BOOK NAME: Feed
AUTHOR: M.T. Anderson
While walking through the bookstore with a 2-foot-high stack of books in my arms, I saw Feed and added it to the stack. It somehow managed to survive the rigorous tests that got it into my bag on the way out of said bookstore, and I’m glad that it did. I started to read it and, while being confused with the language used, was quickly drawn into the vortex that is M.T. Anderson’s book.
Now, don’t go pick up this book if you can’t take bad language. It’s in the teen section for a reason, folks. Please get your parent’s permission if you’re 13 or under.
Moving past that awkward disclaimer, the book revolves around a teenager named Titus who spends his time e-chatting people, taking Spring Break on the Moon (awesome!) and generally hanging out with his friends. This might seem normal (well, except the Moon part), but everything is done over the Feed. The Feed is a network that is integrated into people’s heads and that is used to communicate and get information. Basically, think smartphone/encyclopedia/knowledge base all in one and in your head. That’s a pretty cool idea to begin with, but the way that M.T. Anderson exploits it to force the reader to take a look at our society and what it could evolve into is really enrapturing. Titus meets Violet, a girl who likes to talk in person (shocker) and is generally a little bit strange. When a hacker disables their feeds, they are sent into rehab and Titus learns all about Violet’s view on life.
This book, once you wrap your head around the decidedly futuristic language, is great. I haven’t read a “teen” book in a while that really makes you take as big a step back as Feed did. I can see how Violet was alone in a world where everything was done on the feed, and how that could soon become our society. Basically, read this book at some point in your life. If you’re not old or mature enough now, read it when you’re in high school, or even college. It will do you some good and give you a little perspective on life.
BOOK NAME: The Gift: Witch & Wizard Book 2
AUTHOR: James Patterson
I hope all of you know who the author James Patterson is. If not, abandon the computer and get one of your parents to take you to the bookstore ASAP. But while you’re there, don’t pick up The Gift. I’ve already made that mistake.
Okay, okay, it wasn’t THAT bad. Let me start at the beginning: I’m normally a huge Patterson fan, but when I picked up Witch and Wizard (the book before The Gift), I was a little disappointed because it was only mediocre. It was an okay plot and everything, but the way it was written was not as appealing as it could have been. Despite this, when the sequel (The Gift) came out, I went right to my local Barnes and Noble, bought it, and read it. Now, a few hours later, I’m still in a state of confusion.
Before we get into why I didn’t like it, I’ll give a little background. Whit and Wisteria Allgood are just normal teenagers until they discover they have magical powers when the New Order is established (basically, all of the job titles start with “The One” and they hate anyone who isn’t into the whole “kill people who look like they don’t like us” thing). That was the first book, in which they engage in many adventures, live in an old department store, and use magic. The Gift is the second book in the series, and follows Whit and Wisty again as they engage in even more fun adventures, sometimes involving chocolate and inevitably ending in meeting “The One Who is The One.” Don’t worry, I’m confused, too.
Basically, my problems with the book were these: James Patterson and his coauthor (conveniently listed in barely-visible print at the bottom of the dust cover) tried WAY too hard to get the teen language and vibe right–I mean, I never say ‘totes cool.’ Also, the plot was not as great as it could have been. We’ve all seen post-apocalyptic new world government stuff before, and we’ve also seen magic. But mix them together in a generic plot line, and what do you get? Not a good book, I can tell you that.
Before you forgo reading this, remember that this is only my opinion and I tend to be pretty tough on books. If you have read it, comment back and tell me what you thought!
BOOK NAME: Graceling
AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore
When I saw a friend reading Graceling, it piqued my interest and I picked it up the next time I was at the library. I started to read and was intrigued by Katsa, a girl who is ‘graced.’ Only certain people are graced, and you can tell that they are because they have different colored eyes-Katsa’s are green and blue. From the age of 8, everyone thought that her grace was killing because she instinctively hit a distant cousin when she heard someone behind her. While on a mission for King Randa to save the kidnapped Prince Tealiff, she accidentally meets Po, the son of the man she rescued. They meet again when she gets back to her king, but Katsa soon realizes that it isn’t right for her to be forced to torture Randa’s rivals. She goes off with Po to find out who kidnapped Tealiff and why, and also to save Princess Bitterblue from her evil father King Leck.
