Showing posts with label teen book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teen book. Show all posts

Variant by Robison Wells

If you can attend a school where there are no adults, where your fellow students are the teachers, the admin staff, the cafeteria workers, and some days you get to play paintball all day, and some days you study random topics like land surveying, and on top of all that, there is no such thing as tests or grades, would you jump at the chance?
Sounds good, doesn't it?  After being moved from one foster family to another, Benson Fisher thought he's finally got himself out of that depressing neverending cycle when his scholarship application for Maxwell Academy got accepted. In less than an hour at his new school though, Benson would give anything to be back in a foster home, because Maxwell Academy was only desirable if you could overlook a few things: there were cameras everywhere watching your every move, there were a ton of rules to follow, students who broke the rules and were sent to detention never came back. Stuff like that...
Oh, and once you were in, you could never leave the school again.
Benson was outraged at this prison-like treatment, and he couldn't figure out why the rest of the students didn't seem to be in any hurry to escape. Rather, after some arguing and fighting, the kids have reached a truce and organized themselves into three big gangs to govern themselves. Fine, they might be content to go to class and decorate for school dance and do all the "normal" high school stuff, but Benson was going to get away.

Books that have hit it big always has a slur of wannabes following in its footsteps, and they don't always measure up, but I think Variant is a worthy readalike suggestion for readers of Maze Runner. It was an intriguing read from beginning to end, especially the dynamics among the kids. It's scary when you realize that whoever that put these kids and lock them up in the school may not be the kids' biggest enemy. The kids themselves are going to be.  Then when Benson discovered the secret of one of his classmates, time's running out and everything got scarier and scarier (you'll never think about woodland creatures like deer and bunny rabbits the same again). And the cliffhanger ending... man, when's the next book coming out?
So pretty much nothing to complain about, except the cover!  There's got to be something more exciting than that.
To be published in October 2011. Thank you to HarperCollins for providing an advanced e-galley at netGalley. 
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How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain

David Gerswhin is lying in bed next to Zelda. This is the closest he's ever got to a girl (and a super hot one no less) and it should be one of the most romantic moments in his life, but alas, he knows that all Zelda can think about is Johnny Depp. No, not like your average crazy-about-Johnny's-good-looks-and-bad-boy-image girls.  Zelda is a warrior from the planet of Vahalal and she is on a mission to kidnap her chosen one, aka Johnny Depp, back so that he can, well, help make babies to prevent the extinction of her Amazonian-like race. Yes, at first David and his therapist father thought Zelda is delusional too, but after she's showed off some of her out of this world space moves, he's convinced of her crazy story and content to be her loyal Pudin (basically like a slave, pronounced "pudding") and race around Paris with her till she finds Johnny, all the while thinking why oh why is he not the right match. 
This is one wild adventure. Funny at times and plenty weird and ridiculous, and it's one of those books you just have to shush your inner voice of reason and just run with it. David's mom is a total riot, and the ruthless Vahalalians are equally entertaining. A good summer read.
» Read an interview with the author on School Library Journal.

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The Compound and The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

Bodeen's books are natural and lend themselves so easily to booktalks. If you work in a school or library, you're probably constantly looking out for books with that great premise or hook to lure potential readers in. In the summer at our library, we get more kids / teens / parents asking for recommendations, and for the guys, my first go to book is The Maze Runner, but when that's out, and it often is (yay!), The Compound and The Gardener are fine choices too.

It's been six years since Eli and his family took refuge in the compound.  Luckily his dad had the foresight to build an underground shelter before the nuclear attack. Eli lived with his parents and his two sisters, and he missed his twin brother Eddy and his grandma, who didn’t make it on time. Eli could still hear the sound of the compound door closing on them.

Being cooped up six years in one place will drive anyone crazy, even if your billionaire dad has created an almost exact replica of your old mansion. Lately things had gone for the worse. They discovered that their food supplies had been contaminated and it didn't look like it’s going to last them another nine years before they could safely go back outside. It’s odd that his father would make such an amateur mistake. His father, who'd thought of everything…

One day Eli was messing around with Eddy's laptop, which he only discovered recently when he finally had the courage to enter his brother's room.  He was sitting outside his father's office wanting to ask him about his Math homework, and suddenly Eli got an internet connection. Could there be survivors like him outside? Eli quickly signed into chat to see if anyone is online, and then he saw it: Eddy's name on chat. Shaking, he started to type, "Eddy?" and almost immediately, he got a response in caps: "WHO ARE YOU?  HOW DID YOU GET MY BROTHER'S LOGIN?" "IS THIS SOME SICK JOKE?" Before he could ask any more, he heard his father's voice: “What are you doing out here, Eli?”

Mason's mom seemed to have an irrational anger towardsTrodyn, one of the world's leading company in global warming research, and had forbidden him to apply for a summer internship there, but what did Mason find in her drawer one day?  An old Trodyn employee batch!  She's worked there before? Why didn't she say so? That was the last straw. Mason had had enough with all the family secrets. He's old enough now and deserved answers, like where was his father all these years, so he marched right up to the nursing home where his mom worked to confront her.

His mom didn't take care of old people like he had always imagined, but young teens just like him, except that they suffered major brain injuries in various accidents and basically just sat there, neither talk nor move, and stared out all day. While he's waiting for his mom to come back to explain this all, Mason took out a DVD of the only video he had of his dad and put it in the player to calm himself down. You couldn't even see his face, just his hands holding a copy of the Runaway Bunny, but it was enough to relax Mason.

