Teen Reviews of Recent Books

18 Mar



Our Book Club reads a lot of new YA books and reviews them for teen readers.  Here are some of their favorite new and soon-to-be-released books.

The-Archived-by-Victoria-SchwabBibliographic Information

The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Hyperion, 2013, ISBN: 978-1423157311

Plot Summary

Mackenzie is a Keeper, meaning she is responsible for keeping Histories (an animate ghost that contains all the memories of a deceased person) out of our world.  However, she begins to question the reasons for keeping these histories locked out of our world as she grieves her younger brother who was killed in an accident.

Critical Evaluation

This book is complex and intriguing.  The main character is smart, relatable, and brave, and the other characters are unusually vibrant and realistic.  The plot is incredibly suspenseful and heartbreaking, humorous, and chilling at the same time.  I could not put the book down!

Information about the author

The author writes on her Amazon.com author page, “Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes”, “like”, and “y’all”. She lives in Nashville, TN when she is not wandering in search of buried treasure, fairy tales, and good tea.”

10137823Bibliographic Information

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson. Tor Teen. Release date: May 14th, 2013. ISBN: 978-0765320322

Plot Summary

A boy lives in a society where people can magically make chalk drawings come to life if they have a special kind of power. They use these ‘chalklings’ to fight not only each other, but to defend their country from attacks. A boy who has always wanted to be a Rithmatist (someone who can make these drawings come to life) stumbles upon a mystery revolving around mysterious disappearances, wild chalklings, and a Rithmatist murderer. Can he solve the case?

Critical Evaluation

It’s a very original book that is very intriguing. It is very well written and is overall a good read.

Information about the author

The author writes on his Amazon.com author page, “I’m Brandon Sanderson, and I write epic fantasy novels for Tor Books. The sixth novel I wrote, ELANTRIS, was my first published, and I followed this up with the Mistborn trilogy and WARBREAKER. I was also chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series based on his notes, resulting in THE GATHERING STORM, TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, and A MEMORY OF LIGHT. I’m now launching my own grand epic that I’ve wanted to tell for many years, starting with THE WAY OF KINGS.

Read an excerpt here: tor.com/wok

More sample chapters from all of my books are available at brandonsanderson.com/library — and check out the rest of my site for chapter-by-chapter annotations, deleted scenes, and more.


ProdigyBibliographic Information

Prodigy by Marie Lu. Putnam.  January 29, 2013. ISBN: 978-0399256769

Plot Summary

The US has split in two: the west coast is now the Republic and the east is its enemy, the Colonies.  The story is told from two different points of view- June is the young but brilliant prodigy of the Republic, and Day is the Republic’s number one enemy.  When Day is accused of killing June’s beloved brother, she sets out to kill him, but begins to wonder who her real enemy is.

Critical Evaluation

Anyone who likes The Hunger Games will love this book.  It is similar in that they are both set in future North America with militaristic dictatorships controlling the people.  Prodigy was intriguing because the good and bad in the characters’ worlds are so brilliantly interwoven and connected to each other.  Note: This is the second book in the series.  I recommend reading the first book, Legend, before reading Prodigy.

Information about the author

Marie Lu is the art director at Online Alchemy, a video game company, and also owns the children’s brand Fuzz Academy.  She was first inspired to write Legend while watching Les Miserables one afternoon and wondering how the relationship between a famous criminal and a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story.

16100972Bibliographic Information

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg.  Arthur A. Levine Books. Release date: June 1, 2013 ISBN: 978-0545509893

Plot Summary

The entire concept of the book was really interesting – an openly gay boy wants to feel normal and stop being known as ‘the gay boy’, so he decides to study abroad at an all boy’s school, where he disguises himself as a straight boy.

Critical Evaluation

Openly Straight sort of reminded me of Perks of Being a Wallflower in its tone and how you empathize with the characters. The endings to both books left me wanting more, but gave me enough closure to put the book down and move on, unlike other books I have read.  The audience for this book would probably be 15+.  It’s a thought-provoking, intriguing book, that I would definitely recommend.

Information about the author

The author writes on her Amazon.com author page, “A B- student throughout high school, Bill Konigsberg was voted Most Likely to Avoid Doing Any Real Work In His Life by a panel of his dismissive peers. He proved them wrong with a series of strange-but-true jobs in his 20s – driver recruiter for a truck driving school, sales consultant for a phone company, and temp at Otis Elevators.

He moved to Denver in 1996 and was voted Least Stylish Gay Guy in the Metro Denver Area (including Loveland!) for each of the years from 1996-98. His fashion-free wardrobe robbed him of prospective dates countless times, as did his penchant for wearing a mustache that didn’t suit him.

He worked at ESPN and ESPN.com from 1999-2002, where he developed a penchant for sharing too much information about himself. That character flaw earned him a GLAAD Media Award in 2002, for his column “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.” That coming out essay made him a household name to tens of people across the country.

He continued oversharing in graduate school at Arizona State, where he added People Pleasing to his growing list of character defects and parlayed that into the title of Most Chill Teacher of freshman composition. This title was unofficial.

He wrote a novel called Audibles at Arizona State, and sold that novel to Dutton Books for Children in 2007. His editor asked him to change the title so that it would appeal to people other than “football players who read.” The resulting novel, Out of the Pocket, received strong reviews from his mother, father, significant other and one girl who had a crush on him in high school. It won a Lambda Literary Award in 2009, leading to more than one stunned audience member murmuring: “Who?”

His second novel, Openly Straight, will be released in June of 2013. He describes the novel as “Twilight-like, only without vampires and wolves and angsty teenage girls. Also, set in an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts. Otherwise, it’s like an exact replica.”

Bill currently lives in Chandler, Arizona, which is the thinking man’s Gilbert, Arizona.

The Program coverBibliographic Information

The Program by Suzanne Young.  Simon Pulse. Release date: April 30, 2013. ISBN: 978-1442445802

Plot Summary

Teen suicide rates have grown exponentially, and the government has declared it as a national epidemic. The Program is a place where teenagers ‘under the radar’, or high-risk teenagers are sent, where they go to be ‘reformed’, therefore curing them from their suicidal thoughts. Sloane knows better than to cry, because crying means getting sent to the Program. And everyone who goes, doesn’t come back the same.

Critical Evaluation

Overall, a good read! I would definitely recommend it to someone else who is into the whole dystopian thing/fighting authority. Romance is included, of course.

Information about the author

The author writes on her Amazon.com author page, “Suzanne Young currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she drafts novels on restaurant napkins while eating chimichangas. After earning her degree in creative writing, Suzanne spent several years teaching middle school language arts. She is also the author of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL. You can visit her online at http://www.suzanne-young.blogspot.com.


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