This book was a little confusing at first, just to get all of the names straight and the whole setup of the kingdoms. After that, it was a thrill ride that kept me reading till the end (well obviously, since I’m writing this review). My favorite character was Katsa, and not just because her name sounds like Katniss from The Hunger Games (you’re thinking now, aren’t you?). She was a strong female character, which is becoming more and more popular with modern authors. Plus, who could think of a guy named ‘Po’ as their favorite character? Po’s character was actually very nice and brave, but whenever I saw ‘Po,’ I had to stop myself from laughing, which distracted from the plot. Other than the unfortunate name choices (Po and Bitterblue), the book was a good read. I encourage kids in middle school and up to pick it up and give it a try.
BOOK NAME: Everwild
If you liked Everlost, then you’re sure to love Everwild, the sequel and second book in The Skinjacker Trilogy. Everwild came out a while ago, but the third book is coming out this spring so I decided to wait until it was closer to that time to review it. Everwild is the second book in the series, and follows Allie, Nick, Mary, and quite a few other characters in their journeys through Everlost. Nick is dubbed ‘The Chocolate Monster’ by Mary because of the chocolate stain that just won’t go away, and he is trying to get all of the kids in Everlost to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, Mary Hightower is trying to keep them all in Everlost forever. Allie goes back home to try and find her parents, and runs into some skinjackers. Near the end of the novel, she discovers the real reason why she can skinjack–and that reason will definitely be a big factor in some huge decisions she will have to make in the third book.
I love Neal Shusterman’s writing, and he continues to amaze me with his creative and imaginative stories. I would recommend this book to pretty much all kids who aren’t freaked out by the concept of ‘ghosts.’ For more information about the series, read my review of Everlost, the first book, to see if this is for you. My favorite character was actually a new character named Zinnia (although everyone called her Zin). She had a great personality and I was constantly laughing out loud at her antics. Overall, this is yet another hit that I encourage everyone to read (but not before you read the first book).
BOOK NAME: Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25
Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye
I recently read a book of sorts called Time You Let Me In, which is actually a compilation of poems written by 25 poets who are under 25. The poetry is almost all free verse, and is not rhythmic in the sense that many pieces of poetry are. It is jagged and raw, but it is more touching and emotionally stirring than any poetry I have read before. It is about important occurrences in the lives of the poets who contributed. The language used is somewhat mature, however, and for that reason I would recommend it to children who are at least 13. Although I usually don’t particularly like swearing, I felt that the language used in some of the poems gave more depth and meaning to the writing than it would have had had the language been left out or replaced. The poetry is raw in many ways, but it gives true, heartfelt accounts of events that happened as well as providing rare snapshots into people’s lives.
I haven’t read a book that is entirely poetry in a while, and it was refreshing, especially since the verses were so unconventional and unlike anything I had ever read before. In short, I would recommend this to a definitively older group of readers who are ready for a deeply moving emotional rollercoaster of a book.
BOOK NAME: Dread Locks: Dark Fusion #1
AUTHOR: Neal Shusterman
Parker lives in a luxurious neighborhood with his family and siblings and the empty mansion next door. The mansion won’t be empty for long, though: Parker’s problem of boredom is solved quickly when a strange girl moves in. She goes to his high school, and is kind of … weird. She always wears dark sunglasses, and her hair sometimes seems alive. Her name is Tara.
Tara sees no problem in taking things that aren’t hers. She seems smart, and has a certain power over other people. The people she is friends with start developing weird behaviors, and Parker’s own brother is overtaken by the disease-like affliction. Her victims begin to drink tons of milk, eat dirt, and become very sedentary and weak all of the time. Will Parker be able to figure out what is going on and save his friends?