"If you become a mountain climber," said the little bunny,
"I'll be a crocus in a hidden garden."...

"Where am I?" Mason turned and saw one of patients staring wide awake at him.

"If you become a crocus in a hidden garden," said his mother, 
"I will be a gardener. And I will find you."

Mason stopped the DVD and walked over, but that was it. The girl had gone back to being totally unresponsive.  Maybe he had dreamt it all, so he restarted the DVD, but when it got to the same line about the crocus, again the girl spoke, "Where am I?" As soon as the next line was uttered though, she was gone again.

Why did his father's reading wake her up?

Both of these books are thrilling pageturners. The crazy and scary premises in both of the books will draw readers in right away, and then along the way, you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to see what's going to happen next. The books are about the difficult choices you've to make in life, and it's frightening to see what people believe to be good intention and what they would do because of it. Can't wait for the author to write another novel...

» Visit the author's website and blog
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Subject Seven by James A. Moore

First of all, the cover sucks!  It does not reflect the plot of the story (other than the fact that there are five main characters). It looks kinda cheap.
The book starts with a pretty violent cinematic escape: "Subject Seven" had broken out from his cell in the lab and he pretty much killed everyone along the way.  As the alpha of the group, he then tried to contact and "wake up" four other teens who were just like him: assassins asleep in the bodies of teenagers.  These four teenagers had been waking up in strange places, sometimes covered with blood, and had been trying to figure out what's going on when Subject Seven contacted them. Not only did Subject Seven have to evade and outwit his creators, he also had to figure out how to take over "the Other", which is basically the "normal" teenager whose body housed Subject Seven.
The beginning few chapters were quite confusing, and even when you realize what's going on and the fog clears up, you're still not quite sure where the writer is going with this. The suspense is definitely there, and the whole alter ego thing adds another layer and was more interesting than just the usual teens created by science experiments trying to get revenge storyline. I kept reading because I wanted to find out if the assassin alter egos are going to eventually win out or not, but since they are kinda unlikeable, it's hard to pick which side I  sympathize more with.  There is also no resolution to all of this, so I'm assuming there's going to be a sequel.  The book has its moments of brilliance, but not quite enough to wholeheartedly recommend it. It has some fairly violent scenes so probably more appropriate for older or less sensitive teens.
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Alfred Kropp series by Rick Yancey

I remember the only time I went to see a movie where the crowd clapped and cheered was at Independence Day, when Will Smith punched the alien. There is just something so charming about the good old action heroes, especially ones like Will Smith, when they're heroic AND funny, and Alfred Kropp is just like that.  He's definitely a likeable guy you'll root for.
Alfred's parents were dead, and he now lived with his uncle. It sucked to lose your parents for sure, but it sucked even more when everyone else kept reminding you about it. Alfred's school counselor was one of those people who just wouldn't let it go: "Do you hate school, Alfred?" "Do you hate your family from dying?" "Do you hate them for leaving you all alone in this world?"  Man, Alfred didn't know he was supposed to hate and resent so many things.
Then his security guard uncle asked Alfred to help steal something from his boss' office. If they succeeded, this guy was going to give them one billion dollars! Imagine that, Alfred!  But Alfred wasn't so sure. This all sounded pretty fishy to him, but what could he do?  He couldn't say no to his uncle, and he didn't want to anger him and be sent to a foster home.  Seriously! He didn't mean to be an accomplice. He didn't mean to steal Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur. And he definitely didn't mean to give the sword to the bad guys.
An action-packed novel with lots of comic relief. Personality-wise, I like Alfred more than the others from the crop of characters in similar teen novels'.  Rick Yancey is also the author of The Monstrumologist series (so disappointed to see they've changed the look when the second book came out. Why?  The first one was so much creepier!). Check out his website.

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I was totally mislead by the old-timey photo cover. I didn't know what to expect of the book, and as the story got weirder and weirder, I was like, "wait a second, this book sounds like the X-Men! (or maybe it's because I just watched X-Men: First Class)"  And if I have looked more closely at the cover, I would have noticed that the girl in the photo was levitating. That would have given me a clue.  Anyway... it's a super interesting book, with great photos like the one on the cover that make the story all the more eerie.
Since Jacob was small, his grandfather had told him about the island, the safe haven where he grew up, alongside with many other children who could do extraordinary things. His grandfather would take out the strange photos and show Jacob one by one, recalling the fond memories of the girl whom they had to hold down to prevent her from floating away, the twins who could lift very heavy things, the girl who could make fire with her hands, the boy with bees in his stomach, and so on and so forth. It was all fascinating to Jacob, but as Jacob got older though, he could see the implausibility of his grandfather's stories. He could see the amateur manipulation of the photos. And he was mad. He was mad because he loved his grandfather so much and he so wanted to believe his stories.  Just before he died from a strange attack by some sort of wild animal in the woods behind his house, his grandfather called Jacob and urged him to go to the island and find the "bird" and this mysterious letter.  Jacob was torn. He wanted to respect his grandfather's last wish, but on the other hand, he feared he'd get confirmation that everything his grandfather told him was a lie. 
Stories about kids with strange powers are pretty common, but it's the setting and the way the author set it up against a historical period that makes this really intriguing.  I was definitely not expecting where the author took the book. Love it!
The book is being sold as a teen book, but it feels a bit like an adult book with kids in it. It's thoroughly enjoyable, and I think Fox has already bought the movie rights to this. Go see the creepy photos, and check out the book trailer here.
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