipe a few vials of the cure. Now, Day is the number-one suspect in the crime, and June is out to exact her revenge.

    Soon, however, June and Day cross paths in a most unlikely way.  An uneasy alliance, even a touch of romance develops, and June and Day start to uncover some horrifying trut

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24. Goliath: The Final Book in a Trilogy of Hugeness

GoliathCover     Scott Westerfeld is going to have to start writing another gargantuan book series pretty soon.  I just finished Goliath, the third book in the Leviathan series, and I am going to go into Westerfeld withdrawal by November. Also, between this series and Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series, I've become a tad crazy for the steampunk stuff. Someone pointed out to me that the Leviathan books are not technically steampunk, as the engines described in the book don't run on steam. I don't care. So, don't tell me again that I'm mislabeling the series. At Powell's Books, they put Behemoth on the shelf in their steampunk display, so hah!

    Goliath begins right where Behemoth left off: World War I rages on across Europe and Asia. It's Clankers vs. Darwinists in this revisionist version of the Great War. Aleksander, the heir to the Austrian throne, has just helped lead a revolution in Turkey and is back on the British airship Leviathan with his best pal, Dylan Sharp. By now, Dylan's secret- that he is, in fact, Deryn Sharp, a girl in disguise- is no longer quite so secret. People seem to be finding out or figuring it out left and right.  But as long as the crew of the Leviathan doesn't know, Deryn is fairly certain she can stay on and continue to fly, which has always been her dream. It's when Alek finds out she's not who she says she is and worse, that she's in love with him, that things get a bit wonky.

    In the meantime, the Leviathan is on a mission to Siberia to rescue the brilliant scientist Nicolas Tesla, who claims to have built a weapon so powerful that merely showing it to the world will stop the war. Anxious for peace, Alek falls in beside Mr. Tesla, against the better judgement of his advisors and friends. Alek feels that ending this war is his destiny, his great legacy, and no one can talk him out of going along with Tesla's plans.  What Alek refuses to acknowledge is that Tesla is a bit of a madman, and his motives may not be as peaceful as Alek thinks.

    As the Leviathan crisscrosses the world from Tokyo to Mexico to New York, Alek and Deryn meet a host of historical figures: Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, even Pancho Villa. How far will Tesla go with his weapon Goliath? Is he, and in turn, is Alek, willing to raze an entire city to show the weapon's power? And how can Alek, a royal heir fall for Deryn, a commoner?

    Goliath is a fit ending to Westerfeld's action-packed series.The plot zooms along, as was the case with the first two books, though the characters take more time for quie

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25. review of YA novel Flip by Martyn Bedford


Flip by Martyn Bedford
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, Random House: April 5, 2011
ASIN: B004FGLXQK
My rating: 5/5 stars
source: library copy

Whenever I read a book that grips me so much that I don’t want to put it down, and at the same time I don’t want to finish it because then the book will have ended, I want to tell others about it. Flip by Martyn Bedford was one of those books; it’s a new favorite. I will be watching out for any future YA books that Bedford writes.

In Flip, 14-year-old Alex wakes up in another boy’s body, in another boy’s house and life–Phillip Garmond, and six months have passed. Alex can’t convince anyone to believe him, and he doesn’t know how to reverse it and get back to his own body and life. He just knows that he has to try. And try he does, as he slowly puts the pieces together.

I found myself rooting for Alex through the entire book, intensely hoping that he would find a way to get back to his own body and his own family, and feel once again like he belonged. Descriptions were vivid–of his new bedroom, new house and family–and yet never slowed the story down. It also helped that there were some positive characters who helped Alex, and eventually a few who believed them. It helped me keep reading and keep hoping for Alex to get his life back.

I believed utterly in Alex, in his emotional struggle, his reactions to events, his determinedness to get his own life back. It was easy to identify with Alex and feel compassion for him. There was a kind of mystery for Alex and the reader to solve, about how and why he got into Phillip’s body and how to get back again, and that mystery also helped to drive the story forward. This is a compelling, engaging, beautifully written urban fantasy. Highly recommended.

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