This was a very good book. It wasn’t one of Neal Shusterman’s best, but it was good. I personally liked it because of the references to Greek mythology. I won’t tell you what they are (you’ll have to read to find out), but if you like the Percy Jackson books, you’ll love this one. It’s a short read, which is also nice–I don’t have to spend hours poring over it. Sometimes it’s good to get a quick little book to read. It gets a little bit scary, so I would recommend it to kids in 6th grade and up. It’s certainly spooky!
BOOK NAME: The Schwa Was Here
AUTHOR: Neal Shusterman
Anthony Bonano is just a normal kid – well, look beyond his weird nickname “Antsy” and he is. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and goes to school like any other teenager his age. But one day, his life changes when he and his two best friends, Howie and Ira, meet a boy named Calvin Schwa. Calvin, or “The Schwa” as he is known to most people, isn’t a normal kid. Not a lot of people notice him–that is, he seems to fade into the background a lot, and some people can’t even tell he is there. Antsy and his friends begin to document the “Schwa Effect,” to help Calvin stay in existence (he is worried that once no one notices him, he’ll just cease to exist). On one of their missions to prove the Schwa Effect, Calvin is challenged to sneak in to the neighborhood curmudgeon’s house and steal a dog bowl. The grumpy old man, Mr. Crawley, has 14 different Afghan hounds, and while Calvin is trying to take a bowl, he is caught. Antsy and Calvin have to work for Mr. Crawley to stop him from calling the police, and they have to walk the dogs every day as their punishment.
Just in case this wasn’t too much, Mr. Crawley’s granddaughter is coming to visit, and he has offered to pay Antsy to spend time with her. Antsy figures that there must be something horribly wrong with her – but there really isn’t: she’s just blind. Her quick wit and lovable attitude bring both Antsy and the Schwa to fall in love with her, which causes tension between the two.
My favorite part of this book was the Schwa’s collection of paperclips. He has a huge collection of different paperclips from different worldwide occurrences, and at one point in the story, he shows Antsy. Some people might think that it is weird, but I think it’s quite cool. He even has one from the Titanic! Anyway, this is a heartwarming and unique story that I would recommend to all readers. Neal Shusterman really did a great job with this novel.
BOOK NAME: A Crack in the Sky
AUTHOR: Mark Peter Hughes
Eli Papadopoulos is a teenager who lives in a futuristic America. Global warming has gone extreme, and most of the human race lives in enclosed domes. The insides of the domes are screens that simulate the sky or run ads, and everyone lives fairly happily. Eli’s grandfather was the one who ‘saved humanity’ by thinking of the domes and having his company, InfiniCorp, build it all and take care of everyone. Eli has many relatives, and they are all expected to get a job within InfiniCorp’s ranks. Eli has a pet mongoose, Marilyn, who was given to him by his grandfather. She has been genetically engineered, and can communicate telepathically with Eli. One day, Eli notices a spark on the inside of the dome, and runs to investigate. He doesn’t see anything suspicious, but he begins to be worried and tries to find out more about what is happening. Soon, he discovers a conspiracy plot to escape from the domes because everyone is going to die already. The conspiracy theorists, or foggers, believe that El Guia, a man of the desert, will guide them to safety. Eli begins to doubt his own family, and eventually embarks on an adventure involving a fogger named Tabitha, Marilyn, and his entire family to discover the truth.
As many of you know already, I love science fiction, especially futuristic stuff. I’ll read virtually anything, but this book was really a gem. I’ve recommended it to most of my friends already, and you guys should read it, too! One of the things I liked most about this book was that it gave all perspectives. You got Eli, Tabitha, and Marilyn as well as some people who lived outside the domes. It was good to figure out what the different people were thinking as well as what they knew and didn’t know. It was also cool to see all of the different paths converge at the end of the novel. If you like global warming, this is a great book for you. It’s fairly realistic, and kind of scared me when I thought of how close we are to this coming true. My favorite character would definitely have to be Eli, because he is dedicated to his friends and to finding the truth.
MOVIE NAME: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
BASED ON: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
I went and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the day it came out, and since then (it’s been about a week and a half), I’ve seen it twice more. Needless to say, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and this epic culmination of the series I’ve been following for 11 years was extremely exciting for me.
