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A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers

27 Mar

an-A-20Hologram-20for-20the-20King-20120803120038980540-300x0Bibliographic Information

A Hologram For The King by Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s Books, San Francisco, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-936365-74-6

Plot Summary

Alan Clay is in Saudi Arabia to sell a virtual image to an absent king in his invisible city.  It’s a far cry from his previous job, making and selling Schwinn bicycles, but that job is invisible too, thanks to the mismanagement of the company and the global marketplace. Now Alan is looking for one big sale to help him out of his financial troubles and keep his home and his beloved daughter in college.

When he arrives at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) to sell the King the latest hologram technology from Reliant, he finds a lot of billboards but no city.  The King is travelling with no firm itinerary, leaving Alan and his team with nothing to do but sit around in a poorly ventilated tent with little food and weak Wi-Fi.  Alan can do nothing but think about his prospects and play with a growth on his neck he worries is sucking the life force out of him.

The longer he remains in KAEC, the more he grows accustomed to its culture and people.  The people in Saudi Arabia, like Alan, have little to do except dwell on their present and imagine a different future.  Everything seems to depend on the King, who like the hologram Alan is so eager to present, may or may not ever appear.


Critical Evaluation

A Hologram For A King was nominated for a National Book Award and it’s easy to see why.  The writing is sparse, but all the more powerful for its lack of flowery language.  The desert setting reminded me of the classic stories of displaced people by Albert Camus and Paul Bowles.  There is a surprising amount of thought provoking material in a book that’s a relatively quick read.

Eggers is tapping into a deep fear that America’s economic status in the world is being diminished in the global marketplace.  Through Alan’s struggle, the reader feels how economic, political, and religious movements impact individuals on an emotional and psychological level.  Alan Clay shares some of the bewildered impotence of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, but Eggers also reveals how global forces for cheap labor are making it impossible for people like Alan to thrive.  The novel ends with a memory of Alan taking his daughter to watch the last launch of the NASA space shuttle, and the reader can’t help but feel that it’s not just America’s manufacturing that has been sapped, but its spirit of innovation and adventure as well.

Information about the author

The author writes on his author page, “Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including “Zeitoun,” a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and “What Is the What,” a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine (“The Believer”), and “Wholphin,” a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.”



Reading Level / Interest Age

Grade 10 and up



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 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 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:

More sample chapters from all of my books are available at — 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 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 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 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

The First 50!

10 Aug

Young Adult Materials Research/Blog Project

Gordon R. Jack

 LIBR 265-10 – Materials for Young Adults Ages 15-18

 San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science

 August 10th, 2012

 Instructor – Beth Wrenn-Estes

Here is a list of my first 50 titles, in alphabetical order.

  1. 180 Poems
  2. A Child Called It
  3. American Teen
  4. Batman Arkane City
  5. Blink
  6. Blink & Caution
  7. Bloom
  8. Catching Fire
  9. Channel ORANGE
  10. Cut
  11. eLIbrary database
  12. Everybody Sees the Ants
  13. Exit Through the Gift Shop
  14. F in Exams
  15. Freakonomics
  16. Gale Opposing Viewpoints database
  17. Ghost World
  18. I Love You Beth Cooper
  19. Imagine
  20. It Gets Better
  21. Johnny Bunko
  22. JSTOR database
  23. Juno
  24. Life of Pi
  25. Little Brother
  26. Make Magazine
  27. Matched
  28. Mental Floss
  29. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  30. Mockingjay
  31. Palestine
  32. Persepolis
  33. Post Secret
  34. Project X
  35. Rayman Origins
  36. Rolling Stone
  37. Rushmore
  38. Shattering Glass
  39. Sold
  40. Teen Voices
  41. The Absolutely True Story of the Part-Time Indian
  42. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  43. The Fault in Our Stars
  44. The Only Place
  45. Vietnamerica
  46. Weetzie Bat
  47. What I Saw and How I Lied
  48. What It Is
  49. Why We Broke Up
  50. Wildwood