One thing that I liked about Deathly Hallows Part 1 was the extent to which it quoted the book. It was a call back to the first two movies, which were heavy with lines from the original books. I felt that this alone was a nice tie-back to the beginning of the series, since it is now coming to a very exciting end.
There is a lot of depth to themes that underlie the great battle between Voldemort and Harry: the battle of good versus evil and love versus hate barely scratches the surface. I think that the first part of the movie did a great job tying in these loose ends and the morality of the struggle between Voldemort and Harry.
Having said that, there were a few scenes in the movie with which I became disillusioned after seeing the movie again. For one, the scene where Harry and Hagrid are escaping from the Dursleys’ house to the Burrow struck a particular chord within me: in the book, the Death Eaters know that Harry is the real one because he sees Stan Shunpike, an old acquaintance of his, being manipulated by the Death Eaters, and he decides only to disarm him instead of stunning him and sending him to his death. Harry had used the same spell, Expelliarmus, against Voldemort when they had met three years previously. In the same scene, Hedwig was killed. I think that Hedwig could have been killed while still showing Harry’s true morality in the movie, and it would have reinforced Harry’s inherent goodness and mercy that is such an obvious theme within the whole series.
Another point that I didn’t like as much was the scene at Malfoy Manor with Peter Pettigrew. In the book, Pettigrew strangled himself with his ultra-powerful hand to let Harry and Ron go save Hermione. This tied up yet another loose end because Harry had stopped Sirius and Lupin from killing Pettigrew four years previously, and the magical debt that Pettigrew had to Harry was symbolic of the goodness of Harry’s actions. However in the movie, Dobby stunned Pettigrew and that was the end of his appearance in the movie.
Overall, though, the movie bore great resemblance to the book and I liked it the best out of all of the previous movies except for the first one. As an avid Harry Potter fan, I give the movie a B+, and strongly urge everyone to read the Harry Potter books as well as seeing the movie.
BOOK NAME: The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
AUTHOR: Jacqueline Houtman
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas, by Jacqueline Houtman, is the story of a very smart boy named Edison Thomas. Edison, also known as Eddy, hates the name his parents gave him–it makes him sound too much like Thomas Edison. Eddy loves to invent things, and he is confident that he will win the science fair he is competing in. But when he gets 3rd place, he is devastated. Back at school, he suspects that his (former) best friend Mitch is bullying him, and confirms it after a few incidents. You see, Eddy has Asperger’s syndrome, making him very smart but somewhat inept at social interactions. His lack of skill in the social department is what makes him have trouble detecting simple emotions and feelings of others, as well as explaining his lack of friends. Sure, Eddy has a couple of friends, but he has nowhere near as many friends as an average middle-schooler would. One of his friends was the crossing guard at the street leading to the school. After budget cuts, the crossing guard got laid off, and Eddy was concerned about the children crossing the street. Because of his concern and his love for inventing things, Eddy created a machine that would help keep the children safe. Most of the story revolves around this invention and its importance to the storyline.
My favorite part of this novel was Eddy’s personality. People with Asperger’s syndrome have always interested me because of their mental ability, but the way the story was told really let you get inside his head. Eddy doesn’t like loud noises or change. Whenever he gets angry, he says the periodic table of the elements in his head to calm him down, and he refers to all living things by their scientific names in Latin. Sprinkled throughout the book are random facts from Eddy’s brain that give interesting tidbits of information to think about while reading the captivating story. All in all, I recommend this book to kids of all ages, especially those who enjoy math and science.
BOOK NAME: Ender’s Shadow
AUTHOR: Orson Scott Card
Hi, it’s Mairen again. I don’t know if you remember or not, but when I entered the contest to become a blogger for NG Kids, I reviewed a book called Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. It is honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read, but then I heard about a parallel novel that was written 33 years later: Ender’s Shadow. The novel tells approximately the same story as Ender’s Game, but from a different character’s point of view. After reading Ender’s Shadow, I will not hesitate to say that it is definitely my favorite book of all time, trumping Ender’s Game and The Giver.
The story is told from the point of view of Bean, a diminutive child who is admitted into Battle School off of the streets of a Dutch town when he is just 6 – two years younger than the normal age. He is small for his age, and is therefore conspicuous among his fellow Launchies. While living on the streets of Rotterdam, he civilizes the children who live there, and is noticed by the manager of a popular soup kitchen. From there, he is passed on to Sister Carlotta, a devout Christian who works for the IF and sees something special in Bean. Throughout Bean’s career at Battle School, much more is learned about his past and his true identity.
One of the things that I really liked about this book was that it makes you think. While reading it, the reader has to figure out what significance the events have towards the events in Ender’s Game as well as figure out what they mean to Bean. I could literally read this book over and over again-in fact, I have! I read it once and liked it so much that I immediately flipped to the front and started over. I’ve read it 5 times now, and I caught something new each time,be it a sly bit of humor or an ulterior motive to a character’s seemingly meaningless actions. Overall, this is a must-read book that I strongly recommend to middle and high school-level readers.
BOOK NAME: Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture
AUTHOR: Kathryn Lasky
Soren is a young barn owl who lives with his family in the kingdom of Tyto. His little sister has just hatched, and his older brother is arrogant and defiant of their parents. For the whole 3 weeks of his life, Soren’s parents have recounted to him the Legends of Ga’Hoole, or tales of a noble group of their ancestors who did good deeds. Soren’s life is going just as planned–that is, until he topples out of the family nest and ends up on the ground 30 feet below with no way to get back up. His older brother refuses to help him, and Soren worries that something has happened to the Mrs. P, the blind snake who serves as their nest maid. Before Mrs. P can go for help, Soren is abducted by a group of strange owls and finds himself in a foreign place that he learns is called the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls.
Soren meets another abducted owl, Gylfie, and they both know that there is something very strange going on at St. Aggie’s. Questions are not allowed, and there are very strict rules. All new owls are given numbers and are ‘moon-blinked,’ which essentially brainwashes them. Soren and Gylfie know that they have to escape, and the story follows the formulation and execution of their plan to get away from St. Aggie’s.
After reading this book, I found out two things: that there are a total of 15 books in the series, and that a movie is being made out of the first 3 books. The movie is set to release on September 24, 2010. Overall, the book was very good. It was well-balanced as far as dialogue and narration go, and the storyline was engaging. My favorite character was Gylfie, the minute elf owl, who was always using big words. The author, Katherine Lasky, did a great job bringing the characters to life. My only concern is that I’ll have to read the next two books before the movie comes out! I would recommend this book to kids who are 9 years old or older because there are some mild fight scenes.
BOOK NAME: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President
AUTHOR: Josh Lieb
Hi, it’s Mairen again and yes, that is a very long title. However, don’t let it deter you from picking up this book. I started to read it a little skeptically, but was drawn in from the first page. The story is about a young boy, Oliver Watson, who has two identities: a less-than-smart overweight boy who loves his parents and an international business magnate who has absolute control over thousands of people. The book follows his double-life as he tries to integrate his evil genius personality and his normal kid personality to try to win a school election. Because he has so much control, he bribes, threatens, and steals his way to be a contender in the competition without anyone knowing what is going on.
The plotline is intriguing and the dialogue and narrative are absolutely hilarious, so much so that I was laughing out loud while reading on a few occasions! That garnered me a couple of weird looks from the bystanders (I was reading in my local library), but I just couldn’t stop laughing! Anyway, this book is amazing. It’s charming yet nerve-racking. We can all relate to Oliver’s yearning for his father’s pride, and these kinds of books are the kinds that will always stick in the reader’s mind, no matter how many other books they read. I would recommend this book to all readers, no matter how young or old.
BOOK NAME: The Red Pyramid
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
Hi, it’s Mairen again. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan, has been the focus of a lot of controversy among fans. When the movie came out, there was outrage within the most avid followers, while the people who hadn’t read the books loved it.
But Riordan has burst out with a new book: The Red Pyramid. While this new novel does focus on myths and gods, the gods are not Greek or Roman, they’re Egyptian. We follow Carter and Sadie Kane as they quest to figure out what exactly is going on and what they need to do to stop the evil god Set. Set was released when their father worked magic with the Rosetta Stone, releasing the 5 major gods. Carter and Sadie grew up apart after their mother died: Carter traveled with their Egyptologist father around the world, and Sadie stayed with their mother’s parents in London. They are very different – Sadie has almost Caucasian skin, and Carter’s skin is much darker; Sadie has a British accent; and Carter is an expert on Egyptology.
As much as I loved the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, this book didn’t really do the trick for me. Sure, it was good–it just didn’t pack the punch that his first series did: it wasn’t as funny, and the characters didn’t come to life as much. It was confusing at times, and I couldn’t really get into it. While I was reading, I kept telling myself that it would get better, but it really didn’t. All I can hope for is that the next two books will be better. One of the big turn-downs for me was that the story was apparently told while Sadie and Carter were recording themselves retelling the story. This didn’t really work for me. It confused me, and while I could tell it was meant to be funny, it only served as an interruption to the actual plotline of the story.
The Red Pyramid was an okay book overall. If you’re a Rick Riordan fan, you should definitely read it. Please comment and tell me your thoughts!
Want another opinion? Read Reed’s review of The Red Pyramid.
BOOK NAME: The Story of Cirrus Flux
Cirrus Flux lives at the Foundling Hospital, where his father James left him when he was a baby. James Flux was doing work for the Guild of Empirical Science, and was on a quest to find the “Breath of God.” Set in 18th-century London, this novel is a breath of fresh air amidst all of the vampire books that dominate the young adult and even kids’ sections at bookstores and libraries. Every child who lives at the Foundling Hospital was left a token by their parent. These tokens are worn around the necks of the children. Cirrus is led to believe that he never had one, but this token is the focus of turmoil that is tearing through London like wildfire. Cirrus is one of the only older Foundlings left who hasn’t gotten an apprenticeship yet. His best friend has recently been apprenticed, and he is miserable.
Pandora is a foundling as well, and she was apprenticed to a woman who is after the Breath of God. Her mentor allegedly clears her patients of all bad memories, enabling them to get a new lease on life. Through a series of events, Pandora finds herself back in the Foundling Hospital and trying to help Cirrus escape.
The rest of the book is a chronicle of the adventures and events that occur after that point in the novel. Cirrus discovers that his token contains the last bit of the Breath of God, and all the major scientific powers of London are clamoring to get it. My favorite character in the book is Pandora. She is a unique, quirky girl who stands up for what she thinks is right and is not afraid to stand alone when she does so. She’s a great role model (as is Cirrus) and illustrates many characteristics that anchor concepts of true morality.
This book takes a while to get into, and it wasn’t the best storyline I’ve ever read. For me, the characters were what made reading it worthwhile. The values that were represented by each of the characters added depth to the plot where there otherwise wouldn’t have been any. It’s a good book overall, and I strongly recommend it for anyone wishing to embark upon a wild ride!
I think this book is fantasy, what with some of the things that happen later in the story. However, it is set in a real-time period London, with some twists. I prefer to think of it as an alternate universe, but I think that it’s open to interpretation! Read the book and comment to let me know what you think.
BOOK NAME: The Owl Keeper
AUTHOR: Christine Brodien-Jones
Maxwell Unger is allergic to the sun. Or at least that’s the condition he was diagnosed with when he was younger. The doctor told him that he couldn’t ever be touched by sunlight, or he’d have a terrible reaction, burn up, and die.
Before Max was diagnosed with the disease, before the High Echelon asserted full control, his Gran told him stories about silver owls. After she died, the High Echelon declared that silver owls are evil and that they need to be hunted down and killed. But Max has a secret. He knows of a silver owl that is still alive – what is more, he visits her every night after the sun goes down.
Because he has to stay inside all day, Max doesn’t have many friends and isn’t connected with the outside world except for at night. But when he meets a strange girl one evening while he’s out walking, his life changes forever. Max begins to question the High Echelon as he gets to know more and more about the girl. Every week, he has to be injected with medicine to make sure his condition won’t get worse. But as he talks to his newfound friend, Max starts to wonder if his allergy is even real.
This book was a refreshing break from the monotone of other science fiction and fantasy novels on the shelves. For once, I didn’t find myself groaning once a vampire or werewolf was introduced. In fact, I couldn’t put it down until I was done. Along with providing an enticing storyline, the novel had deeper meaning to it as well–kind of like The Giver, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. For me, the character of Rose, Max’s friend, was the most interesting. She is a fighter, and never gave up no matter what hardship befell her. She never stopped trying to find out the truth, and didn’t let anything put her down. I think that she is a great model for kids our age today–never give up and persevere, and you’ll achieve your goals.
BOOK NAME: Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083
AUTHOR: Andrea White
When you think of all of the hardships in your life, you might think of the time your pet passed away, or when you broke your leg. But I can be absolutely certain that you wouldn’t think of struggling for survival in Antarctica-on a reality TV show.
The year is 2083, and education past middle school is rare. Kids learn in a virtual classroom, watching TV shows about history or literature. One of the channels is a reality TV show called Historical Survivor. This year, the contestants will be 5 14-year-old children, and the top prize is $100,000. In a world where most kids don’t have enough to eat, let alone extra money, this is huge.
Andrea White’s book follows the five teens that are picked to compete as they journey through Antarctica, trying to recreate Robert F. Scott’s 1912 attempt to reach the South Pole. But as they trek through the barren desert, obstacles crop up in their path that make them suspicious of the fairness of the show.
This book was amazing. It incorporates action, adventure, and survival, while still allowing the reader to connect with the characters. It offers an intriguing concept of the future, and really made me think about what people want in life, as well as ideals of friendship and perseverance. I also gave this book to my 9-year-old brother to read, and he loved it as well-proving that it appeals to all audiences, both young and old! It provides a history lesson as well-but it doesn’t feel like you’re learning because you need to find out what happens to the main characters. In short, this book is a great futuristic read that serves a dual role as a science fiction and historical fiction novel.
BOOK NAME: The Giver
AUTHOR: Lois Lowry
Jonas lives in a restricted world. Everyone and everything is controlled by very strict rules, and no one dares break them. But when job assignments come at the Ceremony of 12, something strange happens: the announcer skips Jonas. No one really knows what to do, but everyone stays in their seats. They know that it was intentional, as everything always was. Jonas tries to figure out what he has done wrong.
What will happen to Jonas as he awaits his fate What will his destiny be? What’s really going on in his society? All of these questions and more will be answered as you read on in Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
I absolutely loved this book, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. Jonas’ community seems a little bit odd to start with, but as he matures, he begins to see many things that it doesn’t allow and its many flaws. This book kept me thinking for days after I had finished it. For me, the main question that is pondered in the book is “How much control should a governmental body have over its people and how far should it go to keep them safe?” Safety is a big issue in this story, and in Jonas’ community, no personal choices are ever made, because the government worries people will endanger themselves if they have opinions. One word to think about while you read: color. I won’t say anything more except that this is an amazing book!
BOOK NAME: Incarceron
Claudia is a girl who has gone her whole life knowing that she would have to marry someone that she would have no say in choosing. She has never really known her father, who is the feared Warden of Incarceron, her mother is dead, and she lives a life of luxury.
Finn is a boy who is imprisoned inside Incarceron. He is part of a gang that is fighting to survive within the vast, moving prison. He is cell-born, meaning that he was made by the prison. He dresses in filthy clothing and eats what he can find.
They live two completely different lives… until the keys of Incarceron bring them together. Who is Finn, really? Is Claudia’s father hiding something about her identity? Where is Incarceron? All of those questions and more will be answered in this twisted, suspenseful novel by Catherine Fisher.
This book is really confusing. Right from the beginning, I had to keep rereading whole chapters to figure out what was going on. After reading it a couple of times, though, I got the whole picture. It is a very good read, and is exactly the kind of book I like: one that keeps me paying attention to every little detail. I especially liked the character of Claudia; she was very intriguing at times. This book takes a lot of concentration, so I would recommend it for middle school kids.
BOOK NAME: Everlost
When a person dies, they go towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, what if you died and were going through the tunnel, but were such a klutz that you tripped on the way to the light? What would happen to you? Where would you go? A potential answer lies in Neal Shusterman’s novel Everlost.
In the story, two teenagers, Nick and Allie, die in a car crash. They bump into each other on the way to the light, and fall out into a place called Everlost. They wake up in a forest and meet another kid who fell out of the tunnel when he died. He’s an Afterlight like them, but is different in many other ways. For example, he can’t remember his real name and looks like he came from the year 1900! As Nick and Allie set off to find out more about their new life (or non-life), the boy follows them and they decide to call him Lief.
Lief, Nick, and Allie soon discover the many wondrous and sinister parts of Everlost as they travel to New York and beyond. They have run-ins with dead spots, Mary Hightower, other dead children, and an eerie monster called the McGill.
Neal Shusterman is one of my favorite authors, and really made the world of Everlost come to life with his vibrant, innovative, and funny writing style. He really did a good job of making his characters seem real, which is one thing I liked about it–I could relate to the characters. Despite what it might sound like, it’s not really a scary book. It’s more of an adventure story! This book is one that you can read over and over again without getting tired of it, and it really makes you think. My favorite parts of the book were the ones with Lief after he had come out of the barrel and the ones with Hammerhead because they really made me laugh. I really liked the whole concept of Everlost, and would recommend this book to late elementary and middle school-aged kids.
BOOK NAME: Crocodile Tears
AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz
Alex Rider has worked for different intelligence agencies no less than six times: M16, the CIA, and the ASIS, to be specific. However, he’s not a James Bond character… no tailored suit or gun for him. On his missions, he wears a t-shirt and jeans; his job is to look completely innocent – a task that isn’t very hard, as he’s only 15 years old.
Alex used to be the British Intelligence, or M16′s, secret weapon. After his uncle and guardian, British spy Ian Rider, died when he was 14, M16 recruited Alex for various missions. Alex proved to be more than capable of handling dangerous situations, but he didn’t like to be a spy–he wanted to lead a normal life. Now, he’s convinced that he’s finally going to be able to be an ordinary teenager. But a series of events that occurs while he’s on holiday rapidly change his view of things. Alex is once again plunged into the dangerous spy world as he learns more about the potentially fatal situation – which wouldn’t just mean death for him, but for millions of people across Africa as well.
When one of my best friends mentioned this book to me, I wanted to read it right away. However, I couldn’t, because Crocodile Tears is the 7th book in the Alex Rider series. I’ve found that the books can stand alone, but it’s still a good idea to read them in order. One thing I didn’t like about this book as much is that it’s not really written from Alex’s point of view, which was one of the factors that drew me to the other books. I think it took away from the story a bit, but the novel is still one of the best I’ve ever read. The author also uses a technique that I like a lot: giving specific details like the model of car, what kind of engine it has, along with other things. If you liked The Hunger Games, Crocodile Tears would be a great read for you!
BOOK NAME: The Hunger Games
AUTHOR: Suzanne Collins
16-year old Katniss Everdeen lives in the country of Panem, which represents the last remnants of North American civilization as we know it. Each year, the capital hosts the Hunger Games, an event that makes the people of Panem realize that they are under the supreme power of the capital. During the Hunger Games, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are taken from each district to participate. The Games are a fight to the death in a giant arena, and the last person, or tribute, alive wins. When Katniss’s little sister Prim gets picked at random to be the female tribute for District 12, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The rest of the story follows her journey in the Games.
You’ll have to read more to find out what happens as Katniss journeys to the Capital and enters the games. Katniss really inspired me with her bravery and love for her family. She stood up for what she believed in and made sure she was doing the right thing. I think that a lot of themes from the book translate really well into everyday life, and one thing I liked about this book is that you get to see everything from Katniss’s point of view. I also love books that I can’t put down, and The Hunger Games is that kind of book-I was even reading it during class sometimes! It’s an enthralling storyline that makes me need to keep reading, and seeing it from Katniss’s perspective made me feel like it was me going through all of the terrible ordeals. This is a book that takes a more mature mindset, so I would definitely recommend it for middle-school aged kids.